Jazzing Up Ragtime


Jazz music originated in New Orleans, Louisiana and it was inspired by the preceding genres ragtime and the blues. After the enforcement of Jim Crow Laws in New Orleans, classically trained Creoles brought their skills to African American bands and this led to the creation of jazz music.


Jazz music consisted of improvisation, blues and ragtime styles, and also individuality was key in jazz music. Syncopation was also a big part of jazz music much like in ragtime. In jazz music, unlike most other genres, instruments were the focus instead of vocal performers. Bebop jazz consisted of very fast tempos and improvisation based on the harmonic structure even though it was typically found on the melody. Cool jazz was more relaxed than traditional jazz and had a lighter sound. Hard bop jazz combined the blues, R&B and also gospel music.

Social Implications:

During the time that Jazz music was becoming popular in New Orleans, there was also a lot racial tension in the country. The enforcement of Jim Crow actually led to the creation of jazz since Creoles were no longer allowed to be in social settings with whites, which led them to other black musicians. Jazz music was also allowed to spread due to The Great Migration which allowed more people to hear and experience jazz music.

Important Performers:

Buddy Bolden is known as the first man of jazz and he also led a what is known as the first jazz band. Bolden is known for his improvisation and how loud he was able to play the trumpet. Jelly Roll Morton was a Creole jazz musician who was the first to actually write down his compositions. Freddie Kepler was also a well-known Jazz musician and he was able to play the highest and lowest notes on a trumpet.


Early jazz musicians often worked in clubs and different entertainment areas and were paid from those events. In 1917 The Original Dixie Land Jazz Band recorded the first jazz record and sold over 250,000 copies at $0.75 each. Even though jazz was created by black musicians, the first jazz record made was by white people and they made the profit and received the fame and credit.

Influences of Future Genres:

Jazz influenced genres such as R&B and soul. Jazz influenced other genres due to its uniqueness and emphasis on individuality. Jazz reinvented itself a few times after traditional jazz became less popular. There is bebop jazz, cool jazz, hard bop jazz, modal jazz, free jazz, and fusion.

Conclusory Opinions:

Jazz is a very unique genre due to the fact that it is considered America’s classical music. In my opinion, this makes jazz music unique since jazz creators were not even accepted by most Americans due to the color of their skin. It just seems very odd that white Americans so easily accepted jazz music as classical American music even though many of them were racist. This shows how important African Americas were to American culture and also how much African Americans were rejected.


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