Putting a Method to The Madness- The Evolution of Jazz

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Jazz,  Americas most respected past time and a current time.  originating in New Orleans, Louisiana, after the emancipation of the institution of slavery in the south,  the fusion of ragtime and blues emerged as Jazz. After the separation of whites and blacks in the south, former slaves began to remove themselves from their classical training of music and reverted back to using the instruments that had brought with them, this started creating a different sound for ragtime that had emerged out West African experiences in the south.


Although jazz has many sub-genres, the overall tone of jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Swing is the rhythmic momentum that makes you want to dance or snap your fingers to a good jazz tune. Part of what makes jazz swing is the use of syncopationSyncopation is the technique of placing accents or emphasis in surprising places.When jazz truly swings, the beat bombards you, even if the players emphasize the beat by playing right with it some moments or just before or after it at other times. Another unusual jazz technique is the use of modes. Modes are various scales or groups of notes, just like the formation a ragtime, it adds a little soul to a very standard and 1 dimensional sound.

Social Implications 

One of Jazz’s key contributions to the world was its help in diversifying the music industry. Jazz played a major role in the Harlem Renaissance, which was cultural and social revolution in New York during the “Jazz Age”. Like many poets and artists of this time period, jazz musicians often rebelled against the artistic norms of the day to create something completely their own. After the “Great Migration” of African Americans in the south coming to the north in search of better jobs, jazz flourished and helped many get through the tough economic times of the Great Depression.

Important Performers

As Jazz gained popularity throughout the world the names of jazz influencers also began to grow. Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong contributed to the genre of traditional jazz. Then came along The most influential bebop musicians included saxophonist Charlie Parker, pianists Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown, and drummer Max Roach.


Jazz in its truest form was not replay-able and stemmed completely out of improvisation.  However as the genre gained momentum and made a statement, white musicians began to copy the style and record records that mirrored the exact songs that black artists had been making. Hence the creation of new genres of jazz, the old ones became “too played out” and accessible that there was very quick turnover for a new genre to emerge.

Influence of Future Genres

Outside of Jazz influencing its own genre, jazz has branched out to almost every other music genre, being considered Americas Classical music. Jazz exists in the rock scene, in the afro-latina scene and rap scene.

Conclusionary Opinions

I happen to really enjoy jazz and recognizing that jazz has influenced every single genre that I actively listen to makes me enjoy it more. I feel that jazz and its constant evolution tried to outrun the white commodification of the genre, by adding a little more funk here, or a little more soul there, jazz tried to break free, and emancipate itself not only physically, but emotionally, spitrually and musically.

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