What Is Jazz Music?
Jazz is a diverse musical form distinguished by intricate harmonies, syncopated rhythms, and a strong focus on improvisation. The jazz style was originated in the early twentieth century by black musicians in New Orleans, Louisiana. Long regarded as one of the United States’ musical capitals, New Orleans maintained a thriving ragtime and blues legacy. Early jazz performers like Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong improvised over these blues and ragtime traditions, resulting in a whole new genre of American music.
Jazz quickly expanded throughout America, and New York City quickly became the jazz center of both America and the globe. Popular music standards, modal music, pop, rock, funk, and even real avant-garde works have all been included within the musical style.
What Does Jazz Music Sound Like?
Jazz music combines elements of practically every musical genre, from blues to rock to classical. This results in a diverse set of jazz subgenres. Nearly all kinds of jazz, including swing music, big band, bebop, and cool jazz, are united by a few core jazz components.
- Distinctive rhythms: Traditional jazz rhythms are recognized for their swinging eighth notes, which emphasize the first note in an eighth note pair while the second note becomes lighter as it “swings” toward the next note. Meanwhile, Latin jazz, which is based on Caribbean music, does not swing, although it does have syncopated rhythms drawn from Afro-Cuban traditions.
- Harmonic sophistication: Jazz rarely employs the three-note triads that characterize pop, country, and folk music. The seventh chord tone appears in nearly all jazz chords, and many incorporate tensions such as ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths.
- Improvisation: The spirit of improvisation unifies practically all kinds of jazz music, maybe more than anything else. All members of a jazz band, from lead instrument players to rhythm section players to lead vocalists, may be asked to improvise over a jazz piece..