Music Appreciation Chapter 7

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  • 8/11/2019 Music Appreciation Chapter 7



    Chapter 7

    JazzBy Bethanie L. Hansen and David Whitehouse

    But jazz music is about the power of now. There is no script. It's conversation. The

    emotion is given to you by musicians as they make split-second decisions to fulfill what

    they feel the moment requires. Wynton Marsalis (Marsalis and Ward 8)

    Jazz is a distinct contribution from the United States on the worlds

    musical stage. More than a century ago, a confluence of musical styles resulted

    in a way of playing that came to be known asjazz. The African musical roots of

    call and response, syncopation, and polyrhythms formed much of the foundation

    of jazz music, and improvisation give jazz its energy. It is generally

    Figure 7.1Frisco Jass Band, circa 1917. The Frisco Jass Band was an early U.S. jazz band that recorded for Edison

    Records in 1917. This publicity shot shows, from left, unknown (drums), Rudy Wiedoeft (clarinet), Marco Woolf (violin),

    Buster Johnson (trombone), Arnold Johnson (piano), and unknown (banjo).

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    acknowledged that New Orleans was the place where it all began. In this

    chapter, readers will learn about the beginnings of jazz, noteworthy stylistic

    developments, and significant songwriters and performers. Given the many

    styles that have developed within the jazz genre to date, it would be impossible

    to present a comprehensive discussion in a mere chapter. Therefore, readers are

    encouraged to explore the additional resources at the end of this chapter for

    additional study. For an introduction to jazz before reading the chapter, visit

    Smithsonian Jazz.

    Relevant Historical EventsKnown for its distinct cross-cultural and multilingual heritage, New Orleans from

    the early 1800s on was a destination for a variety of people of different nationalities. The

    French had established the city, the Spanish ruled for a time, and the Americans known

    as Kaintucks arrived on flatboats (Shipton 72-73). There were slaves, freemen, and

    Creoles of color, who were progeny of mixed relationships. New Orleans was home to

    Choctaw and Natchez American Indians and people from the Balkans including

    Dalmatians, Serbs, Montenegrins, Greeks, and Albanians. Chinese, Malays, and

    Spanish-speaking Filipinos also added to the mix. Among each group, there were

    additional distinctions. For instance, some of the French were descendants of the

    original settlers, while others came directly from Canada and France, and still others

    were French-speaking former slaves from Haiti and Santo Domingo. Each cultural

    group brought its own culture and music. This blend of cultures formed the background

    of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century music born at the mouth of the

    Mississippi, called jazz.
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    Cultural Influences toward JazzThroughout the nineteenth century, several types of music permeated New

    Orleans. At the northern edge of the city, in a grassy area known as Congo Square,

    blacks gathered on Sunday to dance to drumbeats and music for several hours. They

    were slaves engaging in the music and dance of their African ancestors. Theaters

    hosted minstrel shows where various entertainers performed music and skits comprised

    of original tunes accompanied by banjo, piano, guitar, or tunes heard on the streets of

    the city and arranged by the performers. As the performance progressed, each player

    and singer had a chance to be heard in his or her take on the words, melodies, and

    rhythms in what came to be known as improvisation. This performance style had its

    roots on the plantations of the region, as workers used music to make the work


    Funeral ensembles, orchestras, and marching bands eventually found their

    places in New Orleans. Funerals traditionally included a group of musicians

    accompanying the deceased and gathered mourners on the way to and from the

    graveyard. On the way to the burial, the musicians played a simple dirge and then a

    lighter, festive version on the way back home. By the middle of the 1800s, the city was

    home to two symphony orchestras and three opera houses. Music brought the people of

    New Orleans together, as people of all races attended and supported the opera houses.

    Marching bands, too, played a big part in the musical mix of the city.

    Figure 7.2George Prince, New Orleans, 1919.

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    Listen to Jazz Me Bluesby the Original Dixieland Jass Band (jass is an early

    spelling of jazz), an example of an early New Orleans band. These bands played

    music influenced by the styles of European military bands and West African folk music.

    The Onward Brass Band, Excelsior Brass Band, Olympia Brass Band, and the Tuxedo

    Brass Band were all well-known groups in the late nineteenth and early twentieth

    centuries in the city. The makeup of the bands varied, but a typical ensemble included

    at least one cornet, trumpet, trombone, tuba, and snare and bass drums, as shown in

    Figure 7.3. Other instruments, such as clarinets, violins, guitars, and even stand-up

    basses, also were included. The designation of orchestra and band were sometimes

    interchangeable, always referring to this same instrumentation.

    Three different strains of musicragtime, the blues, and spiritualswere being

    played at this time in New Orleans that directly influenced the formation of jazz. Ragtime

    is a style of playing, especially on piano, although entire bands performed in this style

    too. Ragtime is defined by a steady beat in the pianists left handor the lower

    instruments of a bandand syncopation of the melody in the pianists right handor

    the higher melody instruments of a band. No matter in which genre a melody was

    Figure 7.3The Mathews Band of Lockport, Louisiana, 1904. Notice which instruments are present.
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    Listening Objectives

    Your listening objectives during this unit will be to:

    1. Identify the primary instruments performing.

    2. Listen to the dynamics and tempo of the music

    and identify whether it is loud or soft or fast or


    3. Listen for melody and harmony as well as solo or large-group playing.

    4. Identify any special sounds that may give clues about whether the music is

    swing (a lot of cymbals), rock (a lot of bass drum), latin (a lot of tom toms

    and clicking sounds), or some other form of jazz.

    5. Identify any sections where a musician or musicians seem to be


    Key Music Terms

    Instrumentation describes what kind of instrument or voice produced the music.

    Jazz ensembles can be organized into groups of any instrumentation, but there

    are some standard arrangements. One of the most common groupings today is

    the standard big band setup (see Figure 7.5).

    Figure 7.4 Clip art image

    of a man wearing

    headphones and seated

    in front of a computer,

    used with permission

    from Microsoft.

    Clip art image of

    tools, used with

    permission from


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    Figure 7.5 Thisdiagram shows a typical seating arrangement for members of a modern-day jazz ensemble.

    On the left, the rhythm section consists of a drum set, keyboard/piano, electric guitar, and bass guitar. On

    the right are the horns. The trumpets are in the back row, with the first trumpet sometimes doubling on

    piccolo trumpet or flugel horn and the second trumpet doubling on flugel horn. In the next row are the

    trombones, with a bass-trombone playing part IV. In the front row, the five saxophones include two altos,

    two tenors, and one baritone. Saxophone players sometimes double on other woodwind instruments, such

    as the soprano saxophone, flute, or clarinet.

    Other instrumentation combinations may be larger, as in the case of a jazz

    orchestra, or smaller, such as the jazz combo or a bebop ensemble. In each case, there

    is generally a complete rhythm section supporting other musicians comprised of a drum

    set, piano or synthesizers, guitar, and bass guitar.

    Timbre, or tone quality, describes the quality of a musical sound. Timbre is

    generally discussed using adjectives, like bright, dark, buzzy, airy, thin,

    and smooth. Jazz musicians explore a wide variety of timbres, including the wah-wah

    of a plunger mute on trumpet or trombone, the buzz of a trumpet Harmon mute, the

    ocean-wave sounds of brushes on a drum set, the unique sounds of cymbals of all

    sizes and thicknesses, and the occasional doubling of saxophone players on flutes,

    clarinets, or other woodwind instruments. Some jazz musicians can produce growling or

    flutter-tonguing sounds on wind instruments, and some keyboard players switch to

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