Our popular music in America came from either
Europe (mostly English pubs and Irish folksongs) or Africa (mostly West Africa as a result of the slave trade).
because to lump all of Africa together and discuss "African music" would be even tougher than trying to talk about "American music" and including all of North, Central, and South America in the discussion!! "mostly West Africa" West African drummers
African music has
affected our popular music. profoundly
We can categorize these influences into
1. Blue Notes
"flattened" tones of the scale; particularly the 3rd and 7th scale degrees
2. Unique tone a rougher texture, both vocally and instrumentally 3. Motor Rhythm driving rhythms, steady beats 4. Syncopation displacing the regular accents in music 5. Swing feeling the basic feel of long - short - long - short, instead of equal note values 6. Improvisation making up the music as it is played (or sung)
Here is a good representation of the development of early jazz. Feel free to explore the links. Jazz Roots
Scott Joplin 1868-1917 The "King of Ragtime"
Scott Joplin composed music in a form similar to marches.
John Phillip Sousa's . Stars and Stripes Forever
Notice how each section is repeated and then there is a new section?
Now listen to Joplin's
- same deal! Maple Street Rag
The syncopated rhythms were referred to as “ragged time,” which was eventually shortened to - you guessed it - Ragtime.
Rags (shortened again) became very popular
He made a modest living as a composer during his lifetime.
The big awards came much later.
1973: An academy award for Best Film Score (Joplin's original music) in the movie
1976: A Pulitzer Prize for his opera
(the first opera ever Treemonisha composed by an African American)
You can follow the link below to learn about "blues songs".
Here is a blues song that shows you the 3 chords used. (Right click the image and choose play from the dropdown menu)
Sweet Home Chicago
12-bar blues form is used in country and rock songs also. It's everywhere!!
Now try some interactive composition!
Interactive Desktop Blues
Here's an example of the blues form:
I'm gonna lay my head on some lonesome railroad line.
(make a statement)
I'm gonna lay my head on some lonesome railroad line.
(say it again)
And let that 5:15 train pacify my mind.
(add a punchline and make sure the last word rhymes)
You can even compose your own blues song (no music, just words).
Click on the example below to hear how your blues song could sound.
Kansas City Blues from the videos on the page.
The first recording by a black singer was made in 1920 by Mamie Smith singing "Crazy Blues."
Bessie Smith (not to be confused with Mamie Smith) became famous in the 1920's and was called
"The Empress of the Blues."
Here are some of the Blues Greats.
NEW ORLEANS JAZZ
When we think of New Orleans, we think of
. Where did that term originate? Dixieland Jazz
Here's the story:
Maryland and Pennsylvania had a border dispute, so two guys named
were hired to survey the land in order to establish an official border. The survey was complete in 1767. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon
The line became known as
. Mason's and Dixon's Line
It was gradually shortened to
. Mason-Dixon Line
This line came to be considered the unofficial boundary between the "North" and the "South" and the "South" came to be known as
" and then eventually " Dixon-land " and then just " Dixieland ." Dixie
Follow the link below to learn about New Orleans Jazz. New Orleans Jazz
Ken Burns on New Orleans after the hurricane Watch
He claimed to be the inventor of jazz. Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941)
From New Orleans, Jelly Roll came to Chicago in 1923.
He represents the culmination of the New Orleans jazz style and was a transitional figure into jazz piano styles.
Black Bottom Stomp listen
Links to more music (optional)
Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) "Satchmo" founder of "hot jazz"
Follow the link below to learn about Louis Armstrong.
Louis Armstrong West End Blues listen
The first major influential white jazz artist.
Bix Beiderbecke (1903-1931) founder of "cool jazz" Singin' the Blues listen
BIG BAND JAZZ
The only time when jazz was the most popular music in the country and (naturally) the most commercially successful.
$ $ $
They called it The Swing Era
Then: Swing dancing watch watch
Now: Last year's finalists watch
Makes me tired just to watch . . .
BIG BAND LEADERS Fletcher Henderson Wrappin' It Up listen Count Basie Doggin' Around listen Duke Ellington East St. Louis Toodle-Oo listen Glenn Miller In the Mood listen Bennie Goodman Tommy Dorsey Artie Shaw Woody Herman
Swing music and the Big Bands were significantly affected by 3 political realities: Many band members went overseas during World War II Also because of World War II, gas rationing curtailed bands from touring Musician's union strikes crippled the recording industry for a time
Read this 1942
from Down Beat magazine article
Jazz moved on to Bebop, and the smaller combos plus singers, like Frank Sinatra,
became the most popular style in the late 40's and remained so until Rock 'n' Roll.
1945-1955 East Coast
"bebop" was a scat word that described a quick two-note phrase
Bebop (as a style of jazz) was usually very fast, technical, and complex - difficult to play . . . impossible to dance to!
Bebop was more for the musicians than the audience.
Audiences wanted smooth, danceable tunes.
The musicians loved to cut loose on improvisations without so many restrictions.
The best of these musicians were truly virtuosic.
But . . .
Jazz became less commercial.
Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) Charlie "Bird" Parker (1920-1955) KoKo listen
1949-1955 West Coast
Cool jazz was a reaction to Bebop.
(You remember the earlier versions of "Hot Jazz" and "Cool Jazz")
Take Five listen
This song is unusual in that the beats are in groups of
instead of the most common grouping of 4 5 Hence the name of the song!!
Try counting to 5 over and over as you listen to get the feel of the meter.
This is the best-selling jazz single of all time. Guess that makes it pretty popular! Dave Brubeck (1920- )
Your textbook calls it "a jazz version of the prevailing rhythm and blues style in the 1950s."
Art Blakey (1919-1990) Goldie Watch Horace Silver (1917-1993) Senor Blues Watch
Bossa Nova was a combination of Cool Jazz and Brazilian influences like the samba.
Girl From Ipanema listen Stan Getz (1927-1991) Charlie Byrd (1925-1999)
Miles Davis was a very influential figure in legitimizing rock elements in the minds of the artists within the jazz genre.
If it was ok with Miles, it must be ok Miles Davis (1926-1991) Herbie Hancock (1940- ) Watermelon Man listen
Free Jazz listen
Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation
was both innovative and controversial
and provided the name for this type of experimental jazz
less structured and more dissonant than any other type of jazz
(Be sure and look up a definition for "dissonant")
Ornette Coleman (1930- )
There's no place to go from here!!
Jazz went from enjoying the largest share of the popular audience in the
to losing most of its audience as it became more and more experimental, culminating in Swing Era Free Jazz but you can still hear all of the styles of jazz played today. Which is your favorite?