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Jazz Music The Roots of our Everyday Life

What is Jazz? According to the dictionary, jazz is defined as, “A kind of syncopated, highly rhythmic music originated by Southern blacks in the late 19th century” (“Jazz” 232). But, everyone should at least agree that jazz is the mother of all music, and is referred to as the only art form originating in the United States (“History 101” 2). America was home to immigrants from all over Europe and beyond who wished to build a new life, or just needed to escape from the old. These people, often thought of as second-class, brought their culture with them to America, expressed it musically, and changed the music world as we know it today.Most early jazz was played in small marching bands or by solo pianists. Besides ragtime and marches, the repertoire included hymns, spirituals, and blues. The bands played this music at picnics, weddings, parades, and funerals. Characteristically, the bands played hymns on the way to funerals and lively marches on the way back. Although blues and ragtime had arisen independently of jazz, and continued to exist alongside it, these genres influenced the style and forms of jazz and provided important vehicles for jazz improvisation.Around the turn of the 20th century, the earliest fully documented jazz style emerged, centered in New Orleans, Louisiana. This city is often called the “cradle of jazz” (“History 101” 3). In this style, the trumpet carried the melody, the clarinet played showy countermelodies, and the trombone played rhythmic slides and sounded the root notes of chords or simple harmony. Below this basic trio, the tuba or string bass provided a bass line and drums the rhythmic accompaniment. New Orleans jazz was just the beginning of an entire sweep across the county.The first true virtuoso soloist of jazz was Louis Armstrong. He was a dazzling improviser, technically, emotionally, and intellectually. He changed the format of jazz by br...

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