Ragtime was one of the early forms of jazz that became widely popular.

"Ragtime music, Scott Joplin and Sedalia, Missouri" by judy_breck is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Ragtime was one of the early forms of jazz that became widely popular.

Jazz: A Blog

November 29, 2022

Reporter Daemon Bawa researches and reflects upon jazz’s history and influence.

The Influence of Jazz on Modern Music

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Photo Credit: “P1750225 Sebastian Mueller Band @ Red Horn District” by tottr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse.

Jazz has severely decreased in popularity since the mid-1900’s, and many people today don’t even try to listen to it. However, many other kinds of music that those same people might enjoy have some kind of heavy influence from jazz. In fact, the vast majority of music from the early-1900’s or later has been influenced or even made possible directly by jazz music, whether the creators knew it or not. Speaking of which, it might surprise a lot of people to know that their favorite artists of their preferred genre might be fans of jazz themselves, and intentionally draw inspiration from it for their own music. All of this can be attributed to its cultural impacts, diversity, and history, along with the actual musical elements of the genre. 

The history of jazz is difficult to summarize because there are so many hugely important events over such a long period of time, but it’s still possible. So, the origins of jazz are based in a mix of African/Afro-Cuban traditional music, European classical music, and early American styles (many of which were also made up of the same influences). These elements mixed very strongly in New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, leading to music such as ragtime, arguably a precursor or the earliest form of jazz. After taking influence from blues music, jazz began to shape itself more and more into its own unique genre, with styles like Dixieland and early swing developing in the first few decades of the 1900’s. Swing quickly grew in popularity, and by the 1930’s had become the main pop music of the time. During and after World War II, jazz went through a major evolution, quickly splintering into many different styles. This marks a transition from pop music to “musician’s music”, a more complicated, intense style with many variations. Styles such as bebop, hard bop, cool jazz, and many more grew in popularity, as swing became outdated. By the 1960s, more complicated styles of jazz began to emerge, but there was also a revival of traditional jazz, which tended to be more audience friendly. Most importantly to this article, this was essentially when jazz began mixing with other genres like rock and funk, creating the fusion genre. Over the next decades, countless jazz and fusion genres were created, and today it can be hard to define the boundaries between many of these genres. 

The history of jazz is so complicated because of its diversity, which is also a large factor in its influence in other music. Two people can say they like jazz music, and then find they don’t like any of the same artists. Over the last 100+ years, jazz has taken so many forms that there’s bound to be something there that most people will like, and especially something there that can inspire someone when writing their own music. Jazz harmony, rhythms, techniques, and mindsets have taken root in most styles of music today, and it’s very easy to trace most modern music back to jazz. For example, hip hop has an extensive record of sampling from jazz artists such as Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock (i.e. Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) by Us3). Many classic rock bands cite jazz as their biggest influences, such as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Many early funk artists were previously known for jazz music (also including Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock), and many modern pop bands are made up mostly or entirely of jazz musicians, such as Justin Timberlake’s live band. This list could go on and on, covering almost all modern music, but the point is that if the music you like is so heavily influenced by jazz, maybe it’s worth looking a bit deeper into jazz. 

If you’re interested in the history aspect or more examples of notable jazz pieces, there will be a multiple part article on jazz history uploaded on the Accolades website in the future.

 

Works Cited

“Jazz in America Resource Library Timeline.” Jazz in America, Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz,  https://www.jazzinamerica.org/JazzResources/Timeline.

“Jazz Origins in New Orleans.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, https://www.nps.gov/jazz/learn/historyculture/history_early.htm.

Seguin, Marc-Andre. “The Influence of Jazz in Modern Popular Music.” Indigoboom, 7 Mar. 2018, https://www.indigoboom.com/single-post/jazz-influence-on-modern-music

The Origins of American Jazz

Ragtime was one of the early forms of jazz that became widely popular.

"Ragtime music, Scott Joplin and Sedalia, Missouri" by judy_breck is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Ragtime was one of the early forms of jazz that became widely popular.

Jazz is often considered America’s true art form. Originating during the second half of the 19th century, it was a melting pot of cultural traditions that could only come to life in a city like New Orleans, a melting pot of a city. Following the end of the Civil War in 1865, many former slaves brought their West African music traditions and their more recent slave songs, field chants, and church hymns to new careers in music. The spirit of freedom and expression combined with these influences and traditions from other cultures like European and Afro-Cuban eventually led to the early forms of the music we now know as jazz. 

Louisiana was originally a French colony, ceded to Spain in 1763, then returned to France in 1803. Very soon after, France sold the colony to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. Due to this, the Creole culture (African and European descent) in cities like New Orleans differed greatly from the rest of America. As opposed to the mainly Protestant and English-speaking American cities, New Orleans was mainly Catholic and French-speaking, also with a love for festivals, music, and dancing. The slave population was mainly made up of West Africans, and by 1800, more than half of the city’s population was made up of free and enslaved African descendants. An early example of African tradition in New Orleans is Congo Square, a site for slave music and dance. Slaves that came through the Caribbean also brought that culture with them. Over time, many cultures including African and various European ethnicities began to develop large influences in New Orleans, due to the relatively unique setup of the city. New Orleans did not have too much of a cultural divide between certain areas of the city, developing more interaction between cultures than in many other places. The large Creole population was often respected in their trades, including musicians. It was fairly common for them to study in France, and they tended to be the top musicians in New Orleans. In the late 19th century, American music was becoming more interested in and influenced by African-American syncopated music. This was the main influence of ragtime, which became one of the most popular genres of the time. Ragtime became a large influence on another popular style of the time, brass marching bands. These groups of professional musicians played for events like concerts and parades and began incorporating ragtime pieces into their repertoire. 

Coming back to New Orleans tradition, many funeral processions incorporated these brass bands. Specifically, in African-American funerals, the entire community would participate in the procession, turning it into more of a celebratory parade than a somber occasion. This became known as the “second line”. By 1900, New Orleans had become an entertainment center, with a thriving music scene. Many brass band members also played in dance bands. In the late 1890s, cornetist Charles “Buddy” Bolden became one of the first popular musicians known for improvising, based on the blues, and performing known dance tunes in his own style (many times noticeably faster). This approach became very popular at all levels of the New Orleans music community. On a darker note, in response to Reconstruction, segregation in many states had increased aggressively. However, this brought African-American and Creole musicians together, creating a mix of trained musicianship with the new improvisation trend. This crossover also applied to instrumentation and style, as many dance bands began replacing string instruments with brass. The standard for a New Orleans jazz band became cornet, clarinet, and trombone. They also took inspiration from ragtime, creating a similar sound through collective improvisation. This new early form of jazz became overwhelmingly popular in New Orleans and in other cities, being played at any event imaginable and becoming part of their culture. As a hint of the future, artists like Jelly Roll Morton, The Original Creole Orchestra, and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band began traveling with immense success. They would go on to be among the most popular artists in what would later become the most popular music in the world.

 

To read more about jazz and its history, keep an eye out for the next article, and check out the links below.

Previous Article: https://lva-accolades.net/2042/arts-and-entertainment/the-influence-of-jazz-on-modern-music/

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