Certain Rhythmic And Melodic Techniques Media

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A lot of American music is mostly derived from other places in the world, but the characteristic of the American experience it has become. For example, the Broadway musical evolved from European operettas, and even minstrel shows was popular in England before it became popular here in America in the nineteenth century (Ferris). One very popular type of music that is originally from America is Jazz. Jazz in its own way gave America a new sense of identity and soul. In the book "Music the art of listening" it says that the roots of Jazz lie in African cultures, but black Americans created other styles that are called ragtime and the blues and actually created jazz in the early years of the twentieth century.

Jazz is actually a mixture between certain rhythmic and melodic techniques and performance practices of West Africa with Western harmony and instrumentation. With the mixture of the two, it created very cool urban music in that time that helped people through the hectic years of the Civil War and World War I. Each kind of jazz has very different characteristics, but all kinds of jazz share basic idea. It has a regular meter, sometimes duple (Ferris). Some of the unique styles it uses are call and response, improvisation, and hesitations that "play against the beat" (Jazz History Time Line). Sometimes the melodies have the flexible tones called blue notes. Most jazz songs are preexisting songs that musicians alter as they play a chart of fixed patterns of chord changes. Jazz rhythms are mostly exciting and can become quite complex. Some rhythmic effects deep and held back; others can be hot and jumpy that can make a listener have a physical response to it. (Ferris)

Jazz has many composers and different styles that have influenced it to be as great as it is today. One type of style that has influence jazz majorly is ragtime. Ragtime developed in African American communities where bands would combine he structure of marches with black songs and dances such as the cakewalk. The definition of a rag, or a ragtime piece, as a piano composition in duple meter, composed of a number of sections, or strains. Each of the strains is usually sixteen measures (History of Ragtime). Rags follow the form of the military march, and conceived as piano music. Rags soon were being played by bands that were on the streets as well. Europeans were introduced to it by a United States Marine Band, which was led by John Philip Sousa. Rags are best performed at a moderate tempo; when it is played at fast pace, it lessens the dignity and alters the actual "strut" of a fine rag. One of the best ragtime players to this day is Scott Joplin (Ferris).

Because of the great popularity of his compositions "Maple Leaf Rag" and "The Entertainer," composer Scott Joplin is the most famous of the ragtime composers, and was one of the first early African-American composers to gain national recognition. He published a lot of ragtime piano compositions, or better known as "rags", from 1898 to 1914, and also wrote several operas, ballets, marches, and waltzes. One of his desires in his life was to produce a successful black American opera. In which, he has composed at least two operas, one of which was called "Treemonisha" (Ferris). Ragtime was the stepping-stone for jazz; it eventually replaced it as the dominant popular music by 1917, the year of Scott Joplin's death. Some of ragtime's fundamental characteristics, including syncopation, rhythmic anticipations, and melodies that fell slightly behind the accompaniment's march-like two-beat pattern, were adopted by early jazz musicians (Detrick).

Another great style of jazz that had a great impact on it is the Blues. It is closely related to certain West African folk traditions, the blues became a kind of black American folk song that is may also be seen as an early manifestation of jazz. The mood of the blues is usually sad and often lightened by dry humor. The words are blunt and matter-of-fact, instead of being sentimental or oppressively sorrowful. The notes of the blues scale are variable in pitch, and are slightly flatted or "bent," which is different with each performer. The words in a blues song normally only covers about two-and-a-half of the four bars in each line, which leaves a "break" so that the singer can nonsense syllables, called scatting. After a while, blues became a form of public entertainment as well as private self-expression (Ferris).

W.C. Handy, who is considered the "Father of the Blues," did not create the Blues, but was the first person to publish a composition with the word "Blues" on a title and used the "blue notes". The two songs "Memphis Blues" and "St. Louis Blues" first brought the genre to the mass public. The Handy Awards (the Blues "Grammys") was named after him.

After awhile in blues performances, the great development in it was the instrumental blues, in which piano players simply transferred their harmonic structure of the blues to their instrument. The piano blues, also called the boogie-woogie, has a happy mood, is brisk in tempo, and can be danced to. Other jazz piano styles, soon evolved, which were made for small jazz ensembles, or combos, in which their became more individual, tempos faster, the mood high-powered and intense. Some of the musicians read music, but most didn't, they just improvised. In time, different music groups were created that is the rhythm section, the drummer, and solo instruments. The rhythm sections are usually consisted of a string bass or electric bass guitar, drums and cymbals, and a piano and/or another instrument such as a guitar, banjo, or organ that plays chords. The drummer plays a variety of drums and cymbals that added a wide range of timbres to the performance. The solo instruments usually includes saxophones, trumpets, trombones, clarinets, and since the 1950s, flutes as well as a wide variety of other instruments (Ferris).

The first important center of jazz was in New Orleans, Louisiana, where many talented black musicians led the way from ragtime to jazz. "New Orleans had a great tradition of celebration. Opera, military marching bands, folk music, the blues, different types of church music, ragtime, echoes of traditional African drumming, and all of the dance styles that went with this music could be heard and seen throughout the city. When all of these kinds of music blended into one, jazz was born" -Wynton Marsalis (History of Jazz). During this time one of the most influential artists in the history of music was born, whose name was Louis Armstrong.

Louis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is considered the best at improvising in jazz, and has taught the world to swing. One of the nicknames people called him was "Pops", or "Satchmo", because of his sense of humor that made everyone around him feel good. With his infectious, wide grin and instantly recognizable gravelly voice, he won the hearts of people everywhere. He had an exciting and innovative style of playing that musicians imitate to this day. Throughout his career, Armstrong spread the language of jazz around the world, serving as an international ambassador of swing, also called "Ambassador Satch". His profound impact on the music of the 20th century continues into the 21st century (Louis Armstrong).

During the 1920s, jazz moves to the north where white musicians first formed groups of their own in imitation of the New Orleans jazz. The white musicians did so just to prove that they could succeed in this music that was foreign to their own folk traditions, in which were called Dixieland. Even though the term Dixieland was sometimes used to describe the early New Orleans jazz, black or white. Symphonic jazz became popular because it involved no improvisation whatsoever but it also helped the general public to accept the sounds of jazz (Ferris).

During the 1930s, a style of jazz called swing became popular during the Great Depression years by a person named Benny Goodman. Swing had a fast tempo and a danceable beat that helped people through the hard times of the Great Depression. Swing bands were big, that had from ten to twenty instruments playing. It became the favorite dance music of the 1930s and greatly enhanced the public's appreciation for other styles, such as boogie-woogie and other styles of the blues singers.

During the early 1940s, the world of jazz began to draw closer to the concert hall than to the dance hall, when the great saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker and the outstanding trumpet player John "Dizzy" Gillespie went against the polished performances of written and rehearsed "jazz". They wanted to return to the early ideals of jazz-improvisation, virtuosity, close interaction between soloist and accompanying combo, and appreciation intimately shared among a select few- they introduced a new style known as bebop. Bebop is music for a small ensemble of virtuosos in which each instrumental line retains independence, giving it a richly dissonant combination of sound. Most people-unable to recognize melody lines or dance to the complex rhythms of bebop-continued to prefer the big band sound of swing. In the 1950s, cool jazz emerged and became a type of concert jazz. Its melodies were more lyrical than those of bebop and textures fuller and less complex. A cool jazz ensemble included instruments that were the French horn, cello, flute, and oboe. During the 1960s, free jazz became popular because of Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, who were considered the leaders of it. Free jazz was a type of music that allowed musicians to improvise in a manner independent of other ensemble members. There is less emphasis on a regular beat or steady tempo than in traditional jazz styles, and the result is sometimes a random effect, related to the chance music being explored by concert musicians at about the same time (Ferris).

Another person that has a great influence on jazz is the big band leader Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington. He was also a jazz pianist, an arranger, the composer of a number of impressive concert works, and is recognized today as one of America's most outstanding musicians. Duke wasn't comfortable with the term "jazz," he wanted to create music that was unclassifiable. He is mostly known for his exotic "Afro-American" effects of instrumentation and his unusual playing techniques that were included in his performances (Ferris).

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