Free Essay

Jazz Piano History

In: English and Literature

Submitted By alympfo23
Words 1367
Pages 6
What is Jazz? Some people will tell you that jazz is a style of music that originated from
African-Americans here in America and was adopted by white people over the years. Other people will tell you that jazz is the heart and soul of Blues music and a spinoff of Ragtime and a way of loosely expressing yourself through music. Both of these interpretations are correct, but by dictionary definition, jazz is music originating from New Orleans around the beginning of the
20th century and subsequently developing through the various increasingly complex styles, generally marked by intricate, propulsive rhythms, polyphonic ensemble playing, improvisatory, virtuosic solos, melodic freedom, and a harmonic idiom ranging from simple diatonicism through chromaticism to atonality. Jazz music is all of this and yet so much more.
In order to play jazz, you have to take something and tweak it to make it your own. The biggest difference between jazz piano and regular classic piano is simply the style in which you play it. With classic piano, you stick to the rhythms and notes that are written on the pages. The music goes almost perfectly with the score and there is no room for relaxation between notes.
With jazz piano however, you move with the music. Within the rhythms, you get to swing to your own style. Jazz piano is much more lose and free. Also with jazz, a lot of the times, you improvise the music meaning that it’s not written down and the player comes up with the notes and rhythms in his or her head as he or she is playing.
As it might seem that all jazz is the same, it’s actually all very different. There’s an unlimited amount of the different kinds of jazz because everyday new types are being invented.
Some styles that are known to us today include: Dixieland, Big Band, Swing, Bebop, Cool or
West Coast, Hard Bop, Third Stream, Progressive Stream, Modal, Free Jazz, Bossa Nova,
Fusion, and Neo-Classical. Although it is nearly impossible to even begin to explain what each one is and how it differs from the next, it takes a true master to be able to listen and pick out which style of jazz an artist is using.
Our journey starts in the 1890’s where jazz first started. As stated earlier, jazz was an
American invention by African Americans. However, jazz didn’t become popular until after
World War 1 in the 1920’s. This is when white folks began to take an interest on this genre of music. The 1920’s were a rebellious era. Along with all the drama about women acting out and generation differences, white people had another thing to worry about. Jazz. This type of music was unappreciated and unacceptable. Certain kinds of dancing techniques came about such as
Fox Trot. As you can imagine, many people didn’t approve of this either. But as jazz became more popular throughout both Europe and the United States, more people started opening up toward it. Soon, everyone who was anyone was listening to jazz music. As jazz groups got larger, piano came into the scene and began introducing different kinds of jazz, opening up the eyes of many fans. Out of these jazz groups, many great stars and legends were born.
Growing up in New Orleans, Jelly Roll Morton quickly learned the secrets of piano at age
10. He quickly began his career and travelled around the country, picking up on black music and combining it all together. This combination closely resembled the style of music that today we call “Jazz”.
During the 1920’s, when jazz was first becoming very popular, jazz pianists began blending together different styles and the result was Stride piano. The left hand took the rhythm of Ragtime, but put more swing and complexity into it. The left hand had to “stride” up and

down the piano at intervals at quick speeds. The right hand was then free to play the melody, however; most of the time the right had improvised. Together, the two hands were a swinging beat. James P. Johnson (1894-1955) is known to some as the “father of stride piano”. He took
Ragtime and twisted it in his own way to create a type of jazz called Stride. Before Johnson was famous, he competed in “cutting contests”. Cutting contests are where a small jazz band gets together and goes to clubs and street corners to play in friendly competitions. A very well known piece by Johnson is “Carolina Shout” written in 1918. James P. Johnson’s footprint left a huge mark on jazz piano and inspired many other artists to start jazz piano.
Another great jazz pianist is Fats Waller. He has his own was of interpreting Stride.
Compared to James P. Johnson, Waller had a much faster and more powerful rhythm. By quickly becoming a professional at age 15, he went from playing the organ at his church to working and playing many solos at cabaret clubs and many other theaters during the 1920’s. Unfortunately, he died of pneumonia on a train at the age of 39.
Blind from birth, Art Tatum taught himself how to play piano and quickly switched over to jazz to start writing his own pieces of music. He began touring in 1932 by playing solos and trios with Tiny Grimes and Slam Stewart.
Boogie-Woogie is another style of jazz piano. It became a style when people had to hire a pianists instead of an orchestra. They would play on a piano called a “barrel house” which was often found in the south juke joints. This certain kind of piano tried to imitate the sound of three different guitars: one playing chords, one melody, and one bass. Boogie-Woogie is mainly a simple Blues chord progression repeated over and over. In the 1930’s, more Blues forms were used in jazz recording and all the tempos were speeding up. Just before 1940, boogie-woogie became the new craze. During the 40’s, Boogie-Woogie influenced many pieces with big bands.
Some people have credited Meade “Lux” Lewis for the newly popular style of jazz piano. Later on, boogie-woogie and stride piano collided to form the main line of development of jazz piano.
This form was led by Earl “Fatha” Hines and is called Bebop.
Bebop came into existence during the 1940’s. This type of music used small bands with
4-6 players instead of the typical 10 player big band group. With the smaller amount of players, it gave more opportunities for solos. Branching off of jazz, Bebop had more complex melodies and rhythms. The notes of the music were very irregular in length, which made Bebop interesting to listen to, but it was impossible to dance to.
A famous jazz pianist during the 60’s was Duke Ellington (1899-1974). One famous quote of his is, “Gray skies are just clouds passing over.” Throughout his life, Ellington has made such an influential impact on all of his listeners. He earned the President’s Gold Metal in 1966, the Metal of Freedom in 196, the French Legion of Honor in 1973, the Life Time Achievement
Award, the Pulitzer Award, and thirteen Grammy Awards.
Today, people listen to jazz music with ease and relaxation. They love the cool swing of the beat and the rhythm of the song. Jazz piano has evolved along with all of the jazz music.
Since the piano is basically a combination of all the instruments, jazz pianists went with the flow and played the new craze of that era.

Finding jazz music today is easier than ever. You can just simply go online and just download it. Back in the 1920’s, you had to go to a jazz club and listen for a one time thing.
There are, however, still many jazz clubs open now.
Throughout the ages, jazz piano has not only inspired the players, but captivated the listener’s ear. With the long and endless journey of jazz piano, it opened many doors and went down so many new paths. Some people believe that jazz is old news, washed out, oldies music.
But it isn’t. This isn’t where jazz ends. This is where it starts.

Similar Documents

Premium Essay


...College | History of Jazz Music | | | Inemesit Inyang Crump | 4/27/2012 | | In the world we live in today there many different types of music that comes from all types of people, countries and origins. Rock, blues, neo-soul, classical, hip-hop, techno and even heavy metal are just brief descriptions of the many genres of music. One genre of music that is most popularly known worldwide is Jazz. Jazz is one of the most historical forms of music in America, contributing to several cultural achievements and society. The history of jazz has an extensive timeline of history dating back to the early 1700’s and 1800’s which is also known as the slave era and the ragtime era. This unique form art has helped to unite people of all races, regions and national boundaries. Even though it is a form of entertainment, it has been used to widely voice sentiments on slavery, freedom, creativity, and American character both in the United States and also overseas. Jazz music consists of many forms such as European, ragtime, modal, afro-cuban jazz, fusion and many more. While many people argue that Jazz is not one of their favorite forms of music, it has been proven that it is one of the longest lasting forms of music dating back over 100 years. Jazz was born to African Americans, which were predominantly slaves. These African Americans attempted to express their culture and feelings using instruments to give other cultures an idea of their personalities. Even though......

Words: 1737 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay


...The History of the Blues * In my Assignment I will be mostly taking about the ways that the blues has influenced culture. So what did the blues influence…? Everything. The blues influenced nearly every genre of music that came after it. Jazz in all of its various styles and flavors. From just a basic 12bars you get everything that you need in order to play great music. It’s not like without the blues we would not have any current music actually it’s a lot like that. The influence of blues can even be seen in the classical music of the later Romantic period as well as in various aspects of Contemporary classical music. Literally every style of music that’s come out in the past eighty or more years has once or a few times borrowed something from the blues. To think the whole world would of changed if there was not the blues, or slavery for that matter. To think we would not even have big band music or loud electric guitars, or a guy going yo yo into a microphone. * When you think of the blues, you think about misfortune, betrayal and regret. You lose your job, you get the blues. Your mate falls out of love with you, you get the blues. Your dog dies, you get the blues. * While blues lyrics often deal with personal adversity, the music itself goes far beyond self-pity. The blues is also about overcoming hard luck, saying what you feel, ridding yourself of frustration, letting your hair down, and simply having fun. The best blues is visceral, cathartic, and......

Words: 967 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Origins of Bebop

...Stephen Ververis All That Jazz Dr. Cornicello December 14, 2012 The Origins of Bebop Ever since the musical style of bebop arose in the mid-1940’s, jazz musicians from all generations were influenced by its musical style and rhythm. Along with its fast tempo, bebop is also characterized by having “more complex chord progressions and melodies with a strong concentration on the rhythm section”( Although not as popular as the jazz styles that came before it, bebop still created a well-defined audience. Since bebop’s origination was not a result of a single musician or band, bebop’s formation cannot be attributed to any single musician. There are many origins of bebop that made it relevant during its time. The early formation and history of bebop consisted of how the musical form was created and the numerous reactions that were caused by its existence. The musical style of bebop is like no other jazz style. Bands were usually smaller and included different types of instruments. Some influential players of bebop music were Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, and Thelonious Monk. These players created the foundations of bebop and continue to influence musicians of all genres. During the 1940’s, America underwent a number of drastic experiences that would change the American economy forever. One of these occurrences of the 1940s was World War II. Beginning in 1939, World War II required the assistance of all United States citizens and......

Words: 4021 - Pages: 17

Free Essay

Ragtime for Rock

...Ragtime for Rock Throughout its history, Rock and Roll has been influenced and molded by many different artists and genres. A more prominent catalyst for the evolution of rock would be Ragtime. One of the earliest forms of jazz, ragtime was characterized by its syncopated and “ragged” rhythms, and blazed the path for almost every modern day music genre. Ragtime was a variation of the then popular type of music, march. Even before the 1900’s, this was a popular dance music of red-light districts in African American communities of places such as St. Louis and New Orleans (Rock and Roll). Rhythmically broken up melodies made the sounds lively and springy, and therefore ideal for dancing. Eventually, the genre began being published as piano sheet music. This transition gave ragtime much more exposure to the public and created a lot of buzz. With the help of composers such as Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb, and James Scott, ragtime took the music community by storm. It’s the innovative styles were demonstrated years beyond ragtime’s fifteen minutes of fame and influenced many artists later to hit the scene. Artists such as the great Ray Charles, who was famous for his syncopation and his seemingly improvised music (Ray). Ragtime was an essential part to the development of rock and roll because of its use of syncopation, talented composers, lively music, and influence it had on many great artists to come. The most prominent composer in the ragtime music genre was undebatably Scott...

Words: 1143 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Cal Tjader

...descent. He began as a jazz player, playing the drums and became the most famous non-latino Latin jazz musician of the 1950s and 60s. Throughout his career Mr. Tjader enjoyed success and mainstream attention from Latin Jazz listeners, however, critics always wrote his music of as being too commercial and catering to popular taste. In this paper I will attempt to illustrate the notion that even though Mr. Tjader was unable to garner the acceptance of the Jazz critics of his time, he was nonetheless respected and admired by many of the influential musicians of his time, as well as by the musicians of today. Callen Radcliffe Tjader, Jr was born on 16th July 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Tjader came from a family of performing vaudevillians as his father was a tap dancer and his mother was a piano player. It was no coincidence that Mr. Tjader would also take an interest in performing and he initially started dancing professionally when he was three until at the age of fourteen when he discovered jazz and taught himself the drums. With the exception of the piano lessons given to him, Mr. Tjader was self-taught on all of his instruments. In 1949, Mr. Tjader enrolled into the San Francisco State College. It was here when Mr. Tjader would meet a variety of young jazz musicians, including future jazz legends, Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. The three musicians along with others formed the Dave Brubeck Octet, with Mr. Tjader on drums. “The Octet experimented with jazz employing......

Words: 2002 - Pages: 9

Free Essay

Duke of Jazz

...Shantae Todd Intro to Jazz History Mrs. Lester 29 January 2014 “Duke of Jazz” Duke Ellington was an American jazz composer, orchestrator, bandleader, and pianist, who were considered to be the greatest composer in the history of jazz music and one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. He composed over 2000 works and performed numerous concerts during his musical career. A compilation of some of his most popular music is collected on a CD called "The Popular Duke Ellington." He was born Edward Kennedy Ellington on April 28, 1899 in Washington, D.C. to Daisy and James Ellington. They served as the ideal role models for young Ellington and taught him everything from table manners to the power of music. He was eight when he got his first piano lessons. By the age of fourteen, he was sneaking into Frank Holliday’s poolroom. He learned from his experiences in the poolroom how to appreciate the value of mixing with a wide range of people. He attended the Armstrong Manual Training School to study commercial art instead of an academically-oriented school. During the summer months, he would seek out and listen to ragtime pianists in Washington. He said he decided to become a musician when he realized that when playing the piano, there was always a pretty girl standing down at the bass clef end of the piano, thus the music career of Duke Ellington was born. He was called “Duke” because he was something of a dandy, with a love of fancy clothes and an elegant style. He......

Words: 768 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Effect of Jazz on Modern Music

...Cause and Effect Essay Throughout history music has accompanied Humanity in many different forms and styles. From Medieval and Baroque to Classical and Romantic, the genres we’ve seen in the past are largely similar in their foundations, with variations in theme and style that appropriately reflected moods of the time period. The music of today however, known as the Modern period, is much unlike the others. The introduction of Jazz music in the early 20th Century has sculpted what we know music as today. As a style that has evolved over time, people aren’t able to pinpoint a specific moment where Jazz was first played. Although, most accept it was initially developed in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jazz music at its core is a unique combination of both European and African musical elements. It takes its “rhythm and feel” component from African music. Additionally, the component of harmony -- that is, the chords that accompany the melody of the tune (usually played on the piano) -- and various instruments, such as the saxophone, trumpet, and piano, are borrowed from European music. While Jazz initially only saw popularity in a small minority of communities throughout the American South, it soon grew far beyond those reaches, developing many alternate styles of its own as it was introduced to new corners of society. Some examples include: Swing, Ragtime, Bossa Nova, Blues and Bebop. Classic jazz and its alternates are the facilitators of the evolution of popular......

Words: 789 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

The Rise of Bangladesh Textile Trade

...EDUCATION COURSE TITLE: JAZZ MUSIC TITLE OF ASSIGNMENT: ATLANTIC INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY HONOLULU, HAWAII TABLE OF CONTENT CCONTENT PAGE INTRODUCTION……………………………………3-5 JUSTIFICATION…………………………………………5 BODY……………………………………………….…….6-14 REFERENCES………………………………………. …..15-16 INTRODUCTION Musical language started changing throughout Europe by famous composers such as Stravinsky and Schoenberg, alone side a new style of music was developed in America called the jazz music, this new style of music that was developed by instrumentalist and singers, predominantly the black Americans who were performing this new style of music along streets, bawdy houses, dance halls and other southern cities. Jazz music can be defined according to according to oxford student dictionary defined jazz music as a style of music with a strong rhythm, originally of African American. Again, jazz music can be describe as a style of music rooted out of improvisation and features by syncopated rhythm, a constant beat pattern with a distinctive tone color and performance techniques. The term jazz became popular around 1915, though it started as early as 1900 but throughout the early period of jazz existence nothing was written down on paper or notated on jazz music due to the fact that jazz music was mostly dominated by improvisation. Moreover, only little of jazz music was......

Words: 2506 - Pages: 11

Premium Essay

Wynton Marsalis

...The interaction between Blues and Jazz can be discerned when the origins of both music are scrutinized. The development of one is hidden in the roots of one another and both use similar sound patterns for instance. In this paper the readers will be presented a brief history of Blues & Jazz within the similarities of the two. If we trace back to the history of Blues music, the impact of African-American tradition is seen quite apparently. Blues music evolved from the songs sung by West African griots, the southern Black American songs of sadness and despair, and more hopeful Christian spirituals. It originated in the rural Mississippi Delta region at the beginning of 20th century. Similarly, Jazz music emerged as a blend of African-American rituals; the features carried from West African Black folk music developed in the Americas, joined with European music of the late 18th and 19th centuries and turned out to be the minor voicing characteristics of the Blues. Jazz emerged in New Orleans and was characterized by strong but flexible rhythms. Blues had its most brilliant years in America by the end of WWI. The American troops brought the Blues home with them, which they learned from the Southern Whites who had been exposed to the blues. After WWII, Blues had a different experience by the well-known Blues musicians as B.B. King and Buddy Guy by “amplifying guitar” and “emphasized drums”; thus created intensified sounds in Blues, the collection of which later called...

Words: 814 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

How the History of Music Ifluences Today

...Music Appreciation “Our lives are constantly changing, with new avenues of the supertechnology highway opening every day. This technological resolution has a strong impact on our work and our leisure activities. It also conditions how, when, and where we listen to music” Yes, as our book immediately states, our lives have changed. We can now listen to music in almost any location on earth. The music we’ve created has evolved into a great number of genres, all with wonderful different sounds. But without the old, there would have been nothing for the new to build upon. Much, if not all music from the middle ages and before is religious. This is due to sponsorship from the churches at the time, which usually consisted of monophonic Gregorian chants. Towards the end of Romanesque era, however, began the rise of polyphony. This evolved into the motet, while secular music was coming about in France and Spain. Afterwards, we move on to the Renaissance, an era of exploration, science, and artistic awakening. Melodies made specifically for the voice began springing up, and expressive word painting became a common theme. Around this period, amateur secular music started to appear. Later, we would be in what is now known as the Baroque era. It was a turbulent time, of change in politics, science, and arts. This marks the introduction of Monody, as well as the genre of the Opera. In a way, an opera’s Librettist, who makes the main story of the work is like the author of a show, or......

Words: 1488 - Pages: 6

Free Essay


...Instruction Alex Powell Music Appreciation 29 April 2012 Duke Ellington (1899-1974) Edwin Kennedy Ellington was born on April 29, 1899 in Washington D.C. He was a son of a butler who had occasionally worked at the White House. He was a major figure in our history of jazz music, his career spanned more than half a century. He started playing the piano in the jazz band, during that time he composed thousands of songs for the stage, screen and contemporary songbooks. He created the most distinctive sounds in Western music and he continued playing what is called today as American Music until shortly before his death. When he turned 7 years old he was called "Duke" because of his gentlemanly ways. He held fast to his own standards of innovation and stylishness. He wrote his first composition," Soda Fountain Rag," at the age of 15. He was considered among the world's greatest composers and musicians. The French goverment gave him their highest award, the Legion of Honor, while the government of the United States bestowed upon him with the highest civil honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He had played over 20,000 performances worldwide over the span of his 50-year career. He took his first piano lesson around age seven or eight and he didn't retain the lessons that long. He was more favored to play baseball as a youngster . Duke went on a vacation in Asbury Park and he heard a pianist named Harvey Brooks playing. Duke sought Harvey out in Philadelphia......

Words: 970 - Pages: 4

Free Essay


...History of Jazz 10/9/2011 Swing. A new evolution of music was developing during the 1930s. What was developing was possibly the most notable styles, movements and sub-genres to evolve out of Jazz, the unmistakable Swing. This new style was about more than just the music and great musicians, it was a reaction to a pivotal time in America’s history, it was a cultural phenomenon, it made people get up and dance. This was an important musical movement for this country, most notable the younger generation, in that it was a welcome distraction to the war that was engulfing all of our resources and attention, along with what was going on in our own backyards; the Great Depression. The danceability of swing was a great stress reliever and a way to have some much needed fun. One thing that makes Swing an experience is the size of the majority of the bands performing this music at that time. And due to the general size of these bands, it was dubbed the Big Band Era. These bands relied on complex scores of standards and new original material alike. Any improvisation was reserved for a soloist, since 10-20 musicians attempting to improvise all at once could be quite a fiasco. This new evolution of Jazz also added something new to the musical mix, and that new ingredient were lyrics. The more consistent musical arrangements and performances, along with the addition of lyrics, made Swing more relatable for larger audiences and therefore became popular amongst those that may......

Words: 561 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay


...the beginning of Jazz, Rock and R&B • Congo Square –Passage from book: History of Jazz o An eligible black man sits with a large cylinder drum using his fingers and edge of his hand he jams repeatedly on the drum head which is around 14 diameters and probably made from animal skin. ____________________ with rapid sharp strokes. A second drummer holding his instrument between his knees joins in, playing with the same ______ attack. A third black man seated on the ground _________ instrument the body of which is rashly fashioned from the calabash. Another calabash which has been made into a drum and a woman beats at it with two short sticks. One voice then another voice, then other voices join in a dance of scene contradictions __________ give and take ___________ one handed performance spontaneous yet on closer inspection ritualize and precise is a dance of massive proportions, a dense crowded _________ performed in circular groups perhaps five or six hundred individuals moving in time to the pulsations of the music some swaying gently and others aggressively stumping their feet. A number of women in the group begin chanting. This scene could be Africa, in fact it is 19th century in New Orleans scattered first handed accounts provide us with analyzing details of these slay dances that took place in the open area then known as Congo Square. Today Luis Armstrong Park stands on roughly the same ground and there perhaps are no intriguing documents in the history of......

Words: 5816 - Pages: 24

Premium Essay

The History of Reggae and Jazz

...The History of Jazz and Reggae In the history of music the smooth sounds of jazz and reggae has influenced listeners all over the country for many years. Although some prefer to listen to Hip Hop and R & B the genuine sounds of Jazz and Reggae is some of the most delightful music to listen to. Jazz and Reggae has been two of the most popular and unique musical categories with similar styles but different in their own way. When these particular styles of music was introduced they made great impressions in the music industry. In the early 1800’s jazz was born in the city of New Orleans where it was performed in festivals such as the Mardi gras also at funerals. In 1940 they began to broadcast the music over the radio when the music was played people found themselves dancing, clapping, and singing to the musical sounds being played. Jazz is considered to be a mixture of blues and marching band music when it first started out it was played by african americans and creole. When jazz hit the music charts and became more popular the europeon and african culture got together and presented a new sound for jazz to make it even more exciting. It has continued to be performed in the streets of new Orleans, night clubs, dancehalls, and concerts throughout the countries up until this present time jazz is still popular more than ever. The roots of reggae music originated in Jamaica in the 1960’s introduced in dancehall clubs where people danced to the low beats and rhythm of this......

Words: 903 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Jazz in America

...How Jazz Music Lead to a Victory in World War II Music is a very powerful tool, it can bring people together, it can make two people hate each other and in some instances it can put words into your head without you even knowing (ie. Hotel California- The Eagles). Music is something that nearly everybody listens to anywhere from church hymns to the ear splitting dubstep music that sounds like Autobots and Decepticons fighting. Since it is so universal that means that it could have a large impact on every population. I shouldn’t use the word could, it has impacted history already as it is. In my paper I will prove this by showing you that the invention of jazz music effected World War II enough to push us onto the winning side of the war. Imagine a time when the United States only consisted of nineteen states, and James Monroe has just been elected president. This time would be the year 1817 and it was also the year that the world of jazz would begin. I use the word begin in a very loose way, because jazz music didn’t just pop out of the ground one day. What I am referring to is that in New Orleans in 1817 Congo Square was designated as the official site for slave music and dance. This was what began what lead up to become jazz music. The music itself wasn’t started until at the very earliest 1892 when African American artist, Tommy Turpin writes what is considered to be the first ragtime song on his piano. [2] Ragtime music is a music style that would eventually turn......

Words: 2054 - Pages: 9