Music in the United States
a merging and melding of many different peoples and their heritages.
During the 1800s in America's south, music was an integral
part of the life of plantation slaves of African descent. Plantation
songs, spirituals, and field hollers were a part of everyday
life -- to celebrate, to mourn, to entertain, to commemorate,
to worship, and to accompany the drudgery of work. This music
of the plantations blended with the European-American musical
tradition to create the basis for blues, ragtime, and other
musical forms from which jazz evolved.
- (1880s-early 1900s)
was one of the early musical styles that contributed to the development
of jazz. Originating in the southern United States during the
late 1800's, ragtime was composed primarily for the piano. It
combined a sixteenth-note-based syncopated melody with the form
and feel of a march. On the piano this was achieved by the pianist's
left hand playing a steady "boom-chic" bass and chord
pattern and the right hand playing the syncopated tune. Playing
in this syncopated style was called "ragging," which
is probably the origin of the term "ragtime."
musicians of the time included pianists Scott Joplin, Artie
Matthews, James Scott, and Tom Turpin.
ragtime, the blues was an important influence on the development
of jazz. A highly expressive, predominantly vocal tradition,
blues songs expressed the stories and emotions of African-Americans
at the beginning of the 20th century. The blues were not only
a type of music, but a state of mind and way of life for many
African-Americans during this time.
A blues song
usually includes words which form a three-line stanza. The
first line is sung twice, the third rhymes with the first two
(aab form). The melody is performed over a 12-bar chord progression
consisting of three chords built on the 1st, 4th, and 5th notes
of the major scale. These three chords are referred to by the
Roman numerals I, IV, and V. The distinct sound of the blues
melody is in large part due to the use of notes outside the
major scale, called "blue notes."
vocalists accompanied themselves on the guitar or sang with
instrumental accompaniment of guitar, piano, harmonica, or
sometimes homemade instruments. Blues performed on the trumpet
or saxophone, for example, often imitate the vocal effects
of blues singers by bending pitches, rasping, and recreating
the growl of the voice.
blues musicians of the early twentieth century include Ma Rainey,
Bessie Smith, and W.C. Handy.
and ragtime, along with a rich local brass band tradition and
many other influences, came together in the late teens to early
1920s in New Orleans, Louisiana to create a new type of music
called Dixieland jazz. Dixieland is also known as traditional
jazz or New Orleans jazz. As jazz gained in popularity, it spread
north from New Orleans to Chicago, New York, Kansas City, and
across the Midwest to California.
The name "Dixieland" was
most likely derived from the Original Dixieland Jazz Band,
a New Orleans group who made the first publicly available recording
of this style of music in 1917. The recording was very popular
and the band gained international prominence as a result.
in a Dixieland jazz-style group included trumpet-cornet, clarinet,
trombone, and occasionally the saxophone. The rhythm section
could include the banjo, piano, drums, string bass, or tuba.
Dixieland was usually performed without a vocalist. The music
was characterized by a steady, often upbeat, tempo, 4/4 meter,
and rhythms performed in an exaggerated triplet swing style.
Frequently the tuba or string bass plays on the first and third
beats of each measure, with the banjo or piano playing chords
on beats two and four. This is known as "two-beat" style,
and gives the music a sound similar to ragtime. The other instruments
of the ensemble play melodies and counter melodies simultaneously
and take turns playing solos. Musicians often play familiar
melodies from memory adding their own bluesy inflections throughout
jazz greats included trumpeter Louis Armstrong, pianist Jelly
Roll Morton, trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke, trombonist Edward "Kid" Ory,
clarinetist Sidney Bechet, and bandleader and trumpeter King
Band Music: The Early Years - (1920's)
the rise of Dixieland jazz in the 1920s was a new style performed
by a large ensemble usually consisting of 10 players or more.
These bands, called big bands, relied increasingly on saxophones
instead of clarinets and emphasized sectional playing. The overall
instrumentation was broken into three groups of instruments:
brass (trumpets and trombones), reed (saxes, with players sometimes
doubling on clarinet), and rhythm section (piano, bass, drums,
guitar, and in later years, vibes). Generally big band arrangements
followed a standard form: (a) the melody was played by the entire
band in unison or harmony; (b) soloists improvised based on the
tune's melody, style, and chord progression, and (a) the melody
was restated sometimes in a varied or more elaborate setting.
performed by big bands was called swing, a type of music that
people could dance to easily. It was performed in a triplet
swing rhythm style. This energetic dance music was wildly popular
for almost two decades, with the swing era extending through
the mid-1940s. During this time, thousands of big bands played
across the United States. They performed written arrangements
of popular and jazz tunes, sometimes with a vocalist. Some
groups, like the big bands of Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington,
and Benny Goodman, toured a great deal and had national recognition,
but many only had local or territorial appeal. These "territory" bands," as
they were called, performed regionally in the dance halls of
both big cities and small towns.
early big band leaders were Fletcher Henderson and Paul Whiteman.
Band Boom - (1930's-1940's)
the challenges as a result of the Great Depression and World
War II, big band music continued to grow in popularity during
the 1930's and '40's. Musicians played together in jam sessions
after hours at bars and clubs. Radio broadcasts spread interest
in big band music by bringing it into peoples' homes. Ballrooms
such as the Savoy and the Roseland in New York City were wildly
popular venues for hearing the latest big band sounds.
The big band
boom of the 1930's and '40's brought together the greatest
jazz musicians of the day playing together in bands led by
clarinetist Benny Goodman, trombonist Tommy Dorsey, clarinetist
and saxophonist Jimmy Dorsey, trombonist and arranger Glenn
Miller, clarinetist and saxophonist Woody Herman, pianist and
composer Duke Ellington, and pianist Count Basie. Some of the
most well known singers from this era appeared with bands like
Ellington's, Basie's, Goodman's, and Herman's, and included
such legends as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra,
Bing Crosby, and Joe Williams. During the big band boom, leaders
and musicians were as idolized as rock stars are today.
of the microphone in 1935 changed the way vocalists approached
singing with a big band, allowing for more subtle nuances.
Band Music: Postwar to Present - (1940's-Present)
bands continued to be popular throughout the 1940s, but the 1950s
marked a decline in the raging popularity and sheer number of
big bands. The big bands that continued seemed to change with
the times, reflecting the influences of bebop, 20th-century art
music, cool jazz, and pop and rock styles.
big band musicians of this period are Stan Kenton, Thad Jones,
Buddy Rich, and Maynard Ferguson. Other well-known bandleaders
and musicians of the postwar big band era include: bandleaders
Rob McConnell, Maria Schneider, and Toshiko Akiyoshi, baritone
saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, tenor saxophonist Bill Holman,
and trumpeter Doc Severinsen.
emerged in the 1940s as a style of jazz in great contrast to
the music of the big bands. It featured a small group of musicians
-- four to six players -- rather than the 10 or more associated
with the big bands. The smaller size allowed more solo opportunities
for the players. The music itself was characterized by more complex
melodies and chord progressions, as well as more emphasis on
the role the rhythm section. Furthermore, phrases within the
music were often irregular in length, making bebop interesting
to listen to, but in contrast to music of the big bands, unsuitable
of bebop is attributed in large part to trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie
and alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. The unique styles of Gillespie
and Parker contributed to and typified the bebop sound. They
experimented with unconventional chromaticism, discordant sounds,
and placement of accents in melodies. In contrast to the regular
phrasing of big band music, Gillespie and Parker often created
irregular phrases of odd length, and combined swing and straight
eighth-note rhythms within the swing style.
bebop musicians included saxophonists Sonny Stitt and Dexter
Gordon, trumpeters Red Rodney and Kenny Dorham, trombonists
J.J. Johnson and Bennie Green, guitarists Tal Farlow and Kenny
Burrell, pianists Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, and Thelonius
Monk, drummers Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, and bassists Charles
Mingus and Paul Chambers.
Jazz - (1940's-1950's)
the 1940's there were many different styles of music evolving
simultaneously. Cool jazz developed during the late 1940's at
approximately the same time as bebop, and remained popular for
several decades. Cool jazz was more subtle, moody, muted, and
restrained than bebop, and may have been influenced by the harmonies
of 20th-century art music composers like Stravinsky and Debussy.
Two of the
most important contributors to the cool jazz style were trumpeter
Miles Davis and pianist, bandleader, and composer-arranger
Gil Evans. Other cool jazz musicians were saxophonists Gerry
Mulligan and Lee Konitz, trumpeters Chet Baker and Conte Candoli,
trombonists Frank Rosolino and Bob Brookmeyer, guitarists Wes
Montgomery and Barney Kessel, pianists John Lewis, Dave Brubeck,
and Lennie Tristano, bassist Red Mitchell, and drummers Shelley
Manne and Mel Lewis.
Jazz - (1930's - present)
jazz is characterized by Latin dance rhythms combined with jazz
melodies and chord progressions. Latin influences began to enter
mainstream American popular music in the 1930's. During the 1950's
and 1960's these influences became particularly strong, with
Latin dances such as the mambo, cha-cha-cha, samba, and bossa
nova becoming extremely popular in the United States. Other Latin
dances such as the salsa and merengue continue to be an influence
has its own unique sound. Eighth notes are played straight,
not swung as in other style of jazz, but syncopation is still
common. A wide variety of Latin percussion instruments also
flavor the music. Congas are Afro-Cuban in origin, played with
the palms of the hands and with the fingers. Bongos are also
Afro-Cuban, but are higher-pitched and thinner in tone quality
than congas. Other common instruments include timbales, claves,
who infused a Latin element into their bands are Dizzy Gillespie
and Stan Kenton. Other musicians who incorporate Latin elements
into their music include Brazilian drummer Airto Moreira, Peruvian
percussionist Alex Acuña, Cuban trumpeter, pianist,
composer and protegé of Dizzy Gillespie Arturo Sandoval,
pianist Eddie Palmieri, percussionists Tito Puente and Poncho
Sanchez, bandleader Mario Bauza, trombonist Steve Turré,
and alto saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera.
Jazz - (1960's)
jazz is a term often used to categorize a new direction in jazz
in the 1960's. Experimental, provocative, and challenging for
many listeners, free jazz was characterized by a high degree
of dissonance. Pitch and tone quality were manipulated by players
on their instruments to produce squeaks, shrieks, and wails.
New sounds from non-western music traditions like those of India,
China, the Middle East, or Africa were sometimes used. Collective
improvisation, where all players improvise simultaneously and
independently without the framework of a chord progression, was
also common. All this sometimes lent to the feeling of "organized
chaos." Free jazz was praised by some of the prominent musicians
of the time, but was not widely accepted by the public.
Two of the
major contributors to the evolution of free jazz were alto
saxophonist Ornette Coleman and pianist Cecil Taylor. Other
free jazz musicians included saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, pianist
Muhal Richard Abrams, and composer, pianist, and bandleader,
(Jazz-Rock) - (1970's-present)
also called fusion, combines jazz improvisation and chord progressions
with the rhythms of rock. Generally, it is more electronic than
acoustic, featuring synthesizer, electric bass, electric guitar,
electronically-processed woodwind and brass instruments, and
a great deal of percussion. The rhythm section usually plays
a series of syncopated repeated notes to create the groove over
which a vocalist and other instrumentalists play the tune, improvised
solos, and accompaniment figures.
fusion musicians are pianist Chick Corea and guitarist Pat
Metheny. Successful jazz-rock groups include Weather Report,
Chicago, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and Chase.