Jazz music is a very popular form of music, this form of music has been a popular genre since the early 20th century, mostly present and evident in African American neighborhoods and then spread across America and Europe. Jazz has always influenced popular, more mainstream music, over the years it has gone through many evolutions, producing many different sub genres as time has gone on. Jazz is also influenced by the different cultures and regions it is brought into, with each culture adding its’ own distinct twist on the genre. This has created many distinctive and different styles in jazz culture.
It’s hard to define the starting point of the jazz music genre, as there are so many different sub genres and cultures that have involved themselves in jazz music. It’s also very difficult to actually define jazz, and put some kind of label on it’s traits and characteristics, as it has become so widely varied. One huge element of jazz music is definitely improvisation – playing around, rarely playing the same song or melody more than once, not having particular notes or keys to follow and experimenting with the music, which is a huge part of jazz’s liberal, free feel. Early jazz movements also had a kind of call-and-response pattern, in which some players would play a note, only to have other people playing different instruments play the same thing, and so on it would go, making the genre a little bit competitive during live performances. Many early jazz musicians did not even know how to play music. However, this is certainly not to say that jazz players are not talented – they certainly are very talented, often more than classical performers. They often instead learn notes by ear.
Some trace the jazz music genre back to the late 18th century, when African slaves were first brought over to the United States. They would sing, chant or improvise the creation of song and instruments while they were forced to work in the slave trade. This is where jazz’s call-and-response characteristic is from, it became a form of entertainment for the slaves. With the end of slavery, jazz music began to develop even more, as African-Americans were finally treated as people and were entitled to education. They began to perform early forms of jazz music as entertainment in nightclubs and other venues. ‘Ragtime’ was one of the first established sub genres of jazz, which became popular around this time, along with the rise of blues music. Jazz was especially popular in the South during this time, particularly New Orleans, where a lot of jazz music was developed and a lot of famous and influential jazz musicians first became recognized and known.
Throughout the early 1900s’ jazz began to blossom and grow, as musicians played around more with the genre and its’ possibilities. This included sub genres such as swing, gypsy jazz and European styles of jazz.Since this time, jazz has become a major influence and is even partially responsible for the invention and creation of other genres. It’s amazing to see how music has evolved.