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The Beginning To Jazz Essay

1068 words - 5 pages

The Beginning to Jazz Jazz History MUS 205

Three styles of music that contributed to what Jazz is today would be Work Songs, Country Blues, and City Blues. They have similar aspects that have built on one another making them familiar yet has enhanced them. They also have many differences that give them their unique sound. These styles have inspired artist to contribute to Jazz with their own flair. Their culture and back ground is what makes the music have the sole to reach the audience in ways they can relate. They have seen and felt the same tribulations the artist portrays. Work songs through their hypnotic rhythms were effectively used to have the workers keep pace. These work songs ...view middle of the document...

The singer’s forms of these songs were more elaborate than a work song. The Blues songs developed into a 12measure format containing three equal phrases. The unsophisticated lyrics and uncomplicated chords flowed with a comfortable regularity that separated from other later blues styles. This format was widely adopted and remains virtually unchanged today.1 Each verse contained the same chord progression and each line was a musical phrase. These musical phrases were immediately followed by a vocal or an instrumental fill. Like the work song the guitar was the only instrument accompaniment used. Through the simplicity and personal identity a great blues singer was able to draw the listener into the story. Take the song “Hellhound on My trail” by Robert Johnson: 1. I got to keep movin’. Blues fallin’ down like hail. I got to keep movin’. Blues fallin’ down like hail. I can’t keep no money with a hellhound on my trail. This is sung with the accompaniment of a guitar playing the melody. The interplay between the melody, the fills, and the guitar kept it natural and simple, never cold and stagnant.


Megill, D. D., & Richard S. Demory. (2004). Introduction to Jazz History. New Jersey: Person Prentice Hall. Pg.14

City Blues shared the same passion as Country Blues, the artist also sang about the basic human problems. They used a similar 12-bar format; however City Blues differs from country blues in many subtle and unmistakable ways. In City blues the singer is on a stage and accompanied by other performers, unlike the Country Blues singers who interacted with the crowd and played the guitar themselves. City blues singers had a style was more sophisticated and refined in order to hold the audiences and play on their feelings. It was refined, carefully considered and the lyrics and melody were written down. If we take “St. Louis Blues” by Bessie Smith; we see that two sections were 12 measures each that use the same melody. Except in the middle a section of 16 measures introduces a new...

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