Jazz - Then and Now (Chapter 7, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 7

Ragtime was a written form of music, whereas, jazz depended on improvisation. Jazz musicians used a lot of syncopation in their playing, however, thereby keeping a spark of ragtime alive.

Jazz made its mark on the American public in the early 1900s. The development of jazz as previously mentioned, stems from African slaves who carried over their folk songs and spirituals to the United States from their native country. As time passed, European musical culture, with its melodies and new harmonic structures, bonded with the African rhythms and melodies.

Jazz was not written or printed music as was its predecessor, ragtime. The musical form of jazz is improvisational. Improvisation is an extemporaneous performance by the musician of a melody. Almost all southern plantations had a brass band of their own, and since black musicians didn't know how to read music, they could only play the notes which originated in their minds. In other words, they improvised.

New Orleans was considered the home of jazz. The city played a major role in the development of this music style. But New Orleans was not the only place where jazz was played. Jazz was also heard in St. Louis, Chicago, Memphis, Atlanta, Baltimore and New York.

One reason New Orleans boasted of so many jazz musicians was because of the many available places to perform this new brand of music. There were numerous social clubs, political and fraternal organizations plus dances, parties, new store or company openings, picnics, funerals and music for the "sporting houses."

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