Typical Jazz Instrumentation (Rhythm Section and Frontline)

  1. Rhythm Section – Drums, bass, piano
  2. Frontline – Clarinet, sax, trumpet, and trombone 

Spontaneous rhythm
Forms (Blues and Song Form)

  1. Blues Form: AAB
  2. Song Form: AABA 

pattern of attack or accent
1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4
Up beat
+ + + +
Minstrelsy (When, what type of entertainment)
1840-1920, variety show
“Black Face”
white performers would pain their faces black to resemble African Americans as a joke
What did Minstrelsy bring to our country

Brought nationalism to our country – but ingrained rascism in the country

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Even though its rascist it stayed around becuase it made money

Forms of Jazz (textual and harmonic)

  1. Textual: AAB
  2. Harmonic (12-Bar Blues):
    1. Tonic
    2. Subdominant, tonic
    3. Dominant, tonic 

12 bar (country/ delta) blues

secular counterpart to the spiritual

male singer – self accompany on guitar/ bango

good blues song will make you “feel better”

Robert Johnson


Exemplified style of the blues




“syncopation gone mad”

Its the idea of “ragging”  something and prominence of syncopation

formal connection to Marching Brass Band form

Scott Joplin


most prolific composer of ragtime

Maple Leaf Rag (1899)



Pre-Jazz Historical Threads

  1. Transcontinental Slave Trade and the African Diaspora
  2. Indeigenous African music-making values/practices
  3. Vocal Blues Tradition
  4. Minstrelsy tradition and advancement of racial stereotypes
  5. Congo Square
  6. African status 
  7. Civil War
  8. Marching/ Brass Band traditoin
  9. Reconstruction
  10. Plessy v. Ferguson
  11. Merging of musical traditions
  12. Sex, brothels, and “jass”

Congo Square
in New Orleans, slave owners let slaves play in congo square to give them a break from their work and they would play music, but it wasn’t music from Africa
African Status in 19th Century America
Creoles v slave population: stark cultural and musical differences
American Civil War


Northern occupaiton of New Orleans, which means that Africans had the chance to play their music

Marching/ Brass Band tradition
instumental surplus following the war


  1. Rise of the Ku Klux Klan
  2. Segregation (Jim Crow), white supremacy, poverty, and lynching commonplace
  3. Creoles become second-class citizens overnight and forced into African American ghettos

Plessy v. Ferguson


“Separate but equal” made constitututional

Merging of Musical Traditions

  1. African American Blues
  2. Creole European technical training
  3. Fusion of vocal blues tradition into instumental tradition 

Country and Classic Blues Instrumentation

  1. Country blues instrumentation = banjo/ guitar and voice
  2. Classic blues instrumentation = updated to full band and voice


Defining Characteristics of New Oleans (Dixieland) style

  1. Role of dance in cementing jazz’s popularity
  2. “Collective” Improvisation 

Common roles of early New Orleans melody instruments

  1. Trumpet = melody 
  2. Clarinet = pitched above melody, often embellishing melody 
  3. Trombone = pitched below trumpet and clarinet, supporting melody recording fidelity

The Original Dixieland (Jass) Jazz Band
First Jazz Recording = “Livery Stable Blues” and “Dixie Jazz Band One-Step”, recorded February 26, 1917
King Oliver and Creole Jazz Band

King Oliver played: cornet

“Alligator Hop” 1923

“Dippermouth Blues” 1923

The biggest distinction between jazz and any othe type of music
The collective improvisation (each instrument is important)
Jelly Roll Morton

Instrument: piano

Self-proclaimed first composer of jazz (first to write things down)

Importance of New Orleans funeral march tradition

“Dead Man Blues” Morton’s Red Hot Peppers 1926

James P. Johnson

Instrument: piano

“Charleston” 1925

Louis Armstrong


Influenced every jazz player to follow him for 25 years

called to chicago by Oliver during the great migration


Stylistic Traits of Louis Armstrong

  • Incredible power of volume
  • Amazing technician/ virtuoso
  • Brilliant improviser 

First Recording of Louis Armstrong

“Chimes Blues” with King Oliver 1923

Recording in Richmond Indiana

Had to stand in hallway bc he was too loud

“West End Blues”

Armstrong and His Hot Five (1928)

Armstrongs opening solo is one of the first defining solos in jazz

“Hotter Than That”

Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five (and later “Seven”)


Edward “Duke” Ellington: important differences w Armstrong


  • Biography
  • Musical Style and Approach


Duke Ellingtons Biography

  • Northern upbringing (Washington D.C.)
  • Priviledged, upper-middle class (father worked at the White House)
  • Supportive family unit
  • Strong sense of self despite rampant racial bias of the early 20th century 

“Duke” Ellingtons Musical Style and Approach

  1. Wrote for an “orchestra” vs a band
  2. Transitional status into Swing Era as a definitive figure of that specific style (unlike Armstrong’s more “universal” jazz stylistic appeal)