Definition: Rhythm

  • Notes following in time 

Definition: Pulse or Beat

  • The fundamental rhythmic unit

Definition: Measure

  • Grouping of rhythms into recurring units

Definition: Syncopation

  • Shift from rhythms predictability to unpredictability
  • Use of unpredictable notes in a rhythm

Definition: Melody

  • Coherent patterns of notes 

Definition: Pitch

  • Notes being higher or lower 

Definition: Interval

  • Distance in time between pitches 

Definition: Harmony

  • Use of simultaneous pitches in support of a melody

Definition: Scale

  • Arrangements of notes that define melodic/harmonic construction in western music

Definition: Key center

  • The relationship between notes of a scale

Definition: Texture

  • Combination of instruments playing

Definition: Timbre

  • The quality of an instrument’s sound

Definition: Dynamics

  • The volume of a performance

Definition: Form

  • The culmination or total of the sections of a composition 
  • Note = Smallest unet of form 

Name: 4 types of Saxophones (high to low)

  • Soprano (highest)
  • Alto
  • Tenor
  • Baritone (lowest) 

Name: 2 main roots of Jazz

  • European arts
  • Slave trade imports (blacks) 

Style: European Music

  • All about relationship |b| performer/audience
  • Artists valued highly in society

Style: African Music

  • Functional/communal music 
  • Plays importnat role in social settings
  • Rhythm = Most important 

African Influence on Jazz

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  • Emphasis on rhythm (syncopation/polyrythm)
  • Use of vocal inflection
  • Call and response

European Influence on Jazz 


  • Harmony – from polka/marches
  • Symmetrical form
  • Instrumentation – from marching bands

Definition: Field Hollers

  • Song used for manual labor
  • Mournful plea for improvement of conditions

Definition: Work Songs

  • Rhythmic accapella songs used to synchonize manual labor 

Definition: Spiritual Songs

  • Sacred themes – harmony comes from protestant hymns
  • Hymns w/ a beat

Definition: 2nd Line

  • Refers to mourners who follow marching band in N.O. funeral
  • Play sad, then happy hymns

Definition: Creoles

  • People of African and French/Spanish ancestry

Characteristics: The Blues

  • Simultaneous expression of joy/grief
  • Born out of repression of slavery/hate 
  • Religious overtones

Characteristics: Country Blues

  • Earliest form of blues, from rural south
  • Singer and guitar
  • Loose and improvisatory

Definition: Blue Note

  • Refers to a note that is changed (flatted) and outside the normal scale 

Form: The Blues

  • 12 Measures
  • Lyrics – Statement, statement, response (A,A,B)
  • I – IV – V – I = Chord progression

People: Bessie Smith

  • Most popular bules artist of era
  • “Empress of the blues”
  • Sold 2 million albums in 1923

Characteristics: Ragtime

  • Ragged time = syncopated versions of popular songs
  • Piano replicates parts for a 6-7 piece brass band
  • Pianists expected to improvise

Characteristics: Stride Piano

  • Played popular music
  • More improvisation than rag
  • Faster, more aggressive style

People: James P Johnson

  • Father of stride piano
  • Composed “The Charleston” 
  • Bessie Smith’s favorite accompanist

People: Fats Waller

  • Student of James P. Johnson 
  • Energetic player/performer 
  • Amazing time/swing

People: Art Tatum

  • Greatest pianist of his time
  • Raises the bar for piano music
  • Swing

Places: 3 Jazz Cities

  • New Orleans
  • Chicago
  • New York City

People: Joe “King” Oliver

  • N.O. trumpet player
  • Pioneered use of mutes
  • 2nd trumpet = Louis Armstrong

Places: Storyville

  • Red light district in N.O.
  • Clubs hire jazz bands/pianists
  • Musicians play in streets 

Instrumentation: Cornet/Trumpet

  • Loudest instrument
  • Plays melody

Instrumentation: Clarinet

  • Plays counter melody/harmony
  • Provides momentum

Instrumentation: Trombone

  • Dictates chord changes

Event: First jazz recording

  • 1917 – Original Dixie Land Jazz Band (NYC)

People: Louis Armstrong

  • MOST IMPORTANT figure in jazz – makes it art
  • Introduces scat singing 
  • NYC – Plays 1st trumpet w/ Fletcher Henderson

Style: Chicago Jazz

  • Addition of saxophone
  • Guitar replaces banjo
  • Double bass replaces tube
  • More complex music 

People: Bix Beiderbecke

  • Less flashy, very talented trumpet player
  • Very melodic/lyrical 

Listening: Reckless Blues

  • Vocals = Bessie Smith
  • Trumpet = Louis Armstrong
  • Call/response |b| Bessie and Louis
  • “When I wasn’t nothin but a child”

Listening: West End Blues

  • Louis Armstrong and the Hot Fives
  • Intro = solo trumpet 
  • Cowbell
  • Scat singing 

Listening: The Buzzard Lope

  • By – Georgia Sea Island Singers
  • Hand clapping and body precussion
  • “Throw me anywhere lord”
  • Call and response (vocal/vocal)

Listening: Dead Man Blues

  • By – Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Peppers
  • Begins with black man talking
  • Trombone gives somber intro
  • Clarinet solo 

Listening: Snake Rag

  • King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band
  • Trumpets = Louis Armstrong/King Oliver
  • Snake = 2 descending trumpets
  • Dense texture

Listening: You’ve Got to be Modernistic

  • By – James P. Johnson 
  • Stride piano style – ONLY PIANO
  • Left hand plays baseline

Listening: Singin’ The Blues 


  • By – Frankie Trumbauer and His Orchestra
  • Bix Beiderbecke = Cornet
  • Very smooth/refined cornet sound
  • Guitar playing chords