The Elements Of Jazz

The Elements Of Jazz

Things are finally starting to look more hopeful as the entire world turns a corner on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines roll out to the public. This doesn't mean that life immediately returns to normal, so masks and social distancing are still essential measures to follow for now.

However, it does mean that things will eventually return to normal. That means traditional forms of entertainment, like musical performances, will once again be safe activities for everyone to enjoy. For some, that will mean a return to jazz performances and concerts, but if you're not familiar with Jazz, here's a quick rundown on a uniquely American musical form.


Born From Diversity

America is a nation of immigrants, first from Europe, then other continents, like Africa and Asia. As a result of this, many cultural influences have encountered each other, fused, and formed wholly unique new forms that are distinctly American. Jazz is one of those, an indisputably American form of musical performance that could not have come from the culture or creative processes of the Old World of Europe.

As with most musical forms, Jazz has no definite moment or point of origin, arising naturally through a confluence of different influences and circumstances. It's often estimated that it has its roots in late 19th century American music. Slaves brought in from Africa encountered hymnal style music from churches, which gave rise to new musical forms like the Blues, and Swing.

An American Evolution

Jazz, unlike more classical forms of music from Europe, is very much an adaptive form. Traditional styles place a heavy emphasis on composition and arrangement. While Jazz can follow these conventional forms, there is one quality for which it has become world-famous.

Not all Jazz is like this, but a dominant characteristic of Jazz is its improvisational nature. This is most often seen in compositions for smaller quartet performances, such as vocals, drums, piano, and double bass. In these smaller groups, each instrument gets a chance to shine with improvisational solos.

A Forward Facing Form

Jazz is also noted for its inclusionary nature compared to older forms of music. Because of its roots in African American slavery, there is a significant African-American contribution and influence in this musical form. The African roots of some of the music heavily attest to this.

However, Jazz was also quick to include women performers, both as vocalists and in other instruments. This is likely a result of the transition into the 20th century and more social progress. Still, Jazz made it possible for more people to enter this field of music. People of different colors, creeds, and genders found an entry into Jazz easier than the other forms of music of the day. The widespread popularity of Jazz eventually resulted in a greater acceptance of diversity in modern music as now see in pop, rock, and other forms.

If you're interested in musical performances, or even jazz performances with both large and small groups, we can help. Contact Multicultural Arts Exchange and find out about concerts or other events we have to experience.