In this essay, I will evaluate how influential Jazz Music has influenced popular music. To do this I will carry out research in order to gain a greater understanding and enable me to make a judgment on this. Some of the ways that this will be done is by showing the characteristics of Jazz as well as the origins of the genre, in connection to examples across time of how it influenced popular music today.
The genre of Jazz developed as a result of many different styles of music from various cultural backgrounds. It originated from African-American communities of New Orleans with roots in blues and ragtime, which developed from slave folk songs and the atmosphere that surrounded New Orleans. Its earliest roots have been linked to African slaves in the United States, who had been using this form of music as a means of passing the time and keeping their culture alive. They would sing to express not only devotion and faith but the desire for freedom from the white man`s subjugation. When slavery was abolished, early Jazz, known as Dixieland, moved across the country. Although becoming its own genre Jazz was strongly influenced by ragtime music that was popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries through the syncopated music style developed from simplified designs of West African ritual dances. It can be said that the style of ragtime music became the first African-American music to have made an impact on mainstream pop culture. This developed into the jazz that is known today, indicating that the influence on mainstream pop culture is a result of ragtime and the large amount of impact that it had. Another one of the most distinctive styles within the genre of Jazz is swing, which is often performed with larger groups of performers that often required composed works in which they would incorporate the more traditional idea of improvisation. This new style of jazz was created to lift spirits during the great depression and to give optimism to those living in America. By the mid-1930s, a period known as the ‘swing’ era, swing dancing had become the national dance and big bands were playing this style of music. Similarly, Blues can be seen to influence Jazz. It originated from the deep south in states such as Alabama and Georgia and is often characterized by call-and-response patterns
Within Jazz music, improvisation is important due to the fact that within most pieces each player would perform solos that they make up on the spot. Most Jazz is very rhythmic following the ideas of swing and blues notes where you can often hear call-and-response patterns. Within the 1920s and 1930s, there were several influential Jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong, who helped influence the genre of jazz and ultimately popular music today. Louis Armstrong is most commonly known within jazz as the person who made the soloist the focal point of the performance rather than the group as a whole. His music had an important influence on Jazz which led to many critics and fans calling him the first great solo jazz artist specifically in the Dixieland era as well as taking the energetic and swung rhythmic influence through most genres of American popular music. Armstrong built on the influences of his earlier jazz trumpeters and also looked for more unorthodox sources of inspiration. His improvisations drew on the styles of earlier New Orleans cornet and trumpet players like Bunk Johnson. Within modern popular music, this can be seen through hip-hop and the improvisational lyrics that would have descended from the ideas that Armstrong had. Perhaps Armstrong’s most influential early vocal recording is his performance of Heebie Jeebies, in 1926 which showed the technique of vocal improvisation using nonsense syllables scat singing.
Today, there are only a few genres of popular music that aren`t in some way influenced by jazz. If you pay attention you will discover jazz influence in many famous songs from a variety of genres. Some examples of this include Honey Pie by The Beatles and David Gilmour`s solo from the time (Pink Floyd)