Short on time?

Get essay writing help

Reflections on Why Jazz Is Important

Words: 988
Pages: 2
This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

1920s. A smoke-filled bar rings sounds of complexity and enthusiasm. Jazz is at its peak and quite rightly so. There is an overwhelming sense of popularity amongst people of African American descent. The audience. The band. Still nothing gets around the fact that the point of this bar is to entertain, to satisfy the musical urges. Nowadays when we think of a bar we think of alcoholic beverages, socializing, perhaps even some romance. Why is this? One reason could be that society has evolved. Another could be that it's more practical. If we wanted to listen to music, we could just go to a concert, right? Wrong. Music started as a staple in bars, and so it should continue that way. Jazz music is one of the most fascinating and intricate musical concepts ever to have been made.

Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald. What many consider to be some of the greats in jazz. What do they all have in common? Their ethnic backgrounds. Race played a vast role in the history of jazz, and the development of jazz alone was hindered and funneled by the systemic racism that was so very present at that time in America. In the very beginning, the music that preceded jazz was for entertaining small groups of black slaves, primarily for allowing them to ease their oppression. The very fundamentals of jazz developed out of a musical revolution against the tyranny of the white male. But as jazz became more and more prominent as music and a money maker, the race personas were so profoundly lodged in society that it stuck out like a sore thumb. Since the beginning of jazz, it has been emblematically linked to the civil rights movement due to the fact that the music was enjoyed by blacks and whites alike. None other than Martin Luther King Jr. thought very highly of jazz: “Jazz speaks for life. This is triumphant music”.

Jazz is a musically diverse form of music. The abstract ways of creation consisting of swung notes, ragtime rhythms, call and response vocals are theoretical, but what makes jazz truly special is not on the theoretical side but rather the provocative side. The form of improvisation is a particularly intriguing attempt to stay in the present. Improvisation is a musical creation of new musical ideas, spontaneously created based on previous knowledge. It is widely looked on as a skill which is not only hard to play, but harder to teach as it requires an individual's response to the audience and musicianship. One of the most well-known jazz pianists, Duke Ellington, created a music that is interactive yet varying, creating an immersive performance, which completely matched the audience’s fervor. Duke maintained an elegant and nonchalant style very consistently and was not against change, but rather the contrary as he always searched for new influences (Latin and Asian in the 30s, and further expressive and unfamiliar sounds in the 40s) to ensure that he was always an efficient and absorbing musician.

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place Order

Jazz is also important in combining musical ideas from many different nations, allowing for connections between different styles of music and different ethnic origins. Originally, jazz formed as late as the start of the 20th century from heavily African based music, including characteristics such as polyrhythms (different metrical starting points), use of percussion, call and response (responsorial form) and heavy lingual influence (often combinations of pitch used to depict spoken words). Then European influence was introduced through the introduction of pivotal instruments, such as the piano, saxophone, reeds and some horns were previously unused, and have now become a very prominent part of the jazz society. Soon jazz came to be further enriched by Creole, Arabic, Cuban and more local influences. For instance, New Orleans jazz had its own distinctive feel and imprint, to give the newfound music its unique feel. As it continued North, along with the musicians, towards Chicago and New York, the ever-changing style of music deviated from its African roots, engrossing white middle class customs and affecting jazz and its surroundings. By the time jazz had made an appearance in New York, it was a different music, being performed, recorded, and heard by blacks, whites and other races alike. Furthermore, jazz was motivating fashion, dance, youth customs and race affinity, additionally ingraining itself into the society it was engulfing.

Although jazz is all of the above, some individuals believe that jazz is pretentious and dissonant. This, while being understandable, is false. If one were to say that jazz is pretentious and dissonant, those definitions could be applied to any musical genre (e.g., classical, rap, country, rock) therefore either you are assuming that everyone who listens to any kind of music is completely stupid and indolent, or more importantly, there is something more to all kinds of music than what meets the ear. The latter is correct. Jazz may sound pretentious and dissonant, perhaps to certain ears, but if jazz musicians are pretentious, it is because their musicianship is hard to master. It is a complex form of music that needs careful analysis and understanding. Improvisation sounds messy, even overwhelming to the untrained listener. Perhaps the issue does not lie within the music, but rather the listener. Improvisation is a delicate form of music and more careful listening and breakdown is essential to understand and enjoy it.

In conclusion, jazz is a vital part of history, and furthermore crucial to this current age. Jazz provides a cornerstone as a racial boundary-breaker, further including cultures in its music and provides a sense of artistry in music, and should continue to broaden listeners' horizons in their understanding of music. The connection of jazz to issues of race is not to be overlooked as the jazz community pioneered racial justice in America by expressing their thoughts and emotions in a publicly accepted way. It is of utmost importance that it not only continues to be played, but respected, listened to and understood.

Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this Page

Reflections on Why Jazz Is Important. (2023, January 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
“Reflections on Why Jazz Is Important.” Edubirdie, 31 Jan. 2023,
Reflections on Why Jazz Is Important. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Mar. 2024].
Reflections on Why Jazz Is Important [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Jan 31 [cited 2024 Mar 1]. Available from:
Join 100k satisfied students
  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
hire writer

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.