Jazz Music Genre

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Jazz music is a musical genre firstly developed in the New Orleans in the 1890’s. It was when the people there which are African Americans emerge the sound of the European horns and African drums and the styles they heard on the churches and also to the music they heard on the barrooms, creating a new music that made people black or white, and rich or poor to feel free and alive as if they were in a celebration through dancing with this kind of music. Jazz was influenced by ragtime and blues which is characterized by propulsive syncopated rhythms, polyphonic ensemble, varying degrees of improvisation, and often deliberate distortions of pitch and timbre (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Jazz can be played on any instruments including the human voice but the most common instruments for jazz music are the following; saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, drums, and guitar. Horns play melodies as well as improvised solos. The piano which plays chords in a lively rhythmic fashion, the bass which plays the root notes of the chords that glue other instruments together or to harmonize the music, and the drums which giving the beat, groove, and also complement the soloist by introducing rhythmic accents or fills. The bass together with the drums also produces the excitement to the music and together with the piano, these instruments are considered as the backbones of jazz music which supports and accompanies the melodies. The guitar is a versatile instrument for jazz music because it can do both roles at which it can play chords just like the piano supposed to and it can also play solo melodies just like the horn section of the music. The fusion of these instruments together with the different techniques and textures of sound to play it gives-off a diverse number of moods; from a jivey up to a soulful or a relaxing music.

Jazz music is still evident even today. They’re mostly played at high class-bars, restaurants, or lounges, as a soundtrack in movies and other media; usually comedy, and even in radio and charts as an element for today’s modern genre of music.

Jazz and the American Society

Even though jazz music was originally created by Africans in the New Orleans, being a minor part of diverse times and places, it was the found as one of what makes an American culture. Jazz has been a part of American entertainment since 1920’s. But jazz as a musical genre was not really the domain of the American music but instead, Americans adopt jazz music into other forms of art such as; fiction, poetry, film, photography, and even as part of classical music. The deep-rooted mythology that holds jazz as indefinable, unteachable, and instinctive with blacks but though for whites and that it’s birthplace was New Orleans brothels, that its musicians live tragic lives, and that jazz is dominated by males and despises whiffs of the mainstream (Townsend).

Some of the Performers of Jazz Music

Miles Davis

Start to arrive on the national scene until his death in 1991. He is one of the standard bearers for successive generations of musician especially in the world of modern jazz. He is a son of a dentist and developed his talent using his trumpet, performed and earned the title “Prince of Darkness”. He started to study in a music school in 1944, allowing him to locate and join his idolized band of Charlie Parker. First of his recording was a blues-infused hard bop anthem “Walking”. His first recording gave him the opportunity to discover and learn his signature sound using a muted trumpet. Some of the other music performed by Miles are; “Blue in Green”, “Stella by Starlight”, and “Smoke gets in your Eyes”.

John Coltrane

He is an American saxophonist, bandleader, and composer, becoming an iconic figure of the 20th-century jazz with the album; “Giant Steps”, “My Favorite Things”, and “A Love Supreme”. Born in 1962, started to develop his skill in playing saxophone and composing music during the 1940’s. His innovative playing gained an astonishing praise that shows his unique understanding of this genre.

Bill Evans

Born in 1929, he began studying music at a very young age. Learned how to play piano, flute, and violin in his childhood years. Graduated with a degree specialized in playing piano, and gained a career as a teacher. He also worked in local dance bands as a pianist that catches the attention of a producer at Riverside Records. His first album was named “New Jazz Conceptions” and gradually got a notice in the NYC jazz scene. He had also worked with Miles by composing “Blue in Green” as well as performing with John Coltrane and Miles Davis that helps to build his reputation in the music scene.

Blue in Green

A music first recorded on 1959 and performed by Miles Davis on the trumpet, Bill Evans as the pianist, Jimmy Cobb as the drummer, Paul Chambers on the bass. It was one of the tracks on Miles’ “Kind of Blue” album released on 1959. Composed by Miles Davis along with Bill Evans received a praise from the critics especially the track named as “Blue and Green” which is the most beautiful masterpiece on the album.

The music in my personal perspective gave an overall relaxing experience due to its slow rhythm, a great difference between volumes that makes the music rise and fall in intensity in a gentle manner as well as the melody which is more likely improvised but it’s still harmonized other instruments; still portrays a definite theme for music. Other instruments as well despite playing different tones and chords still goes with the flow of the music and gives a great support to the horns. The musical texture of the music somehow differs throughout the song. Produces a colorful timbre cause by a diverse set of instruments playing different roles while maintaining a single theme.

For the melody of the music, as defined; “Melody is a single line of notes heard in succession as a coherent unit” (Listen to This, Bonds) every instrument on the music seems to have a different set of notes played. The bass playing the tonal foundation of the music, the horns always do their solos and rests in intervals, the piano soft chords having its notes hitting in different times, and as well as the drums that create that smooth flow on the music. With these gentle rise and falls on the melody, the music gives an overall relaxing aura.

The gentleness of this music as also exhibited by the slow rhythm at which defined as; “Rhythm is the ordering of music through time” (Listen to This, Bonds). It is very evident on the soft-hitting of drums and also to the repetition of the pattern of tones played by the bass. There’s actually a constant rhythm on the most part in a 4/4 measure and much slower in pace. But once the music reaches the end, as observed by the fast tempo and the intense tone of the piano, it tells us that the piece is going to end.

The drums, bass, and the piano create the backbone of the music, as the horns are doing the solos, and the piano also doing its own highlights throughout. “Harmony is the sound created by multiple voices playing or singing together” (Listen to This, Bonds). Everything in the music, despite most instruments playing different notes and times, still the oneness of the sounds produces a definite theme. The piece gives the instruments an opportunity to shine on not only by providing a different set of notes but also providing a space on the song where a specific instrument can dominate.

The music also makes an inconsistent thin texture which is “based on the number and general relationship of musical lines or Voices” (Listen to This, Bonds) that helps to make the gentle flow. There are times where the horns plays and other instruments were giving way for it to dominate at a certain time. Also for the piano, other instruments are audible giving the time for the piano with its final blow.

The music produces a colorful timbre which is; “the same melody sounds very different when performed by different sources” (Listen to This, Bonds). With all the instruments playing together in the same root notes, other instruments tend to produce an improvised set of tones that make them sound different and also harmonized the whole piece.

The pleasant aura given by the music was also because of the dynamics “degrees of volume” (Listen to This, Bonds). Despite its overall soft intensity producing a very gentle touch to the ears, it also exhibits a rhythmic variation in volume.

Lastly, when it comes to the overall form of the piece which is how the melody was repeated or varied; the music has a lot of variation especially on the piano and the horns part with its frequent improvisations and makes the whole music more interesting.


Jazz music is an exquisite of music because despite having different forms, the main idea of this music is still concrete. Not only the music itself but also its influence to the cultures; making one of the things of what makes an American image. A very complicated piece and an expressive form of music that even on today’s music and art, this genre of music is one of the foundations of modern pieces.

Citations and References

Bibliography “John Coltrane Bibliography”. A&E Television Networks, 2018

            https://www.biography.com/people/john-coltrane-9254106 Accessed 28 April 2018

Bonds, Mark Evan “Listen to This 4th Edition”. Pearson Education, 2015

            pp. 26

Donna Nolan-Wilson “10 best Miles Davis songs”. AXS, 2015

            https://www.axs.com/10-best-miles-davis-songs-56853 Accessed 29 April 2018

Gioia, Ted “The Prehistory of Jazz: The Africanization of American Music”. Oxford University Press, 1997

https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/first/g/gioia-jazz.html?mcubz=1 Accessed 28 April 2018

Merriam-Webster “Definition of Jazz”. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2010

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jazz. Accessed 28 April 2018

Micucci, Matt “’Blue in Green’ (Miles Davis, 1959)”. Jazziz Magazine, 2017


Accessed 29 April 2018

New Orleans Official Guide “Jazz Birthplace”. New Orleans Online, 2014

www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/music/musichistory/jazzbirthplace.html.    Accessed 28 April 2018

Scholastic “History of Jazz: Black History in America”. Scholastic, 2015


Accessed 28 April 2018

Sony Music “Miles Davis Bibliography”. Sony Music Entertainment, 2018

            https://www.milesdavis.com/biography/ Accessed 28 April 2018

Stevens, Jan “Bill Evans Bibliography”. Lincoln Center's Music of Bill Evans, 2000

            http://www.billevanswebpages.com/billbio.html Accessed 28 April 2018

Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz “Jazz Sounds”. Jazz in America, 2014

            www.jazzinamerica.org/lessonplan/5/1/246.  Accessed 28 April 2018

University of Minnesota Duluth “American Jazz Culture in the 1920s”. University of Minnesota Duluth, 2012

http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/tbacig/studproj/is3099/jazzcult/20sjazz/index.html Accessed 28 April 2018

October 05, 2023


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