What exactly is jazz? As defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary jazz is “American music developed especially from ragtime and blues and characterized by propulsive syncopated rhythms, polyphonic ensemble playing, varying degrees of improvisation, and often deliberate distortions of pitch and timbre”. While this definition is true and a “cookie cutter” definition of jazz it is not completely accurate Jazz is one large genre with many sub-genres within it such as swing, bebop, free jazz, hard bop, and cool jazz. Yes jazz was derived from ragtime and blues but what is not commonly known is that Baroque music had a hand in the development of this art form. In this paper I show the correlation between Baroque music and cool jazz and how their structure and improvisatory natures are analogous.
Before jazz or its sub-genre of cool jazz came to be in existence, Baroque music had already been established in the 17th century. Transitioning from the end of the Renaissance, this was a new age of an exciting, intellectual, artistic and social atmosphere which in so many ways indicated the birth of modern Europe. Baroque music is originally derived from the word Baroque itself. The term was not only applied to music but art, drama, and literature were also included. The Baroque era started in the early 1600s in Rome, Italy, and eventually spread to most of Europe. Subsequently it ended around 1750. In regard to music, the Baroque relates to the last period of dominance of imitative counterpoint, which combined two or more melodic figures in such a way that they establish a harmonic relationship while retaining their linear individuality. The Baroque period along with Baroque music of the early 1600s initially had a negative connotation. During this time it was seen as abnormal, unnatural, and strange.
The main goal of Baroque music was to express and evoke emotion in the audience. Baroque composers believed that emotions such as sadness, happiness, anger, love, were stable states of being that of which could be moved. This is known as the Theory of Affections. The Theory of Affections was a revival of the ancient Greek and Roman beliefs of music. This was the end-result of the search for new modes of expression. With the use of the Theory of Affections, the Baroque created some of the deepest expressions of emotion.
The music of the Renaissance known as prima practica was very stiff, and in many ways too arranged and structured for the new modern style of the Baroque. Seconda practica, the new Baroque style was a vehicle of spontaneous improvisation and artistic expression, but it failed to displace the prima practica for quite some time. Some composers used both styles of practica; prima practica was used in church music and seconda practica was used in secular vocal music. Monteverdi, the composer who defined prima and seconda practica is known for using the seconda practica in his compositions. He believed that seconda practica with its unconventional...