Jazz And Classical Music Essay

1641 words - 7 pages

Jazz and Classical MusicUpon entering a modern record store, one is confronted with a wide variety of choices in recordedmusic. These choices not only include a multitude of artists, but also a wide diversity of musiccategories. These categories run the gamut from easy listening dance music to more complex artmusic. On the complex side of the scale are the categories known as Jazz and Classical music. Someof the most accomplished musicians of our time have devoted themselves to a life-long study of Jazzor Classical music, and a few exceptional musicians have actually mastered both. A comparison ofclassical and Jazz music will yield some interesting results and could also lead to an appreciation ofthe abilities needed to perform or compose these kinds of music.Let's begin with a look at the histories of the two. The music called classical, found in stores andperformed regularly by symphonies around the world, spans a length of time from 1600 up to thepresent. This time frame includes the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporaryperiods. The classical period of music actually spans a time from of 1750 to 1800; thus, the termClassical is a misnomer and could more correctly be changed to Western Art Music or EuropeanArt Music. European because most of the major composers up till the 20th century were European.Vivaldi was Italian, Bach was German, Mozart and Beethoven were Austrian; they are some of themore prominent composers. Not until the twentieth century with Gershwin and a few others do wefind American composers writing this kind of art music. For the sake of convention, we can refer toWestern Art Music as Classical music.Jazz is a distinctively American form of music, and it's history occupies a much smaller span of time.Its origins are found in the early 1900s as some dance band leaders in the southern U.S. beganplaying music that combined ragtime and blues. Early exponents of this dance music were Jelly RollMartin (a blues player) and Scott Joplin (ragtime). The terms 'Jazz' and 'Jazz Band' first surfaced inthe year 1900. Some say this occurred in New Orleans, although similar music was played at thesame time in other places. The most prominent exponents of this early music, called Dixieland Jazz,included Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet. After World War I, Jazz music had evolved and wasaided by the development of the recording industry. The small dance band ensemble grew into thelarger orchestra known as the 'Big Band'. The music of the Big Bands became known as 'Swing.'Two of the more famous Swing band leaders were Tommy Dorsey and Harry James. In the late 40sand through the 50s, a different kind of Jazz became popular. This music, played by a very smallensemble, was much more sophisticated and complex . Its rich harmonic changes and melodiccounterpoint were not conducive to dance. It became known as 'Bop,' with Charlie Parker andDizzie Gillespie being the early proponents. In the last twenty years there has been a...

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