Saturday, August 11, 2012

Jazz, Rhythm and Blues

African and European music merged to form brand new genres that now have become so popular in the US as well as the majority of the world. It’s like the analogy of the Europeans selling grapes to the Americans and the Africans sell coffee to the same buyer, the buyer then (which are the Americans) repackages the raw materials and sell them to the world as red wine and cappuccino and makes a hefty profit out of it. You can call them whatever you want but their roots could not be denied. It is such a wonderful thing when ideas + freedom come together, because their culmination is art in its truest form.

Jazz is purely music from the soul where the generality is to “play what feels good” and is also very difficult to render any kind of definition to it, due to its nature being basically infinite. Unlike pop music or rock music, jazz varies in style and musical arrangement, in fact the very nature and demand in playing Jazz music is to be unique. You cannot identify a repetitive rhythm or tempo with jazz it differs every 5 seconds throughout the song being played and sang. It originated in the African American communities in the United States and it has about 70% African origins while about 30% are a mixture of European styles. You'd really have to pay attention because you will not appreciate jazz if you're used to pop or any other music, simply put, it is far more complex than any other musical arrangement and only true musicians can appreciate it. John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington were among the pioneers in jazz music; today very few artists in mainstream music incorporate jazz in their songs.

Blues on the other hand is ubiquitous in jazz and sometimes in soul music, and it’s no wonder why, because it too originated from black communities in America. The term “blues” was given to this kind of musical genre’ because most of the time the songs being played are, well, sad. It is the exact opposite of pop and soul music where most of the time has an upbeat tune and is performed in the hopeful context of the argument, while blues is only for the broken – this is also the reason why most of the early forms of Gospel songs are blues and sang in the tone of a “repentant sinner” of sorts. The artists that made blues famous include B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Billie Holiday, Willie Dixon and many more. 

Contemporary Music and Some Amalgamation of These Genres
Ever since the second renaissance (or as most people considers it) that happened at the turn of the 20th century, a lot of people have been searching for originality in their musical styles; and while some were successful in this quest others used one or more of the musical genres available at that time and fused them together to come up with something new. This tradition in music has spawned hundreds of different variations of genres that includes acid jazz, afrobeat, Americana style, avant-garde jazz, beach music, beat, bebop, celtic rock, free jazz, fusion jazz and more.

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