A Brief History of Piano Greats and Jazz Essay

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A Brief History of Piano Greats and Jazz The piano has been a pivotal instrument throughout the development of jazz music. Starting with ragtime, which developed out of classical music, all the way to modern jazz the piano has been a foundational instrument upon which many styles have been built. This is a result of the versatility of the instrument, as it has the ability to play accompaniment, rhythm, and solo improvisation simultaneously. Throughout the course of jazz history many musicians have utilized the piano to develop new and unique styles. These great musicians used influences from all sources to develop these new genres of jazz and are renowned for their ability still today. The piano was pivotal to one of the first jazz-genre …show more content…
This piece brought Joplin and the genre of Ragtime to fame and was very influential on many other ragtime composers (Berlin 1998). Ragtime is not strictly considered jazz music though, due to the lack of improvisation and swing-feel, but it heavily influenced the development of a new style of piano playing called stride (Berlin 1998). The style of stride piano was developed mainly in New York City, specifically the neighborhood of Harlem, through the 1920s and 1930s (Early 1991). This new genre of jazz music built upon the syncopated rhythm of Ragtime by adding a Blues feel as well as swing elements (Early 1991). The important feature of this new stride style was the rigid bass pattern in the left hand of the pianist. Typically, a single note would be played on the 1st and 3rd beats of the measure, while an accompanying chord would be played on the 2nd and 4th beats (Early 1991). This type of playing gives the listener and impression of walking or marching, thus denoting it the title “Stride” (Early 1991). This new bass technique was vital for freeing the right hand for improvisation. James P. Johnson is one of many pianists to pioneer this style of playing and is often referred to as the “Father of Stride” (Early 1991). Johnson’s famous piece, “Charleston” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpY7S83P_No), was the inspiration for the famous swing dance of the 1920’s, aptly named the Charleston (Early

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