Essay on Ragtime and Blues Influence on Jazz

1377 Words6 Pages
Ara Cho
Ethno 50A
October 14, 2011
Seeing Ragtime and Blues as Parents of Jazz Jazz is a music genre that has complex characteristics and history of development and thus many musicians and scholars face troubles in defining what jazz is. In general, jazz is believed to have born in New Orleans. Jazz developed for the pleasure of the social dancers. According to the “Understanding Jazz: What Is Jazz?” of John F. Kennedy center for the Performing Arts, Jazz was created mainly by Afro-Americans, and had elements of European and Afro-American culture. Also, it emphasizes few elements of Jazz, which are swing-feel, syncopation, and improvisation. These different culture and elements of jazz may be explained by how jazz
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Thus the similarity between ragtime and blues is significant but there are numerous differences between the two music styles. First, their origin was different. Even though they both had African influence as mentioned, ragtime was more strongly influenced by European music style, and blues was heavily African music style. According to Durk Sutro in his book Jazz for Dummies, “Ragtime was European-influenced, in the sense that it was composed, not improvised, and featured carefully crafted melodies and harmonies…ragtime could sound concisely European” (ch.5). Although European-influenced, there is some African influence such as rhythm and African banjo music as mentioned during the lecture. Ragtime rhythm was “the rhythms of the black dancers who used their heels to make drum sounds, or to that of the black church singers who could vary the rhythms of a Christian hymn so much that a white Christian could not even recognize it”(Tirro, pp.37).
On the other hand, Blues were basically from work songs of African Americans slaves at the time. “It is a native American music, the product of the black man in this country, or, to put it more exactly the way I have come to think about it, blues could not exist if the African captives had not become American captives”(pp.17), said Jones and Baraka. In Jazz – A History, Frank Tirro wisely analyzes and explains the relationship between the unique background and

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