Originating at the start of the 20 th century, the jazz music genre is one of the longest serving modern genres that is still widely popular throughout the world. Jazz emerged from African-American communities within the Southern American states and jazz has been described as a union between African and European music traditions, however jazz enthusiasts often agree that jazz is the music of the United States and very little connection to other cultures.
Jazz music is itself not particularly one genre, more a heading in which to include jazz sub-genres, including New Orleans Dixieland, bebop, swing, Latin jazz fusions, acid jazz, Nujazz, etc. The jazz music genre itself is difficult to define and has resulted in a large number of debates over the matter.
Typical instruments used within jazz music include the saxophone, trombone, bass guitar, clarinet, flute, piano, banjo, drums and many more. Jazz began as early as 1808 when the Atlantic slave trade brought around half a million Africans to the United States of America . With a strong connection to their native land, these people stayed true to their tribal music traditions and frequently held lavish festivals in New Orleans , New England and New York that would openly introduce this music to the citizens of America.
The tribal music included single-line melodies and call-and-response patterns with a minimal sense of harmony, with rhythms reflecting speech patterns, however the use of pentatonic scales created the blue notes used in the blues and jazz music. With the 19 th century seeing an increasing number of African-American citizens playing Europeans instruments such as the violin, leading to a fusion between white and black music styles, which are the roots of jazz.
The jazz genre was deemed to be immoral by a number of American citizens and the jazz scene caused much controversy throughout the United States . The word “jazz” itself was originally a slang term used to refer to music from Chicago in 1915. Throughout the twenties the notoriety and popularity of jazz music grew and grew, giving rise to the hugely popular swing sub-genre then eventually greeting Europe to create European jazz.
Throughout the following decades jazz music became harder to define and sub-genres grew. In today's culture, jazz still enjoys a loyal following, though is decidedly less popular than between the 1920s-1960s, and is featured on a number of television shows, movies and commercials.
Jazz fans frequently venture one of the many jazz festivals held around the world. Currently, jazz music has formed with a number of other genres, creating new forms of jazz music, including punk jazz, acid jazz, jazz rap and soul jazz. It appears that jazz will never again enjoy a mainstream role within the music industry, largely due to the huge number of new genres that have emerged during the 21 st century, however jazz will still have its enthusiasts and die-hard fans, ensuring it will live on throughout generations.
It is important to enjoy jazz and to understand its origins, as it was jazz that broke free from typical 19 th century music to create something adventurous and different, paving the way for the future music revolutions including pop, rock, reggae, punk, hip hop, R'n'B, Indie and every other popular music style.