Unit Summary

Jazz is a distinctively American style of music that developed in the early decades of the 20th century. Its roots include many Afro-American folk music traditions, such as spirituals, work songs, and blues. It also borrowed from 19th century band music and the ragtime style of piano playing. The distinctive elements of jazz include characteristic rhythm patterns, harmonic practices related to, but not identical with, functional harmony, and the practice of improvisation. Jazz has influenced, and has been influenced by, traditional classical music and popular music. The boundaries are not always especially clear. Although jazz has a relatively short history, it has developed several distinct styles with which nonspecialists should be at least superficially familiar.

Important Styles

Some Significant Jazz Musicians

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