History of Jazz Music- Unit 2 New York 1920’s
- Playing in a homophonic texture is one of the central differences between
New York jazz of the 1920s and the polyphonic texture of New Orleans jazz.
- However you could still hear both textures played in New York
- Can mean different things. It can mean a single melody played over a
background of harmony. It can also mean a melody played in the context of
block chords texture= the melody and harmony exist in a single layer but
with different pitches filling out the harmony. In big bands they use this
texture to produces passages called soli.
- Countermelody= subordinate instruments have melodic interest of their
own, though not strong enough to compete with the main melody
Stop time= technique in which a band plays a series of short chords a fixed distance
apart, creating spaces for the instrument to fill with monophonic improvisation.
- This occurs in New Orleans jazz as well. These don’t have to always occur in
the context of monophonic texture, as the textbook seems to suggest.
- Often used in early jazz
Dynamics= volume or loudness. An instrument playing loud or soft
- This is a musical feature that applies to all of jazz.
Backbeat= a simply polyrhythm emphasizing beats 2 and 4 of a 4/4 measure
(rather than 1 and 3)
- Offers a simply way for listeners to contribute
Chromatic Scale= the scale containing twelve half steps within the octave,
corresponding to all the keys (black and white) within the octave on the piano (C to
- Unusual at this point in jazz history, mostly used for effect
Trumpet Mutes= a mute quiets a sound without too much distrotion
- These were very important in early jazz. King Oliver was known as a great
mute player. In this chapter we hear mutes used to great effect in the Duke
Ellington example by one of the kings of mute trumpet, Bubber Miley.
- Mutes are not just used in early jazz. Miles Davis’s sound was very much a
result of his use of the Harmon mute.
Chapter #5- New York in the 1920’s
- New york city/ Manhattan served as the focus of jazz maturity and evolutions
from the late 1920’s to the present
- New Orleans sparked the first great fomenting of Jazz and Chicago was the
primary magnet that drew southern musicians to the North.
Entertainment infrastructure (concert halls, theater, record labels etc.)
took root in New York
New York media spoke for the nation
- Sociological Most of the jazz performers who were not African American derived from
An alliance between black musicians and Jewish song writers replicated,
in part, New Orleans blacks and Creoles and helped define jazz for three
Advanced the innovations of modern jazz (bepop) and avante garde
New Yorks most significant contribution was Big Bands/ orchestra’s-
came from the influx of jazz musicians from New Orleans and Chicago
with the demand for ballroom dancing generated a demand for elegant
orchestras this would later fuel the swing era
Duke Ellington dubbed New York just like “Arabian Nights”
- Recordings, Radio and the Movies
1925 the development of electrical recording instead of acoustical
recording- more instruments could be recorded. Also resulted in reduced
prices for phonographs and discs
1921 radio became clearer with the invention of the carbon microphone.
1926 the first radio network the National Broadcasting Company debuted
followed by Columbia broadcasting system a year later started a
national habit of becoming attached to broadcasts and collecting records
Cinema responded to these changes by introducing the first feature film
with synchronized sound it was an adaptation of the Broadway play
called The Jazz Singer
Up to this point music only travels as fast as a human can travel from one
place to another. However, the rapid growth in radio and records meant
that a song can be played for the first time in New York and could travel
to California the next day over the radio, or within a week through the
mail. This also contributed to the popularity of songs wearing out quickly.
- Prohibition= in the 1920’s the Republic of Congress prohibited the sale,
manufacturing and transport of alcohol
This gave nightlife an unintended boost because as it was legal to drink
alcohol it was illegal to manufacture or sell it. This created a vast
organized crime catering to a generation who drank in excess to prove
they cannot be dictated by the government
By 1921 there were thousands of speaksies (illicit saloons) and they had
gangster owners who competed for customers by hiring talented
musicians, singers, dancer etc.
With nightspots sometimes being open until breakfast
- 1917-1923 Jazz came in contact with a melting pot of style: Tin Pan Alley,
ragtime, new Orleans jazz, Vaudelville. Jazz music freely borrowed and
transformed elements from every type of music.
- Jazz also found its way into elaborate ballrooms and concert halls Fletcher Henderson (1897-1952)
- Grew up in a middle class home and learned how to play the piano in college.
- 1924 began a lengthy engagement at the Rosewood Ballroom- New Yorks
preeminent dance palace
- As a black musician working midtown venues with exclusively white
clienteles, Henderson offered polished and conventional dance music: fox-
trots, tangos, waltzes
- Had access to the best black musicians (saxophonist Coleman Hawkins) and
kept up with the ever changing dance scene
- His elaborate pioneered approach (which was helped formed by Don
Redman) influenced other bandleaders that followed
- During the 1930s he produced a stream of compositions that helped define
big-band music in the Swing era
Don Redman (1900-1964)
- Red changed Hendersons reliance on stock arrangements= anonymous
versions of standard popular songs made available by publishing companies
which tended towards basic harmonies with no jazz content. Redman revised
them making radical changes to the arrangement giving them a distinct and
- His greatest achievement as an arranger was to treat the band as a large unit
made up of four interactive sections: reeds, trumpets, trombones, and
- With Henderson they closely studied jazz records coming out of Chicago and
adapted these tunes.
- He especially liked the New Orleans custom of short breaks, which allowed
him to constantly vary the texture of a piece. Yet he avoided the anarchy of
New Orleans style: polyphony was not collectively improvised but composed
- His principle organizing technique was derived from the church, was a call
and response interchange for example between the saxophone section
against the trumpets.
- In 1924 Louis Armstrong was added when Henderson was looking to add a
third trumpet player.
Armstrong brought essential characteristics that the band lacked: the
bracing authority of swing, the power of blues and the improvisational
logic of a born storyteller
Redman then changed his orchestration style to accommodate him
- Redman’s writing not only launched big band jazz, but also served to link
Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band and Armstrong’s seminal Hot Five
1.“Copenhagen” - This is a good example of the typical New York pre-Swing big
band sound by a very good and well-known band. Pay attention to how the
music is organized differently from the New Orleans example.
First of all,
the band is bigger with eleven players: two trumpets, one trombone, three
reed players who doubled on saxophones (two altos and a tenor) and
clarinets, and a four-man rhythm section made up of tuba, banjo, piano, and
guitar. The most important players here are Louis Armstrong on trumpet, Coleman Hawkins on tenor saxophone who became a major jazz star,
Fletcher Henderson on piano, and reed player and arranger Don Redman.
Some say that it was Redman who first devised the idea of organizing the
band in instrumental choirs (brass, reeds, rhythm) for these larger
bands. Not true. This kind of ensemble organization already existed in dance
bands such as Paul Whiteman’s. Redman’s contribution is that he made this
kind of musical organization work in the context of “hot” music, as jazz was
often called at that time. He did this by leaving space for improvisation,
writing horn parts that mimicked the kind of syncopation and phrasing of
jazz solos, and using jazz harmonies.
The main thing is to be able to hear the
brass and reeds as separate sections, or instrumental “choirs” in the call-and-
This is also a good example of the newly important role of
the arranger. An arranger takes a piece of music, either given or composed
himself, and musically notates what each player should do. As you can
imagine, this is crucial when you have 11 players in the band as opposed to
the 5 or 6 that you get in New Orleans jazz. Arrangers for hot music always
left room for improvisation. Listen for this wh