Lesson 1 – Origins of Jazz I

Lesson 1 – Origins of Jazz

The Combo Music and Musicians of the Pre-modern Era

Reading:  Jazz Styles: History and Analysis, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

Listening: The first 23 songs in order in our Music Beyond The Textbook CD-1 (Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin through Four or Five Times by Jimmy Noone’s Apex Club Orchestra).  Also, in the Our Textbook CD-1 Listening Links for CD-1 that accompanies our textbook Jazz Styles: History and Analysis, listen to the entire African-American Retention’s Sequence (Street Cries through Birdland);and the Dixie Jazz Band One-Step, Wolverine Blues, Singing the Blues, West End Blues, and You’ve Got To Be Modernistic. Students are to listen and follow along with each of the blue highlighted Listening Guide selections as found in our textbook. The detailed descriptions will allow the student to listen beyond their current level of comprehension. Read, listen, listen again, and enjoy!

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Lesson 1 Objectives:

What is jazz?

What is jazz improvisation?

What are the origins of this art form?

What individual players and ensembles stand out as major contributors to jazz from 1917 to the early 1930’s?

Students learn about the precursors and earliest contributors to the art of jazz.

Students begin: to understand the African-American experience, with its social, economic, and political challenges; to make connections between the musical past and the musical present; to develop a stronger knowledge and understanding of the basic elements of music as related to jazz.


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Do the required reading and listening. Students should read all liner note and text-book descriptions that accompany the Gridley CD’s.

Of special interest in our Music Beyond The Textbook CD-1 are the two different versions of Maple Leaf Rag.  One is pure ragtime featuring Scott Joplin, and the other is stomp style played by Jelly Roll Morton.  Listen to the call and response used between Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong on St. Louis Blues. Students will listen for the contrapuntal collective improvisation as played by King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band on Dippermouth Blues, by Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers on Black Bottom Stomp, and by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five on Potato Head Blues. The amazing individual trumpet/cornet improvisations by Louis Armstrong on any of the Hot Five or Hot Seven recordings, as well as his vocal improvisations (scat singing) on Hotter Than That and West End Blues are not to be missed.

In the Our Textbook CD-1 Listening Links for CD-1, students need to check out James P. Johnson laying down that stride style piano (in the left hand-a low note followed by a chord, repeated over and over) on You’ve Got To Be Modernistic.

Lesson 1 Essay and Assessment Questions Preview

Please answer both Part A (Essay Questions) and Part B (Quiz) for this lesson.


11 points each

1. Our textbook lists contributions to jazz from both European and African musical traditions.  Name three from each continent.

2. What are the 4 ways that jazz listeners pay attention to a jazz performance?

3. Gridley discusses the social setting in which jazz emerged in the early 20th century (starting with The Need for Live Music . . . ).  Summarize the ideas presented in those paragraphs.

4. Name the instruments used in the Rhythm section of a typical New Orleans Jazz Combo (1917-1928).

5. Name the instruments in the Front Line of a typical New Orleans Jazz Combo. What is the function of each instrument – what do they each do to contribute to the collective improvisation that results?

6. Discuss the difference between a trumpet and a cornet.

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7. What are the musical gifts (list specific characteristics) of Louis Armstrong that make him so important in music history.

8.  Why are the drums not present in many of the oldest recordings of Jazz music?  What did the drummer play instead?

9. New Orleans, LA is the birthplace of Jazz Music.  Yet, no Jazz was ever recorded there until decades after the art form began–why is this so and where did these early Jazz musicians from New Orleans travel to get recorded?

10. The broad racial mix of people of New Orleans, LA at the turn of the 20th century (European-American, African-American, and Creoles) contributed greatly to the emergence of Jazz.  With diversity at its core, why did the first Jazz recording ever made and released in the United States as a Jazz Record feature The Original Dixieland Jazz Band–a group of all white musicians?

Part A – Students are reminded to click on the Lesson 1 Essay Questions Dropbox to provide their responses to these questions and submit them for grading.

PART B – Lesson 1 Assessment Questions

Question 1 Fill in the Blank (2 points)

Question: Persons of mixed blood living in downtown New Orleans during the 1800s were called __________ of color.

Question 2 True / False (2 points)

Question: Improvisation is found in both jazz and European musics.



Question 3 True / False (2 points)

Question: Chord progressions are common only in jazz music.




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Question 4 True / False (2 points)

Question: Syncopation is found in both African music and jazz.



Question 5 True / False (2 points)

Question: Stop-time solo breaks are often used as springboards to solos.



Question 6 Multiple Choice (2 points)

Question: Sight reading music consists of:

A. playing by ear

B. playing by imagining how music looks

C. playing music correctly at first sight

D. reading music correctly after looking it over ahead of time

Question 7 Multiple Choice (2 points)

Question: Ragtime developed primarily from:

A. Afro-American blues singing

B. European march and Afro-American banjo tradition

C. Afro-American drum ensemble concept

D. formal European concert singing

Question 8 Multiple Choice (2 points)

Question: The name of the famous entertainment district in New Orleans that earned its nickname in 1892 was:

A. the French Quarter

B. The Tenderloin District

C. Pioneer Square

D. Storyville

Question 9 Multiple Choice (2 points)

Question: In the jazz world, the use of another player’s ideas in constructing one’s own improvisations is:

A. viewed as plagiarism

B. standard operating procedure

C. unlike the process of imitation in other arts

D. an unethical means for developing a style

Question 10 Multiple Choice (2 points)

Question: The improvising jazz soloist tries to be aware of editing his or her work and thinking ahead, as well as:

A. thinking about the chord changes

B. interacting with his accompanists

C. remembering what she/he has played so as not to duplicate himself

D. All of the above


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Question 11 Multiple Choice (2 points)

Question: In jazz terminology, a chorus is:

A. a synonym for glee club

B. that segment of a solo which uses the entire chord progression

C. the playing through of an entire solo

D. twelve measures of a 32-bar A-A-B-A song form

Question 12 Multiple Choice (2 points)

Question: The Christmas carol Deck the Halls is an example of:

A. twelve-bar blues

B. trading eights

C. A-A-B-A form

D. trading fours

Question 13 Multiple Choice (2 points)

Question: New Orleans was ripe to be the birthplace of jazz because:

A. Wynton Marsalis was born there

B. the city had a tremendous amount of musical activity during the height of the brass band movement

C. slavery was practiced there longer than in other regions of the U.S.

D. slavery was abolished earlier there than in other regions of the U.S.

Question 14 Multiple Choice (2 points)

Question: The African-American music called the BLUES is thought most comprehensively to derive from:

A. church music, band music and syncopation

B. spirituals and field hollers

C. music that accompanied cake walks

D. European band music and African vocal music

Question 15 Multiple Choice (2 points)

Question: In twelve-bar blues, trading fours is easy because:

A. four measures constitutes half of each eight-bar section of the 32-bar form

B. the blues form consists of three, four-bar phrases

C. each chord lasts four bars

D. four measures constitutes the length of a chorus

Question 16 Multiple Choice (2 points)

Question: Jelly Roll Morton’s recording group was called the:

A. Creole Jazz Band

B. Red Hot Peppers

C. Hot Five

D. Austin High Gang

Question 17 Multiple Choice (2 points)



Write a response to each piece and include instrumentation, style, and other musical elements. Each response should be at least a paragraph. You should discuss what you hear in the piece based on your musical knowledge thus far. Please use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. You will be graded on clarity of your ideas, knowledge of the music and on your writing skills. After responding to each piece thoroughly, if you have space tell us your opinion of the piece in 1 or 2 sentences.


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