History of Jazz Timeline: Roots of Jazz
African and European Fusion
- African music featured complex cross-rhythms, slurs, melissma, falsetto, vibrato and simple melodies.
- Call and response form was employed. The leader would throw out a line and a chorus responded.
- Griots were African historians who kept complex records in their heads and related them via song. The Blues form may have derived from this West African culture.
- Derision songs were popular.
- European music featured complex melodies and simple rhythms.
Characteristics of Early African-American Music
- Off beat and syncopated to simulate the complex cross-rhythms.
- Based primarily on the pentatonic scale and other truncated scales.
- Employed blue notes (flatted thirds, sevenths and later fifths) to eliminate half steps.
- Ensemble style singing employed (no true harmony).
Types of Early African-American Music
- Work songs were sung to ease the pain of hard work.
- Field hollers.
- Boat songs.
- Corn shucking songs, etc.
- Spiritual songs were songs based on white hymns and spirituals meant to praise God.
- Lining out, a call and response form derived from African and British roots, was used in white and black churches because there was not enough money for hymn books.
- Camp meetings and ring shouts became popular in black and white churches.
- In the early 1800s, white and black churches split and their Spirituals took separate paths.
- Street vendors' songs were another form of early African-American music.
- There were also play songs.
- Prison songs, which contributed to the Blues, were heard after the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Four distinct fusions have occurred:
- Early African-American folk music was a fusion of African and European musics to form work songs, etc.
- Europeanized African-American folk music was a fusion of African-American folk and European music to form Spirituals, Minstrelsy, Vaudeville, etc.
- Ragtime was another fusion of African-American folk with European band music.
- Jazz-Rock or Fusion is a fusion of Jazz and its distant derivative, Rock.