They sound the same sort of, don’t they?
It’s not always easy to tell the difference if you haven’t listened or played a lot of either.
Part of why these 2 different styles of music sound similar is that they were both “born” in America, and both originated in the South.
Jazz originated in New Orleans, while the Blues began in Mississippi. *Originated* is used somewhat loosely here, because both genres were influenced by African culture and the experiences of Blacks in the South in the early 20th century.
Actually, when Jazz first started, it was called Jass and only later was it changed to what we now call it, Jazz.
Blues music was mostly made of spiritual and work songs from slaves that were largely influenced by their cultural traditions in Africa. Early Blues music was mostly slow and sad and also had strong steady rhythms that were sung during work.
When Jazz developed, it also took in this African influence but also combined it with European influences to make it a unique sound and style.
Both genres use piano as one of the main instruments!
So what is different about these 2 styles of music in terms of playing them?
Most people tend to think of Jazz music as being more complicated than Blues music.
Musically speaking, this might be true. Let’s see why.
Since listening is what music is all about – let’s listen to a couple of different examples of Blues and Jazz music.
The first sample is of Cripple Clarence Lofton, noted early Blues Piano player and singer who lived from 1887 - 1957.
This second example is Fats Waller, famed Jazz pianist and singer. Notice in this video that his band has several members, and all instruments take part in improvising. Hear the clarinet and drum licks, and then the big jam session?
Over the years both styles of music have transformed and adapted to our culture and experiences.
Otis Spann is one of the most famous modern Blues Pianists of our time. He was born in Mississippi, and lived until 1970, and was a member of the Muddy Waters Band. Have a listen to him playing.
In terms of modern Jazz pianists, sure Dave Brubeck and the Dave Brubeck Quartet. You're in for a treat if you have never listened to Dave Brubeck before.
It is really neat, to hear how much the piano is a part of both styles of music. The piano is so versatile that it plays the supporting role and the lead, equally as well in Blues and Jazz.
These 2 styles of music with their African influences and Americana mixes are a part of everyday life for millions of people. Blues is geared around one main featured instrument or voice with emotional expressions of life and culture. Jazz embraces these same qualities, but takes the musical structures of chores and improvisation outside of the "normal boundaries", and emphasizes technical skills over emotional exploration.
Either form of music is great to explore as a budding pianist, as they enable you to learn how to expand your knowledge and improve your playing.
Which one is your favorite?
Stay tuned to LessonsOnTheWeb to learn much more!
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