Jazz’s Influence on Popular American Music Essay

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Informative Speech Outline: Jazz’s Influence on Popular Music Today Purpose: To inform my audience about Jazz’s influence on today’s popular music Thesis: The basic jazz elements of instrumentation, syncopation, and improvisation have influenced today’s popular music. Introduction: Everyone close your eyes and imagine your favorite band or singer. Get your favorite song in your mind and sing it in your head. If you knew what elements to listen for, it wouldn’t take you more than 10 seconds to recognize some element of jazz in that music. Jazz was once the popular music of the day.

Although it is not the music that is at the center of today’s youth, its influence and elements can be found in all types of popular American music. A genre that was once considered a destructive force is now deemed to be America’s Classical Music. Some of jazz music’s basic elements include instrumentation, syncopation, and improvisation. Instrumentation in jazz music is a list of instruments used for composition or the many instruments used during a piece. Syncopation is done by using rests, tying notes together or adding accent marks to parts of music that would not normally be accented.

Improvisation is a spontaneous musical melody done by the musician. These basic jazz elements have been used in today’s popular music from the groups U2 to pop diva Beyonce. American Rock musician Lou Reed once said, “If it has more than three chords, it’s jazz. ” Without dispute many agree that the basic jazz elements of instrumentation, syncopation, and improvisation have influenced today’s popular music. I. Instrumentation, a basic jazz element has influenced popular American music. a. Earlier I explained that instrumentation is just a wide variety of instruments used for composition.

1. Today in a basic pop love song you could easily hear 5 to 10 different instruments for just one song. 2. These instruments could include a piano, drums, guitar, strings, etc… b. The use of more than one instrument for one composition is unique to jazz. 1. The music genres before jazz mainly used pianos or one instrument as the basis for instrumentation.

2. Jazz music brought in the use of strings, horns, it was the first genre to develop the drum set. Before jazz, bands had one person for every snare, cymbal and bass drum. Jazz bands relied on one person to be able play all the necessary drum instruments.

Transition: Todays modern bands would not be able to think of playing without a drummer behind a drum set nor could the love song of the year be sang without its versatile accompaniment which are all elements rooted in jazz music. II. The basic jazz element of syncopation has also influenced popular American Music. a. As I explained before syncopation is done by using rests and tying notes together or simply a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm.

1. A simple example of this is as follows in the classic Beatles song, Please Please Me : on the come on, come on (tiny pause, Snare, snare). This is just one example of how syncopation is used throughout a song.

2. Syncopation is not specific to jazz it is an element that has been used since the middle ages, but the genres that have derived from jazz such as hip hop , progressive rock and the like has shown that syncopation from the angle of jazz has influenced contemporary popular music. A more up to date song where syncopation can be found throughout the entire song is Beyonce’s Single Ladies. b. Jazz used syncopation in a unique way. Most genres of music before jazz placed notes of melody on the beat which was established by other instruments.

1. Jazz musicians begin to place melodic sounds between the established beat regularly.

2. This technique of syncopation changed the sound of music. Genres that derived from jazz such as R&B, hip hop and rock music begin to use syncopation in the same way. Transition: As a result of this it is unthinkable to not use syncopation in these genres because syncopation has become a standard tool for writing popular music. III. Finally the basic jazz element of improvisation has influenced popular music today. a. Improvisation is nothing more than a spontaneous melody.

This can be exemplified vocally or through instrument. 1. When listening to a song on the radio, you may notice a single instrument playing for an extended period. 2. Those instrument solos have their roots in jazz improvisation. b. Jazz musicians structured their songs to allow these improvised melodies. A lot of the solos would include saxophone or trumpet leads.

1. In more popular music heard today you find examples of improvisation in guitar or keyboard solos. An example of this can be the electric keyboard played throughout The Wanted’s song “Im Glad You Came. ”

2. Whenever you hear improvisation on one of your favorite songs you are listening to an old jazz concept. Conclusion: There are many more jazz elements than instrumentation, syncopation, and improvisation that have influenced today’s popular music. A genre that was once a cultural phenomenon has spread around the world and sustained through time to influence the popular music you hear on the radio every day. Let’s close our eyes and think back to that favorite song you thought of at the beginning of our conversation. Can you recognize jazz’s influence on it now? Thank you.

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