Lesson 4 Essays Example
A) The song is peppy yet low-key, the heavy emphasis on bass and snare drums offering a softer, milder sound to accompany the major key improvisation in the piano solo, of which there is a major section. Tenor sax also gets to enjoy a solo, all of which contributes to a very warm sound. Unlike a lot of music I am familiar with, it does not confuse pleasant with slow; the soft tone color of the instruments, as well as the energetic improvisations, contribute to a warmer piece that is still fast-paced and exciting to listen to.
B) There are quite a few characteristics of swing that can be found in the song. Throughout the song, high hats are used to underline the rest of the percussion and the song itself. The use of a string bass is also heavy, as well as the prominence of the saxophone at about 2:17 on. These elements tie the work more to swing than any other genre.
C) Unlike the low-key swing feel of the Goodman track, the Roy Eldridge track places a much higher emphasis on harsh, staccato trumpet trills as the primary instrumental voice in the song. The tempo is much faster, and the tone color is much more aggressive than the laidback nature of Goodman’s work. The track also begins with a comedic call and response between the band and the trumpet, as the trumpet tries a few familiar tracks before getting booed each time.
D) Based on these two selections, I feel as though they serve very different purposes and moods. With the Benny Goodman track, the swing feel allows it to be a bit more relaxed, yet demonstrate the band’s skill. However, the Eldridge track involves the audience more readily, inviting them in the call and response and offering a bit more energetic chaos as a piece of music. While I have more fun with the Eldridge track (it reminds me a bit of more modern rock songs), I feel more of the musical skill of the band members in the Benny Goodman track.
Quiz Part 1:
Quiz Part 2:
Discuss the importance to jazz of Louis Armstrong as a creative musician. Consider addressing in your essay his role as an innovator and influence upon others, his technical command, aspects of his instrumental and vocal styles, of any other points that support your view. (3 points)
Louis Armstrong’s importance to jazz is incalculable; with his immense skill as a trumpet player, Armstrong’s horn playing practically invented the practice of trumpet solos in jazz music. With his innovative techniques, his holding of notes, and his uniquely warm tone color, Armstrong was a virtuoso with the trumpet. His vocal timbre was fascinating too, with his vibrato-heavy, gravelly voice and his use of scat singing. It is arguable that Armstrong popularized the use of scat in jazz. He became incredibly influential to a lot of artists that played with and after him, like Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and others.
Briefly describe the roles played by trumpet, clarinet and trombone in New Orleans collective improvisation, and name a likely musician for each role. (3 points)
In New Orleans collective improvisation, the trumpet, clarinet and trombone are all hugely important elements in the building of ‘hot jazz.’ The trumpet’s role is to provide the melody, while the clarinet improvises throughout the melody at a higher pitch, while the trombone offers a simpler melody that counterpoints the clarinet. The ideal front line of a hot jazz ensemble would include Louis Armstrong on trumpet, Benny Goodman on clarinet, and Wycliffe Gordon on trombone.
Discuss the practice of improvisation in the African and European musical traditions and how that influenced how improvisation was used in the earliest New Orleans jazz. (4 points)
Both African and American musical traditions played an important role in creating the unique aspects of improvisation in New Orleans jazz. African music inspired the ‘blues’ quality of improvisation, as well as the freedom to allow instruments to be played in whatever way the player wanted, offering it as just another extension of the voice. European traditions, meanwhile, worked in harmony and melody and the point-counterpoint between them, and provided many of the instruments used in New Orleans jazz improvisation. With both of these traditions, improvisation was created – African traditions opened up the possibility of improvisation altogether as an expressive form, while European music traditions offered the instruments and means to use harmony and melody.
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