Frequently asked questions
Jazz is a type of music that formed among African American musicians in New Orleans early in the 1900s. Evolving from blues and ragtime, this type of music features swung tempos, “blue” notes not commonly heard in popular music, complex chords and harmonies, and a heavy emphasis on improvisation. In the 1920s, known as the Jazz Age, jazz made it to the mainstream and took on several different forms as more musicians joined the movement. Whereas New Orleans jazz had featured brass bands, call-and-response vocals, and many other players improvising at once, the 1930s saw the rise of meticulously orchestrated swing bands meant to get crowds dancing. By the 1940s, a jazz style called bebop emerged that blended virtuosic improvisation, fast tempos, and an almost mathematical use of music theory. The bebop tradition is what many modern-day jazz artists attempt to master to become proficient. Today, jazz has blended with nearly every culture to create a wide variety of styles.