The Difference Between Blues & Jazz Music

The Difference Between Blues & Jazz Music

Blues and Jazz are two popular musical genres, both of which are an integral part of distinct American traditional music. Although both Jazz and Blues always go hand-in-hand, some differences in styles and playing methods separate one from the other. If you are a seasoned fan of these two musical forms, you must be aware of the fact that Blue involves a key instrumentalist who performs with vocals. Jazz, on the other hand, is comes with the rich dynamics of a company or band.

Since both originated from the American soil, they are interrelated in many ways. However, the birth of Blues music took place much before the emergence of Jazz and that is why Blues is often regarded as an element of Jazz music. Let us stress more on the issue and help you understand the key differences between these two most popular music styles.

OriginsĀ 

Both Blues and Jazz originated from the Southern part of the United States, but at different times. Blues emerged as the mainstream musical genre in the late 19th century, while Jazz came in the limelight in the early 20th century. Southern state Mississippi is the place of origin for Blues music, and the first-ever Blues music was recorded in the state in the 1920s.

Jazz, on the other hand, hailed from the state of New Orleans in the early 20th century dominated by instruments like piano, saxophone, trombone and cornet. Blues represents African American folk music, spirituals and work songs, while Jazz is a combination of African and European traditional music.

Types of Instruments Involved

There is no huge difference between the types of instruments used in these two musical genres. Jazz is an instrument-based music while Blues always come with lyrics and vocals. Key instruments used for Blues are:

  • Guitar
  • Drums
  • Piano
  • Bass
  • Trumpet
  • Saxophone
  • Harmonica
  • Trombone
  • Fiddle
  • Vocals

The use of instruments in Jazz is more than Blues, and it is usually performed in groups. Key instruments used in Jazz are:

  • Guitar
  • Bass
  • Piano
  • Clarinet
  • Tuba
  • Drums
  • Saxophone
  • Trumpet

Performing Blues and Jazz

There are some noticeable differences between the playing style of Blues and Jazz. Since the Jazz style came into being much later than Blues, it acquires some of the complicated patterns of music. In Blues, a performer plays only three basic harmonic chords. The performer uses 12 bar progression in most performances. In Blues, a singer leads the show with one or two instrument players in the background. Blues is known for having an emotional and expressive touch. Jazz, on the other hand, allows a performer to play unlimited chords and progression. The most important feature that separates Jazz from Blues is the use of 7th chord. When performing Jazz, an artist concentrates more on technical playing than bringing emotional expression. Like Blues, Jazz often features vocalists keeping the musicians remain in the limelight.

Popular Artists: Blues & Jazz

Some of the most popular Blues artists are B.B. King, W.C. Handy, Gus Cannon, Muddy Waters, Mississippi John Hurt, Tommy Johnson, Eric Clapton and more. Some famous Jazz artists are Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Louise Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck, Ornette Coleman, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and more.

If Blues features instruments and vocal tone to bring an emotional, melancholy and expressive touch of life in the music, the tone of Jazz is swinging, swaying and hyper while emphasizing more on complicated chord skills. Although there are a few differences that separate one from another, both forms of music are worth listening and enjoying.

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