Similarities Between Jazz & Blues

The roots of both jazz and the blues are so tangled together that it is often hard to distinguish one from the other. Both are traditions that emerged from the American South and in particular the African-American populations of that region. The musical forms of both are the result of the collision of traditionally African rhythms and musical techniques with European classical and folk music. Both are beloved and uniquely American forms of music.

The precise origins of both jazz and the blues are quite shrouded. This is due to both the poverty of the original musicians and the fact that few realized the importance of the music until it had evolved into its modern forms. Both jazz and the blues, however, can trace their heritage to African-American spirituals and the work songs that were sung by slaves in the fields. These were early blends of European-African music.

Both jazz and the blues were received in the larger culture in similar ways and for similar reasons. Considered "devil's music" by some, both forms of music were considered dangerous and associated with youth rebellion. The reasons for this were the nontraditional sounds of both, along with their association with black culture, which was looked down upon and denigrated at the time. Both would eventually become popularly enshrined as unique representatives of American culture.

In the combination of European and African musical traditions, both jazz and the blues are fusions of common elements. Both introduced into American music an emphasis on rhythm and improvisation. Many jazz musicians, such as Duke Ellington, consciously borrowed elements from the blues to introduce into their own versions of jazz. The cross-influence of jazz and blues on each other is large and both have influenced other musical forms such as rock 'n' roll and rap.

Approved by Jesse Anderson