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GCSE Music - Area of Study 2: Shared Music


Jazz is a type of music that originated in the southern states of America during the early 20th century. Over time, many different styles of jazz have developed, using all sorts of line-ups, from a single piano to a swing band. The main element that unites most of these styles is improvisation.

Key Features

  • Syncopation and swung rhythms
  • Walking bass
  • Scat singing – singing to nonsense syllables instead of words
  • 12-bar blues chord pattern
  • Blues scale – a major scale with flattened 3rd, 5th and 7th degrees
  • Comping – rhythmic chordal accompaniment on the piano
  • Stabs – usually on brass
  • Glissando – a slide from one note to another
  • Instrumental breaks

Famous musicians – Louis Armstrong – singer and trumpeter; Duke Ellington – pianist

Example to Listen to

At The Woodchopper’s Ball by the Woody Herman Orchestra

Listen out for:

  • Harmonic structure based on the 12-bar blues
  • Line up of trumpets, trombones, saxes and clarinet (the front line) and guitar, piano, drums and bass (the rhythm section)
  • Walking bass part (on pizzicato double bass)
  • Stabs in the brass section
  • Glissandos in the clarinet solo