A Great Day in Harlem

The Roots of Jazz

European influence on Jazz

Church hymns

Folk songs and dances

Military marches and airs

Classical compositions


The Roots of Jazz




Since the slaves brought no property with them to America, the banjo was the only instrument with an African heritage to be used in early jazz.

Varied scales and tuning




Military bands and marching bands

Christian hymns

Transformed into Spirituals

Spiritual: a religious folk song; an expression of hope for release from oppression and sorrow

Secular songs, the forerunners of the 12-bar blues, began to appear

Orally passed

The blues became fundamental to jazz

Minstrel Show Music

The interchange of cultural elements between blacks and whites

Before the Civil War, white companies prevailed. After the Civil War, Black Americans also created minstrel companies



Parody dancing


The prize was often a cake

The Cakewalk is a strutting, high-kicking dance to syncopated music and became a craze in the 1890s

Cakewalk and Ragtime

Which came first? Cakewalk or Ragtime?

Jazz originated from a mix or African and European music and probably could not have developed anywhere but in the United States

The African, South American, and Caribbean Influence on Composers

Louis Moreau Gottschalk 
American - 1812-1860

Night in the Tropics (c.1858)

second movement (allegro molto) is a rumba, a Cuban dance unknown in the United States until the 20th century




Igor Stravinsky
Russian - 1882-1971

Piano Rag Music (1919)

dedicated to Artur Rubinstein

Ebony Concerto  (1945)

commissioned b y Woody Herman

(written for jazz ensemble)


George Gershwin
American - 1898-1937

Porgy and Bess  (1935)



Darius Milhaud
French - 1892-1974

La creation du monde  (1923)

influenced by Harlem jazz

Uses jazz saxophone

George Antheil
Polish-American - 1900-1959

A Jazz Symphony (1927)

William Albright
             American - 1944-1998

         Grand Sonata in Rag (1967-1970)

Today’s Review
The Roots of Jazz

Musical forms

the Spiritual

a transformation of Christian hymns

began about 1780 with the Great Awakening

lined out

Secular songs





not written down

led to the 12-bar blues

The Roots of Jazz

Minstrel Show Music

the interchange of cultural elements

white companies in blackface

after the Civil War, black companies in blackface

The Cakewalk, Ragtime, and the influence of Jazz on European Music and visa-versa

parody of European dances

contests, with the prize often being a cake

very popular in the 1890’s

probably resulted in the development of Ragtime

The Roots of Jazz



Field Hollers

Call and Response


no property

African instruments were reconstructed in America

the bandora  became a guitar

the balafou  became a marimba

the banya  became the banjo

European instruments were adopted through

military bands

social bands

Suggested Additional Listening

New World Records (RAAM)

#205  White Spirituals from the Sacred Harp

#224  Brighten the Corner Where You Are: Black and White Urban Hymnody

#294  The Gospelship: Baptist Hymns and White Spirituals from the Southern Mountains