Jazz Tree


Negro spirituals

Negro spirituals are the religious songs of the deported blacks. This music style unites African rituals with the music of the whites. The blacks used it to reach Ecstasy in order to flee the hard and cruel reality of slavery. For them it was the only way of expressing their hopes and feelings.


Work songs & Gospels

A music style that has its roots in the Negro Spirituals but is more aggressive and warlike in its texts.


African musical elements

Due to their cultural background the slaves included some of their African musical elements into Jazz. Above all they brought improvisation to Jazz music where it still today is used in every single song.


European music

As more and more Europeans came to America they brought along their music and their instruments. During the slavery period and afterwards the blacks were only allowed to play and use white music and instruments. They learned how to use the new equipment but also included their tradition into their new playing techniques.


Archaic Jazz

Period where black and white music elements started to mix up and unite into an early stage of Jazz music. This stage can also be seen as the birth of Jazz.



A composed music style for pianos. Resulting from the composition it is still lacking the most distinctive Jazz element, the improvisation. The melody is dictated by the rhythm. In the Midwest it was created when banjo music was converted onto the piano. The fusion of Ragtime and southern instrumental forms created what is today known as the classic New Orleans Jazz music.


New Orleans

Music style orientated on European marching music. The most important characteristic is the musical improvisation of the whole band. It sounds like they “talk” with their instruments in order to share their feelings. New Orleans Jazz is a unity of Creole, African and European music influences.



Blues definitely had the biggest influence on the development of Jazz. Even today, 100 years after the first Blues songs appeared, is this music still alive and fresh. Blues is used to share stories about life with the audience. Themes could be the loss of a love, homesickness or moaning about life in general. The background music is completely improvised and there is no written down text or any notes. The vocalist starts to sing and the band simply joins in. With the appearance of Blues, Jazz music changed towards more individualism, what is one of the reasons why Jazz is still enjoyed by millions of people. 


New Orleans in Chicago

After the Navy closed down Storyville in 1919 most of the New Orleans musicians moved to Chicago to find some work. Their way of playing Jazz was the complete opposite of what the original Chicago musicians played at that time. The Chicago musicians stuck to their notes and never improvised because they thought that improvising would destroy the sound.



The name “Dixie” originates from early banknotes of Louisiana where on one side the English “ten” but  on the other the French “dix” was printed. Dixieland is probably the most well known form of Jazz. Happy music, great themes and a good rhythm formed the base for its success. Dixieland was rather the music of the whites then the music of blacks. The common characteristic of Dixie is the interpretation that wiped out the black musicians lack of note reading skills and the fixation of whites on written down notes.   



The white version of New Orleans Jazz played by fascinated young students and amateurs. The Chicago style was created by such whites but was different from the original New Orleans style and represented the restlessness of the “roaring twenties”. The solo is the most important characteristic of this period. Some of the songs were only added together solos. It was also the time when the popularity of saxophones grew immensely. 



Swing was the music of the secure pre World War II time. It was also the time when Jazz had its greatest commercial successes. The bands were now Big Bands, led by famous personalities of Jazz celebrated by thousands of people at theatres all over the United States. Solos were now performed by entire instrumental groups in a “shout-and-answer” system. The music became more cultivated due to the more European like music style. Jazz musicians also improved themselves technically. Swing is the connection between traditional and modern Jazz music.


New Orleans & Dixieland Revival I

New Orleans & Dixieland Revival II

This can be described best by calling it a “back-to-the-roots” period. People started to collect everything they could find about New Orleans Jazz and celebrated its ancient stars. The Revival was an alternative to Swing music and very successful all over the world.



Due to the social changes caused by the 2nd World War, Jazz changed from the happy and cheerful Swing sound to a torn up, grandiloquent, fragmentary melody structure. The new style represented the insecurity and fears of life. Bebop is the foundation of the modern Jazz


Rhythm & Blues

The music is shaped by vocalists, accompanied by guitars and a rhythm section. It was the dance music of the blacks and formed the base for the development of our contemporary Pop and Rock music. Rock and Roll was created after Rhythm & Blues was combined with Country and Western music. 



Soul was created as a reaction to the emotionless sound of Cool Jazz. It is a combination of Rhythm & Blues and Gospel. A huge rhythm section, short and rhythmical “riffs”, great amounts of brasswinds and Gospel choirs are being used to create an animated making of music.


Cool Jazz

After the 2nd World War the attitude of Jazz fans changed completely. The happy, lifeloving view was replaced by a “cool”, rational and intellectual playing style. Well educated musicians started to convert Classic music, especially Baroque music, into Jazz.         


Hard Bop

Return to a more vital, “hot” and “swinging” music. Harmonies of Cool Jazz and Bebop were taken over and  instrumental virtuosity and personal expression were accentuated. 



A strongly on Blues and Gospel orientated playing style.


Free Jazz

Breakthrough into the free space of a atonal felt tonality. A new rhythmical conception based on the decomposition of the metre, beat and symmetry. Jazz opened itself for other cultural influences for example from Asia. Musicians also managed to increase the intensity of their music to a new level. 



Term for the main stream of Jazz, settled between its traditional and modern forms. Usage of typical Swing characteristics and a renunciation of musical experiments were the main attributes. The music was played with the purpose of entertaining the audience without creating any new Jazz styles.