Listening Script Vocabulary
(Section 2: You will hear a radio presenter talking about the musical style of jazz in a radio program. First, you will have some time to look at questions 11 to 21 [20 seconds]. Listen carefully and answer questions 11 to 21.)
Hello and welcome to the show. Today we’re talking about one of my favourite musical styles - jazz. So what exactly is jazz? When the famous Louis Armstrong was asked this question, he replied, ‘Man, if you gotta ask, you’ll never know.’ Perhaps he was right, but the aim of the show today is to help you understand the main features of some of the main type of jazz music. You may be thinking that there is only one kind of jazz but that’s where you’d be wrong. There are so many different jazz styles and you might be surprised at how the jazz has evolved over the years.
Let’s start with Ragtime. This is often referred to as the original jazz style. Originating in the southern U.S. in the late 1800s, this style was developed basically for piano. Ragtime is easy to recognize. The rhythm is vibrant and lively, often being associated with African dance. An early publisher and musician of ragtime compositions was Scott Joplin. He dates back to 1899.
Now, what about The Blues? Of all the jazz styles, this one impacted the development of jazz. In the early 20th century, blues singers appeared on the jazz scene, expressing the emotions of the African American community. This style of singing was usually performed with piano, guitar, and harmonica. W.C. Handy, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey…these are legendary blues musicians of the early 20th century.
The next type of jazz is known as Dixieland. This is often called 'traditional jazz' or 'New Orleans jazz' and was developed in the early 1920s. It is one of our most important jazz styles and combines the blues tradition, ragtime, and the brass band into one musical arrangement. The main instruments were the trumpet, the clarinet, the trombone, and sometimes the saxophone were all complimented by a rhythm section that included piano, drums, string bass, banjo, or tuba. Most of the time Dixieland was played without a singer. Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton are among the most famous musicians of the Dixieland style.
Following the rise and popularity of Dixieland jazz came the beginning of the Big Band. The decade was the 1920s. Musicians were constantly playing around with Jazz styles and that state of mind many new sounds and new combinations came about. The word ‘ensemble’ applies to this style as the big bands usually were made up of brass instruments and string instruments. All of the jazz instruments came together to create what became known as ‘swing’ music, which was a high-energy jazz style that packed the dance floors. There were usually ten or more players. Big band leaders at the height of this movement included Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington.
By the 1940s, one of the most fascinating of the jazz styles emerged - Bebop. This jazz style again features both brass and string instruments but it was also very different because there were only 4 to 6 musicians. The style featured complicated melodies and was basically not very suitable for dancing. Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie is generally considered to be the father of bebop.
Finally, there is Free Jazz, which was born in the 1960s. Free jazz was very much experimental and unique and use a wide range of new and old instruments. Some say it sounded like squeaking and wailing. This is one of the jazz styles that has never been popular with public audiences.
These are the basic sub-genres that make up the various jazz styles. The one thing to never forget is that jazz artists everywhere …