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What are some of the aspects that are common to most forms of
Some common aspects of jazz are that is has strong, syncopated,
swung and flexible rhythms. Jazz has African American roots and
improvisation. It is melodic and harmonic elements are derived from
the blues and songs usually have an instrumental focus.
2. What are some reasons jazz is so hard to define?
It is always changing and utilizes many different styles. There are
numerous books about jazz that do not offer a term. The definitions are
flexible and jazz covers a multitude of sounds. Jazz is a living art form
that is ever changing and ever growing.
3. Briefly explain the family resemblance definition of jazz created by
Gridley, Maxham, and Hoff. What are some of the problems associated
with this approach?
They approach defining jazz as finding the links between
adjacent styles. The authors explore ways that some styles resemble
and differ from others. The problem with this is it leaves the person
using the word jazz to be whatever he/she thinks it is. It also raises
the concern as to why one jazz element must be present but another
particular element does not have to be included. Most of the problems
accompanying a family resemblances approach center about the seen
for simplicity and giving a jazz a simple definition.
4. Improvisation is an aspect that is found in many definitions of jazz.
There are numerous examples of multiple recordings of a work by the
same artist in which the improvised solo for both recordings are the
same except for small variations. Briefly discuss factors that help to
separate improvisation from interpretation. Is the above an example of
interpretation or improvisation? Are these two ideas at extreme ends of
a continuum?
Interpretation is that way a musician performs a composed piece
of music. Improvisation is created without any preparation. In defining
jazz improvisation, slight alterations such as rhythm and
ornamentation are considered interpretation instead of improvisations.
5. Darwin's theory of evolution has had an impact on the way that the
history of jazz is presented. What are some of the negative implications
of this?
Evolutionary models tend to ignore the many stylistic revivals
that are found in the history of jazz. Artists feel the need and pressure
to fit a particular style. It gives the impression that music is evolving in
a linear fashion towards a certain state of complexity.

6. Why does Shipton argue that much of jazz history is mired in

Because a lot of what we know about jazz is the result of bits and
pieces of information being passed between generations and groups of
7. What are some of the reasons that early jazz spread so quickly?
Music publishing made the dissemination of jazz easy. Sheet
music was widely distributed, piano rolls were cut, and sound
recordings were made before 1900. The use of network of touring
shows and theaters allowed musicians to easily communicate with
each other.