A Love Supreme — Jazz and its instruments

23 December 2015 Articles Jazz Theory Latest Most Popular

The Sounds of Jazz
Lois Armstrong inspired an entirely new generation of musicians all thirsty for knowledge. It wasn’t anything that he said that moved the masses, but how he played the instrument that he loved so much. His ability to improvise while seducing the crowd with his unique blend of style ushered in a new style of music. Old Satchmo inspired a new admiration in Jazz artists, he inspired a love affair with the instruments of jazz.

Rhythm Section
A standard jazz section has at least one instrument that is able to play cords. This is categorised as the rhythm section and includes a variety of instruments. Instruments like the piano and percussion are included amongst the rhythm section, but the impressive bass is one that stands out the most.

The upright bass is a wooden, four stringed instrument which commands attention from anyone who hears it. It is used to set up the foundation of the harmony within jazz, with the musician plucking at the strings instead of using the bow.

While the upright bass is a staple in a jazz line up, percussion is a rarity. There are few percussion instruments used by jazz musicians but snare drums and a bass drum are of the most common sets used by Jazz musicians.

Horn Section
We started this piece with talks of the great, Lois Armstrong and his incredible ability with not only a Trumpet, but his voice as well. So, in honour of his incredible skill, we go a little deeper into the Jazz bands horn section.

Naturally we start with the Trumpet, the prominent and wildly popular instrument in the horn section of a jazz line up. The trumpet is part of the brass instrument family and takes a large amount of skill to play well.   The quirky cousin of the trumpet is a favourite of the big band, the Trombone. Sounding very similar to the trumpet, the trombone player uses a slide to change the pitch of the music.

Woodwind Instruments
On first glance, many would think that the saxophone belongs in the horn section, but this isn’t the case. This woodwind instrument joins other popular jazz band stables like the clarinet and the flute. The versatility of a woodwind playing musician will also give them the freedom to switch between instruments if need be during a performance.

The uniqueness of a woodwind instrument comes from its sound, which is created by blowing into the mouthpiece that vibrates the reed – giving it its woodwind status.   Unlike the rhythm section, the saxophone can only play one note at a time, which gives this instrument it’s unmistakable sound.

Jazz is designed to be fun, and learning how to play a jazz inspired instrument should be a passionate event in your life. If you aren’t already tickling the ivories, why not try your hand at learning how to play an instrument. If you look at where that passion got ol’ Pops, who knows where it will lead you?

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