There is such a variety of styles of jazz music. Also, the components of these styles are innumerable. There is something about jazz that differentiates it
from other kinds of musicology. While jazz has had several influences upon it, it has remained a holistic form of music in itself. One element of jazz
is syncopation. One of the earliest pioneers of jazz music was Louis Armstrong. He is famous for saying that if you have to ask what jazz is, you will never really get to know it. Among the various sub-
components of jazz that developed under his direction and that of later musicians are rhythm and blues, swing style, and free creativity.
The introduction of self-styled changes in the music while playing it is not necessarily a feature of jazz alone. It used to exist in age-old music from the
Indian Subcontinent, Africa and Asia. Even such composers with name and fame as Beethoven, Mozart and Bach all used to improvise time after
time in their works. Syncopation meanwhile prevents the music from going stale and humdrum in its monotony. The idea is for the music to act as an axe to destroy the listener’s frozen sea of emotions.
Coming to swing. The eighth note lends more harmony and beats to the style of swing. These eighth notes arrive in a form known as triplets. Jazz
musicians and drummers often refer to these three beats as spang-a-lang. Swing has a “chill out” aura about it. It goes way ahead of rhythm. Jazz has had a mixed history with many elitist people looking down their noses upon it. However, others have taken to it like a duck to water and have
championed it as natural and free music. Jazz is a singularly American style of music which has borrowed a lot from the Deep South. Some of the
critical points of jazz are: walking bass, Scatman-style singing, comping, stabs, glissando and intervals from the music.
It is not just what you play in jazz; it is also all about how you play it. That is what differentiates it from other music. The history of jazz goes back a hundred years or so. It is a fusion of many styles and hence a colourful form of music. So once again to recount the five main elements of jazz; they could be said to comprise:
Both African styles and European music combined to produce jazz music over the years of its evolution. The thing is, there are no hard and
fast rules about jazz. Like deconstruction, the literary form of criticism engendered by Jacques Derrida, it is not anything firm or fixed in time. The
moment you try to pin it down on the dissection table, it escapes your grasp. Jazz is ever-changing in its form and will always elude the rule-makers. That is because jazz is a movement in music brought about
by rule-breakers. What began in New Orleans didn’t stay in New Orleans but spread throughout the Global Village.
We can say about jazz, though with any degree of certainty, it is very creative. To be creative means to think outside the box. That is
why it is so hard to define with precision. It is free-flowing music without the chains. Therein lie its beauty and its power as well.