Notes: Episode 33, The History Of Jazz (Part 1)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


5:30 – These were generated by me. The first chord – a C Major – is fairly “stable” sounding; the notes sound pretty good together, and the major key makes it sound bright and happy. It’s built with the first, third, and fifth notes of the C Major scale. The second chord is also built on a C Major scale, but with the addition of the seventh note of the scale, hence being called a “seventh” chord (noted as C7). That seventh note doesn’t sound wrong, but it does add an element of “strain” to it – it’s the second last note of the scale before it resolves on the octave (eighth note, another C) and your brain really just wants it to get there because that’s what it’s anticipating. Playing with your expectations and sensibilities, musically speaking, is one of the tools jazz uses to engage the listener emotionally.

12:40 – “This May Be The Last Time, I Don’t Know”, traditional, sung by Bessie Jones from the 1975 Rounder Records Album “So Glad I’m Here”. Used for educational and review purposes.

22:10 – “Maple Leaf Rag”, written by Scott Joplin and recorded by William J. Leslie in 2008 under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. The whole piece is a really good time, and his other major hit – “The Entertainer” is also both very fun and extremely recognizable.

32:08 – “Memphis Blues”, written by William Christopher Handy and recorded by the Victor Military Band in 1914. This recording is part of the public domain due to its age.

33:10 – This was recorded by me. I dashed it off a little bit quickly, but blues isn’t about being pretty. This is a standard 12-bar sequence in E.

34:34 – I keep mentioning “Sousa marching music”. I’m referring to the work of John Philip Sousa, an American composer known for his marches and the development of a tuba-like instrument called the sousaphone. If you want an idea of what he was writing, check out “The Stars and Stripes Forever” – it’s one of the most recognizable of his works, and is a really good anchor point for the style that we’re discussing.

40:42 – “When The Saints Go Marching In”, traditional, performed by Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars from the 1955 Decca Records recording “Louis Armstrong At The Crescendo, Vol. 1”. Used for educational and review purposes.

51:10 – The white dude in question here is Joel Walker Sweeney, an early black-face performer and confederate soldier. He arguably invented a new instrument and was apparently an extremely talented musician, but I’m not sure that makes up for a lot of other pretty racist stuff he got up to. Even inventing the banjo was a kind of racist thing to do, in a way. I don’t even feel that comfortable recording the name of his biggest hit, so I’m gonna give this guy a thumbs down overall.

54:54 – I don’t talk about them much in the show, but gramophone records had been around for a little while; however the 78 RPM record, which was really the first industry standard, was established around 1925. Musicians had already had recorded music available to them for decades, but this standardization really opened it up to widespread use. The main issue with the 78 was that it only gave three to three and a half minutes of space per side, depending on the size of the disc; this would eventually be solved by the introduction of the 33 1/3 LP in 1931. While recorded music nearly died during the Great Depression in the 30’s and the 33 was initially a commercial failure, it was reintroduced by Columbia Records in 1948. The 33 would give at least 10 minutes per side.

59:55 – “Charleston”, written by James P. Johnson and recorded by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra from the 1925 Victor Record #19671-B. This is the earliest known recording of the Charleston, and only two years away from being part of the public domain. Used for educational and review purposes.

1:01:26 – Couldn’t hear the drums? Makes sense – the version I used for the show was pretty light on percussion, and there was virtually none in the unfortunately short clip I was able to include.

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