Exploring the Evolution of Jazz Harmony

Jazz Harmony Origins
Jazz Harmony Origins
Emerging from the late 19th century, jazz harmony blended European classical music with African rhythms. It was a melting pot of musical traditions that gave rise to a distinctive harmonic language.
The Blues Influence
The Blues Influence
Blues provided a foundational element to jazz harmony, introducing flatted thirds and sevenths, known as blue notes, which contribute to jazz's characteristic emotional depth and tonal color.
Chord Extensions and Alterations
Chord Extensions and Alterations
Jazz musicians expanded beyond basic triads, incorporating 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths, along with altered notes to create tension and color, moving harmony beyond traditional major and minor chords.
Modal Jazz Exploration
Modal Jazz Exploration
In the 1950s, modal jazz introduced scales as the basis for improvisation, diverging from the chord progression focus. This approach, utilized by Miles Davis, allowed greater improvisational freedom.
Substitution and Reharmonization
Substitution and Reharmonization
Jazz harmony is replete with chord substitutions, such as tritone or diatonic replacements, enriching progressions. Reharmonization can entirely change a tune's emotional impact without altering the melody.
The Bebop Influence
The Bebop Influence
Bebop brought rapid chord changes and complex progressions, demanding technical proficiency and a deep understanding of harmony. It revolutionized jazz, influencing all subsequent jazz styles.
Polytonality and Polyrhythms
Polytonality and Polyrhythms
Later jazz styles experimented with polytonality, the use of multiple keys simultaneously, and polyrhythms, layering different rhythmic patterns, challenging the boundaries of traditional harmony.
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What origins influenced jazz harmony?
Late 19th-century African rhythms
European classical and African rhythms
Early 20th-century blues exclusively