Whether you identify as a cool, jazzy, ally cat, or one soulful blue siren, there’s no denying the beauty present within these two very popular genres. However, as similar as they may be towards one another, they couldn’t be any more different. Although both of these musical styles originated from Southern America, Jazz was born through the efforts of African Americans who lived in the Deep South during the early 20th century. While Blues was also produced thanks to the African American community, it has drawn much of its influences from Europe. To learn more about the differences of the two genres, here are 10 quick facts coming your way:
Fact 1: Blues relies heavily on the vocals of the artist and is often accompanied by a guitar, whereas Jazz is a bit more welcoming towards the presence of musical instruments and regularly features the sweet sounds of the saxophone and the piano.
Fact 2: Jazz hailed from New Orleans, where as Blues could be traced back all the way to Mississippi. During its earlier days, Jazz has no problem taking America by storm, enjoying a nationwide success. On the other hand, Blues received a much more quiet, pocketed fame compared to its more popular counterpart.
Fact 3: The main focus of Jazz, you ask? The genre revolves around the improvisations and the dynamics of an ensemble, whereas the genre Blues is usually centered around a single guitar or instrument, and a single artist.
Fact 4: Most, if not all Jazz songs are purely instrumental, while all Blues songs contain powerful vocals or soulful lyrics. The personal lyrics within a Blues song make this genre type very personal and often times moving for the listener.
Fact 5: When it comes down to the stylistic origins of both genres, we can trace the Blues all the way back to African American folk music, Spiritual music, and even work songs. On the other hand, Jazz originated from a mix of European and African musical traditions.
Fact 6: Melancholic, slow, and soulful is one way of putting into words Blues. On the other hand, smooth, energetic, and sway-worthy is how one might describe Jazz music and it’s rather upbeat characteristic.
Fact 7: West African mysticism states that the clothing of mourners would be dyed blue in order to indicate suffering. The etymology of Jazz on the other hand believes that the word was likely derived from the word “jasm”, which is now an obsolete slang word which meant spirit, energy and vigor way back in the 1860s.
Fact 8: Jazz drumming often incorporates sophisticated and syncopated rhythms while blues drumming tends to lean toward creating a straightforward groove with the use of a bass. Blues favors a more simple approach and the use of inexpensive instruments such as the harmonica. While jazz on the other hand commonly incorporates some woodwind and brass instruments such as the saxophone and the trumpet.
Fact 9: Some of the most legendary Jazz musicians in history include Edward Ory, George Lewis, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis. On the Blues front, Blind Lemon Jefferson, as well as Robert Johnson were the headliners on their end.
Fact 10: Blues was a genre that relied on set chord patterns, “blue” notes, and emotive, ardent lyrics. Meanwhile, Jazz paid attention to improvisation, group interaction, and fast, tight, rhythms.