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Bluegrass similar to jazz in some ways?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Don't know much about either so just wondering if they had any significant similarities.

post #2 of 15

Not sure if there are similarities but Bela Fleck certainly does a fabulous job combining the two.

post #3 of 15

I may be qualified to answer this from a technical standpoint, and I'm sorry that this may go over some peoples heads... I'll keep it as simple as I can:

 

Jazz and Bluegrass come from different places (historically).  Bluegrass mutated into it's current form somewhere in the 1800's, in the Appalachian area (think North Carolina/Kentucky).  Since that is the region many Irish and Scottish settled, Bluegrass has A LOT of influence from their musical traditions.  Later, Black musicians (while influencing Blues musically) added Banjo to the mix.

 

Cultural origins of Jazz is far newer than Bluegrass, and has it's beginnings in the 1900's.  Stylistically they are different.  Jazz is actually a collection of Sub-genrea, where Bluegrass IS a sub-genre (of Country).  Technically, Bluegrass and Jazz both let various instruments take solos, have vocalists, have small and large ensembles, and came about from a myriad of influences from different cultures. 

 

On Music Theory:  Jazz is very complicated when talking about theory. Jazz musicians regularly used Modes (such as Mixolidyan, Lidyan, Aolean) to analyze the structure and chordal movement.  Jazz can be in fantastically hard keys to play in, and often asks musicians to do things not found in any other genre.

 

Bluegrass on the other hand is fairly simple.  Most of the musicians are self taught, but can be virtuosic.  Most start playing at very early ages.  Musically, Bluegrass stays in simple keys, easy to play on a Guitar (Such as G, C, D, or A), and usually, as they say,  have "Three chords and the truth".  In more modern times, Bluegrass has become more involved, springing up genres such as New-Grass, and Progressive Grass.

 

Progressive Grass is a fascinating thing.  For those that are more akin to lissen to Van Halen, there is a complete Bluegrass revamp of the major Van Halen hits in true acoustic style.

 

First here are some examples of Bluegrass, followed by Jazz examples that MAY be close (to show similarities).

Examples:

 

Traditonal Bluegrass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ug8p5pVsj9U [Good ol' Mountain Dew - Stanley Brothers]

Trad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdUrg2Cqxdw&playnext=1&list=PL9CC72BCEA43FC1F9 [Doc Watson - Black Mountain Rag]

Modern Day (Mostly) Traditional Bluegrass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icMTVV5Lwaw&feature=related  [Foggy Mountain

Breakdown - Steve Martin]

More Modern day original compositions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBPHG2K5EKQ [Greensky Bluegrass - Radio Blues]

Large Bluegrass Ensemble: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iy_CZDtIuz0 [IBMA winners - Rollin in my Sweet Babys Arms]

Progressive Grass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O3EvDcaegs   [Van Halen Panama cover]

 

 

Jazz (not really): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oxf6QuhGqiY&feature=related [Brian Setzer - Black Mountain Rag solo with Jazz influence]

Jazz (early ragtime): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoilYt_LAe0 [King Oliver - Dippermouth Blues]

Jazz (Swing): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR3K5uB-wMA [Glenn Miller - In the Mood]

In the Swing Jazz you can clearly see the link between the Scotch/Irish reel from Bluegrass and the Saxaphone riff in the opening.

 

That should give you a little taste of the differences between the two genres.  I hate to say it, but compositionally, Bluegrass has more in common with Techo and Electronica than Jazz.  I hope this helps!  Feel free to ask more questions, or tell me to shut up... whichever!

post #4 of 15
The genre of country music as a whole was originally called "hillbilly music" by the record labels. Sometime around 1940 I think, Bill Monroe convinced the labels to drop that vague term and divide the catalog into "old time music" which consisted of folk music and bluegrass, and "country and western" which encompassed both traditional honky tonk and the cowboy singers like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.

Since Bluegrass is a strictly "old time" music, it remained separate from jazz, but was based on folk blues which also was a part of jazz. The genre of country music that truly embraced jazz was Western Swing. It was basically cowboy jazz, and bands like Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies and Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys swung with the best of them when it came to jazz.

If you're interested in the junction of jazz and country music there are dozens of great CD compilations. The best is Doughboys, Plowboys and Playboys.

Here is an interesting video. It's not an uptempo number, but it clearly shows how forward thinking western swing was. If you listen closely, you'll not only hear old time and blues influences, but the infancy of rock n roll guitar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sS5jSbV0Vg
Edited by bigshot - 5/4/11 at 5:12pm
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRichard View Post

I may be qualified to answer this from a technical standpoint, and I'm sorry that this may go over some peoples heads... I'll keep it as simple as I can:

 

Jazz and Bluegrass come from different places (historically).  Bluegrass mutated into it's current form somewhere in the 1800's, in the Appalachian area (think North Carolina/Kentucky).  Since that is the region many Irish and Scottish settled, Bluegrass has A LOT of influence from their musical traditions.  Later, Black musicians (while influencing Blues musically) added Banjo to the mix.

 

Cultural origins of Jazz is far newer than Bluegrass, and has it's beginnings in the 1900's.  Stylistically they are different.  Jazz is actually a collection of Sub-genrea, where Bluegrass IS a sub-genre (of Country).  Technically, Bluegrass and Jazz both let various instruments take solos, have vocalists, have small and large ensembles, and came about from a myriad of influences from different cultures. 

 

On Music Theory:  Jazz is very complicated when talking about theory. Jazz musicians regularly used Modes (such as Mixolidyan, Lidyan, Aolean) to analyze the structure and chordal movement.  Jazz can be in fantastically hard keys to play in, and often asks musicians to do things not found in any other genre.

 

Bluegrass on the other hand is fairly simple.  Most of the musicians are self taught, but can be virtuosic.  Most start playing at very early ages.  Musically, Bluegrass stays in simple keys, easy to play on a Guitar (Such as G, C, D, or A), and usually, as they say,  have "Three chords and the truth".  In more modern times, Bluegrass has become more involved, springing up genres such as New-Grass, and Progressive Grass.

 

Progressive Grass is a fascinating thing.  For those that are more akin to lissen to Van Halen, there is a complete Bluegrass revamp of the major Van Halen hits in true acoustic style.

 

First here are some examples of Bluegrass, followed by Jazz examples that MAY be close (to show similarities).

Examples:

 

...

 

That should give you a little taste of the differences between the two genres.  I hate to say it, but compositionally, Bluegrass has more in common with Techo and Electronica than Jazz.  I hope this helps!  Feel free to ask more questions, or tell me to shut up... whichever!



A lot of new information for me so questions won't start to formulate for a while. Thanks for detailed reply :)



Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

The genre of country music as a whole was originally called "hillbilly music" by the record labels. Sometime around 1940 I think, Bill Monroe convinced the labels to drop that vague term and divide the catalog into "old time music" which consisted of folk music and bluegrass, and "country and western" which encompassed both traditional honky tonk and the cowboy singers like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.

Since Bluegrass is a strictly "old time" music, it remained separate from jazz, but was based on folk blues which also was a part of jazz. The genre of country music that truly embraced jazz was Western Swing. It was basically cowboy jazz, and bands like Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies and Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys swung with the best of them when it came to jazz.

If you're interested in the junction of jazz and country music there are dozens of great CD compilations. The best is Doughboys, Plowboys and Playboys.

Here is an interesting video. It's not an uptempo number, but it clearly shows how forward thinking western swing was. If you listen closely, you'll not only hear old time and blues influences, but the infancy of rock n roll guitar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sS5jSbV0Vg


What exactly are the 'blues' in music terms? Does it mean sad music?

post #6 of 15
The Blues are a form of American folk music that formed the basis for a lot of different musical forms... Jazz, country, R&B, soul rock n roll and rock to name a few. Structurally, the blues is very simple, but in performance it opens up to a huge variety of variations on the theme.

John Lee Hooker "Hobo Blues"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYrVwGxlcFA

The DVDs this video is from is well worth renting. It's called American Folk Blues Festival.

The best Bluegrass video is called Bluegrass Country Soul. Here is a fantastic clip with the Osbourne Brothers at their peak.

http://www.animationarchive.org/?p=1653
Edited by bigshot - 5/4/11 at 6:37pm
post #7 of 15

OH!  I totally forgot about Western Swing!  AND It's even one of my favorites... Guess that's what I get for being a classically trained musician...

 

I shoulda took up rock guitar.

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRichard View Post

OH!  I totally forgot about Western Swing!  AND It's even one of my favorites

Ah-HAH! Wimmin n chillun holler, "Willie! Willie!" jes' listen to that FAT BOY RAG!
post #9 of 15
I can't add anything, but this is one of the more informative threads I've seen here lately. More, please. smily_headphones1.gif

And X2 on Bob Wills. He's a longtime favorite.

Can't help but remind me of seeing Larry Gatlin at the Opry a few years ago. He was terrific. The best part was that the session musicians perked up when he came out. They were concentrated and serious with the rest of the performers (and quite good), but they were smiling and clearly enjoying it when playing with Larry.
post #10 of 15
Great information on this thread. I'd just like to add that one thing jazz and bluegrass have in common is a high level of improvisation. The range for improvising is smaller in bluegrass because the form is simpler, but people do amazing things within the restrictions.
post #11 of 15

Just to muddy the waters a bit…another set that might give an idea of where things diverge and intersect is of early American gospel music…

 

Goodbye, Babylon (Dust-To-Digital)

 

goodbyebabylon4.jpg

 

…disc three, entitled "Judgment", has tracks by James and Martha Carson, Flatt and Scruggs with Foggy Mountain Boys, the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet and Sam Morgan's Jazz Band

 

 


Edited by tru blu - 5/5/11 at 6:32am
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tru blu View Post

Just to muddy the waters a bit…another set that might give an idea of where things diverge and intersect is of early American gospel music…

 

Goodbye, Babylon (Dust-To-Digital)

 

goodbyebabylon4.jpg

 

…disc three, entitled "Judgment", has tracks by James and Martha Carson, Flatt and Scruggs with Foggy Mountain Boys, the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet and Sam Morgan's Jazz Band

 

 

Flatt and Scruggs with FMB singing Bluegrass Gospel? Jubilee Quartet? !  I MUST HAVE IT!
 

 

post #13 of 15
post #14 of 15

Bluegrass has one origin: Bill Monroe.

He solely invented and shaped the genre in the '40's

post #15 of 15

Interesting stuff, need to give bluegrass some listens. 

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