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Clarinets are Cool!

Traditional "Dixieland" Jazz

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This is an early form of jazz, as practiced in New Orleans and elsewhere prior to the development of the big bands. It evolved from the structure of 19th century European band music, and the character of African-American folk music. The music is almost entirely improvised over the form of the song being played, and written arrangements are generally not used. Each instrument has a fairly specific role to play and this role-playing keeps the musicians from excessively duplicating their efforts. As jazz goes, it's fairly easy to play, and I've run into a number of teenage groups on the web.

The music derives the name 'Dixieland' from the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, which began recording the music around 1917. Leader/Trumpeter Nick LaRocca made claims to have originated it, as did characters like Jelly Roll Morton, but the music evolved in the cultural melting pot of New Orleans.

Although there are some sad songs and blues, this is generally a very happy and festive sounding music. Bands like these are probably the single best venue for a clarinetist in popular music. Famous big band musicians like Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw cut their early teeth in these kinds of bands.

Instrumentation and Instrument Roles

Trumpet - Responsible for stating the melody in the first and last choruses of the song.

Clarinet -  May harmonize with the trumpet (usually from above) or 'noodle' other figures above the melody. A special school of clarinet playing, known as the Creole school is associated with this style of music.

Trombone - Generally provides low countermelodies, or may harmonize with the trumpet or double the bass line

Tenor Sax - An additional instrument for harmony and countermelodies. Not generally characteristic of New Orleans groups, but associated more with the later "Chicago Style" which featured more mapped out arrangements, and further developments leading towards the Big Band era.

Banjo/Guitar/Piano - Afterbeats. Primary responsibility is hit chords on beats 2 & 4.

Bass - Bass line. Usually with a 2-beat feel (sounding on beats 1 & 3) Can be a string bass, tuba or whatever

Drums - Normal drum duties. Keep time and provide fills and kicks.

Traditional Jazz Clarinetists:

Traditional Jazz Bands:

Music for Bands

Normally this music is played by ear or from lead sheets, but there are collections of arrangements for those wishing something more organized, or who just want to dip their toes in the water. Most folios are for 7 or 8 instruments. (Trumpet, Clarinet, Trombone, Tenor Sax, Piano, Guitar, Bass & Drums)

Music for Individual Instruments


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