The Different Types of Jazz Music in the 1920s

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Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Jazz music in the 1920s was incredibly diverse, with different subgenres developing in different parts of the country. In this blog post, we explore the different types of jazz music that were popular in the 1920s, from New Orleans jazz to Chicago jazz.


Jazz is a music genre that originated in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It developed from African American vernacular music and has roots in West African cultural and musical traditions. Although jazz is considered highly divergent, it possesses a unity based on its afro-centric origins.

The term “jazz” first appeared in print in 1915 in the Chicago Defender, a newspaper founded by African Americans. Jazz was originally used to describe dance music, but by the 1920s it had become associated with a style of music that was being played by African American bands.

The different types of jazz music that developed in the 1920s were: New Orleans jazz, Chicago jazz, stride piano, and swing.

New Orleans Jazz: This type of jazz was named after the city where it originated: New Orleans, Louisiana. It was based on a mix of European and African musical traditions, and was influenced by other genres such as blues and ragtime. The most important figure in the development of New Orleans jazz was trumpeter Louis Armstrong.

Chicago Jazz: This type of jazz developed in the city of Chicago, Illinois. It was based on the New Orleans style of jazz, but was more structured and formalized. The most important figure in the development of Chicago jazz was clarinetist Benny Goodman.

Stride Piano: This type of jazz was named after the piano playing style that characterized it. Stride piano is a fast, rhythmical style of playing that uses only the left hand; the right hand is used for improvised solos. The most important figure in the development of stride piano was Fats Waller.

Swing: This type of jazz emerged in the mid-1930s and became very popular in the 1940s. It incorporated elements of both New Orleans and Chicago styles of jazz, but placed more emphasis on danceability and rhythm than any other type of jazz up to that time. The most important figure in the development of swing was bandleader Glenn Miller

The Different Types of Jazz Music in the 1920s

There are many different types of jazz music. The type of jazz music that was popular in the 1920s was a blend of African and European musical traditions. This type of jazz music was characterized by its use of improvisation, syncopation, and blue notes.

Dixieland Jazz

Dixieland jazz is a style of jazz music that originated in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the early 1900s. It was spread to Chicago and other major cities by New Orleans musicians such as Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong who became famous bandleaders during the 1920s. Dixieland jazz is characterized by its syncopated rhythms, or “ragged” melodies, and improvised solos. The style is also sometimes known as “traditional jazz” or “early jazz.”

Dixieland jazz was the first type of jazz music to gain popularity with the general public. It was often played in dance halls and clubs, and it quickly spread to other parts of the United States and Europe. By the 1920s, there were dozens of famous dixieland bands playing in major cities all over the world. Some of the most popular dixieland musicians of the time include Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Kid Ory, King Oliver, and Bix Beiderbecke.

Chicago Jazz

Chicago Jazz is a type of jazz music that originated in the early 1920s in Chicago, Illinois. It was developed by young musicians who were influenced by the sounds of New Orleans jazz. Chicago jazz is characterized by its strong rhythm section, which usually includes a piano, bass, and drums. The horns are also important in this type of jazz, and they often include a trumpet and trombone. Chicago jazz often has a more lively feel than other types of jazz and is often used for dancing.

New Orleans Jazz

New Orleans jazz is a type of music that was created in New Orleans, Louisiana in the early 20th century. It is a blend of African and European musical traditions. New Orleans jazz is characterized by its own unique rhythmic style, which derived from the city’s exposure to a variety of musical influences.

One of the earliest examples of New Orleans jazz can be found in the music of Jelly Roll Morton, who was born in New Orleans in 1890. Morton’s style incorporated elements of ragtime and blues, as well as Caribbean and African rhythms. His music was greatly influential in the development of New Orleans jazz.

Another important figure in the history of New Orleans jazz is trumpeter Louis Armstrong, who was born in 1901. Armstrong’s playing style helped to define the genre, and his inventive use of improvisation made him one of the most respected jazz musicians of his time.

New Orleans Jazz continued to evolve throughout the 1920s, with various artists adding their own unique touches to the music. By the end of the decade, it had become one of America’s most popular forms of music.

Swing Jazz

Swing jazz is a type of jazz music that gained popularity in the 1920s. It is characterized by a strong rhythm section, often including a piano and drums, as well as a horn section. Swing jazz bands sometimes also featured vocalists. The most famous swing jazz band was the Duke Ellington Orchestra.


In the end, there are dozens of different types of Jazz music to explore from the genre’s inception in the 1920s. From early New Orleans Jazz to Bebop and beyond, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So get out there and start listening!

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