Dixieland Music, also known as Traditional American or New Orleans Jazz is style of jazz music which developed in New Orleans at the start of the 20th Century. At that time New Orleans was a major port and had a diverse population. All these cultures had their own musical styles and they all came together in New Orleans, which soon became known as a Musical Melting Pot. Musicians used to congregate in the streets and play their music -- usually Congo Square. These early jam sessions mixed various types of styles and types of music. Some styles contributing to the birth of Dixieland were brass band marches, French quadrilles, Beguine, ragtime (which predates Dixieland), African tribal beats and an emerging blues style closer to melodic storytelling than the blues of today.
When all this came together it was called polyphonic improvisation. Simply combining different types of music with each players own style and variations and making it sound like something. The original bands included brass and wind instruments because of their availability from the many brass marching bands that evolved around the Civil War. The standard band included a front line of trumpet/coronet, trombone and clarinet. The rhythm section consisted of drums, banjo and tuba. The early Dixieland sound was created when one instrument, usually the trumpet, played a melody and the other instruments improvise around that melody. This was a major variation from the structured brass bands and European music.
When these early bands played indoors, a piano was added and combined a ragtime style into the mix creating an even more polyphonic sound. This style started to migrate up the Mississippi River on riverboats and hit Memphis, St. Louis and eventually Chicago. The Chicago style eventually evolved into the big bands of the 1930s and 1940s. Chicago's style replaced the tuba with string bass, the banjo for guitar, and the addition of the saxophone.
Down through the years Dixieland remained mainly associated with New Orleans. However, there was one place where it remained close to its original form and that was the West Coast, principally in San Francisco. They kept the banjo and tuba. Some old-time Dixieland tunes have become part of every band's song book and remain well-recognized by music lovers worldwide. Did you ever hear of "When The Saints Go Marching In"? Enough said!
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