The Style and Techinque of Louis Armstrong

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Louis Armstrong is widely known as a founding father of jazz. His abilities and inventive musical mind have given to music a style that still dominates jazz today. His innovations changed the face of jazz music and have influenced many, filtering down and contributing to rock and roll.

In his instrumental music, Louis Armstrong revolutionized jazz. Prior to his arrival as a jazz performer, the emphasis was always with the band as a whole and not with an individual player. Musicians filled an expected role that was dependent on interactions with other instruments. Early jazz did include spontaneous counterpoint, but it did not use the rhythmic innovations that Louis Armstrong became renowned for. He was able to revolutionize jazz with solo lines. While playing with King Oliver and his Creole Jazz Band in Chicago, Armstrong played second coronets'. His position was to primarily provide harmonic lines to King Oliver's melodies which he did with expertise. His virtuosity made him stand out. His superiority and his original melodies set a path for the solo to emerge as a centerpiece for jazz music. Jazz writer Ted Gioia wrote, "because of Armstrong's presence, the King Oliver recordings from the early 1920's stand out both as a paramount example of the New Orleans collective style and also its death knell, already hinting at the more individualistic ethos that would replace it." Armstrong always needed more room to improvise and he rejected the early New Orleans jazz that featured the clarinet, trumpet and trombone in his quest for a trumpet solo.

Armstrong was able to further refine and develop his improvisational skills while working with Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra. During this time he abandoned the fixed melody. In a recording of "Shanghai Shuffle" in 1924, Armstrong innovates in a manner that no one had ever heard before. He repeated a single note and varied the sound during the time it is played. The...
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