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As a fiddle player, I've always enjoyed jazz, but been on its periphery musically. Although there have been many famous and extremely talented jazz fiddle players, I don't think that it is naturally a jazz instrument, though many would disagree. So this is an exploration of the history of jazz from point of view of me, a fiddle player. As most jazz musicians are pianists, trumpeters, vocalists etc, with relatively few (but famous) jazz violinists, such as the Italian American Stephane Grappelli, then it may be a somewhat unusual view. I really don't know. (I'm half Italian, so will some of his genius rub off, I wonder?)

The origins of jazz go back to black American Christian religion and work songs and what was up until the 1960's or beyond termed Negro Spirituals, but now more politely termed African American Spirituals. Thus jazz is a form of folk music, or jazz folk music, in its original form, but not the European folk music we are used to, rather the folk music of Africa mixed with a whole lot of other influences that were gained in the melting pot that was America at that time. And then there is the question of what is African folk music anyway? A huge continent, the traditional music varies widely and as slaves were captured and shipped to America from all parts of Africa, there are many influences of African folk music styles on Jazz. Take just South Africa, where the musical traditions have been scrambled by the country’s history of racism, resulting in the system of apartheid and the enforced separate development of all aspects of life, including music. Until the early 1990s, the government classified and separate its citizens to achieve what they considered to be "cultural purity". Black South Africans were divided and defined according to ethnic groups, as was their folk music, which had little chance to cross fertilise. How things have changed, with African music influencing even classical guitarists.

Rather like folk music, jazz was originally not written down as musically notated jazz, and in fact a whole lot of aspects of jazz performance cannot be written down in any way and attempts to do so literally look ridiculous. I had a look at the origins of spirituals, which are the oral aspects of jazz music as distinct from jazz bands.

Although many aspects of jazz performance cannot be notated to any degree of accuracy or meaningfulness, the later developments of the big band and certain jazz styles are much more regimented and have been written in printed notation, though these are still our only approximation of what has to be played. In many ways, necessity to write down jazz for bigger ensembles has modified the form and traditions of jazz.

One of the Characteristics of jazz that hits you right in the heart, or stomach, or wherever it is that music gets you, or it's rhythms which form a core rhythmic element of the jazz style. It isn't just the rhythms themselves, but where the jazz emphasis falls within that rhythm, which is usually quite different from the form of classical music. More complex still is the core style of jazz polyrhythm, which creates complex rhythms and emphases of its own making. Another significant characteristic of jazz is that it is rich in emotions as a result in part of its complex rhythms. All music is about emotion, no matter what that emotion is, and music without emotion is merely the Muzak that gets in the background in supermarkets and the like. All this richness of jazz is created by the musician using an instrument, whether it be the voice or man-made instrument such as a trumpet or double bass. The physical characteristics and playing methods of each instrument has a profound effect on the kind of jazz style that can be played, so I've reviewed the sections of a jazz band and their characteristics.    

The jazz band started off as a relatively small affair, but Jazz Band became bigger and eventually developed into the Jazz Orchestra. As the jazz band grew into the orchestra, the jazz big band became standardised in its form as a jazz orchestra. Also with the increase in size, the ability for musicians to have free for all improvisation session diminished, so the music of the commercialised Jazz Band had to be orchestrated. With orchestration for commercial jazz bands being a necessary evil, some of the psychology of Jazz Band Syncopation effects was lost became a much more predictable form of music. In the days of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, jazz big band music was combined with tap dancing, which in itself is a form of monotone jazz. Although big-band orchestration inevitably brought medium closer to classical music in some ways, jazz is in many ways diametrically opposed to classical music and could be argued to have more more in common with Indian Classical Music (hence the Indo Jazz Fusion bands which emerged in the 1970s). Nevertheless, there have been many attempts to address jazz up as an intellectual jazz art form, but really it isn't, being closer to folk music and the ceilidh band than to the string quartet. Jazz was conceived in the USA and gestated by the American psych before it was released into the wild. Thank you America!



How to enjoy your wedding day music

Consider a Harpist to play for your Wedding

Saving money is something most of us are very keen on. If you're one of those people who don't have to worry about money, then you're lucky!: Find out how Booking Ahead can save you money. This is perhaps counter intuitive, with the concept of cheap last minute holidays and hotel rooms, but it doesn't work like that when hiring a band. It's more like air fares, where it gets more expensive the closer you are to the date and the cheap deals are got by booking well ahead.  |  Just 1 Band  or maybe more, to cover your wedding day. What's the pros and cons? | DJ or get the band to do it, what are the options. | Early Setup is something that only some kinds of bands do, and if you ask for early set up from the wrong kind of band, typically barn dance or ceilidh bands, or jazz bands, it can cost you an awful lot more.

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We hire string quartets, jazz bands, ceilidh bands, barn dance bands and more, so what do you know about these musical forms? Most people know relatively little, so let me lead you through them in turn. First there is the string quartet, one of the most popular ensembles for church wedding music and music for civil partnerships and for the entertainment for the wedding breakfast. But how many people know what a string quartet is and where this musical form originated? Not many. Probably, most people will have never been to a string quartet recital and their experience of listening has been at a wedding, but this musical form has been through a long evolution. There is a wide ranging quartet repertoire many styles of playing, only some of which are suited to live wedding entertainment, some aspects being related to the compositions they play, others to the temperament of the string quartet musicians themselves. Most quartets are voiced entirely by string instruments, a first and second violin, a viola and a cello, but there are some string and woodwind quartets where one of the violins is replaced by a flute or clarinet. However the layout in terms of two treble, one alto and one bass part remains the same.



About Jazz -   Jazz timeline and history This can help you navigate thorough the maze of jazz styles if you are not already an expert.

Past moments....  Midsummer Music at The Royal Show: 2006 : 2007 : 2008  This was when it was still running. The year that Prince Charles and Camilla visited was the last. After that they closed the show down and probably built a few thousand houses on the site (though in reality I have no idea what happened to it). |  Midsummer Music beats the 2007 Floods This is well worth reading, just to see the trials and tribulations that the staff of the Midsummer Music Agency and the members of dedicated bands can go through. And no, it wasn't because of global warming, it was just freakishly awful weather. But we triumphed!


This is a list of venues throughout the UK where different genres of band and ensemble can perform. The list is divided into different kinds of music, barn dances, classical groups, jazz bands, function bands etc.

List of venues where Barn Dance Bands could perform

List of venues where Ceilidh Bands could perform

List of venues where Classical Duos or Trios could perform


Different types of band would tend to play in different kinds of venue, although there is a lot of commonality. For example a barn dance band or a Ceilidh Band would often play in a village hall, church hall or similar communal venue whereas a function or pop band would tend to play in venues that are somewhat larger such as hotels, and stately homes.


List of venues where Covers Bands could perform

List of venues where Function Bands could perform


String quartets and classical ensembles on the other hand tend to play for weddings, in churches and formal wedding venues which can range from small hotels to major stately homes. Although string quartets might give a concert in a village hall for a concert Club, it would be more common for a jazz band or Ceilidh band to play.

List of venues where Jazz Bands could perform

List of venues where Jazz Duos and Trios could perform


When people hire a jazz band or hire a Ceilidh Band from the Midsummer Music website, it is normally for a wedding, party or Corporate event. Although such events happened throughout the UK, the spread of venues in different parts of the country is different. This is partly historical, for example plush hotels are more numerous in the South of England and city areas, where village halls proliferate in rural areas and the North England.

List of venues where Party Bands could perform

List of venues where String Quartets could perform


When it comes to considering how much a string quartet, jazz band or party band may cost, the price of the venue and its style is also a relevant Factor.