There was once a time when music had to be enjoyed by a musician reading sheet music and playing live. Then came record albums, cassette tapes, music videos and CDs. Today, music can be accessed not only in stores, but through downloadable MP3 media either song by song or as an entire album. If you are interested in music production, recording, and all of the surrounding technologies, then here are a few grass-roots terms defining basic musical styles with which you should be familiar.
Jazz: Jazz was born in New Orleans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was a fusion of the blues music played and sung by the slave population, syncopated ragtime music and the classical music played by the chamber orchestras often employed by the upper classes. Jazz is characterized by the use of wind instruments such as saxophone, coronet, trombone and flute; piano and later guitar and even electric guitar. Jazz is a highly improvisational musical style, but does adhere to complex musical structures. Subgenres that have emerged from jazz include swing, dixieland, bebop, free jazz and Cuban jazz.
Blues: A musical form that originated in the deep American South from the Black slave population. It derived from spirituals, call and response, chants, work songs and ballads. It is characterized by what is called the twelve bar blues chord progression, and flattened note patterns. Blues is typically sung, played on guitar, harmonica and piano, but has evolved into a style that is often played on electric and occasionally electronic instruments. The blues has formed the basis of other popular styles, most notably jazz and rock and roll.
Bluegrass: A musical genre that was born in the Appalachian region of the United States. It was derived from the ballads of Ireland, England and Scotland, and is characterized by the use of string instruments such as banjo, guitar, bass and fiddle. Bluegrass vocals typically incorporate two and three part harmony and feature high modal tones. Like jazz, there is often a great deal of improvisation in bluegrass.
When most of us think about music, we do not necessarily consider all of the mixing, technology, recording sessions, sound editing, and mastering that is used to make the audio production sound great. Instead, we just enjoy the sounds of the albums, songs, or commercial jingles. If you are a musician or sound engineer, however, you might pay more attention to the instruments, hardware, and software that is used in the music. When musicians go into their recording sessions, they often not only use their instruments, but also midi beats, digital samples, and music making software to get the sounds that they want. These resources are fairly new in the industry and add quite a bit to the live sound of traditional hardware. Musicians often make these decisions with the support of sound engineers and production experts because they want to give a rich, full sound to their demos. The resources, technology, and production talent that they use often depends on how much money the label wants to spend on the recording session. After they have recorded a song, the engineers use mixing and mastering technology to organize the songs so that they sound good to those listening on the radio or streaming Internet stations. If you are a musician that wants to book a recording session, then you should call several studios in your area and talk to them about the different resources they can give you. Be sure to set budget limits so that you can afford all of the services that you need.