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What is jazz with vocals called?

Jazz music is one of the most popular and influential genres in the world, with its roots dating back to the early 20th century in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jazz music is known for its improvisational style, complex rhythms, and unique swing feel. However, jazz is not complete without vocals. Jazz with vocals is a popular style of jazz music that has become a fan favorite. In this article, we will explore what jazz with vocals is called and its history.

Jazz with Vocals

Jazz music has always been about experimentation and innovation. One of the most significant additions to jazz music was vocals. Jazz with vocals is a form of music in which the voice is used as an instrument to complement and enhance the music played by the other instruments in the band.

Jazz with vocals is also called vocal jazz. With jazz vocals, the lyrics of a song can take on completely different meanings from the original composition, creating a new layer of complexity and depth to the music.

History of Vocal Jazz

The roots of vocal jazz can be traced back to the late 19th century and early 20th century. During this time, African Americans who migrated to New Orleans, Louisiana, developed a new kind of music combining elements of blues, ragtime, and traditional African rhythms. This music came to be known as jazz, and vocal jazz emerged as one of the forms of this genre.

The first recordings of jazz with vocals were made in the 1910s, with many of the early vocal jazz musicians and singers performing in speakeasies and nightclubs in New Orleans and Chicago. Some of the early pioneers of vocal jazz include Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday.

In the 1930s and 1940s, vocal jazz gained more popularity thanks to the development of radio and the growth of the recording industry. The Big Band era also brought about more growth in vocal jazz, with singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra becoming household names.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, vocal jazz continued to evolve, with singers like Sarah Vaughan and Nina Simone incorporating elements of bebop and other experimental musical techniques into their music. Today, modern vocal jazz artists continue to experiment with different styles, fusing elements of jazz, rock, and pop into their music.

Vocal Jazz vs. Traditional Jazz Music

While vocal jazz and traditional jazz music share many similarities, there are some key differences between the two. One of the most significant differences is that vocal jazz is more focused on the lyrics and storytelling, while traditional jazz music is more instrumental-focused.

Additionally, the instrumentation used in vocal jazz is typically less complex than in traditional jazz music. Vocal jazz typically utilizes a band or ensemble consisting of a pianist, bassist, drummer, and horn player. On the other hand, traditional jazz music often includes more elaborate instrumentation, such as a brass section, woodwind instruments, and sometimes even string instruments.


Jazz with vocals, or vocal jazz, is a unique and fascinating form of music that has become an integral part of the jazz genre. With its rich history and innovative spirit, vocal jazz has continued to evolve and push the bounds of jazz music. Whether you are a long-time fan of the genre or just getting started, exploring the world of vocal jazz is a journey you won’t want to miss.


What is the term for improvising vocally in jazz music?

In jazz music, scat-singing is the term used to describe the technique of improvising vocally. It is a style of singing where the vocalist creates and sings improvised melodies, often using nonsense syllables and vocal sounds rather than words. Scat-singing is a hallmark of jazz singing and is particularly associated with jazz vocalists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Sarah Vaughan, among many others.

Scat-singing allows jazz singers to showcase their musical creativity and technical abilities, much like instrumentalists who improvise solos. It enables the singer to be an integral part of the band, and to interact with the other musicians in a live performance setting. Scat-singing is an especially important part of jazz music because it reflects the genre’s improvisational and spontaneous nature.

To scat-sing, the artist must be able to improvise melodies and rhythm, often with little or no preparation. Consequently, the singer must have a good understanding of harmonic structure and chord progressions, as well as a mastery of vocal techniques such as timing, phrasing, and intonation.

Scat-singing is also popular outside of jazz, with artists in other styles sometimes incorporating the technique into their music. However, it remains most closely associated with jazz music, where it is revered as one of the most distinctive and revered vocal techniques in the genre.

What are the three types of Jazz improvisation?

Jazz is a genre of music that relies heavily on improvisation as a central element of its sound. Improvisation is a spontaneous and creative form of musical expression that is used to keep the music fresh and exciting. Within the context of jazz, there are three main types of improvisation: melodic, harmonic, and motivic.

Melodic improvisation involves creating new melodies on the fly. This type of improvisation is the most common form of improvisation in jazz. It involves the musician taking a melodic line from the song’s melody and then adding new notes and rhythms to create a unique and interesting variation. This type of improvisation can be heard in solos that are played by saxophonists, trumpet players, and other lead instruments within a jazz ensemble.

Harmonic improvisation, on the other hand, involves creating new harmony on the fly. This type of improvisation is more complex and challenging than melodic improvisation as it requires a deep understanding of music theory and chord structures. Harmonic improvisation involves taking the chord progressions from the song and creating new variations by adding and subtracting chords. This type of improvisation can be heard in the solos of pianists, guitarists, and bass players in jazz ensembles.

Finally, motivic improvisation involves creating new motives on the fly. A motive is a short musical phrase that is used repeatedly within a song. This type of improvisation involves taking a motive from the original melody or chord progression and then adding new notes, rhythms, and variations to create a unique and interesting variation. This type of improvisation can be heard in the solos of all the lead instruments in jazz ensembles, but is particularly prevalent in trumpet and saxophone solos.

Jazz improvisation is a vital part of the genre and is what gives jazz music its unique and exciting sound. There are three main types of improvisation in jazz: melodic, harmonic, and motivic. Each type requires its own unique set of skills and understanding of music theory and chord structures.

What is it called when you improvise in music?

Improvisation is a term used in music to refer to the process of creating and performing music on the spot, without prior planning or preparation. It is the spontaneous and extemporaneous performance of a musical piece that is not dictated by pre-written music sheets or scores. Improvisation is an essential component of many musical genres, including jazz, blues, folk, and rock, among others. In other words, it is a creative act in response to the ongoing flow of music, context, and audience.

There are different forms of improvisation in music, depending on the style and context of the music. In jazz, for instance, improvisation is an integral part of the music. Jazz musicians are known to improvise on the spot, creating new musical ideas, motifs, and riffs in real-time. This form of improvisation is called “free improvisation”, where the musician creates music freely, without following any set structure or harmonic progression.

In contrast, there is another type of improvisation known as “structured improvisation”. In this form, the musicians work within a particular musical framework, often defined by a specific set of rules or guidelines. They are still able to improvise and create new musical ideas, but they do so within the parameters of the given structure. This approach is more common in classical music, where musicians often improvise on pre-existing musical themes or motifs.

Improvisation also plays a crucial role in music education, as it teaches musicians to think creatively and respond intuitively to the music they are playing. It allows musicians to develop their musical skills and expand their expressive range beyond the written music. Improvisation is also an essential component of live performance, where musicians can interact with their audience, creating a unique and dynamic experience.

Improvisation in music is the art of creating and performing music on the spot, without prior planning or preparation. It enables musicians to express themselves creatively and respond intuitively to the musical context in which they are improvising. Improvisation is an essential component of many musical genres and styles and is an important part of music education and live performance.

What is it called when jazz vocalists sing or improvise using nonsense syllables?

Scat singing, also known as scatting, is a style of singing that involves the use of nonsense syllables to improvise or sing a melody in jazz music. Rather than singing with lyrics, scat singers use sounds that mimic musical instruments such as horns or drums. This style of singing was popularized in the 1920s and 1930s by jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

The term “scat” is an onomatopoeic word derived from the sound of a muted trumpet. The word was first used in 1932 by Cab Calloway in his recording of “Minnie the Moocher.” It is believed that scat singing originated from African American vocal tradition and was influenced by blues music.

Scatting involves improvising syllables that are not real words in a way that complements the melody and rhythms of the music being played. Scat singers use various techniques, including rapid-fire improvisation, bending notes, and vocalizations that imitate instrumental sounds. The use of syllables such as “doo,” “ba,” and “bop” is common in scat singing.

Scatting is not limited to jazz music and has been used in various genres such as R&B, rock, and pop. However, it remains an integral part of jazz music and has contributed to its distinctive sound. Some famous scat singers include Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, and Al Jarreau.

Scat singing is a style of jazz music that involves the use of nonsense syllables to improvise or sing a melody. This style of singing has a rich history and has contributed significantly to jazz music’s distinctive sound.