from the Jazz Index
Jazz is an original American art form that began in the southern United States in the early 20th century. Two basic elements set this art form apart from classical music: Improvisation and Rhythm.
One of the basic differences between jazz and classical music is that jazz musicians improvise. Musical improvisation is a creative process that requires the jazz artist to be spontaneous, making up music while it is being performed.
Another important difference between jazz and classical music has to do with the way rhythms are performed. While most classical and jazz music is based on a regular beat, the beats that are emphasized are different. Classical music typically places an emphasis on the first beat of each measure. Jazz music often places an emphasis on the second beat of each measure, as well as in between the beats. The tension created between the regular beat and the emphasis the jazz music places on the rhythm is called syncopation.
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