Jazz Musical Instruments

Silhouette of five players in jazz band, white background
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Different styles of music call for different types of musical instruments. Take a look at some of the world's most famous artists playing commonly used instruments in jazz music. 

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Dizzy Gillespie performing in New York City.

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Although the trumpet underwent changes during the Renaissance, it has been in existence far longer than that. Used at first for military purposes, studies show that ancient people used materials such as animal horns for similar purposes (i.e. to announce danger). Trumpets and cornets are used interchangeably in jazz music.

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Wayne Shorter performing in the East Room of the White House during the 20th anniversary of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz on September 14, 2006.

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Saxophones come in a variety of sizes and types: like the soprano saxophone, the alto sax, tenor sax and the baritone sax. Considered to be newer than other musical instruments in terms of its music history, the saxophone was invented by Antoine-Joseph (Adolphe) Sax.

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Thelonious Monk performing in Montréal (Québec), 1967.

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The piano is one of the most popular keyboard instruments for both children and adults. Most of the famous classical composers were piano virtuosos such as Mozart and Beethoven. Aside from classical music, the piano is used in other music genres including jazz.

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Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival held in in New Orleans, Louisiana on April 30, 2006.

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The trombone descended from the trumpet but it is shaped and sized quite differently. One interesting fact about learning to play the trombone is that it is either played in the bass or treble clef. When playing in a wind band or orchestra, music is written in the bass clef. When playing in a brass band, the music is written in the treble clef.

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Pete Fountain performing during the Mardi Gras celebrations on February 24, 2004 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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It was during the Romantic Period when the clarinet underwent great technical development and gained prominence. Composers such as Brahms and Berlioz composed music for the clarinet but this instrument is also used in jazz music.

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Double bass

double bass
Shannon Birchall from the John Butler Trio performing at the Enmore Theatre on November 27, 2006 in Sydney, Australia.

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The double bass is another member of the string family of musical instruments. It is larger than the cello and because of its size, the player needs to be standing while playing it. The double bass is a mainstay in jazz ensembles.

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Roy Haynes performing during the Grand Opening Celebration of Frederick P. Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center on October 20, 2004.

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The drum set is an essential part of any jazz rhythm section; it includes the bass drum, snare drum and cymbals, among others.