Difference Between Jazz and Blues

Jazz vs Blues

Jazz and Blues are musical traditions or styles that are American and both are believed to have originated in the southern part of the country. These musical genres are also credited to African Americans as for a long time after their invention these musical styles continued to be practiced by people of this community. To a listener who is not deep into music may find it hard to differentiate between jazz and blues because of their obvious similarity and overlap. However, there are subtle differences between the two musical genres that will be highlighted in this article.


Jazz is a musical genre that is believed to have developed through the efforts of members of African American communities living in Deep South of the country in the early part of the 20th century. Though the inspiration of Jazz was African music, it has drawn from European music a lot in its journey since then. It is very difficult to sum up or define a genre of music that has spanned over a century in simple words. However, it can be broadly described as a music that evolved when the blacks living in US confronted the European style of music.

There has been a lot of debate about the origin of the word jazz but nearly all scholars agree that it started as slang and has nothing to do with the style of music that jazz represents. It was Jass earlier that later got changed into Jazz, and the perception among the people was that it was something very cool.

The origins of jazz are traced to the huge influx of African slaves into the country that arrived from mostly the Congo River Basin that is known for its strong musical roots. There were large scale gatherings of slaves in New Orleans till 1843 where black people danced and sang. A lot of input also came from Black churches that taught hymns to black slaves.


Blues is an African American genre of music that is believed to have originated in the southern state of Mississippi. The songs sung by black African slaves can be considered as a precursor to the style of music that was later called blues. There is no single musical form from Africa that can be considered as an ancestor of the music genre dubbed as blues. Blues seems to have drawn heavily from many different musical styles of Africa, and the use of nasal intonations, the call and response format, the blue notes etc. suggest that the root of blues belongs to African music.

Dallas Blues is believed to be the first blues composition that arrived in 1912. Soon there was a flurry of similar musical compositions and the tradition started to flourish from 1920 onwards with renowned singers of Blues being Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Victoria Spivey.

What is the difference between Jazz and Blues?

• Blues has a structure, and much deviation causes the musical composition to be something different than blues.

• Blues is believed to have more emotions than jazz.

• Jazz is complicated, whereas blues is simpler.

• Both genres originated in the southern states, but Jazz is credited to New Orleans, whereas Blues is believed to have originated from Mississippi.

• Jazz has more instrumentation whereas blues leans towards vocal music.

• Blues makes more use of guitar whereas jazz relies more on piano and saxophone.