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|Cultural origins||1950s, United States|
Free jazz is an approach to
The ambiguity of free jazz presents problems of definition. Although it is usually played by small groups or individuals, free jazz big bands have existed. Although musicians and critics claim it is innovative and forward looking, it draws on early styles of jazz and has been described as an attempt to return to primitive, often religious, roots. Although jazz is an American invention, free jazz musicians drew heavily from world music and ethnic music traditions from around the world. Sometimes they played foreign instruments, unusual instruments, or invented their own. They emphasized emotional intensity and sound for its own sake.
Some jazz musicians resist any attempt at classification. One difficulty is that most jazz has an element of improvisation. Many musicians draw on free jazz concepts and idioms, and free jazz was never entirely distinct from other genres. But free jazz does have its own characteristics.
Earlier jazz styles typically were built on a framework of song forms, such as
Other forms of jazz use regular
Previous jazz forms used
The breakdown of form and rhythmic structure has been seen by some critics to coincide with jazz musicians' exposure to and use of elements from non-Western music, especially African, Arabic, and Indian. The atonality of free jazz is often credited by historians and jazz performers to a return to non-tonal music of the nineteenth century, including
Rejection of the bop aesthetic was combined with a fascination with earlier styles of jazz, such as
Many critics, particularly at the music's inception, suspected that abandonment of familiar elements of jazz pointed to a lack of technique on the part of the musicians. Today such views are more marginal, and the music has built a body of critical writing.
Many critics have drawn connections between the term "free jazz" and the American social setting during the late 1950s and 1960s, especially the emerging social tensions of racial integration and the