Debussy – The Father of Jazz


So, as y’all know, this year Sforzando is celebrating the life and work of the great Achille-Claude Debussy, who was born, near Paris, 150 years ago. 

We all know Debussy as the genius behind musical Impressionism (though he loathed that particular tag), with its foggy musical imagery, but his influence on jazz and his relationship with its precursors are less well known.  So we give you the (potted) story of how Debussy created jazz.   

As a definable musical genre jazz was born in around 1917 just before Debussy’s death.  In essence it’s a musical language that emerged from west African dance music – with its syncopated rhythms and European popular music  of the early 1900s, amongst other things.

 One of its precursors was ragtime, so-called for its ragged, syncopated rhythms, was invented by Ernest Hogan in the late 19th century and fused African dance music with the marches of…

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