Workshop Old Jazz by Jan Krammer on October 10 2005 - Part 1.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome on the first Workshop Old Jazz of Jan Krammer! We will start immediately!

The music before 1945 is LIVELY (look for example at Fats Waller)

Today people play a lot in the bebop COOL style and that is something totally different. Even something else than JAZZ, it is a completely different language.

To show what we read as JAZZ, we will start with a soundie of Fats Waller.

Soundies are short film fragments, the predecessors of the present video clips and were popular in the forties.

The following soundie lasts about 10 minutes and dates from 1943.

In part 1 of these 2 workshops, we will discuss the period of 1900 to 1945. What you see in this soundie is where we want to get.

We urge all those present to pay attention VERY attentively!

To get down to a fine art like making jazz namely goes together with learning the HISTORY.

There is a big difference between the old way of making jazz of before the Second World War and that which is called jazz after the Second World War, the so called bebop cool.

To jazz up literally means: to juice up!

The old jazz, from the period 1900 - 1945, still honors the term JAZZ!

It is focused on making FUN and bringing a lively atmosphere, something what the bebop cool, to which the initial jazz degenerated after the Second World War, misses.

The Fats Waller Band in the following soundie shows the FUN that we mean. Pay attention to EVERYTHING that you see and absorb this atmosphere to get in good jazz spirits for today!

Pay attention to the fun of the people, their corporality, the rhythmical movements that they make, their naughty faces, the exuberant clothing, the tempo of the music, the singing, the atmosphere of being TOGETHER, the way they live it up, the informal open front of the piano of jazz pianist Fats Waller: the whole atmosphere like it was with the OLD JAZZ in NEW ORLEANS, a lively and ebullient company!

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention for Fats Waller!

During 7 minutes an inspiring video clip of the forties is played of Fats Waller and various artists that surround him, in a lively jazz club, where the public laughs along, sings along, claps along, dances along and where it is anything but dull.

Everybody who does not feel attracted to this old style can go now!

For the ones who do like it we will dive into history now.

We start between 1900 and 1925.

The movements in music history where we will pay attention to THIS WEEK are the primal blues and the boogie-woogie. Next week the ragtime and stride style will follow.


BLUE NOTE The blues was traditionally mainly played on guitar with singing.

Very characteristic in it is the BLUE NOTE.

The blue note is the note, that is lying 3 half notes - so 1 minor third - above the root.

In key C - that is performed the easiest on the piano - the blue note is e-flat.

It is a minor note played in a major key. Because of its melancholic, 'blue', effect that it has on the music, it is called the 'blue note'.

It can especially be played well on guitar with singing, because you can very well play the note in tone and hold it. Like this you can make the dragging effect that gives this 'blue' feeling so well after all.

The blue note can not be played so dragging on the piano, therefore the blue note is mostly replaced by several tones with the note e-flat in it.

Jan Krammer plays this now (singing, guitar and possibly piano)


The foundation that forms the basis of all jazz music and pop music is the blues, like it was played traditionally. We call it the primal blues.

This gives a primal-scheme consisting of 12 bars, with as point of departure the following chords (in key C):

4 C, 2 F, 2 C, 2 G, 2 C

The blues was traditionally mainly played on guitar with singing.


1) You use the primal-scheme of 12 bars, like discussed above.

2) You frequently make use of the blue note, like explained above.

3) You put in a break every now and then, by stopping playing for a moment. That gives a bluesy effect.

4) If desired you use your voice every now and then, to get a response from the audience, by singing interactively in the form of question and answer.

Jan Krammer plays the chords of the primal-scheme of 12 bars, inserts a break every now and then and adds narrating and sing elements every now and then.

Jan Krammer plays an example of a variation on the primal-scheme of 12 bars:

C C C C7 F7 F7 C C G7 F7 C C

A CD is played with respectively the following tracks:

1) Beryl Bryden: A Million Dollar Secret.
2) Les Paul & Mary Ford: Walking and Whistling blues.
3) Benny Goodman: Vibraphone Blues.
4) Sidney Bechet: Suey.
5) Sidney Bechet: One o'clock Jump.
6) Lionel Hampton: Gin for Christmas.

Pay attention to how this music sounds, because next we will let you play yourself, alone or in pairs. You may decide yourself with whom you want to play. You can think about that already.


In the last 30 minutes that remain, we will let you play yourself by turns. So every participant can exercise with the primal-scheme of 12 bars of the primal blues, the break and the blue note. We divide the number of people by the number of minutes and that will be the time that every person or pair can exercise under the supervision of Jan with the primal blues. If there are more then 20 people who want to play, we will all play in pairs.



The face of the boogie-woogie is determined by a piano instead of a guitar with voice. It is as if you play with machine sounds on the background.


1) You use the primal-scheme of 12 bars from the prima blues and you use the blue note. But above all you should have the felling that you are a machine. Play the boogie-woogie as if you are a steam train.

2) You insert a break every now and then as if the train stops a moment. (demonstration Jan)

3) You use riffs. These are repetitions of notes that you even continue if you change of chord. Regularly these are high tones that you keep up by means of repetition as if you hear the steam train whistles.

4) With changes of tempo, riffs and breaks you every now and then produce the effect as if the train changes of track or crosses a bridge.

5) Most important and the center in the boogie-woogie is a very steady left hand: the bass line. There are several bass lines, but during playing 1 boogie-woogie the left hand should all the time be the same and carry on steadily as a machine. But mind out: EVERY tone of it has ANOTHER accent, because the dynamics in the left hand just gives the essential RHYTHM.

Jan Krammer plays a boogie-woogie, possibly accompanied by people of the audience.

Listen carefully to the example of the following CD with:

Pine Top Smith (in 1928): Pinetop's Boogie Woogie.
Pete Johnson (in 1944): Answer to the Boogie.
Albert Ammons (in 1939): Boogie Woogie Stomp.
Meade Lux Lewis (in 1935): Honky Tonk Train Blues.

Attend very well how they play, because next you will play yourself in this style, possibly in pairs.

Those present listen carefully during ten minutes to the various boogie-woogies to prepare for their own playing.

In the last 30 minutes that remain we will let you play yourself in turns. So you can exercise with the primal-scheme of 12 bars of the boogie-woogie framework, the riffs, the breaks and the steady left hand for the bass. We divide the number of people through the number of minutes or play in pairs and let everybody exercise under the supervision of Jan with the boogie-woogie!

(the people play in turns a little bit under supervision of Jan until the end of the lesson, looking forward to the Workshop Old Jazz of next week)

End of Workshop Old Jazz - Part 1.

< Homepage / Index of the course / To Workshop Old Jazz - Part 2 >