How can one define the jazz style hard bop? In which way is it different from bebop? Which are the main characteristics of the style?

1 Answer 1

  1. A Return to a more energetic way of playing. Playing "hot", but with more control than in the Bebop which is more accessible to a wider audience.

  2. Bebop's purely harmonic and technical characteristics vanish and make room for a more melodic, smooth style of playing.

  3. The themes are less complicated and more melodic.

  4. A clear influence of Afro-American "roots": gospel and blues.

  5. The drummer's playing is very present, rhythm and polyrhythm gain importance as a result of the African influences.

  6. The use of suspend chords and pedal notes: gospel influence.

  7. The line up is usually a rhythm section and two or three horns.

Comparison: bebop, cool jaz, hard bop.


According to this article, there were two factions of hard bop:

1: Funky jazz was relatively simple (simple melodies, simple chord progressions, simple forms); its essence was one of groove and feeling and was heavily influenced by blues and gospel music.

2: Mainstream jazz was far more complex (more difficult melodies, improvisations, chord progressions, and forms); it was still about groove and feeling but added the complexities of bebop; a bit of arranging was often included as well (worked out introductions, endings, harmonized heads, background lines, etc.).


Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream” (mainstream)

John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” (mainstream)

Art Blakey’s “Moanin’” (funky jazz)

Miles Davis’ “Walkin'” (funky jazz)

  • 4
    ... Bebop which is more accessible to a wider audience. How can you proof your statement?
    – user1139
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 6:34
  • 2
    Mainly black musicians? Really? That's not even comparative across the three tabled genres.
    – user1604
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 14:25

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