What is hard bop

Hard bop

The Hard bop or Hard bop is a style of jazz and has developed from the then stagnant Be Bop since the mid-1950s. The phrases typical of Be Bop were simplified and fitted into an entirely new form that incorporated elements of the emerging rhythm and blues. Strictly speaking, hard bop existed until the early 1960s, but it is still present and, in addition to jazz scenes, influences many other scenes, especially popular music.


The hard bop movement of the 1950s initially developed as an alternative to cool jazz in New York and West Coast jazz in California. Most of the greats of hard bop were students of successful be bop and swing musicians or have played together with them (Art Blakey, for example, with Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus with Duke Ellington). The 1957 album by Art BlakeysJazz MessengersHard bop marks the beginning of development.[1] By the mid-1960s, the hard bop ended as a movement: "During the 1960s hard bop gradually became more complex as many of its soloists showed their awareness of the free jazz movement’s developments. Soul jazz, in contrast, often became simpler, focusing on danceable grooves, repetition, and soulful solos."[2]


With regard to the rhythmic processing, the typical accentuation of the backbeats is noticeable, which is responsible for the bouncing of the pieces (the swing) in addition to the shuffled motifs. In addition, the tracks are generally played laid back and follow the call-and-response scheme. In addition, there is a stop and go based on the motifs of the respective pieces and an explicit harmonic of fourths as the basis of motifs and solos. The occupations are no larger than up to six members. Almost all tracks follow the so-called Jazz performance form, the topic is introduced at the beginning of a piece, then various instrumental solos follow until the end of the piece, at the end the topic is recapitulated again (recapitulation).[3] The themes are composed of several often repetitive elements, during the improvisations the shuffle is played through strictly from beginning to end. The drums are very reserved and brought into the mix with a focus on the cymbals. On average, the pieces are about five minutes longer than most known jazz standards at the time, the development of the long-playing record since 1949 favored this development. Actually all hard bop musicians address repetition based on its variations.


The Solos are often set down to the last detail and repeat themselves from appearance to appearance. Elements of Be Bop are reduced and consistently thought through.

The bass basically plays a walking bass (basically an ostinata), hard bop is the first style of jazz in which the bass was also given a solo.

Lots Pianists are also organists of Baptist churches who play on the basis of their experience in dealing with the gospel, accordingly often they play a kind of "church piano", which was not found in the Be Bop. The gospel piano is in the Themes often added as a plagal cadenza ("amen chord") and is partly reproduced synchronously (unison).

The Drums are kept in the background and, as with the bass, there is often the option of a solo. Hi hats (cymbals) dominate the mix, mostly only the basics are played with a few sporadic additional phrases. The hi hats are usually accented on the backbeats.

The Main soloists, almost always saxophone or clarinet, rarely trumpet and others, build their solos on repetitive schemes, individual phrases are sometimes transposed into variations. The melismatic appears reduced.

Reception in Popular Music

The repetitive elements not only in the themes, but also in the solos, are possibly partly responsible for the fact that hard bop is given sustained respect in many sub-styles of popular music, loops find a tradition in hard bop. The importance of hard bop for techno and drum'n'bass is generally underestimated, as is the importance it plays for punk not only because of the ideal of Straightness which has had and still has musical form[4]: "Three chords is the way to a solo".[5] Due to the fact that the hard bop is standardized and formalized down to the last detail, many pieces may differ little from a greater distance; here, too, a parallel can be seen, for example, with minimal techno, the tendency towards a sound image rather than a linear form specifically to represent. Especially the upgrading of the bass, but also other formal criteria (namely Amen Break <–> Amen Chord)[6], correspond to formulas of the drum'n'bass scene, only soul jazz as a variety of hard bop is even more straightforward than this (Jimmy Smith, Horace Silver and others).[7] The Stop-and-go-Procedures can be found in bands such as Helmet, in speed metal and post-hardcore, as well as obviously mainly in breakbeat and then breakcore.


Be bop, swing, gospel, soul, rhythm and blues, blues, soul jazz, repetitive music

Main representative

Art Blakey, Horace Silver Quintet, Jazz Messengers, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Robbie Hutchinson, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Hank Mobley, Dave Brubeck, Max Roach, Cannonball Adderley, zum Part: Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Ray Charles

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Profile The Jazz Messengers - Hard bop[1] at allmusic
  2. ↑ Clifford Brown & Horace Silver - New York Hard Bop and Soul Jazz. What is hard bop?, in the Encyclopedia Britannica, currently not online
  3. ↑ Brent Jensen - Jazz styles. Hard bop[2] at Youtube
  4. ↑ Hard bop and punk also have a claim in common, one special hardness or to fill in a radical form of a musical genre (there, for example, rock'n'roll), see also article Hard bop[3] at the de.wiki
  5. ↑ Brent Jensen - Jazz styles. Hard bop[4] 11:04 min Youtube. The use of continuous hi hats on the backbeats is also typical for electronic dance music.
  6. ↑ Whether formally or functionally parallels between Amen Break and Amen Chord are recognizable remains to be seen, as far as that may be, it would fit again for more general considerations.
  7. ↑ Article Hard bop[5] at the de.wiki

Web links

  • Hard Bop fansite [6] at Hardbop.tripod.com
  • Playlist [7] at Youtube

Links in May 2020.