Jazz sheet music is commonly available in C, E-flat, and B-flat due to the instruments that are typically used in jazz bands. These three keys are particularly important in jazz music because they are the most commonly used for saxophones, trumpets, and clarinets, which are prevalent instruments in jazz ensembles.
The key of C is a particularly popular key in jazz music because it is considered the most natural key for improvisation. This is because it is the most straightforward key, with no sharps or flats, making it easy for musicians to play scales and melodies without having to think too much about the key signature. Additionally, C major chords and progressions are very common in jazz music.
The keys of E-flat and B-flat are also very important in jazz music because they are the standard keys for saxophones, which are essential instruments in many jazz ensembles. Alto saxophones are typically in the key of E-flat, while tenor and soprano saxophones are usually in the key of B-flat. Trumpets and clarinets are also typically in the key of B-flat, making it another essential key in jazz music.
In addition to the practical considerations of the instruments, the use of these keys in jazz music is also influenced by the history of the genre. Jazz originated in the United States in the early 20th century, and during this time, many popular instruments were in the keys of C, E-flat, and B-flat. As jazz music evolved and became more complex, these keys remained essential, and they are still widely used in jazz music today.
In conclusion, the reason why jazz sheet music is commonly available in C, E-flat, and B-flat is due to the prevalence of saxophones, trumpets, and clarinets in jazz ensembles, as well as the history of the genre and the practical considerations of these instruments. These keys are essential to the sound of jazz music and are used extensively by jazz musicians around the world. The use of these keys in jazz music has become a tradition, and they will continue to be important in the genre for many years to come.
- The Jazz Language: A Theory Text for Jazz Composition and Improvisation by Dan Haerle
- The Cambridge Companion to Jazz edited by Mervyn Cooke and David Horn
- The Jazz Tradition by Martin Williams