Jazz: what in the heck is it? - music
All of us know what jazz is when we hear it, but annoying to delimit it is a altered matter. With so many variant styles, advent up with an correct characterization of jazz is awkward if not impossible.
But I believe that an commentary on jazz exceedingly ought to effort to circumscribe the term "jazz. " My Thorndike-Barnhart Phrase book defines jazz like this:
*jazz (jaz), noun. 1. American music with the accents declining at curious places; syncopated music. 2. Slang, energy - adj. of or like jazz: a jazz band.
Besides not forceful us very much, it is also clearly false. I think as soon as of ballads played by jazz musicians, such as Thelonious Monk's 'Round Midnight and Bill Evan's Peace Piece, and countless other examples. They are based on neither syncopation nor liveliness; they are slow, exceedingly thoughtful, and the direct opposite of "jazzy. " Yet they are measured by both jazz musicians and jazz critics alike to be well contained by the mainstream of jazz.
Let's try A New Glossary of Music and see if we can get more rapidly to the essence of jazz:
*jazz, a term used at least from 1914 for a type of American accepted music originating among blacks of New Orleans and taken over also by whites; also used by and large for a choice of types of dance music beholden to this (though purists coldness the term for such music as retains the first aroma and the creative basis of improvisation. ) The jazz idiom, characterized by a number of syncopations over brightly reiterated rhythms, has influenced e. g. Lambert, Stravinsky, and Milhaud, as well as many American composers.
That's advance than the Thorndike-Barnhart definition, but it still leans brutally concerning central jazz in terms of rhythm alone: "characterized by a few syncopations over clearly reiterated rhythms. " I think again of ballads, but also of much contemporary jazz which is not characterized by "certain syncopations,: such as the work of pianists Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea.
What then is jazz? If the common dictionaries and musical dictionaries can't satisfactorily counter the question, what hope is there for us?
Ask a hundred jazz musicians what jazz is, and you'll get a hundred assorted answers (I know - I've asked at least a dozen and gotten as many another responses. )
I would like to advise that the counter may lie, not in music, but in semantics.
I think it is completely likely that we are lumping as one far and wide distinct types of music, and classification them all with the term "jazz," then wondering why we can't come up with a lexical characterization of the term. Maybe we be supposed to abandon the word "jazz," and use terms such as "improvised fast syncopated music," or "improvised slow non-syncopated music. " Maybe we should, but we won't. So we are stuck with the non-definable term "jazz. "
So let's not circumscribe jazz.
We all know what it is, more or less. We would bicker essentially in the "grey" areas, such as ballads, some contemporary works, and so forth. But let's agree not to disagree, and just enjoy it.
The subsequent articles in this chain will deal with the a range of styles we find in jazz, from ragtime to fusion.
So stay tuned.
Duane Shinn is the creator of over 500 music books and music instructive equipment such as DVD's, CD's, musical games for kids, chord charts, musical software, and piano class instructional courses for adults. His course of action on blues and jazz ad-libbing upper-class "How To Make Up Music As You Go Along: Improvising On The Piano!" is being used by musicians and pianists about the world. He holds complex degrees from Southern Oregon Academic world and was the break down of Piano Academe in Southern Oregon. He is the biographer of the admired free 101-week online e-mail newsletter patrician Amazing Secrets Of Exciting Piano Chords & Burning Chord Progressions! with over 57,400 flow subscribers.
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