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Thread: What is Jazz

  1. #61
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    On improvisation: each guy has a "style" of dressing, acting, and talking. So it is in the music: you might hear a guy do the same "spiel" with slight variants. He has developed his own "personality" on his instrument.

  2. #62
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    Re your previous post #60
    Are you attributing 1 to 5 to African Music or are you saying they apply to all jazz?
    Last edited by JHC; Jul-11-2013 at 06:12.
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  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    Re your previous post #60
    Are you attributing 1 to 5 to African Music or are you saying they apply to all jazz?
    BASIC AFRICAN CHARACTERISTICS:

    1. It must divide the main beat into 3 parts, as in a compound 6/8 or 12/8 with a "4/4" pulse on 1-4-7-10.
    2. It must use a combination of major and minor pentatonic scales which combine to give an extended blues scale: C-Eb-F-G-Bb/C-D-E-G-A, which combined, yoelds C-D-Eb-E-F-(F#)-G-A-Bb.
    3. It uses improvisation.
    4. It "bends" notes in emulation of a voice.
    5. It is a group effort (tribal) which also focuses on different soloists.

    Jazz, as it originated in New Orleans, was derived from African sources, which I have identified generally above. if by all jazz you mean all jazz which came later, then of course not. However, if too many of these African elements are discarded, then we are left with a hybrid form of "jazz" which eventually reflects other cultures and concerns.

    More commentary on each basic characteristic:

    1. It must divide the main beat into 3 parts, as in a compound 6/8 or 12/8 with a "4/4" pulse on 1-4-7-10.

    In bossa nova and latinized jazz, the compound time was discarded and replaced with 4/4 time, with various accents and Latino variations. In this sense, bossa nova is a hybrid form of jazz which departs from black American jazz in this regard.

    2. It must use a combination of major and minor pentatonic scales which combine to give an extended blues scale: C-Eb-F-G-Bb/C-D-E-G-A, which combined, yields C-D-Eb-E-F-(F#)-G-A-Bb.

    As early black American jazz began to assimilate into American culture in general, some harmonic aspects of its earliest influences began to assert themselves: the more harmonically complex ragtime, and then Western popular song forms (I Got Rhythm, Sweet Georgia Brown, etc.). Thus, the pentatonic blues element began to be emphasized less, and later, gradually disappeared, to be replaced by modern Western harmonic approaches. Use of the major seventh chord began to increase; this "leading tone" chord is at odds with the flatted-seventh of the "I" chord in blues forms, where all three basic chords are flat-sevens: I7-IV7-V7.

    3. It uses improvisation.

    This is not a very comprehensive characteristic; after all, the Grateful Dead, Cream, The Allman Brothers, and Phish are all improvisors, and are not jazz.

    4. It "bends" notes in emulation of a voice.

    This was true of horn jazz, but as the piano, an iconic warhorse which embodies all that is Western in music, and which could not bend notes, and was not as effective or loud as a solo voice compared to horns, began to become more prominent, harmonic complexity increased, and melodic elaboration decreased.

    Finally, after the "peak" of harmonic complexity had been reached with be-bop, and jazz culture was so assimilated into white America that TV themes began to reflect this assimilation (Henry Mancini, Mannix, etc.), Miles Davis and Coltrane began playing more modally, more tone-centric jazz, finally reaching a harmonic stasis with later Miles Davis (The Jack Johnson Sessions, In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Filles de Kilamanjaro, On the Corner). This playing chromatically over a groove or "drone" was a reaction of black Americans, who "took jazz back," again, to African origins, although jazz critics argued that it wasn't jazz.

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by millions View Post


    Jazz, as it originated in New Orleans, was derived from African sources, which I have identified generally above. if by all jazz you mean all jazz which came later, then of course not. However, if too many of these African elements are discarded, then we are left with a hybrid form of "jazz" which eventually reflects other cultures and concerns.
    Well that is exactly what has happened it has progressed and developed just as it should and so has classical and all other music, a pentatonic scale is not a must for jazz any more than a 12 bar progression as you noted I think at the end of your post, it is great to get an enlightened input to the thread, do I take it that you are a follower of Dixie or trad jazz??

    Now on a more personal note what is your instrument/s and are you an active musician?
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  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    Well that is exactly what has happened it has progressed and developed just as it should and so has classical and all other music, a pentatonic scale is not a must for jazz any more than a 12 bar progression as you noted I think at the end of your post, it is great to get an enlightened input to the thread, do I take it that you are a follower of Dixie or trad jazz??
    If you really want to push that point, blues and jazz were "assimilated" musics from their inception, being the product of a uprooted people from Africa. I see blues as a more individual, solo form, as it began in rural areas with single artists playing alone, as in folk music. Jazz was more of upwardly mobile form, more urban, which sought to integrate itself. Also, the horns lent themselves to larger ensembles and orchestras.

    I still see jazz as an American art form, invented here, and primarily black, with African origins, and of course, blues influence. I also think that the further one gets from these origins, esp. the blues element, the less "jazz" it becomes. I hear strong blues elements in Thelonious Monk, Coltrane, and Miles Davis.

    When you say "a pentatonic scale is not a must for jazz any more than a 12 bar progression," this could be taken to imply that later jazz, like the modal and tone-centric Miles Davis stuff I mentioned, had "escaped" from its blues roots.

    Actually, the opposite: I see Miles Davis' move into tone-centric jazz grooves as a move towards a "world" jazz, back to its African, monotonic, pre-harmonic beginnings and home. The question then arises: if it's still "jazz" when it becomes Latin-ized and Westernized, is it still "jazz" when it goes back to its pre-slavery roots in Africa? I don't see why not.

    Wynton Marsalis certainly holds Louis Armstrong in high regard; his defense of jazz is immersed in history. If he goes forward to develop jazz as an art, I feel he will have, to a degree, minimized all the stylistic development, or distilled it into an essence which remains true to its earliest roots.

    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    Now on a more personal note what is your instrument/s and are you an active musician?
    I am a guitarist, but not one of those head-bangers. I can play jazz and blues, and have a strong blues-rock background. I'm not an active performer at present; I only do recording. I have an 88-note Yamaha P-90 piano as well, which I play popular songs on, and sing.

  6. #66
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    I don’t quite know if you are trying to make a point or give a history of jazz and a P-90 is a keyboard not a piano afaik.
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  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    I don’t quite know if you are trying to make a point or give a history of jazz and a P-90 is a keyboard not a piano afaik.
    i.e,."What are you talking about, boy?"

    The question was, "What is jazz?" It's a very assimilable form, constantly changing, but at some point it morphs to the point that it is no longer recognizable as jazz. The only way to gauge this is to define a set of musical criteria. For me, those criteria consist of

    1. African-originated rhythmic elements, dividing the beat into 3, using compound time signatures
    2. African-derived scales, using the pentatonic-derived blues scale
    3. emphasis on melodic elements, both in relation to harmonic elaboration and complexity, or in the absence of harmony
    4. improvisation, meaning immediate, non-notated elaborations and statements derived from knowledge of the instrument, and "working concepts" of musical creation and structure which are "compositional" in nature, but deployed :in the moment"
    5. voice-like bending of pitch
    6. instrumentation and forms, resembling "chamber" groups or small mobile units

    Of course, these are general statements, and it is possible to find exceptions, or question the whole premise.
    Last edited by millions; Jul-14-2013 at 14:44.

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by millions View Post
    i.e,."What are you talking about, boy?"

    The question was, "What is jazz?" It's a very assimilable form, constantly changing, but at some point it morphs to the point that it is no longer recognizable as jazz. The only way to gauge this is to define a set of musical criteria. For me, those criteria consist of

    1. African-originated rhythmic elements, dividing the beat into 3, using compound time signatures
    That sounds interesting could you give an example of this in a jazz piece as the majority of jazz that I know is 4/4 Simple. I suspect you are going to get very technical lol
    2. African-derived scales, using the pentatonic-derived blues scale
    What is an African derived scale?


    3. emphasis on melodic elements, both in relation to harmonic elaboration and complexity, or in the absence of harmony
    4. improvisation, meaning immediate, non-notated elaborations and statements derived from knowledge of the instrument, and "working concepts" of musical creation and structure which are "compositional" in nature, but deployed :in the moment"
    5. voice-like bending of pitch
    6. instrumentation and forms, resembling "chamber" groups or small mobile units

    Of course, these are general statements, and it is possible to find exceptions, or question the whole premise.
    Yes they are general but I agree that jazz is for small ens and has to be improvised. Earlier in the thread I brought up the subject of the larger bands Ellington, Goodman, Herman, Kenton etc which were called Jazz bands but in truth because of their size and the complexity of the music had to use scores so I contend these were not jazz bands, what is your take on that?
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  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    That sounds interesting could you give an example of this in a jazz piece as the majority of jazz that I know is 4/4 Simple. I suspect you are going to get very technical lol
    You sound like you've already made up your mind; most of it is simple 4/4 according to you. Why should I bother with a long-winded "technical" explanation of what "swing" is?

    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    What is an African derived scale?
    A pentatonic, major or minor.

    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    Yes they are general but I agree that jazz is for small ens and has to be improvised. Earlier in the thread I brought up the subject of the larger bands Ellington, Goodman, Herman, Kenton etc which were called Jazz bands but in truth because of their size and the complexity of the music had to use scores so I contend these were not jazz bands, what is your take on that?
    Well, for example, The Fletcher Henderson Orchestra featured many improvised solos by Coleman Hawkins, and space was provided for these solos in the arrangements. It's called "flexibility," which is probably very alien to literal, black & white thinkers.

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by millions View Post
    You sound like you've already made up your mind; most of it is simple 4/4 according to you. Why should I bother with a long-winded "technical" explanation of what "swing" is?
    You don’t have to bother at all! I am asking out of interest, the jazz that I know is in 4/4 time and of course 5/4 and 7/4 for Brubeck I have heard the odd piece in ¾ time but can’t recall the title, I can’t see the relationship to your [ African-originated rhythmic elements, dividing the beat into 3, using compound time signatures] this is your first criteria..... so can you give an example, I may be misunderstanding your meaning.


    A pentatonic, major or minor.
    I don’t understand that at all. Pentatonic scales come from all over the world so what is special in African Pentatonic Scales? Again I am curious, that’s all.


    Well, for example, The Fletcher Henderson Orchestra featured many improvised solos by Coleman Hawkins, and space was provided for these solos in the arrangements. It's called "flexibility," which is probably very alien to literal, black & white thinkers.
    I suggest that 99% of solos in the big bands were improvised to a large degree you call it flexibility so where does that get us, are they jazz bands ?
    Last edited by JHC; Jul-17-2013 at 07:10.
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  12. #72
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    teddy, you don't need to be worrying out-loud whether I am getting heated, because I'm not; but look at these queries, and what I'm being asked to explain. It might appear to you as "heat," but it's not. What do you take me for, a belligerent, alcoholic boor on a "dry drunk" rant? Oh, well...I'll just chalk it up to "the curse of intelligence." Now that we've gotten that cleared up...

    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    You don’t have to bother at all! I am asking out of interest, the jazz that I know is in 4/4 time and of course 5/4 and 7/4 for Brubeck I have heard the odd piece in ¾ time but can’t recall the title, I can’t see the relationship to your [ African-originated rhythmic elements, dividing the beat into 3, using compound time signatures] this is your first criteria..... so can you give an example, I may be misunderstanding your meaning.
    Ok, ok....I chased down an old blog of mine...I'm doing you a favor, I hope you appreciate that.

    Jazz is based on an African, non-Western division of the main pulse beat. This is called a "shuffle" in Blues, and is used in jazz. Our Western notation system cannot properly convey this, and instead arrangers will notate in 4/4 and specify "shuffle feel." This jazz rhythm is not a "feel," it is a division of the main pulse into three rather than two.

    To explain further, the main pulse of a blues or jazz song divides the measure into 4 parts, exemplified by the "walking" bass, which plays in 1-2-3-4 (That's why you think it's in 4/4).

    However, there are accents which are divisions of 3 which cannot be notated properly in 4/4, because our time signature system does not allow for "3" values to be placed in the bottom number of the time signature. Everything goes in multiples of two: Whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, and so on.

    To get a "three" value, we must place a "dot" after the note.
    You can't put a "dotted" note in the bottom of a time signature.


    Notating 3 divisions as "triplets" is too cluttering. The only truly accurate way to notate this shuffle is to use a "compound" time signature, 12/8. This is counter-intuitive, because the main bass-pulse (with the bass drum) is on 1-4-7-10. It's counter-intuitive to count to 12 in this manner, because the main pulse is still felt as 1-2-3-4. So most arrangers simply write "shuffle feel" next to the 4/4 time signature.


    "Compound" rhythms allow the beat to be subdivided into 2 or 3 parts (factors of 12). African drummers "played" with this ambiguity, creating complex interplay, which Steve Reich studied closely.


    New cross-cultural elements took this even further, to assimilate jazz rhythms into their existing cultural norms. Bossa Nova, for example, transformed the African-derived 3-division of black jazz into an evenly-divided 4/4, common in South America.

    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    I don’t understand that at all. Pentatonic scales come from all over the world so what is special in African Pentatonic Scales? Again I am curious, that’s all.
    Uh-huh, right. Just curious. The pentatonic scale is where the "blues" scale is derived. You should not ever, ever question the use of pentatonic scales in jazz. You should understand this implicitly, immediately. Breathe it like air.

    For the answer to "What makes Africal pentatonics different?": they are non-Western, and use "just" intervals, like most folk musics. Go to WIK and read a little, if you need more info; this is where my "long-winded explanations" stop.

    The "harmonic seventh" or 7/4 interval (about 968.826 cents), is also known as the septimal minor seventh. It has been a contentious issue throughout the history of music theory; it is 31 cents flatter than an equal-tempered minor seventh. Some assert the 7/4 is one of the blue notes used in jazz."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonic_seventh


    Interestingly, when this flatter seventh is used, the dominant seventh chord's "need to resolve" down a fifth is weak or non-existent. This chord is often used on the tonic (written as I7) and functions as a "fully resolved" final chord.


    A-ha! So maybe THAT'S why blues uses all seventh chords (I7-IV7-V7)...it's also used in "barbershop quartet" singing.

    That "blue" third, and the flatter "harmonic seventh" have their origins in African music. I'm no expert, but I do know that the pentatonic scale was used extensively, as it is in almost all "folk" musics.


    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    I suggest that 99% of solos in the big bands were improvised to a large degree... you call it flexibility so where does that get us, are they jazz bands ?
    Well, this would appear to contradict your earlier post:

    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    Earlier in the thread I brought up the subject of the larger bands Ellington, Goodman, Herman, Kenton etc which were called Jazz bands but in truth because of their size and the complexity of the music had to use scores so I contend these were not jazz bands, what is your take on that?
    Yes, I consider the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra to be jazz. If you disagree, that's your privilege.

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    Quote Originally Posted by teddy View Post
    Thank you millions. I am so greatful. It is fantastic to meet someone as intelligent as I am.

    teddy
    Well, I truly appreciate that, Teddy, but what good will it do me locked up in this cell?

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    We are all locked up in some type of cell

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