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lorsban

Jazz "Feel?"

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lorsban    2

Hi guys,

It's been a while! Happy New Year!

I'm primarily a rock/blues guy but I've been trying to dabble into Jazz for about a decade now but I can't seem to understand the "feel" of it.

Rock is rock, high energy, blues reflects the drudgery of the toils of life. Ballads are mellow. Pretty easy to get the feel for those.

But Jazz has always been alien to me. The melodies and half steps seem very odd and confusing.

So, I've decided to start with feel. What's jazz supposed to feel like? I know there's a whole world of it but generally speaking, what feel am I trying to capture with Jazz?

Comments, thoughts?

And thanks in advance!

lors

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mset3    158

lorsban,

It's my understanding, the way to get the feel of jazz is listen to a lot of it. Similar to playing the blues. I guess it just has to be ingrained in your mind to get the feel. I'm still working on it too.

Just my thoughts on the subject.

Mike

P.S. Welcome back!

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lorsban    2
lorsban,

It's my understanding, the way to get the feel of jazz is listen to a lot of it. Similar to playing the blues. I guess it just has to be ingrained in your mind to get the feel. I'm still working on it too.

Just my thoughts on the subject.

Mike

P.S. Welcome back!

________________________________________

Hi Mike,

I've tried that already and I think the problem is there's So much variation with Jazz that it's tough to pin the feel part down.

The one theme I get is the dystopian feel with most of the Jazz I've heard.

Unlike Blues where the feeling is clear, Jazz seems very unclear with where it wants to be. Especially when I listen to the lead parts, be it piano or guitar or horns. There are a lot of "off" notes. Like the player is trying to not play the right notes by a half step.

Of course, maybe I'm just listening to the wrong Jazz Hahahaha!

I've also heard some Jazz that's very good. Like Tuck & Patty, more like pop Jazz or Gary's Theme by Bill Evans - I like this a lot. Very contemplative.

I guess I should just focus on the slower side of Jazz. The fast stuff makes me feel like I'm rushing but I have nowhere to go.

Cheers!

lors

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JanVigne    27

"Of course, maybe I'm just listening to the wrong Jazz Hahahaha!"

If you are trying to learn how to play jazz, this is probably more true than you think.

Consider the beginnings of "jazz". It came from the blues. In the twenties and thirties, vocalists sang "Gulf Cost Blues" and "Down Hearted Bues". There was no "jazz" to speak of. Read the early discography of, say Louis Armstrong. This all began with W.C. Handy and the "St Louis Blues". The development of jazz as a discrete style simply reflected the restlessness of the players to being tied down to rules made by others. Always has, always will. Within each style of jazz, different rules apply. If you prefer to play like Marsalis, you will play differently than, say, Miles.

(Get an overview of how blues, jazz, Gospel, rock and roll, roots music/country western, etc are conjoined. As the saying goes, it's not what you play, it's what you leave out.)

Of course, at the time of the earliest jazz players, the acoustic blues of Son House was marketed as "race music". The blues of Besse Smith was edging toward jazz and a wider, more wealthy white audience. Keep in mind also that the world was opening up to the sounds of "other" musicians.

Creole music was infused with the sound of migrant workers coming from South of New Orleans as work allowed. Hawaiian music was extremely popular as the islands were opened up to tourists. The Great Migration began in the 1920's and continued through the 1950's. Music was extremely fluid as all the artists would gather in one city for a three day long recording session and trade licks and riffs and stylistic techniques after hours in late night hotel jams. From this, jazz began to emerge from the "traditional" blues sound.

Whites were playing their version of race music by the early 1930's and this too influenced the direction music took in its long march toward respectability. Blind Lemon Jefferson was about to die on a lonely road while Tommy Dorsey was just beginning. Post WWII, academics found the sounds of jazz to be new and "poly-rhytmic" as they made attempts to fit a flatted fitth sound or a bent string into the theory based music of the West. Blues remained the people's music while jazz became the high brow's music. Dissection resulted in sterilization until one Charley Parker broke the mold.

I would suggest you explore the beginnings of this divergence of styles and the search for constantly playing "new" sounds for a hungry and more well heeled (and, at the time, mostly white) audience.

World wars always have a consequence on culture and the two World wars were no less influential on the sound of American popular music. Explore the Memphis roots of what a young Elvis was hearing on Bealle Street in the late 1940's and early '50's. Memphis was the first stop along the way for most making the Great Migration from the plantations Northward. It was the hottest mixing pot for style of the time as it sat on the Mississippi and allowed for travel to any other part of the nation.

Probably what you are currently using as your reference for "jazz" feel is a much later style of jazz improvisation which was the result of bebop and "cool jazz" sounds of the 1940's and 1950's. If I had to say there was a feel to contemporary jazz, it is in the improvisational techniques and ideas which developed much later in the 20th century.

Try a listen to Alberta Hunter and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a taste of a much earlier style of jazz. They belong to a time when the call and response style of improvisation was much more based on exploring a key signature with "listenable", and certainly "danceable", rules.

Remember, until rock and roll and the technology of music players/radios inexpensive enough for the average consumer made everyone sit down and listen in solitary enjoyment, the primary rule of popular music of any sort was to get the patron up on their feet and dancing. The more they danced, the more they drank, ate and spent.

Start exploring from that point to get your feel. From there you can move forward with each stylistic change occurring in jazz. You might want, at that point, to take a class in jazz appreciation from a local community college.

Mostly though, I would suggest you learn to walk before you try to run.

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lorsban    2

"Of course, maybe I'm just listening to the wrong Jazz Hahahaha!"

If you are trying to learn how to play jazz, this is probably more true than you think.

Consider the beginnings of "jazz". It came from the blues. In the twenties and thirties, vocalists sang "Gulf Cost Blues" and "Down Hearted Bues". There was no "jazz" to speak of. Read the early discography of, say Louis Armstrong. This all began with W.C. Handy and the "St Louis Blues". The development of jazz as a discrete style simply reflected the restlessness of the players to being tied down to rules made by others. Always has, always will. Within each style of jazz, different rules apply. If you prefer to play like Marsalis, you will play differently than, say, Miles.

(Get an overview of how blues, jazz, Gospel, rock and roll, roots music/country western, etc are conjoined. As the saying goes, it's not what you play, it's what you leave out.)

Of course, at the time of the earliest jazz players, the acoustic blues of Son House was marketed as "race music". The blues of Besse Smith was edging toward jazz and a wider, more wealthy white audience. Keep in mind also that the world was opening up to the sounds of "other" musicians.

Creole music was infused with the sound of migrant workers coming from South of New Orleans as work allowed. Hawaiian music was extremely popular as the islands were opened up to tourists. The Great Migration began in the 1920's and continued through the 1950's. Music was extremely fluid as all the artists would gather in one city for a three day long recording session and trade licks and riffs and stylistic techniques after hours in late night hotel jams. From this, jazz began to emerge from the "traditional" blues sound.

Whites were playing their version of race music by the early 1930's and this too influenced the direction music took in its long march toward respectability. Blind Lemon Jefferson was about to die on a lonely road while Tommy Dorsey was just beginning. Post WWII, academics found the sounds of jazz to be new and "poly-rhytmic" as they made attempts to fit a flatted fitth sound or a bent string into the theory based music of the West. Blues remained the people's music while jazz became the high brow's music. Dissection resulted in sterilization until one Charley Parker broke the mold.

I would suggest you explore the beginnings of this divergence of styles and the search for constantly playing "new" sounds for a hungry and more well heeled (and, at the time, mostly white) audience.

World wars always have a consequence on culture and the two World wars were no less influential on the sound of American popular music. Explore the Memphis roots of what a young Elvis was hearing on Bealle Street in the late 1940's and early '50's. Memphis was the first stop along the way for most making the Great Migration from the plantations Northward. It was the hottest mixing pot for style of the time as it sat on the Mississippi and allowed for travel to any other part of the nation.

Probably what you are currently using as your reference for "jazz" feel is a much later style of jazz improvisation which was the result of bebop and "cool jazz" sounds of the 1940's and 1950's. If I had to say there was a feel to contemporary jazz, it is in the improvisational techniques and ideas which developed much later in the 20th century.

Try a listen to Alberta Hunter and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a taste of a much earlier style of jazz. They belong to a time when the call and response style of improvisation was much more based on exploring a key signature with "listenable", and certainly "danceable", rules.

Remember, until rock and roll and the technology of music players/radios inexpensive enough for the average consumer made everyone sit down and listen in solitary enjoyment, the primary rule of popular music of any sort was to get the patron up on their feet and dancing. The more they danced, the more they drank, ate and spent.

Start exploring from that point to get your feel. From there you can move forward with each stylistic change occurring in jazz. You might want, at that point, to take a class in jazz appreciation from a local community college.

Mostly though, I would suggest you learn to walk before you try to run.

________________________________________

Excellent write-up and suggestions JanVigne!

It's only now that I've read of Jazz music being used for dance. But it makes sense. They're played in clubs, people want a party, not to be schooled in technique and music theory haha

I unfortunately don't have access to the kind of musical education that you recommend since I live in a province in the Philippines where jazz isn't even as mainstream to begin with.

But I do believe in "learning by doing" so I've decided to record a "jazzy" sounding progression using maj7 chords. I've also laid down a melody and I *think I'm understanding how melodies work. Of course I'm not an expert and I laid down possibly the slowest track I could haha

Walk before you could run indeed.

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windsong    16

you got to go to a coffee shop here in shinjuku, tokyo to listen to the "jazz" over a cup of 500 yen coffee and think, heck I can do that...

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lorsban    2

you got to go to a coffee shop here in shinjuku, tokyo to listen to the "jazz" over a cup of 500 yen coffee and think, heck I can do that...

________________________________________

Funny thing is I've been going to Japan for years but not once have I sat down at a coffee shop for coffee.

I've been to a bunch of bars tho! Haha

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windsong    16

________________________________________

Funny thing is I've been going to Japan for years but not once have I sat down at a coffee shop for coffee.

I've been to a bunch of bars tho! Haha

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Well you've been in the wrong places , dude .

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donfully    0

Jazz is a big genre with its own sub genres and schools of playing. Jazz in that sense is more of a theoretical approach, the next evolution beyond classical music theory. So it's important that you hone down to what you want to listen to. Usually for someone new to jazz, he/she is more likely to be attracted to the school of cool jazz - bill evans, paul desmond, miles davis. It's alot more simple and conventional so very friendly to most ears.

Once you get used to the sound, try to copy and play it over the recording. Then get into studying the theory to see how these artists navigate through the chord progressions. Jazz is a complicated language so it can be discouraging for many, but I strongly encourage you to stay the course. It can really open up new colors in the way you perceive music. I can only speak for myself and those I know, but the experience is almost like going from black and white tv screen to watching things in color once your ears become sensitive to it from a harmonic standpoint.

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lorsban    2

I guess understanding something is a lot easier if you like it in the first place haha

That said, I'm REALLY digging fusion, most especially Allan Holdsworth. Heavy Jazz influence but more melodic.

Can't stop listening to his stuff it's so fluid sounding to me.

A lot of guys can't stand him but I really like it. It makes sense to me.

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Doug    12

Wow, there's some pretty detailed answers to your post - very impressive. And I'm not a well educated jazz aficionado, but I think, at its core, jazz is about syncopation. Playing with the the rhythms. So maybe take a melody you really

Iike and just play with it. Leave the four/four at the door... ;-)

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lorsban    2
Wow, there's some pretty detailed answers to your post - very impressive. And I'm not a well educated jazz aficionado, but I think, at its core, jazz is about syncopation. Playing with the the rhythms. So maybe take a melody you really

Iike and just play with it. Leave the four/four at the door... ;-)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes very detailed. There are some knowledgeable dudes here.

My main takeaway tho are the chords and key changes. They just helped open up my songs a ton.

On a whole, Jazz seems to me like the "Anti-establishment" genre. More than metal even, which is really quite heavily influenced by classical. Rap is very rooted in rhythmic music.

Jazz sounds all syncopated (as you mentioned). There's a clear method to it, but I find it difficult to move so far away from classical music (which is how I was trained and what my folks listened to mostly).

The happy middle to me is Fusion/Progressive. It uses similar chords/key changes, rhythmic syncopation, but there's more "flow" it sounds smoother or tells more of a story.

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