SOUND PATTERNS

A Structural Examination of Tonality, Vocabulary, Texture,
Sonorities, and Time Organization in Western Art Music

by PHILLIP MAGNUSON

MICROCOSMS

Chapter 46. Jazz

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Chapter 41.
Impressionism
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Chapter 42.
Primitivism
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Chapter 43.
Neo-classicism
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Chapter 44.
Expressionism
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Chapter 45.
Serialism
.
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Chapter 47.
Indeterminism
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Chapter 48.
Texturalism
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Chapter 49.
Minimalism
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Chapter 50.
Electronicism
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Chapter 51.
Neo-romanticism
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Chapter 52.
Eclecticism

JAZZ: an appeal from popular music

ImageAndy Warhol:
Campbell's Soup Cans
Warhol takes an image from popular culture and creates variations of different colors. 1965

46.1 BACKGROUND

The inclusion of JAZZ in this text was inevitable. While Jazz belongs to the area of popular music, a topic not addressed in Sound Patterns, the influence of Jazz in so much of the art music of the 20th century cannot be ignored. Many thanks to Willie Morris III for his valuable assistance in editing these pages.

Jazz is the child of European and African musical traditions, with the result being neither European nor African, but uniquely American. The melting pot for this is the American south-eastern states, particularly near New Orleans, where both European and African cultures flourished. The growth of Jazz follows an unbroken line from the end of the 19th century to the present.

46.2 MUSICAL ELEMENTS

At a glance:

JazzTonalityVocabularyTextureSonorityTime
basically maintains:x
generally modifies:xxx
completely changes:x

  1. Tonality

    In the Common Practice Period: The essential organization is around a single pitch, the tonic, which provides a home base to the ear. All other pitches work to establish the pre-eminence of tonic. Furthermore, an organization of phrases (generally made up of 4, 8, or 16 measures) expand the establishment of tonic; all phrases end with a cadence which confirms this sense of tonic.

    In Jazz:

    1. Jazz melodies often appear first as a pre-existing popular song, with set phrases, harmonic progression, and cadences. The tonality is clearly established.

      See "I Got Rhythm" by George Gershwin [Music for Analysis #241]. It is in Bb major and consists of four 8-measure phrases (the last has a 2-measure extension) in ballad form (aaba).
      Listen to a performance

    2. Jazz is the art of IMPROVISATION. While it is possible to perform written music with Jazz elements, it is improvisation that defines the style. Jazz improvisation is the performers ability to spontaneously create on-going melodic variations using scales, patterns, and other ideas based on the chord changes. Consequently, it is difficult to separate "composers" from "performers"; the performer is almost always the composer.

    3. Jazz is often notated differently than other music, with a LEAD SHEET (melody/lyrics with chord changes) providing all the information necessary to expand the song with improvisation.

  2. Vocabulary

    In the Common Practice Period: The essential vocabulary is a diatonic pattern of seven stepwise pitches called major and minor scales. Chromatic pitches, the remaining five, can be used, but only to enhance the diatonic ones.

    In Jazz:

    1. Pitches are often derived from the blues, bebop, and pentatonic scales:

      Blues scale:

      Bebop scale:

      Major pentatonic scale:

      Minor pentatonic scale:

    2. Pitches in Jazz often "bend", that is, pitch for a given scale degree has a variety of frequencies available rather than just one.

    3. Jazz, especially from the second half of the century, also uses other pitch collections:

  3. Texture

    In the Common Practice Period: The essential texture is created with counterpoint, which is two or more simultaneous individual and independent lines, each of which confirms the pre-eminence of tonic and utilizes the vocabulary of a major or minor scale.

    In Jazz:

    1. There are three traditional levels of texture in Jazz:
      • the melody (called the lead, or solo line)
      • the chord changes (called the harmony)
      • the bass line (called the rhythm section)

      These three levels all work in counterpoint together, but the structure of that counterpoint is much more free than the Common Practice Period (as the lyrics imply, issues such as parallel perfect consonances are simply not a problem in this style).

    2. Some Jazz can be substantially more contrapuntal, even polyphonic. These complicated textures, however, are derived FROM the harmonic progression, rather than creating it, as found in the Common Practice Period.

  4. Sonorities

    In the Common Practice Period: The essential sonority (chord) is consonant and is a group of three notes (a triad) arranged in thirds (tertian). Dissonance is used, which could be a group of four notes arranged in thirds (a tertian tetrad) or non-chordal embellishments (passing and neighboring tones, suspensions, and pedals, among others). All dissonances are required to resolve.

    In Jazz:

    1. Sonorities are generally represented by chord symbols that show pitch content.

    2. Seventh chords (tetrads) are used extensively, often replacing simple triads. The three most commonly found qualities are MM7, Mm7, and mm7.

    3. The basic chord types are vastly expanded beyond simple triads and tetrads, such as

    4. Some chords have a specific dominant function:

      (Notice the last chord above: it is exactly the same structure of a quartal triad from Impressionism and the exact same structure of a dominant harmony with a 4-3 suspension.)

    5. Some Jazz harmonies defy traditional labels (major, minor, diminished, augmented) and are called ALTERED TONALITIES:

    6. Jazz improvisation utilizes non-chord tones with greater frequency and much more freedom than the Common Practice Period.
    7. One of the most famous pre-set progression for Jazz is the 12-bar blues, providing a foundation and shape to countless pieces: three 4-measure phrases in bar form (aab). The basic progression is

      m. 1m. 2m. 3m. 4m. 5m. 6m. 7m. 8m. 9m.10m.11m.12
      IIVIIIVIVIIVIVIV (on repeat)
      I (last time)

      There are many variations on this basic progression.

  5. Time organization

    In the Common Practice Period: The essential time organization is based on a consistent and unchanging beat. These beats organize into 2, 3, or 4 essential pulses per measure, with the first beat always the strongest. Each beat can sub-divide into two parts (simple meters) or three parts (compound meters).

    In Jazz:

    1. Syncopation clearly is a major force in Jazz, and the emphasis reserved for the downbeat often moves to previously weak placements.

      See the refrain in "Night and Day" by Cole Porter [Music for Analysis #466].
      Listen to a performance

    2. Most Jazz employs SWING RHYTHMS, which divide beats into unequal parts (a longer duration followed by a shorter one).

    3. Meters in early Jazz are similar to the Common Practice Period, but as it evolved through the century, assymetrical meters and meters with unequal beats began to become common.

      See "Blue Rondo a la Turk" by Dave Brubeck [Music for Analysis #430].
      Listen to a performance

    4. The downbeat is still evident in Jazz, but there is a great emphasis placed on the upbeats as well, often called the BACKBEAT.

      See "Night and Day" by Cole Porter [Music for Analysis #466].

SYNTHESIS

Write a simple Jazz blues melody with words. The melody must fit within the standard 12-bar blues (given above). Students will be asked to sing the melody and then improvise (scat) one chorus using the blues scale.

The grading for this project:

46.3 MUSIC OF THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

Sprituals, Work Songs, Field Hollers, Shouts, and Chants

For centuries, the African-American culture, born from slavery, developed a unique style of music, mostly vocal, from its extended moments of sadness and brief moments of happiness. The elements that create Jazz can be heard in the call-and-response techniques, bended pitches, and free, swing-like rhythms.

SUGGESTED LISTENING

46.4 RAGTIME IN THE 1900's

Ragtime
Ragtime is an early popular music based on a steady, march-like bass with a highly syncopated melody in counterpoint. The form of ragtime is the highly structured march design, with a main section followed by a contrasting section.

EMERGING COMPOSERS/PERFORMERS FROM THIS PERIOD

SUGGESTED LISTENING

46.4 BLUES AND DIXIELAND IN THE 1910's

Blues
The blues grew out of the traditions of the black community, from the church, work, and fields. It is the blues that sparked the growth of Jazz, following the framework of a specific harmonic progression and encouraging a tradition of improvisation.

Dixieland
Dixieland, built on the infectious syncopations of ragtime, was the popular music of the bars, brothels, and funerals. Dixieland became an integral part of the black community of New Orleans and was spread throughout the United States by musicians traveling in vaudeville.

EMERGING COMPOSERS/PERFORMERS FROM THIS PERIOD

SUGGESTED LISTENING

46.5 THE BIRTH OF JAZZ IN THE 1920's

Jazz Age
The inforcement of prohibition in the 1920's forced Americans to do their drinking in speak-easies (underground night clubs), and Jazz musicians were the primary entertainment. Jazz was beginning to become a vital part of the white community.

EMERGING COMPOSERS/PERFORMERS FROM THIS PERIOD

SUGGESTED LISTENING

46.7 JAZZ IN THE 1930's

Swing
Jazz grew to big bands and became the most important source of dance music. Although Jazz had been increasingly influential in the white community, in the 30's, the previously segregated bands began to integrate.

EMERGING COMPOSERS/PERFORMERS FROM THIS PERIOD

SUGGESTED LISTENING

46.8 JAZZ IN THE 1940's

Bebop
The hugely popular genre of swing evolves into a more instrumental, non-dance music of bebop. There was greater experimentation with dissonance, chromaticism, and more complicated harmonic language.

EMERGING COMPOSERS/PERFORMERS FROM THIS PERIOD

SUGGESTED LISTENING

46.9 JAZZ IN THE 1950's

Cool Jazz
Cool Jazz is a reaction to the experimentation of bebop, creating a gentler, smoother style.

Modal Jazz
Modal Jazz breaks the tradition of anchoring the melodic line in the harmonic progression to a melodically oriented approach built around modes.

Free Jazz
Free Jazz basically breaks from the traditions of the past, opening pitch, harmony, rhythm, and form into a avant-garde style.

Hard bop
Hard bop continues to grow and development of bebop (primarily in New York City), adding extra influences of the blues and gospel music.

West Coast Jazz
West Coast Jazz is similar to hard bop, but centered in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

EMERGING COMPOSERS/PERFORMERS FROM THIS PERIOD

SUGGESTED LISTENING

46.10 JAZZ IN THE 1960's and 1970's

As seen in the 50's, Jazz continues to expand, encorporating many diverse influences and developing many diverse techniques. Schisms in the world of Jazz are a normal part of its growth. During this period, the importance of individual Jazz musicians is rivaled by the rising fame of groups.

Latin Jazz
Latin Jazz is the combination of Jazz with Latin American music. The lively rhythms in both made this process inevitable, and emphasizes the world-wide popularity of Jazz.

Post bop
Post bop develops Jazz for the small ensemble, and fuses influences from many Jazz areas.

Soul Jazz
Like Latin Jazz, soul Jazz brings in heavy influences from gospel music, blues, and rhythm and blues, and like post bop, focuses on small combos.

Jazz fusion
Jazz fusion combines elements of Jazz and rock music.

Jazz funk
Jazz funk explores the fusion of Jazz with other popular musics such as soul, funk, and disco, as well as more traditional musical styles such as African music, reggae, and Latin American music.

EMERGING COMPOSERS/PERFORMERS FROM THIS PERIOD

SUGGESTED LISTENING

46.11 JAZZ IN THE 1980's and 1990's

Jazz of the last two decades of the 20th century continued to develop along similar lines as it had in the earlier decades. The was consistent growth in techniques as well as combining with alternate popular styles, to creat practices such as smooth Jazz, acid Jazz, and punk Jazz.

EMERGING COMPOSERS/PERFORMERS FROM THIS PERIOD

SUGGESTED LISTENING

46.12 THIRD STREAM

Composers in the twentieth century who are not traditionally associated with Jazz would occasionally use some of the idioms found in Jazz. Gunther Schuller coined the term THIRD STREAM in the 1950's to describe this practice, indicating the blend of art music (first stream) and popular music (second stream).

COMPOSERS:

SUGGESTED LISTENING

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Copyright 2008-2009 by Phillip Magnuson.

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