Chapter Study Outline

  1. Empathy
    1. Jazz requires a particular kind of empathy.
    2. Although not absolutely necessary, learning about the fundamental rules and techniques of jazz can deepen one's understanding and appreciation of the art form.
  2. Timbre
    1. Timbre (tone color) refers to the distinctive qualities of a sound, as in the difference between instruments or voices.
    2. We control timbre: the tone of voice can indicate emotions; we can physically change the sound of an instrument with mutes.
    3. Timbral variation is a musical value in jazz and can be used to find one's own sound.
  3. The Ensemble
    1. Wind Instruments (Horns)
      1. Instruments are often classified by the way the sound is made.
      2. Wind instruments are the largest category of jazz instruments.
      3. These produce sound by vibrating a column of air that can be modified by changing the length of the column (by depressing keys) or overblowing.
      4. Brass Instruments
        1. Sound is made by vibrating lips in a cuplike mouthpiece.
        2. Valves control the length of tubing. Overblowing also contributes to the sound.
        3. The trumpet is the most common: it has cylindrical tubing except for the bell. The cornet and the flugelhorn are conical.
        4. The cornet was used until around 1926, when the trumpet took over. On early recordings it is difficult to tell the difference between the two.
        5. Various mutes change the trumpet's timbre: straight, cup, Harmon, plunger.
        6. Mutes can be used in combination. Half-valving and shaking can also vary timbre.
        7. Trombone: Uses a slide to change pitch. The slide allows for glissando or smear.
      5. Reed Instruments
        1. Clarinet: cylindrical, wooden, popular in New Orleans and swing jazz but declined in popularity since then.
        2. Saxophone: alto, tenor, soprano, and baritone.
        3. By 1930, saxophone became one of the main instruments of American music (especially alto and tenor).
    2. Rhythm Section
      1. Another way to classify instruments is by their musical use; for example, various kinds of solo instruments versus the more fixed types of rhythm section instruments.
      2. The rhythm section consists of instruments that provide harmony, bass, and percussion.
      3. Harmony Instruments
        1. Piano (most important because of its popularity and range), guitar, banjo, electric piano, organ, vibraphone
        2. More than one harmony instrument may be used. A popular combination is guitar and piano. The most common rhythm section is bass, drums, guitar, and piano.
      4. Bass
        1. It is the foundation of the jazz ensemble, although it is seldom noticed.
        2. It provides two functions: harmonic support and rhythmic foundation; usually played pizzicato in jazz.
        3. The electric bass is sometimes used instead of the acoustic bass.
        4. In early jazz, the tuba provided the bass.
      5. Percussion
        1. Drum kit, drum set, or trap set (traps). The musician uses all four limbs to play.
        2. It originated from marching band, where separate players played the bass drum, snare drum, and cymbals.
        3. The drum set uses the same drums with a foot peddle for the bass drum. The bass drum, the snare drum, and hanging cymbals are all played by one person.
        4. Tom-toms (middle-sized drums) can also be used as part of this set, which is placed in front of the drummer in a semicircle.
        5. Cymbals: ride, crash, high-hat (two cymbals controlled by a foot pedal).
        6. Right foot on bass drum pedal, left foot on high-hat pedal, right hand sticking the ride cymbal, left hand sticking snare drum or tom-tom.
        7. Can alter timbre: different size sticks, wire brushes, mallets.
        8. Latin percussion is sometime used: congas, bongos, timbales, maracas, guiro.
  4. From Polyrhythm to Swing
    1. Meter
      1. Meter is related to biological phenomena such as heartbeat, which is reflected in a steady rhythmic pulse.
      2. Moving at a given tempo, or speed, this "pulse rhythm" is the basic approach to rhythm used in jazz.
      3. Breath rhythm is more flexible and therefore akin to free rhythm, for example, the cadenza (e.g., opening of Louis Armstrong's "West End Blues" ).
      4. Count along with "Midriff."
      5. Beat equals a steady pulse.
      6. One can hear how pulse is grouped into a meter. In jazz, duple meter is most common (group pulses by two or four).
      7. A measure, or bar, is regular grouping of beats, or the distance between downbeats. This can be thought of as a small cycle-a repeated fixed unit.
    2. Polyrhythm
      1. In contrast to European music, there are usually at least two layers of rhythm occurring at the same time in African and African-derived music.
      2. The foundation layer in jazz (keeping time) is persistent and repetitive: bass and ride cymbal.
    3. Syncopation
      1. Jazz soloists add the variable layers of rhythm. Rhythm section can add layers as well: rhythmic placement of piano chords, drums.
      2. Syncopation occurs whenever a strong accent contradicts the basic meter; central to jazz rhythm.
      3. A downbeat is the first beat of every measure. The backbeat counters or alternates with the downbeat.
      4. Accenting beats 2 and 4 instead of 1 and 3 in a four-four measure is an example of a syncopated rhythmic pattern emphasizing the backbeat.
    4. Swing
      1. Groove: the overall rhythmic framework within which rhythmic events occur; for example, four-beat rhythm with a backbeat.
      2. Swing is a type of groove basic to jazz that is difficult to define but occurs when all the rhythms interlock.
  5. Melody and Harmony
    1. Melody
      1. Scale: a collection of pitches within an octave. There are twelve piano keys between two notes of an octave. The distance between each one is a half step. A scale of twelve half steps is called a chromatic scale.
      2. The Do Re Mi scale is called a major scale (or mode) and is made up of seven degrees.
      3. A major scale is termed major because its pattern of pitches is made up of the same arrangement or ordering of whole and half steps, regardless of the first note.
      4. The minor mode has a different pattern of whole and half steps.
    2. Blues Scale
      1. Not just a set of pitches, but also a central musical influence.
      2. A system of making melody that includes variable intonation (blue notes, bent notes).
      3. Blue notes are available on most instruments but the piano is problematic. The solution is to play two neighboring notes simultaneously. Their clash with underlying major scale sounds is appealing because of its "otherness" in sound.
  6. Harmony
    1. The simultaneous sounding of pitches creates a chord.
    2. The most fundamental chord to Western music is the triad, a three-note chord with the root (from which it takes its name, e.g., an A major triad is built upon the root pitch, A) usually located in the bass.
    3. Voicings rearrange specific note ordering within a chord and may include the use of chordal extensions.
    4. In jazz, a harmonic progression is a fixed series of interrelated chords (usually repeated) played in a strict rhythmic sequence.
    5. Chords are classified according to the degree of the scale on which they are built and may sound relatively stable (consonant) or unstable and even jarring (dissonant).
      1. The tonic triad (built on "do"-pronounced "doe"-is also known as the tonic) is the focal, or resting, point to which most other chords in a key area are directed.
      2. The chord built on the fifth degree of the scale (or "sol," known as the dominant chord) is at the opposite end of the stability continuum and is especially drawn to move in the direction of the tonic triad.
    6. A cadence occurs at the end of a phrase when a chord progression comes to rest.
    7. A half cadence occurs when the end of a phrase sounds temporary and incomplete; a full cadence feels like a full stop (often on "do" with the tonic harmony).
    8. The interaction of a half cadence followed by a full cadence mirrors the inflection in one's voice between posing a question and responding with an answer.
  7. Texture
    1. Texture refers to the way melody and harmony are balanced.
      1. Homophony
        1. Melody supported by harmonic accompaniment.
        2. Usually melody and harmony are in separate layers.
        3. Sometimes in a single layer: block harmony occurs when two or more instruments play the same phrase with the same rhythm but with different pitches filling out the harmony often in the context of soli.
        4. Countermelody (obbligato) occurs when the subordinate instruments have their own melodic interest, but it does not compete with the main melody.
      2. Monophony
        1. Melody performed by a single solo voice with no harmonic accompaniment.
        2. Rare in jazz but found in early jazz "breaks," where a musician plays while the rest of the band is silent (usually two bars).
        3. Similar to "stop-time" in which band plays short chords at brief intervals while the soloist improvises.
        4. Monophony can be used to begin or end a piece, as in the case of Armstrong's unaccompanied introductory fanfare, or cadenza, at the start of "West End Blues."
    2. Polyphony
      1. Two or more simultaneous melodies of equal interest played at the same time.
      2. Polyphonic writing is regularly heard in New Orleans jazz, or Dixieland.
      3. New Orleans jazz uses polyphonic textures. Big (swing) bands are typically homophonic, while avant-garde jazz often returns to experimentation with more polyphonic textures in a new stylistic context.

Chapter 1 Jukebox