Chapter Study Outline

  1. Form in Jazz
    1. Like African music, jazz form is cyclic, each cycle being defined rhythmically and harmonically. Each cycle is called a chorus.
    2. Choruses are a fixed length. Often choruses are 12, 16, or 32, but they can be as short as 2 measures (e.g., "Heart and Soul").
    3. "Heart and Soul," in which one person plays the chord changes and the other improvises a melody, reflects the African principle of rhythmic contrast with two distinct layers, one fixed and one variable, each complementing the other.
    4. Common forms in jazz include the blues and popular song forms.
  2. Blues Form
    1. Poetic form: three-line asymmetric stanza (AAB) with each line consisting of two vocal measures (call) followed by two instrumental measures (response), to make a twelve-measure chorus.
    2. Basic harmonic form of 12-bar blues consists of three chords: I (tonic) for the first four measures, then IV chord for two; tonic for two; V chord for two; tonic for two.
    3. Often chords are added and/or substituted.
    4. Turnaround or turnback: chord progression that leads the ear to a new part of the cycle or the beginning of a new cycle.
    5. "West End Blues" (Louis Armstrong) has both chord substitutions and turnarounds.
    6. Modern jazz blues: "Now's the Time" (Charlie Parker). Rhythmically different from the previous two examples, harmonically more complex and dissonant, but still a 12-bar blues.
    7. In small-combo jazz, the composed head of a blues distinguishes one blues from the other, since much of the harmonic progression would be identical from one blues to the next.
    8. It is harder to recognize the blues form in the Charlie Parker example due to musical distractions.
    9. "Midriff" showcases many of the concepts covered in these first two chapters.
    10. Blues can be interrupted by introductions, modulations, and contrasting sections, but it is still a blues regardless of tempo, rhythmic groove, and interruptions. It is the foundation of rhythm and blues (R&B) and of rock and roll.
  3. 32-Bar Pop Song Form: AABA
    1. Based on songs of the 1930s to the 1960s; often used in Broadway musicals or film.
    2. These songs were often in two parts: verse and refrain. Jazz musicians rarely use the verse.
    3. Form: 8 bars (A) repeated (A, again) ending with a turnaround to the contrasting 8-bar B section (the bridge) and then the last A.
    4. Unlike the blues, song form refers to the tune's harmony and melody, not the words.
    5. Unlike the blues, this form is not defined by a particular harmonic progression.
    6. Example, "A Sailboat in the Moonlight" (Billie Holiday).
      1. AABA form starts after a 4-bar introduction. Holiday varies the A sections with saxophonist Lester Young's accompaniment and fills.
      2. The second chorus is divided among the soloists, and the last chorus is cut in half due to limitations of recording technology at that time.
    7. From 1930 to around 1950, jazz musicians used popular songs as a vehicle for improvising. Knowing the melody gave listeners a way to keep their place within the tune once the cycle of choruses or refrains was established.
    8. "Rhythm changes" is a reference to particular song form chord progression associated with Gershwin's "I've Got Rhythm," which became popular with jazz musicians (although they omitted the last two measures and made up their own melodies).
    9. "So What" (Miles Davis) is an AABA, 32-bar form. It is one of many jazz standards.
      1. Both As of this piece have the same single chord. The chord in the bridge is one half step higher than the A section.
      2. Try to hear the bridge, which, though slight, initiates the tune's most relatively overt harmonic shift.
    10. "The Pot Boiler" revisits "rhythm changes" with a new melody.
    11. There are many AABA tunes discussed in this book, and still many other tunes may be diagrammed in various ways, for example ABAC.
  4. Improvisation
    1. How exactly does a jazz ensemble manage to compose music spontaneously and keep together? How does the seemingly mystifying skill of improvisation work?
    2. Rhythm Section: Bass
      1. Bass has the most restricted role. It must play basic harmony and keep time (walking bass). Consider Paul Chambers playing bass on "So What." He's not obtrusive, but rather manages to fulfill the demands of his instrument's position within the group in a creative way.
      2. The bassist can also play a pedal point-the pitches do not move. Example: "Now's the Time" (Ronald Shannon Jackson).
    3. Piano
      1. Usually piano serves as the primary harmony instrument, but other instruments can serve this function. This role requires one to play specified chords using improvised voicings and can use harmonic substitutions. Compare Hines's playing in the first and fourth choruses of Armstrong's "West End Blues."
      2. By comping, the pianist can also take part in a variable layer rhythmically.
    4. Drums
      1. The drummer uses right-hand ride cymbal pattern, backbeat on high-hat, right foot plays bass drum accents ("dropping bombs"), left hand is variable; can play improvised fills and various grooves.
    5. Listening to the rhythm section for its own sake can focus on the individual player as well as on interaction between pairs or among the group as a whole.
    6. Soloists: Melodic Paraphrase
      1. Variation of the composed melody; often used in heads
      2. Example: "Over the Rainbow" (Art Tatum)
    7. Harmonic and Modal Improvisation
      1. Harmonic improvisation: more common; uses notes from the underlying chords.
      2. Modal improvisation: uses the scale suggested by the chord, not just chord notes; example: "So What" uses the Dorian mode.
  5. In Performance
    1. Big Bands
      1. Starting in the 1930s and continuing until after World War II, big bands of sixteen players became popular. They still exist mostly on university campuses, but there are some new professional bands as well.
      2. Grouped by instruments in sections of trumpets, trombones, reeds, and rhythm section.
      3. They use arrangements: composed scores for the band with individual parts for each musician. There are places designated for improvisation in arrangements. In this way, the big band balances composition and improvisation.
    2. Small Combos
      1. Typically consist of a few horns and a rhythm section.
      2. Derive from small dance halls and private jam sessions. Jam sessions are recreational playing sessions in venues that encourage improvisational exploration.
      3. During the 1940s, the jam session went public but remains informal.
      4. Heads are short and emphasis is on improvisation; typically, horns improvise first, then the rhythm section.
      5. Drum solos can be open-ended or keep to the form of the cycle.

Chapter 2 Jukebox