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Jazz and Improvisation
Transcript of Jazz and Improvisation
Because of its variations, which now include international, jazz is very hard to define. Watch and listen to ‘how jazz is born by Danny Kaye’. (More information is available in pdf file on Jazz styles and Artists)
Why is it Jazz?
It acknowledges the history that comes before it. Jazz brought together music from both Africa and Europe. The word “jass” itself was first used to reference ‘cool’ music in slang in Chicago about 1915 e.g ‘lets jass up the dance floor’ till the first ‘recorded’ band called “The Original Dixieland ‘Jass’ Band”. Jazz was born in New Orleans!
Jazz is a doing word, a way of putting things together.
How does jazz differ from other music? What musical elements make jazz distinctive?
God Bless The Child Lead Sheet
Title: God Bless the Child
Composer(s): Billie Holiday and Arthur Hertzog Jnr.
Musicians: Billie Holiday (vocals) and Eddy Heywood and His Orchestra including: Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Jimmy Powell, Lester Boone (alto sax), Ernie Powell (tenor sax), Eddie Heywood, Sr. (piano, leader), Paul Chapman (guitar), Grachan Moncur (bass), Herbert Cowans (drums).
Style: 1930-40s. Jazz Ballad = a jazz standard but tempo is slower and with more feeling, often double time and song form A/A/B/A.
Teaching Concept: Key Centre, Lyrics and Chord Progression.
Time Signature: 4/4
Form: 32-bar Song Form – AABA
Other recordings: A rendition of her classic in her later years, from the Lady In Autumn compilation (1955), From the complete original American Recordings by Decca Billie Holiday with back up singers in 1991. Too many covers to list, here are some videos >>>
Context: Music elective classes of Yr. 9, 10, 11, 12.
Aspiration: To develop knowledge and improvisation proficiencies in a style of jazz and it’s context being form, melody and harmony.
There are many types of chords we are going to use in this song. Some have four notes: dominant chords; sixth chords. Dominant chords basically use a degree from the scale, which has the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of a chord built, with an added 7th note on top. Similarly the sixth chord has the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes built on a degree but with an added major 6th of that chord. Depending on which type of notes used major/minor/diminished the chord will sound different too, happy/sad.
In a 1988 interview, trombonist J. J. Johnson said, "Jazz is restless. It won't stay put and it never will"
How is it jazz?
There is tremendous variety in jazz, but most jazz is very rhythmic and has a forward momentum called "swing". Swing is a rhythmic feel that jazz musicians add to the music. Also any rhythm changes are important to listen to in a jazz song.
Syncopation: A deliberate shift of the accent (off-beat) to conflict with the steady beat. The simplest and best example is the back beat.
Instrumentation: orchestral and brass band instruments. Depending on the style, the usual jazz band has a rhythm section: piano, upright bass or tuba, guitar or banjo and drums, and a front-line group or ‘horns’ such as trumpets, trombones (using different mutes like a Harmon mute), clarinets and saxophones.
A lead sheet contains core information for jazz musicians and bands to play famous jazz songs/standards. A collection of lead sheets can be found in a ‘fakebook’. Each song contains the melody line and chords the minimal information needed by a musician to make an impromptu arrangement of a song, or "fake it." A lead sheet looks like this….
There is a ‘fakebook’ called ‘The Realbook’!
Jazz uses scales, pentatonic scales, modes, and in modern jazz no scales at all. But often it uses a scale of its own, called the Blues Scale consisting of notes from the major scale with a lowered 3rd, 7th and sometimes 6th. These are called blue notes.
Creating a conversation between bass and melody player using chords is the basis of jazz. Most jazz music is based on harmonic chords I, V, V7, IV, ii. Using ii-V7′s and turnarounds, a quick circle of fifths progression (iii-VI-ii-V7) at the Bridge section.
The backing band or rhythm section usually improvises the accompaniment based on standard forms and chords. It can be a single performer on piano, guitar, bass, violin and percussion in jazz or an ensemble playing a written arrangement. You can often hear "call--and--response" patterns in jazz, in which one instrument, voice, or part of the band answers another.
In swing jazz the bass line is created using a continuous sequence of quarter notes (crotchets) called “walking bass line” or the ‘four feel’. It uses a mixture of scale tones, arpeggios, bass runs (fills or breaks) and passing tones outlining the chord progression of a song which can be V, I.
The tone colours of jazz (vocal and instrumental) are special. Vocal based on African folk singing and instrumental sounds, really an extension of the ‘voice’ coming out of a horn. Growls, rasps, and glissandi are imitated. Instruments like trumpets and trombones may use mutes like the ‘wah –wah’ and Harmon mute while the saxophone already has a breathy, hoarse vibrato suitable for jazz. Watch and listen to this vocalist from 7:00!
Most common is the jazz 12 bar Blues form (AAB) where B is the resolution and uses chords I, IV, V only.
Most prominent also is the 32 bar Song form (AABA) or jazz ballad, with 8 bar sections and the B section being the Bridge, it explores the concept of contrast and repetition. In addition to a change in the melody, this contrast in the bridge (or section B) can include changes in the rhythm, the accompaniment, and often the key. E.g.: Flintstones song for basic understanding.
From the 1948 movie "A Song is Born" with Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo featuring: Benny Goodman (clarinet), Louis Armstrong (trumpet), Lionel Hampton (vibes), Charlie Barnet (tenor sax), Tommy Dorsey (trombone), Mel Powell (piano), Alton Hendrickson (guitar), Louis Bellson (drums), Harry Babasin (bass), Russo & the Samba Kings, Golden Gate Quartet (vocals)
Introduction: A 3 and a half bar introduction played by both melody and harmony 1/2 instruments comprising a syncopated rhythm, outlining a shorter version of the notes in the verse. The melody has the harmony rhythm and pitch in retrograde. The drums play swung quavers on the hi-hats with the bass.
Melody: The lyrics are to be sung or notes played by treble instruments in any transposition and contains repeated leitmotifs, ascending and descending a third by step, followed by a downward skip and a leap. “B” is a series of descending minor thirds until the last two measures before “A” returns. The melodic ideas are mostly repeated and transposed.
Accompanying lines: The horns (split into harmony 1 and 2) and piano section now takes back its accompanying role and provide answers to the questions like call and response creating a conversation with the vocalist, filling in the melodic spaces using chord tones. The bass provides a 2 beat progression of IV-I ‘plagal’ and V-I. Guitar tabs provided and drum notation with 2nd and 4th beat accents.
Form: In AABA form, each A section contains a ‘verse’ and ‘chorus’ like in popular music. Between a new section A/A/B/A is what’s called a ‘turnaround’ – a brief circle of fifths progression. Section A repeats till section B which introduces new material for 8 bars in the minor key like a Bridge in popular music, returning to the major tonality in section A with a verse and chorus again.
Ending: The coda for my arrangement is based on a bluesy cliché ii-V-I progression.
These chords are derived from their ‘parent scale’ and usually a Major or Harmonic minor. Hence the ‘key centre’ is Eb, using the EbMajor scale (section A) and its relative harmonic minor C (section B)
The notes that we will be using for this song will be derived from this and used for improvisation.
In the A section of the song, improvisations can be done using the Eb Major scale, Eb Major pentatonic scale, F Dorian minor mode or Dorian mode in Bb where Bb appears in the verses.
In the B section Chorus, improvisations can be done using the C harmonic minor scale, C Aeolian mode (natural minor) and C minor pentatonic scale.
Using these scales, we can re-order the notes to create new ideas and phrases.