Piano Forum



Vexations - Was Igor Levit's Lonely Stroll Too Long?
In a bid to raise awareness of all musicians who have been silenced by the coronavirus pandemic, finding themselves suddenly out of work, pianist Igor Levit performed Erik Satie's piano piece Vexations in a 15-hour long virtual performance on May 30. Read more >>

Topic: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?  (Read 2638 times)

Offline mikebat321

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 24
WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
on: June 12, 2017, 11:03:00 PM

I love proposing this question to people- we have basically the same piano, the same format, same black and white keys (ish)- and its relatively simple for us to play a basic jazz funk. So the question is, Bach/Mozart/Beethoven (BMB) are generally accepted as god-like geniuses: So do you think they ever played jazz funk?? Even a really basic one. Do you think they were CAPABLE of playing it? But just thought it was stupid or rubbish, or socially unacceptable? And Im not talking about the boogie woogie in Beethovens last Cmajor sonata- Im talking a proper jazz funk rhythm on a proper jazz funk chord (eg, C in the bass, right hand playing Enatural Bb and Eb!). Or do you think BMB were absolutely not capable of such a thing- that they were NOT EVOLVED enough to even comprehend it, which of course begs the question- what are WE not evolved enough right now to comprehend what may be a musical norm sometime in the future.

We need to ask The Doctor!

Mike

Offline ted

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3986
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #1 on: June 13, 2017, 12:04:50 AM
I have often speculated about this and have come to the conclusion that the question itself is in some way flawed, but I am not sure exactly how. Perhaps because it is insufficient to discover something; one also has to be aware that a discovery has been made. Ambient memetic habits tend to foster a desire for some sort of universal stability or magisterium, which discourages any reaching out in the languages of the arts. Your particular example, I suspect, is mostly due to the perception of rhythm, as distinct from the other, more easily analysed elements. Western music was pretty hidebound (it still is) by those rhythms expressible in notation, which are very few. Even improvisation was probably done to emulate notatable rhythms. The rhythms which came into being through jazz and which existed  in music of other cultures cannot be notated at all beyond a rudimentary approximation. Moreover, notation was the only way to imbue permanence to musical product, so it attained a tyranny over music through rhythm.

I suppose this is as good a guess as anybody's.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline mikebat321

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 24
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #2 on: June 13, 2017, 12:22:38 AM
Very fascinating Ted, but could you take the leap and answer the proposed question- do you think they ever played proper jazz funk? Do you think they were capable? Yes or no, and why?

Mike

Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #3 on: June 13, 2017, 12:27:10 AM
Beethoven op 111 piano sonata 2nd movement 3rd variation sounds like boogie-woogie, jazz ragtime to me.  My theory is if he lived long enough to write a 33rd piano sonata, he would have invented jazz-funk.  ;)

Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #4 on: June 13, 2017, 12:46:45 AM
Very fascinating Ted, but could you take the leap and answer the proposed question- do you think they ever played proper jazz funk? Do you think they were capable? Yes or no, and why?

Mike


I'm not Ted.  Here are my answers in regard to Beethoven:  Q: Do I think Beethoven ever played jazz funk?  A: Probably not but perhaps he improvised in the style of jazz funk.  Q: Do you think he (Beethoven) was capable (of playing proper jazz funk)? Yes or No, and why. A: No, because he died prior to inventing the style.  But it is possible that he invented the style prior to his death.  He may have improvised in Jazz funk or he wrote a 33rd piano sonata in jazz funk but the music was lost.  ;)

Offline ted

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3986
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #5 on: June 13, 2017, 12:52:45 AM
Very fascinating Ted, but could you take the leap and answer the proposed question- do you think they ever played proper jazz funk? Do you think they were capable? Yes or no, and why?

Mike

My guess is no, they wouldn't have actually played it, mainly because of the rhythmic aspect. Yes, I imagine they would have been capable, it just wouldn't have occurred to them to try it.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #6 on: June 13, 2017, 01:55:50 AM
My guess is no, they wouldn't have actually played it, mainly because of the rhythmic aspect. Yes, I imagine they would have been capable, it just wouldn't have occurred to them to try it.

He invented boogie-woogie rhythm (see time 16:02 on attached op 111 sonata no 32).  Why couldn't he invent jazz funk rhythm?  Just asking.


Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #7 on: June 13, 2017, 04:27:18 AM
I have a bad habit of responding to posts without really reading the original post.  I read the original post just now.  I also have questions:

Do you think Beethoven ever played the Brahms piano sonata #3, op. 5?  If no, does this mean Beethoven was not capable of understanding this work?  Also, Beethoven’s last C major sonata = op.53?

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1587
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #8 on: June 13, 2017, 06:43:51 AM
You don't get music.  It's about the society of the day.  You need to ask - why weren't people listening to Jazz funk in the 18th century.  There is a whole world of 18th century 'pop' you're unaware of.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline mjames

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2553
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #9 on: June 13, 2017, 07:05:36 AM
This is like asking why Sir Isaac Newton didn't immediately skip to general relativity. The tools required to develop jazz didn't exist yet, that and the various social circumstances integral to early jazz were not present  in 18th/19th century central Europe. One of them being the slavery of Africans, which played an important role in fusing exotic African and European musical traditions.

Offline mikebat321

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 24
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #10 on: June 13, 2017, 08:16:00 AM
You know there's a book called The History of the World in 100 Objects, and on the hand-axe it suggests that it took Neanderthal Man thousands of years just to figure out how to put a handle on a sharpened stone! So following this idea one can postulate that BMB never played proper jazz funk simply because they were not evolved enough. I know my question is a bit redundant, because if you expand its logic you can say things like well why didn't Shakespeare write the Harry Potter books, or why didn't Plato write Mills & Boon (lol). Why didn't anyone in history come up with something someone else in their same field came up with way in the future?

But it just strikes me that most of us here can bash out a basic jazz funk, or bosanova, or 12-bar blues, or just a basic walking swing bass. It seems so obvious to us musicians to do that, so integral. So easy. Its so integral to world culture now that its really hard to imagine a world where none[/i] of that existed. Where it just wasnt in people's minds at all. So it goes against the grain to say that BMB just weren't capable at all of these things. But if you think they were, then why didn't they write it..??

The argument goes round in circles methinks..

Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #11 on: June 13, 2017, 01:58:23 PM

Why didn't anyone in history come up with something someone else in their same field came up with way in the future?


I think this question is the main question that needs answered here in this thread.  Good question.  If we had time machines, someone could travel to the future, listen to and learn the music of the year 2350, travel back to 2017 and you will have your “someone in history that come up with something someone else in their same field came up with way in the future”.  So maybe the real questions are: Why can't we travel time like we can travel space? Why don’t we have time machines?  Are they even possible?  Say we can travel forward in time, what good will it be to the present if we are not able to travel back in time?

Offline mikebat321

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 24
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #12 on: June 13, 2017, 02:20:47 PM
I think I hear the sound of the Tardis...

Offline ahinton

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 12144
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #13 on: June 13, 2017, 07:15:32 PM
Why do people here ask such ineffably silly questions?

Since you ask...

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline brogers70

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1591
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #14 on: June 13, 2017, 09:38:38 PM
Why do people here ask such ineffably silly questions?

Since you ask...

Best,

Alistair

Actually, I think the question was effably silly.

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3875
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #15 on: June 13, 2017, 11:36:24 PM
Why didn't Bach play jazz funk?  For the same reason that Bach didn't use the telephone.  It had not yet been invented.

Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #16 on: June 14, 2017, 12:30:39 AM
Why didn't Bach play jazz funk?  For the same reason that Bach didn't use the telephone.  It had not yet been invented.

Yes, but you are forgetting about the possibility of time travel.  It would be hard to bring back from the future a working phone, but Bach could learn jazz funk and then return back to 1740 and play it on his harpsichord. ;)

Offline mjames

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2553
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #17 on: June 14, 2017, 12:43:10 AM
So following this idea one can postulate that BMB never played proper jazz funk simply because they were not evolved enough.

Except your postulation contradicts evidence. Human cognitive ability has not had any significant changes for the past ~100,000 years. You can take an early modern human child from 80,000 BCE and easily raise him to speak/write modern languages, learn differential calculus, physics, and teach him how to play Chopin's ballades.

Human knowledge and ideas are constantly built on preexisting ones, the conditions and ideas that built early jazz music did not exist in 18th century Europe. It's that simple. It has nothing to do with 18th century Europeans being "less evolved" (a nonsense term, really) than contemporary humans.

Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #18 on: June 14, 2017, 01:10:55 AM
^ +1. 

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1587
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #19 on: June 14, 2017, 04:53:23 AM
Yes, but you are forgetting about the possibility of time travel.  It would be hard to bring back from the future a working phone, but Bach could learn jazz funk and then return back to 1740 and play it on his harpsichord. ;)
There already was a strumming left hand style of keyboard music.  Bach turned his nose up at it.  As a devout lutheran he woudn't have been into such seditious things.  The vast majority in the history of keyboard music played popular crap! (as most jazz/funk is)
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 8211
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #20 on: June 14, 2017, 08:17:30 AM
This is like asking why Sir Isaac Newton didn't immediately skip to general relativity. The tools required to develop jazz didn't exist yet, that and the various social circumstances integral to early jazz were not present  in 18th/19th century central Europe. One of them being the slavery of Africans, which played an important role in fusing exotic African and European musical traditions.

I am fairly certain that the fusion of African and European music would have happened in some form anyway at one point in history and globalization. The rhythms of African music are just so inviting to the human nature. The development and the products may have been different though. In no way could I feel ok about the history of black people in America,  but at the same time the music that evolved from the situation has always been very important to me.

Offline mikebat321

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 24
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #21 on: June 14, 2017, 10:27:08 AM

What I cant quite get my head around is the fact for us today to play a really basic jazz funk rhythm is SO EASY, or a basic reggae is SO EASY, or a basic swing is SO EASY. So WHY WHY didnt it come just as easily into the minds of these god-like genuises. I mean BMB created works a thousand times more complex than a basic jazz funk rhythm, so why did they never get this comparatively utter simplicity. That's what gets me.

Offline mikebat321

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 24
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #22 on: June 14, 2017, 10:36:27 AM

For instance, and this is just off the top of my head, playing just four notes C-F with a bouncy swing rhythm, and an accent on F.

There that's it.

Now are you honestly going to tell me that this NEVER occurred to BMB..?? Really??

Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #23 on: June 14, 2017, 02:31:05 PM
For instance, and this is just off the top of my head, playing just four notes C-F with a bouncy swing rhythm, and an accent on F.

There that's it.

Now are you honestly going to tell me that this NEVER occurred to BMB..?? Really??

If you want to know what occurred to BMB, listen to their music.  Do you hear your above described music in any of their works?

I think other posters here have done well to answer questions here, although perhaps not completely.  I would also add that there is a RANDOM nature to progress.  For example, Pythagorus postulated that the correct ratio of frequencies for the perfect 5th is 1.5.  This tuning system remained in place for close to two thousand years. The 4ths, 5ths and octaves all sounded great but unfortunately the tuning system resulted in ugly thirds.  And so for close to 2 thousand years composers avoided the ugly thirds and built chords on 4ths and 5ths instead of triads.  Had the correct frequency ratio of 2^(7/12) = about 1.4983 been used for 5ths, music would have developed in a completely different way.  

What??  Are you honestly going to tell me that for almost 2000 years no one thought about tempering the perfect 5th?  ;)

Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #24 on: June 16, 2017, 03:47:58 AM
For instance, and this is just off the top of my head, playing just four notes C-F with a bouncy swing rhythm, and an accent on F.

There that's it.

Now are you honestly going to tell me that this NEVER occurred to BMB..?? Really??

Sorry to revive this.  I thought someone was going to mention the last mvt (Rondo) of the Beethoven op 28 sonata (Pastoral) in D major.  This is what immediately came to my mind when I read the above, although the key is different.  Maybe this is not what you had in mind.

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1587
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #25 on: June 16, 2017, 05:13:06 AM
Also there's the sexual element.  Bach/Mozart/Beethoven would have had nothing to do with that.  They would have found it artistically gross (though Mozart wouldn't have thought twice about hanging out in bars).  Sex in classical music starts with Wagner - even then very mild in comparison to race records.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline chopinlover01

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2117
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #26 on: June 16, 2017, 03:31:20 PM
Because the rhythm of 99.9% of music you hear on the radio today (including ALL jazz, blues, rock, R&B, soul, pop, etc) is based on African drum beats.

Beethoven's last sonata has one boogie-woogie type variation, and it sounds like jazz. This is true. That said, this variation was not the same as incorporating a whole new sense of rhythm into music.

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1587
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #27 on: June 16, 2017, 04:00:48 PM
Agreed.  Pop music, apart from Connie Francis, is African music.  You want to watch the original Hair Spray.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1587
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #28 on: June 16, 2017, 04:03:04 PM
Agreed.  Pop music, apart from Connie Francis, is African music.  You want to watch the original Hairspray.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline mikebat321

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 24
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #29 on: June 16, 2017, 08:32:33 PM
Thanks for your input guys, very thought provoking. Yes I know bouncy music did exist long time before BMB, for instance Sumer Is Icumen In, an ancient English polyphonic round from the mid-13th Century, which is extremely bouncy to say the least. I think Im inclined to say that BMB were perfectly capable of playing swing-time, or reggae, but didnt think to include it in their writing because they were so busy just doing their own thing. Thats the same for modern composers too, Rachmaninov, who Im sure was very aware of proper jazz and swing-time, again didn't actually write it because he was too busy doing his own thing. But I do like to think that BMB actually did play proper jazz and swing-time etc, but didnt incorperate it into their output because it just wasnt who they were, both as individuals or as part of their society. Beethoven of course officially started breaking into it right at the end of his life. Reflecting on the Socratic question 'is it better to be the best in one thing, or moderate in many things?' BMB were clearly examples of the former- they were who they were, did their own particular thing, and they took that ball and ran with it literally into orbit. I agree with some suggestions that there were lesser known composers who were more 'moderate in many things', such as the Baroque composer Baldassare Galuppi. Some of his harpsichord sonatas are literally like Chopin, incredible. Also just as a reflection, I think one must take into account the Jungian global collective consciousness, which of course can be tapped into as an artist. I really dont think exposure to other cultures is the be-all-and-end-all of creating ground breaking or revolutionary ideas which dont appear at the onset to part of your own culture, quote unquote.

Offline chopinlover01

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2117
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #30 on: June 16, 2017, 08:54:54 PM
Again, you're making the mistake of conflating a composer dipping their toe into a style with complete mastery of the style.

The origin of swing is with African rhythms. That Beethoven figured this out a little bit himself doesn't mean he or anyone else in Western Europe could play funk or reggae, both of which hadn't been invented yet. You also forget that the traditional system of harmony is pretty different from jazz and reggae in the functional aspects. There's also a fundamental difference in how harmony is used; in jazz, especially "cool jazz" like Paul Desmond, Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" and Bill Evans' stuff, harmonically interesting chords are used for a mood, rather than tension/release. A dom 7 b9 is used often in jazz and classical to build tension, but you'll rarely ever find a major 7 #11 used in classical (which is a pretty standard example of "jazz harmony")

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1587
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #31 on: June 17, 2017, 06:45:17 AM
There's also a fundamental difference in how harmony is used; in jazz, especially "cool jazz" like Paul Desmond, Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" and Bill Evans' stuff, harmonically interesting chords are used for a mood, rather than tension/release. A dom 7 b9 is used often in jazz and classical to build tension, but you'll rarely ever find a major 7 #11 used in classical (which is a pretty standard example of "jazz harmony")
Exactly.  The idea that there is a static 'catalogue' of moods that composer's call upon is erroneous.  Composers create the moods of their era - that's the point.  Miles Davis, under the influence of his time, created feelings/moods that didn't (and couldn't) exist in prior times.  It's human cultural EVOLUTION.  You may as well ask 'Why didn't dinosaurs give birth to live young.'  These thoughts do make the question quite an exciting one.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline nw746

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 92
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #32 on: June 17, 2017, 07:15:25 AM
They just weren't that into it! Beethoven preferred gospel and soul, believing jazz funk to be too commercialised. Mozart was pretty heavily into thrash metal, grindcore and screamo, especially once he got into the Paris scene, whereas Bach's first and greatest love was prog rock—as a young man he walked 200 miles, in the snow, to hear Radiohead play. This is all well documented. Come on, people, read a history book or two ::)

Offline cuberdrift

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 596
Re: WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?
Reply #33 on: June 21, 2017, 03:31:07 AM
I don't understand.

Of course they didn't because it didn't exist yet.
For more information about this topic, click search below!
 

Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert