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Topic: Switching between Classical and Jazz: mindset  (Read 1984 times)

Offline svpiano

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Switching between Classical and Jazz: mindset
on: November 26, 2017, 03:47:45 PM
For those of you who have a strong Classical background and who are equally well interested in Jazz: how do you switch between the two?

Suppose we talk of some basic "Chord-Melody" setting in both Classical and Jazz. First of all, I understand that some terms such as Chord-Melody are inappropriate in the context of strict Classical music terminology as well as some terms will have no particular meaning in the context of Jazz.
What I want to ask you for the purpose of this discussion is to temporarily abandon the strict terminology and focus on the essence of the matter.

Back to the subject. Suppose you have a complete melody (It could be 'I hear a Rhapsody', for instance) and you want to make a simple piano arrangement with mostly block chords ("chorale texture") with some figuration sprinkled in here and there in the upper voice and maybe some rhythmic devices in the lower part for the sake of variety.

In Jazz: You are free to do anything as long as you like the result. If someone doesn't like _your_ result - it's their own problem (and possibly yours if no one wants to listen to your arrangement :-)).

In Classical: When doing an arrangement of the same 'I hear a Rhapsody' according to the Common Practice Period (CPP) rules you are bound to follow a number of restrictions and practices that can limit your choice of harmonies and figuration/rhythmic techniques substantially. I don't suggest that's something bad: that's paying your price for adhering to the CPP style rules.
Some of the limits you'll have: preparation of dissonances (almost all 7th will have to be prepared) with their subsequent strict resolution; practically no presence of the upper extensions (everything above the 7th is out of style); A really important one: restriction on the "inversions" you can use (I assume you may not follow the theory of inversions once conceived by J.P.Rameau; J.S.Bach knew nothing about inversions: he simply knew how to stack intervals above the Root note to make a particular harmony), so you can't place the 5th of a chord in the bass like you would do that in Jazz unless it's a special occasion - not as a rule. Of course you'll be restricted on the use of parallels: no parallel 5ths and octaves.

The major problem that I see is once you immerse yourself into the CPP style rules and learn to appreciate the would-be stupidly restrictive rules (some of which I listed above) there is hardly a way back to the "ignorance" associated with the Jazz culture.
For instance, you begin to hear how ugly the Maj7 chord is: the interval of min 2nd makes it like that.
Another example is the 2nd inversion triad which is readily available in Jazz (though not many would use triads in Jazz) but as I mentioned above is rarely used in CPP style: the 4th above the Root is considered unstable and dissonant and thus not usable as a rule.

I like both Classical and Jazz but I have hard time to reconcile the two approaches: once I set on one of them the other goes out the window.
Please share your thoughts on all this. How do you approach this dilemma if you are like me?

The main problem is not the theory but what you do with your ears: how do you set-up your mind set to accept audible Jazz liberties when you know and HEAR that they are considered ugly in the CPP setting? I find it like falling between two stools...

Offline anamnesis

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Re: Switching between Classical and Jazz: mindset
Reply #1 on: November 26, 2017, 04:35:29 PM
The source of every dissonance is an underlying consonance.  This is one of the underlying mechanisms of how the Western art music tradition has evolved.

https://komponisto.tumblr.com/post/160087428485/early-webern-the-futility-of-chord-theory-and

If you actually follow the entire trajectory of music, and not get stuck in two separate time periods, it will becomes easier for your ear to accept.

This is also how contemporary art music should be approached.  You can't just jump in.  Start with the most approachable works (usually earlier) of a composer before later works that require more effort. You have to trace the evolution of musical thought. 

One interesting set that lets you do this:
 

 

Offline svpiano

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Re: Switching between Classical and Jazz: mindset
Reply #2 on: November 26, 2017, 04:58:32 PM
Oh, I know about the evolution of Western music - that's no problem.
What I'm talking about is something like this: imagine that you go back in time on a time machine into the J.S.Bach/Handel/Telemann period and bring them back with you into the present time to let them "appreciate" the modern music. Once they hear the ugliness of unprepared/unresolved intervals and the abundance of 2nd inversion triads they will beg you to send them back immediately.
You can't easily accept the relaxed rules once you appreciate the strict rules because the relaxed rules will simply break the beauty of strict rules that were developed to make music elegant and delicate, not harsh and rough. In other words you have to go through a kind of cognitive dissonance state in order to "appreciate" what goes against the hearing logic, not the theory logic.

Offline chopinlover01

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Re: Switching between Classical and Jazz: mindset
Reply #3 on: November 26, 2017, 05:43:16 PM
What people get wrong about rules of counterpoint is that they actually treat them like rules. They aren't.

Bach wrote in parallel fifths when it was convenient for him. The reason he didn't usually use them was because they don't give the sound of Bach. In other words, the rules of species counterpoint and CPP writing is descriptive, not prescriptive.

Using jazz "liberties" in CPP music is a bit like wearing a modern suit in the middle ages; you could do it, but you're going to be noticeably out of place and it won't work with the aesthetic. If you wear to design a medieval influenced modern suit (or vice versa, you get the parallel with jazz), you could blend the style, but just taking one thing and applying it to another situation without adapting it first isn't going to work well.

Offline svpiano

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Re: Switching between Classical and Jazz: mindset
Reply #4 on: November 26, 2017, 06:04:23 PM
What people get wrong about rules of counterpoint is that they actually treat them like rules. They aren't.

I can't agree with you. If you open any treatise on composition/music theory of the CPP period you'll see clearly stated warnings against using parallels. Thus the rules were prescriptive. There were some exceptions from the rules like the 'horn 5ths' but they were in minority. CPP composers avoided parallel 5th/8ths for a few reasons:
- they mislead the ear in terms of the current tonal center thus creating ambiguity
- they create an empty sound, in other words they drop one voice in the polyphonic texture
- a few more I can't remember clearly but the two above were enough for the composers to avoid them

Bach wrote in parallel fifths when it was convenient for him. The reason he didn't usually use them was because they don't give the sound of Bach. In other words, the rules of species counterpoint and CPP writing is descriptive, not prescriptive.

I'd say he used them when he couldn't avoid them or otherwise used them for special effects. It's not that he considered them the valid choice in any given situation.

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: Switching between Classical and Jazz: mindset
Reply #5 on: November 27, 2017, 01:25:29 PM
For those of you who have a strong Classical background and who are equally well interested in Jazz: how do you switch between the two?

Suppose we talk of some basic "Chord-Melody" setting in both Classical and Jazz. First of all, I understand that some terms such as Chord-Melody are inappropriate in the context of strict Classical music terminology as well as some terms will have no particular meaning in the context of Jazz.
What I want to ask you for the purpose of this discussion is to temporarily abandon the strict terminology and focus on the essence of the matter.

Back to the subject. Suppose you have a complete melody (It could be 'I hear a Rhapsody', for instance) and you want to make a simple piano arrangement with mostly block chords ("chorale texture") with some figuration sprinkled in here and there in the upper voice and maybe some rhythmic devices in the lower part for the sake of variety.

In Jazz: You are free to do anything as long as you like the result. If someone doesn't like _your_ result - it's their own problem (and possibly yours if no one wants to listen to your arrangement :-)).

In Classical: When doing an arrangement of the same 'I hear a Rhapsody' according to the Common Practice Period (CPP) rules you are bound to follow a number of restrictions and practices that can limit your choice of harmonies and figuration/rhythmic techniques substantially. I don't suggest that's something bad: that's paying your price for adhering to the CPP style rules.
Some of the limits you'll have: preparation of dissonances (almost all 7th will have to be prepared) with their subsequent strict resolution; practically no presence of the upper extensions (everything above the 7th is out of style); A really important one: restriction on the "inversions" you can use (I assume you may not follow the theory of inversions once conceived by J.P.Rameau; J.S.Bach knew nothing about inversions: he simply knew how to stack intervals above the Root note to make a particular harmony), so you can't place the 5th of a chord in the bass like you would do that in Jazz unless it's a special occasion - not as a rule. Of course you'll be restricted on the use of parallels: no parallel 5ths and octaves.

The major problem that I see is once you immerse yourself into the CPP style rules and learn to appreciate the would-be stupidly restrictive rules (some of which I listed above) there is hardly a way back to the "ignorance" associated with the Jazz culture.
For instance, you begin to hear how ugly the Maj7 chord is: the interval of min 2nd makes it like that.
Another example is the 2nd inversion triad which is readily available in Jazz (though not many would use triads in Jazz) but as I mentioned above is rarely used in CPP style: the 4th above the Root is considered unstable and dissonant and thus not usable as a rule.

I like both Classical and Jazz but I have hard time to reconcile the two approaches: once I set on one of them the other goes out the window.
Please share your thoughts on all this. How do you approach this dilemma if you are like me?

The main problem is not the theory but what you do with your ears: how do you set-up your mind set to accept audible Jazz liberties when you know and HEAR that they are considered ugly in the CPP setting? I find it like falling between two stools...

The problem is you are comparing Apples to Oranges but only focused on how they are different. You can also compare what is the same about them.  "Ugly" chords exist  because of how they sound, not because of the rule books.  I have never heard a Maj7 sound ugly.

Offline patrickbcox

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Re: Switching between Classical and Jazz: mindset
Reply #6 on: November 27, 2017, 02:31:45 PM
For those of you who have a strong Classical background and who are equally well interested in Jazz: how do you switch between the two?

Suppose we talk of some basic "Chord-Melody" setting in both Classical and Jazz. First of all, I understand that some terms such as Chord-Melody are inappropriate in the context of strict Classical music terminology as well as some terms will have no particular meaning in the context of Jazz.
What I want to ask you for the purpose of this discussion is to temporarily abandon the strict terminology and focus on the essence of the matter.

Back to the subject. Suppose you have a complete melody (It could be 'I hear a Rhapsody', for instance) and you want to make a simple piano arrangement with mostly block chords ("chorale texture") with some figuration sprinkled in here and there in the upper voice and maybe some rhythmic devices in the lower part for the sake of variety.

In Jazz: You are free to do anything as long as you like the result. If someone doesn't like _your_ result - it's their own problem (and possibly yours if no one wants to listen to your arrangement :-)).

In Classical: When doing an arrangement of the same 'I hear a Rhapsody' according to the Common Practice Period (CPP) rules you are bound to follow a number of restrictions and practices that can limit your choice of harmonies and figuration/rhythmic techniques substantially. I don't suggest that's something bad: that's paying your price for adhering to the CPP style rules.
Some of the limits you'll have: preparation of dissonances (almost all 7th will have to be prepared) with their subsequent strict resolution; practically no presence of the upper extensions (everything above the 7th is out of style); A really important one: restriction on the "inversions" you can use (I assume you may not follow the theory of inversions once conceived by J.P.Rameau; J.S.Bach knew nothing about inversions: he simply knew how to stack intervals above the Root note to make a particular harmony), so you can't place the 5th of a chord in the bass like you would do that in Jazz unless it's a special occasion - not as a rule. Of course you'll be restricted on the use of parallels: no parallel 5ths and octaves.

The major problem that I see is once you immerse yourself into the CPP style rules and learn to appreciate the would-be stupidly restrictive rules (some of which I listed above) there is hardly a way back to the "ignorance" associated with the Jazz culture.
For instance, you begin to hear how ugly the Maj7 chord is: the interval of min 2nd makes it like that.
Another example is the 2nd inversion triad which is readily available in Jazz (though not many would use triads in Jazz) but as I mentioned above is rarely used in CPP style: the 4th above the Root is considered unstable and dissonant and thus not usable as a rule.

I like both Classical and Jazz but I have hard time to reconcile the two approaches: once I set on one of them the other goes out the window.
Please share your thoughts on all this. How do you approach this dilemma if you are like me?

The main problem is not the theory but what you do with your ears: how do you set-up your mind set to accept audible Jazz liberties when you know and HEAR that they are considered ugly in the CPP setting? I find it like falling between two stools...

Hi,
I am sure the issue is my lack of musical understanding but I am a bit confused by your question.  I too enjoy Classical and Jazz and most of my training has been classical in nature and I still enjoy studying and playing classical repertoire, but I am also studying jazz chords and learning to play jazz standards from lead sheets.  So what in these two endeavors are you saying is problematic or challenging?  For me, I am either playing classical music from sheet music or Jazz from either sheet music or a lead sheet where I am playing chords and melody together.  And I know that they are different types of music.  I am sure you are taking this to another level but I am interested in understanding the issues better.

Thanks!
Patrick

Offline chopinlover01

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Re: Switching between Classical and Jazz: mindset
Reply #7 on: November 28, 2017, 05:54:41 AM
I can't agree with you. If you open any treatise on composition/music theory of the CPP period you'll see clearly stated warnings against using parallels. Thus the rules were prescriptive. There were some exceptions from the rules like the 'horn 5ths' but they were in minority. CPP composers avoided parallel 5th/8ths for a few reasons:
- they mislead the ear in terms of the current tonal center thus creating ambiguity
- they create an empty sound, in other words they drop one voice in the polyphonic texture
- a few more I can't remember clearly but the two above were enough for the composers to avoid them
You're correct about these points. The reason you can't have those things you mentioned (the "empty" sound from using parallel fourths, for example, would be essential in 1960s jazz) is because they don't fit the sound of the time.

The treatises are best observed as composers passing on what worked for them to the next generation of composers; the avoidance of the tri-tone in choral music being one of these examples (the commonly cited thing about the Catholic Church banning the tri-tone is false).

The important thing to know is that music did not stem from treatises. Rules did not make music, music made rules.
Quote
I'd say he used them when he couldn't avoid them or otherwise used them for special effects. It's not that he considered them the valid choice in any given situation.

There's a better article for you to read about this here:

https://lukedahn.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/consecutive-5ths-and-octaves-in-bach-chorales/

Offline svpiano

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Re: Switching between Classical and Jazz: mindset
Reply #8 on: November 28, 2017, 12:53:26 PM
It appears to me that you are the only one in this thread so far who interpreted my question at a deeper level, not superficially. Majority will view my problem through the prism of "fun" concept: If you like a piece just play it without trying to understand why it was composed using specific rules and limitations.

I'm mostly interested in improvisation: both Classical and Jazz. With Jazz it's much more easy to approach this subject. In Classical improvisation which now had been brought to a new level of understanding with the recent research efforts it's much easier to make a mistake and make the whole thing sounding incorrect, out of style. Perhaps the majority of potential listeners won't even notice when a 7th interval will be introduced without preparation as a larger than a 2nd interval jump. Some will probably even think: "That's a Cool sound!" while in fact it would be probably more correctly to call it "a harsh and vulgar sound".
The 7th was prepared in the CPP period (though at its earlier stages) for a very specific reason: if it's harsh and rough introduce it with elegance and subtlety.

Once the music went from the noble society into the masses it began to satisfy appetites of people who wanted more surface level fun. Surely the 7th introduced without preparation is much more fun! That's just one of the possible examples that demonstrate how music gradually lost it's grace and elegance.
Take Rag Time for example: what is it? If you approach it without thinking you may think: "What a nice syncopated style!". However if you think deeper you'll realize that it's a very arrogant and vulgar music and at the same time it's so simple and empty that once the syncopation is removed it turns into the worse childish tune that can only be imagined.
(I like Rag Time by the way! It's so cool!)

I said all that only to reiterate: it's very hard to cope with the vulgarisms and liberties of Jazz (and other popular styles for that matter) once you understand the subtleties and depth of the Classical approach.
I'm not against Jazz. In fact I like it's "vulgar and rough" approach (compared to the CPP music) but that's another person in me who likes it that way.
So, you see: these are two different people who need to be reconciled. How to do that?

Lastly I want to clarify my position regarding Jazz as a whole and especially its part that deals with a solo harmonic improvisation. It's an art form and it's not a silly superficial music like Rag Time (which I like for what it's worth). There is not much difference on the voice leading level or general harmonic approach between Jazz and Classical though they certainly differ on a structural level.
What I find difficult when switching between the two is abandoning the subtle rules that were idiomatic to the CPP music. It feels like a contradiction on a deeper level of understanding.

...The treatises are best observed as composers passing on what worked for them to the next generation of composers; the avoidance of the tri-tone in choral music being one of these examples (the commonly cited thing about the Catholic Church banning the tri-tone is false).

The important thing to know is that music did not stem from treatises. Rules did not make music, music made rules.
...
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