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Author Topic: Jazz chord: A thing?  (Read 597 times)

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Offline MandolinPaul

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Jazz chord: A thing?
« on: May 18, 2020, 08:56:49 PM »
Hereís a theory Iíve presented in mixed company in the past. It has been met with everything from healthy skepticism, to basic ignoring, to outright hostility (the latter mostly from people whoíve spent a pile of time learning jazz chords).

Iíve been a solo performer on mandolin and tenor banjo for a few years. I will often play an instrumental verse to a song Iím singing - or licks between lines - while continuing to use notes of the chord as a harmony (however dissonant by times). So if Iím chording in G, I may end up hitting an A or.a C note as part of the melody or lick, while continuing to hit the G, B, and/or D notes as part of that chord. Nothing too wacky there.

My theory: This is what old players originally did, but people tried to express this chordally - and thatís why we ended up with "jazz" chords with all the numbers in them. Someone heard a solo player playing a G chord with an A in it for the melody, and they invented the Gadd9 chord, or sometimes even the G9. As "proof", ask a jazz player to write out the chords for a 12-bar blues song; theyíll end up throwing in a pile of numbers.

When Iíve been feeling particularly vocal about this opinion, Iíve even theorized that there is actually no such thing as any of these complex chords - that they are simply a product of someone trying to express melodic playing via chords. Of course, things have derived from this pattern to get to the point where there is actually a need for some of these chords now (thanks a lot, Charlie Parker!).

To give the full picture, I dislike jazz with all my heart and soul, while loving the blues with just as much vigor.

Since Iím not embroiled in a huge argument about this at the moment, Iím willing to admit that this theory may be - to use a technical term - a bunch of hooey. Or I suppose itís possible that itís true, and I only came to the same conclusion that Iíve never heard millions of other music geeks express.

Thoughts?

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Jazz chord: A thing?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2020, 06:15:46 AM »
Hooeysus#add9 ?

Offline Rivers

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Re: Jazz chord: A thing?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2022, 05:21:39 PM »
"Jazz chords' is a misnomer. They are chord melody chords and as such are not tied to any single genre.

It's just a natural progression. Where you have extended chords you need to write down how they are extended in some way. So-called "jazz chords" are the connective tissue that move you from one key center to the next key center and eventually back to the root, all the while expressing the song's melody, more or less. That's how chord melody operates. And how can anyone possibly dislike jazz?? :)
« Last Edit: January 30, 2022, 05:32:46 PM by Rivers »

Offline MandolinPaul

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Re: Jazz chord: A thing?
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2022, 11:05:06 AM »
Yup. "all the while expressing the song's melody, more or less" is pretty much what I was trying to say in my several paragraphs - but which you described better in a few words. :)

I don't even have to try to dislike jazz; it happens quite effortlessly!

That being said, I have caught myself once in a while enjoying the odd old jazz song, from back before Charlie Parker ruined everything.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Jazz chord: A thing?
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2022, 11:14:35 AM »
Mandolin Paul,
To quote Bob Dylan, "Don't criticize what you can't understand."  Extensions on chords above the seventh are not used simply or even primarily to get chord melody notes. They're mostly used to get interior melodic lines, like tenor and alto parts in choral singing and to provide counterpoint in the middle of harmonic movement. You can ignore all this, though, and remain secure in your opinion and lack of understanding, if that is your preference.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Jazz chord: A thing?
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2022, 03:21:01 PM »
Paul, "Jazz", when you think about it, is a mind-bogglingly diverse genre. As such, it's not a useful collective noun, unless you qualify it with an adjective. So when someone says "jazz", I want to ask "what kind of jazz? Modal jazz, Bebop, gypsy jazz, trad jazz, big band, Western swing, what?" The same applies to "blues" of course.

The casual writing-off all those very different musical forms that happen to have been lumped under the term "jazz" is plain bizarre. As is ascribing its supposed demise to Charlie Parker, or to anyone else for that matter.

I recommend an intensive course of Miles Davis's "Kind Of Blue" album. The track "So What?" and other compositions, work well on mandolin, you may have seen or heard the Grisman / Garcia arrangements on Grisman's Dawg label.

Offline eric

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Re: Jazz chord: A thing?
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2022, 03:59:02 PM »
I have no credentials with regard to the technical aspects of chord theory, except to say that what time I have spent learning how chords work and function (and getting older) has broadened my appreciation of different genres of music.  I particularly admire the discipline and chops of jazz players, and find guys like Miles, Dexter, Monk and Coltrane inspirational. Some of Louis Armstrong's early work is flat out astounding.  Rivers mentioned Kind of Blue - an epic work of Jazz.  Maybe I'll put that on right now...

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Eric

Offline MandolinPaul

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Re: Jazz chord: A thing?
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2022, 07:43:53 PM »
Mandolin Paul,
To quote Bob Dylan, "Don't criticize what you can't understand."  Extensions on chords above the seventh are not used simply or even primarily to get chord melody notes. They're mostly used to get interior melodic lines, like tenor and alto parts in choral singing and to provide counterpoint in the middle of harmonic movement. You can ignore all this, though, and remain secure in your opinion and lack of understanding, if that is your preference.

I have acknowledged that my idea on those chords could be wrong, John - and y'all have backed that up by telling me I am wrong. That's okay; it's what I was looking for by posting this. I haven't criticized jazz or the use of "chords above the seventh". I've merely said I don't like jazz. Finding a genre (or all that I've heard of it) displeasing to my ear doesn't make me an ignoramus.


Paul, "Jazz", when you think about it, is a mind-bogglingly diverse genre. As such, it's not a useful collective noun, unless you qualify it with an adjective. So when someone says "jazz", I want to ask "what kind of jazz? Modal jazz, Bebop, gypsy jazz, trad jazz, big band, Western swing, what?" The same applies to "blues" of course.

The casual writing-off all those very different musical forms that happen to have been lumped under the term "jazz" is plain bizarre. As is ascribing its supposed demise to Charlie Parker, or to anyone else for that matter.

I recommend an intensive course of Miles Davis's "Kind Of Blue" album. The track "So What?" and other compositions, work well on mandolin, you may have seen or heard the Grisman / Garcia arrangements on Grisman's Dawg label.

Yeah, man, I've listened to the Grisman/Garcia "So What?", and I didn't like it. The worst part about not liking jazz is getting it explained and defended, and generally being treated like I'm a buffoon for it. Seriously, dude, if I could make myself like it - and manage to avoid the lectures that I get from jazz fans - please believe me that I would. I have friends who have recommended must-listens that would change my mind. I've given some of them an honest try - and others not so much - and none of it appealed.

And I was making a joke about Charlie Parker. Obviously he was very talented and a visionary, but the lack of a singable melody in his songs is part of why I don't like them.


I have no credentials with regard to the technical aspects of chord theory, except to say that what time I have spent learning how chords work and function (and getting older) has broadened my appreciation of different genres of music.  I particularly admire the discipline and chops of jazz players, and find guys like Miles, Dexter, Monk and Coltrane inspirational. Some of Louis Armstrong's early work is flat out astounding.  Rivers mentioned Kind of Blue - an epic work of Jazz.  Maybe I'll put that on right now...

You're absolutely right. There is a ton of skill-building and education involved in being a jazz player. They know a metric wackload more theory than I ever will, and I like to think I know quite a bit. I think no less of you for enjoying any of those players. :)

 


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