Topic: jazz ... art, science, both ?  (Read 7759 times)

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Offline Mark Schlipper

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jazz ... art, science, both ?
« on: July 31, 2002, 01:55 PM »
another can o' worms from the desk of 563 :)

so im reading the new issue of guitar player, theres a brief interview with Mike Miller, Zappa alumni, and he makes a statement in there about jazz that got me thinking.  so i thought id throw it out there for discussion.

"Jazz oriented stuff is more about the science of music - juggling times and tonalities."

as any of you who have noticed my signature can probably guess,  im kinda put off by this comment.  im sure he's not denying the art of jazz, his background is littered with it.  but it seems to me that this take on jazz is that its primarily about the theory, not the (for lack of better terms) heart.  

this seems to be a relatively common mode of thinking.  but what about people like coltrane?  was his playing anything other than absolutely visceral?  sure he knew his theory, and sure he applied it.  but it wasnt about the theory, it was about the soul and spirituality of the music.  

then you have guys like ornette coleman (why is it always sax players :)) obviously he took the science of music and worked with it, but does that make his music simply an exercise in theory?  

ill open it a bit larger here.  lets take what would be considered intellectual or art music as a whole (jazz, prog, avant garde, etc).  is it possible for this music, however steeped in science in its construction, to be emotionally moving ?

to me? yes.  sure i like the pure physical/emotional vibe of a good rock, pop, or metal band.   but i also get the same satisfaction listening to Univers Zero (70's belgian chamber prog), Anthony Braxton and Derek Bailey (avant/jazz, composed sax and improv guitar respectively).  

whats your perspective as a musician and/or music fan?
Making bad art.  Saying stupid things.  Implimenting my master plan to be forgotten when I'm gone and forgettable while I'm here.

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BAnimalG

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2002, 02:01 PM »
I play Rock, but my all time favorite kind of music to play is, without a doubt, Jazz.  My humble opinion, it is both an art and a science.  I love it!   :)

BO733

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2002, 04:00 PM »
I can say without a doubt that there is more than one correct answer to this debacle. A science? An art? I can understand the science aspect of it, especially coming from someone who has played with Zappa (or did play) because there was construction and definate orchestration. But within that orchestration, there has to be some form of intrinsic "art". They both co-exist mutually, but not exclusive. In jazz, i.e. Coltrane (in my opinion) the art is in the "soul" of the music or rather what comes out as a result of a set of constructs.

I have an analogy that might explain my opinion a little more. It's similar to language. If you ask someone to speak english and explain white paint to someone they  might say, "this is white paint." But, for instance, if you ask someone else that same question, the response could be more of a "artistic" or creative approach like "This is textured, enamel, fortified with vitamin D, chuncky, white paint." That's not really a good example. But, what I'm trying to express is that within the construct "music" there are a variety of approaches, each varying with the different artist(s).

That is a huge can,  Mr... I wonder that myself, but I think they coexist mutually but not mutually exclusive of one another. ???

BO733

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2002, 04:36 PM »
So now my brain is buzzing with ideas, but I won't bore you with the details. What is art? What is science? The philosophy behind all of this is what is intriguing.

I can only bend my brain so far without it hurting!! But perception and perspective have a lot to do with this discussion. One person's art is another's science. But what are those "things". Art is a term to describe what? A feeling, a sense, an aesthetic? And science -- the disection of thought as opposed to the actual thought? Man -- 563, philosophy. That's all I can say. "Thought-stuff" .... very strange indeed.

Jazzman

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2002, 09:51 PM »
There was another forum that had the same question in it I believe....I answered that one but will probably change my mind here.

I believe that Jazz is an art.  The science part are the tools that you use to describe the art of Jazz.  Many instruments are used in the art of playing Jazz, which is the science part.  Making it sound like the defination of Jazz is an art.

Kick boxing is an art, KunFu is an art.  The use of the feet and hands to describe the art is the science. ::)

I think any art that is started out that way can be broken down into a science to teach.

Geez.......I think I just gave myself a headache :P

My fade out.......

Jazzman...... 8)


sidereal

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2002, 12:14 AM »
To me the science of jazz preceeds the art that is to follow. There are rules to proper jazz. One must study and learn through focused and dedicated repetition, and more repetition, and even more repetition. Finally, one achieves some sort of foundation. If the science is good, the foundation is solid. This is pretty much the scientific method, just replace different words up there.

But it don't stop there. Once you've got the science of it, you're then free to express and be an artist on your instrument.

Great topic!

Offline Mark Schlipper

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2002, 12:51 AM »
jim & jazzman, how do you define "proper jazz" ? what is the "definition of jazz" ?

i played upright bass in a group called teleologic (we have tracks on mp3.com for referance) that i would consider "jazz" ... granted its not really trad :)  but i would still consider it jazz.  and ive never had a lesson on upright (my bass guitar lessons were limited and long ago).  heres the clincher ... would you know that if i hadnt told you ;)  i guess you could say that i studied by listening to others, but i dont know anything about any "rules" ... then again, i am the guy that likes rashied ali better than elvin jones :)

and jim i think you are 100% right on that last bit and not enough players seem to get that ... "But it don't stop there. Once you've got the science of it, you're then free to express and be an artist on your instrument."  i run into so many people that are "trapped" by thier lessons.  


by the way, this doesnt have to be all about jazz (that was just what spawned my thinking), i wanted it to cover all types of "intellectual" music as well so feel free to go further :)


glad you like the topic, i spend a lot of time thinking about my music.   be it reading, playing, listening, or hanging on the boards, i can always learn something.  and these types of issues come up in my world.  so i hash 'em out with you guys :)
Making bad art.  Saying stupid things.  Implimenting my master plan to be forgotten when I'm gone and forgettable while I'm here.

The Luna Moth
me
Perish the Island

SteveG

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2002, 06:36 AM »
It is no longer art once science supersedes feel. Joe Morello ALWAYS stresses that your playing must remain musical in all situations.  

sidereal

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2002, 10:06 AM »
It is no longer art once science supersedes feel. Joe Morello ALWAYS stresses that your playing must remain musical in all situations.  

I don't think that what Joe is saying debunks the notion that it's science that preceeds it. Of course it's always musical. The goal of the science (science must have an objective) is to be musical.

Offline Mark Schlipper

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2002, 11:30 AM »
"The goal of the science (science must have an objective) is to be musical. "

my thoughts exactly ... cant science have "feel" ?
Making bad art.  Saying stupid things.  Implimenting my master plan to be forgotten when I'm gone and forgettable while I'm here.

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felix

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2002, 12:35 PM »
The backbone of Jazz drumming to me is self expression  in a swung eighth feel that straightens out the faster it gets...if you fuse it any other way it's fusion music with whatever you are going for...it isn't science of any sort...especially rocket science.  I suppose you could make it that way, but to me, that is a bunch of horsefeathers.  You could be spending time practicing your kit/craft instead of doing logrhythms.  Music is more simple math than science anyways.  And even the "science" of acoustics is based on math.

Your technique and it's limitations will define your artistic boundaries and self expression.  Feel is overrated.  It either feels good or it doesn't.  Bad feel or good feel is usually determined by talent/lack of talent, experience, your musicians, your current blood alcohol level, whatever.  There are way too many variables to make it a science.  It's an art, keep it that way...it's more fun.  Especially if you "experiment" there's your science gang.  Experiment on other peoples' ears LOL.

BTW musicality is totally a relative statement.  Joe Morello saying that you should play jazz musically in all situations...that's a total BULLPUCKEY statement.  What the hell does that mean?  I'm not taking anything away from his playing BUT  I don't eat that one at all.  "Well here the piano is playing an e minor run so for you to play musically play a similar rhythm on the ride cymbal"...THAT IS CRAP.

Offline Mark Schlipper

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2002, 12:56 PM »
"BTW musicality is totally a relative statement"

i was doing an electronics set (old oscillaotors, shortwaves, field recordings of folk music of various ethnicities, etc) at a gallery once, and one of the artists croneys asked me if i could play something more "musical" ... lets just say i did a cover of john cages 4:33 :)
Making bad art.  Saying stupid things.  Implimenting my master plan to be forgotten when I'm gone and forgettable while I'm here.

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SteveG

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2002, 01:43 PM »
Felix, I'll pass your comments onto Joe. Playing musically is playing what supports and complements the other parts. Duh! Pretty simple. What makes a drummer like Jim Keltner great? Think about it.

sidereal

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2002, 03:59 PM »
Man, science gets such a bad rap in today's society. Somehow it's become this sterile, non-intuitive, rigid concept.

Sorry Felix, but in my humble opinion you're way off base.

Tell me how you learned how to play those swung 8th notes? Someone handed you a pair of drumsticks and you sat down on a throne and just felt them? I seriously doubt it.

Science is discipline, trial and error, testing ideas/theories and re-testing them, experimentation, learning new methods, taking a foundation and building upon it with all those things just mentioned. Now... apply those concepts to music.

Offline Mark Schlipper

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2002, 04:16 PM »
Science is discipline, trial and error, testing ideas/theories and re-testing them, experimentation, learning new methods

by that definition i am a scientist.  im in a constant state of testing and experimenting.  but i have no proper training ... so maybe a mad scientist :)

cant it be jazz without swung 8ths?  maybe im taking this too literally, but this "swung 8ths" keeps coming up.  

also, id still like to know what you all think about the idea of "scientific" or "intellectual" music being an emotive art form.  granted i know its all subjective but i get a lot of guff from folks saying the music i dig is too clinical, and dry (usually the glitchy electronic stuff), or just too obtuse (the avant garde stuff).  that it has no feeling.  but to me it does.  
Making bad art.  Saying stupid things.  Implimenting my master plan to be forgotten when I'm gone and forgettable while I'm here.

The Luna Moth
me
Perish the Island

Offline Bob Levey

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2002, 05:35 PM »
You are correct; it takes a lot of heart. If you played with Dizzy and Bird at the tempos they played for as long as they played them and you couldn't cut it you, as my Father (Stan Levey one of the early bop heroes) would say you better find another line of business. It took incredible concentration and heart as you say to play this music but you had to and maybe more today have to know your theory also and you had and have to have great technique.

The general population or music listener also did not accept jazz music and it still is not accepted greatly. It takes a bit of thought and concentration even to listen to it. Trane and those avante guard guys even went farther out there. I think they are always pushing it harmonically and rhythmically to the max. The great ones always are on the edge in both ways and always are taking liberties and extreme risks musically but that is what makes it so interesting and exciting to listen to. The ones that take that left turn when you think their going right, those are the ones for me that make this music just great. You think how the heck did he or she think of that in the spur of the moment, un-rehearsed?

Good Rock, Funk, Classical, Country, whatever is great but it is not jazz.

I think it was the Ken Burns jazz series that I saw Joshua Redman on and he was being interviewed. He asked Elvin Jones whom I love, how do you guys play with such intensity for so long and he just said “you have to be willing to die for the .;////;;;;;.” He was speaking about Trane, Jimmy Garrison, and McCoy Tyner. That to me in my opinion is a lot of heart.

Great post. I was wondering if there were any jazz lovers on this site.


Sincerely,


Bob Levey

Jazzman

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2002, 10:42 PM »
The art of Jazz is the free form part of an expression, while the science is the repeatability part of it.  The reason you can say"Jazz" is because of the repeatability of the expression that conveys the thought of Jazz as opposed to RAP.  It must be repeated in similar form(art) to call it Jazz.......don't ya think?  You can teach art and science, but one (art or Jazz) needed to start first before we could teach it.  We end up putting mathical notations to the art to explain it, then it becomes a science.

OUCH!!!, that hurt :P ;D

Jazzman 8)

felix

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2002, 03:02 AM »
You can tell J.M. whatever you want I could give a hoot.
Play musical in all situations...that is a ridiculous comment.  It's on par with "drive slowly over icy bridge- or be careful, hot beverage."
 
Is playing duple feels in a triple feel musical?  Scientifically no, but Buddy and all those old jazzers used to do it like it was cool.

Ok, I'm done

dissonance

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2002, 04:42 AM »
well my definaition of art is the creation of something that "expresses".  It doesn't matter what it is trying to express eg. an idea, feeling or (political/social) statement...

so what's science?  admittedly I haven't thought about this one as much, but presently I think that science is more to do with discovery of "truths" or "facts".  A hypothsis is thought of and people may use scientific methods of experimentation etc. to find out if their hypothsis is correct.  At least this definition suggests that jazz or any kind of music for that matter has little or nothing to do with "science".  It seems to be implied that the scientific view of Jazz might be about adhereing to certain progessions, systems, techniques and preconceived theory however the point of science is to do the opposite of this and attempt to find out new things.

Do these more "sterile" styles of music convey emotion?  Well, I've thought a lot about that but truthfully I really can't make up my mind.......... :-\

SteveG

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Re:jazz ... art, science, both ?
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2002, 09:05 AM »
 Felix, I was just busting on you saying I was going to tell Joe.  :)

 

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