They Got It From Jazz

It’s Jazz Part 5

They Got It From Jazz

In some ways, today’s Top 40 rock and pop tunes would seem to be the opposite of what jazz is all about. Jazz is very much concerned with improvisation – with musicians who spontaneously “take off” on a musical theme, not always knowing where they’re going to wind up.

Top 40 radio plays the same exact tune again and again until listeners buy it or tire of it.

Jazz and rock seem very different, don’t they?…Until you look deeper.

One reason why some of today’s Top 40 tunes stand up to repeated listening is that the best songs have that spontaneous feeling that jazz music also conveys. Though you may know exactly how the song goes, it sill seems fresh getting there.

Much of today’s Top 40 music plays around with rhythms, There may be a driving beat, but there are a lot of side beats and bounces along the way.

The songs also play around with harmony, with rough and smooth qualities, with instrumental solos, with chanting, with sudden switches in loud and soft, with extended repeated phrases, with the blues, with gospel music, with brassy or wailing endings, with putting together different styles of music.

So does jazz. In fact, pop and rock music owe a lot of their ideas, sounds and methods to the musical influences we loosely band together and call jazz.