Jazz Theory: All That Pizzazz (A Research Paper On Jazz Theory And Music Theory)

1469 words - 6 pages

Kevin GehrettMrs. McMillanHonors English 1114 May 2003Jazz Theory: All That PizzazzMusic theory in general is the basic arrangement of notes to form sounds that compose any type of music. Music theory is then broken down into several sub-categories based on the style of the music; for example, there is jazz theory, rock theory, blues theory, etc. This paper focuses on one particular branch of music theory: jazz theory. "Standard music theory is the same/basic theory used and applied by jazz musicians. However, jazz composers take the theory rules and twist them around giving their genre/style of music their own flavor, which puts jazz in a category all by itself" (DeStefano). There are three main areas on which music theory focuses: pitch, intensity, and time; these are the devices which make up music (Jazz Theory).First of all, a brief summary and history of jazz: Jazz was born in the United States around the turn of the century. Jazz combines the styles of African Americans, who brought their musical heritage with them from Africa, with folk music from the United States at the turn of the century (Jazz).Music theory is broken down into several sub-categories that make up music. These categories include notes, chords and harmony.The first area to cover is chords. It is very important to know how to arrange chords and how to create them. A good deal of music composition is based on knowledge of chord structures and arrangements of chords. The simplest chord structure is the triad. A triad consists of three notes. The individual notes in a chord are known as degrees. In a triad, the degrees are one (I) for the first note (known as the root), three (iii) for the second note, and five (V) for the third note. A triad is very easy to learn and play however it is rarely used in jazz compositions (Jazz Theory).The first degree of any scale is known as the root, and it is the main note in the chord. For example, the root in a C chord would be the C. The chords in jazz usually have four degrees: the root (one), three, five, and seven. A chord that is built beyond the seventh degree is called a chord extension (Jazz Theory).Within a chord there are various shifts, which can make the chord major, minor, augmented and/or diminished. A simple example of this is as follows: if one drops the third degree (second note) of a chord one half a step (the distance between any two keys on a piano keyboard), the Cmaj (C major) chord becomes Cmin (C minor).The next area of study is the idea of harmony, or the blending of notes in a chord. Because there are many different ways that one can organize music, different forms of harmony can be created. For example, the tonic area refers to harmony built on the first degree of the scale, which will also be the root of the chord. The subdominant area refers to the fourth degree of the scale or the IV chord. A common harmonization in jazz composition is the chord progression and use of the ii chord or supertonic scale degree,...

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