• Register
  • Help
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Topic: Jazz In Film Music

  1. #1

    Jazz In Film Music

    hi ......do u think it's important to ear or study jazz for composing film music? tnx

  2. #2

    Re: Jazz In Film Music

    ...studing jazz is aldready important....it's music of the '900...

  3. #3

    Re: Jazz In Film Music

    It's important to study all music!

    ('Film music' is simply music that you hear in films.)

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: Jazz In Film Music

    Necessary? No. Important? Perhaps not even important.

    This artificial separation of "film music" from music in general, though, is disturbing to me.

    If you want to be a master musician, then you need to achieve mastery. If you don't, no big deal. So, it's really all about you. Do you desire to be a master of your craft? Then you'll study jazz, Balinese gamelon, and everything in between...and whether you actually learn to perform this music or just know its origins and its constructs, you will have educated yourself enough to hopefully avoid committing mistakes of artistic rape upon it.

    Want to know the origins of Jazz? Pretty easy stuff. Mostly black American musicians would gather in after-hours clubs, and "jam" on the music that they played in their society gigs. This became the model for the "head--solos--head" construct that still exists on most jazz gigs today.

    The music was unnamed, until people started calling it "that jass music" to describe it. Jazz or Jass as it was sometimes spelled at the time, was black American slang for "screwing." This was a description of the sounds made by the improvising horn players, akin to the listener to the cries and moans of the horizontal mambo.

    The name stuck, the music progressed. At the heart of all Jazz is the act of improvisation. Those who are more invested in the music tend to believe that without the element of improvisation, the phenomenon of Jazz does not exist--the music is merely jazzy-sounding music, but not truly Jazz in the spirit of a realtime, spontaneous musical creation.

    So, there are two ways of looking at the necessity of studying Jazz as it applies to the composing of film music.

    The first is obvious. If you want to sound as if you know what you are doing, then yes, you need to study jazz. It is a complex and tricky form of music to master, even to make it ***sound*** jazzy. Most people make the mistake of believing that Swing (a form of pop music that was jazzy, but rarely purely improvised) is the essence of jazz. In its time, Swing did indeed incorporate the essence of jazz, but 3/4 of a century has passed since the heyday of swing. Jazz has continued to evolve, through the swing era, and through today.

    Modern jazz tends towards harmonic aloofness. Whether this is post-bop extended harmony, or the tendency of what people call "smooth" jazz to rely heavily on suspensions, you don't find a lot of hard-landing cadences. Jazz solos tend to spiral--they don't resolve on cadences, instead playing through the cadences, and beginning and ending phrases in areas of greater tension.

    Obviously I could write a book here and still not inform very much, since one could write an entire library about jazz and fail to inform very much. It is like all truly recognizable artforms...in its uniqueness and approach, it simply is. You know it when you hear it, and you certainly know it when you hear someone who can't (or doesn't) understand it.

    The only way to actually learn jazz is to play jazz. No different than riding bicycles or screwing. No amount of education replaces the sacramental participation...although many fine players have written about jazz, and everything they've written tends to illuminate and help you along your path. But ultimately, it's a path you either walk or you don't. Without knowing the physicality of the music, it is incredibly difficult to grasp its flow.

  5. #5

    Re: Jazz In Film Music

    I could not agree with you more Bruce. Your posts are always a joy to read.

    Alternatively, one could always just study the taiko drums and french horns. Remember to overcompress and use L3 though kiddies.

  6. #6

    Re: Jazz In Film Music

    Quote Originally Posted by panzerD
    Alternatively, one could always just study the taiko drums and french horns.
    Sad but true!

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  7. #7

    Re: Jazz In Film Music

    No amount of education replaces the sacramental participation
    I agree with this wholeheartedly.
    It is perhaps not necesaarry to achieve total playing Mastery of this style, before you dare write a "Jazzy" piece.But unless you get your hands a little bit dirty, by experiencing Jazz music from the players perspective, it could sound badly fake. And I don't mean just to Jazz aficionado's.
    I have known a few Classical composer's who also benefited from Jazz studies, it can re-awaken the improvisational muse. Give a better balance between head and heart.

  8. #8

    Re: Jazz In Film Music

    The combination of classical training and attempts to 'write' 'jazz' solos and orchestration tend to sound very Broadway/tickey-tackey (lots of splash cymbal and wood blocks combined with growl trumpet and other gimmicks from the 20s and 30s. A Broadway pit band playing a score of this sort sounds as close to a jazz performance as the Boston Pops. (Less, actually, the Pops has had some players that DO understand jazz.)

    Bruce hit the nail squarely on the head (as usual.) Jazz is a participatory art, you either do it or you don't, and you either get it or you don't.

    A mediocre jazz player will sound more soulful and authentic than a master musician reading his 'improvised' solo, and certainly more so than a master musician with little or no jazz improvisitory experience attempting to 'fake it.' In a film, this translates to jazz vs. jazzy, and it's always immediately obvious (at least to those of us who think as jazz players.)
    It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...

  9. #9

    Re: Jazz In Film Music

    And don't think that studying jazz won't give you ideas and insights into your more classically-based music, either. Some of the great jazz musicians were also brilliant orchestrators; Duke Ellington immediately comes to mind, but also some later composers such as Ornette Coleman are worth checking out.

    Here's some food for thought: John Williams got his start by playing jazz, and made a living for a while playing in jazz clubs. His dad was a jazz drummer, too!
    Wilbert Roget, II

Go Back to forum


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts