Category: Blog

Jazz 101: Tips for Those Who Want to Learn Jazz

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Jazz music is a creative fusion of everything that’s good about music. It has rhythm, style, and improvisation, among others. Even if you’re playing a cover, you can make it sound like an original. Jazz is magical journey into the world of music. It can be quite complicated, too, so if you’re trying to learn how to sing or play jazz music, you’ll have a lot of things to consider.

To help you out, here are some tips that you might find useful.

Musical Skills  

Playing jazz music will require you to have basic musical skills. You don’t have to be an expert, but it is important that you know and practice the fundamentals of this music genre. There are three things you need to focus on here: basic scales, the 7th chords, and the instruments.

The first thing you need to do is familiarize the natural minor scales, the major scale, as well as the Mixolydian scale and the Dorian minor scale. These are the basic sounds that you’ll hear in jazz. Additionally, you’ll also need to understand and familiarize these scales because they can be used for improvisation.

Second, you should know how to construct chords. The most important of these is the 7th chords, which has several varieties. This is what you need if your goal is to achieve jazz harmony in the easiest way possible.

Third, you have to familiarize yourself with all the instruments jazz musicians use. Again, you don’t have to be an expert; you just have to have basic information about it. You have to have basic knowledge about each instrument so you’ll also gain a better understanding of jazz music and how it is played or interpreted.

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Research Everything That You Can About the History of Jazz

Even if you have no intention of becoming a master or of performing jazz music professionally, you still need to know and understand its origins. Find time to research about the most important aspects of jazz history. Doing so will greatly help you understand jazz, especially since it has an interesting history. This is where you can learn about the different jazz styles that came out one after the other. To get started, search for sources – videos – online. There are a lot of them.

Listen to a Lot of Jazz Music

If you are seriously considering learning how to play jazz music, you have to listen to a lot of jazz music. Don’t listen to just one or two, or even three; listen to as many artists as you can. You have a long list of excellent jazz musicians to choose from. Some examples are the great Louis Armstrong, the legendary Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, and Stan Getz. You may have a difficult time looking for their music in iTunes, but you can always go and check their albums at the record store. Or, you can download from reliable music sites.

Learn Jazz Standards

Just like the lessons you were taught in school, you need to learn the basic jazz tunes. While it is nowhere near what basic is, jazz standards are certainly a good starting point for anyone who intends to learn how to play the music. Jazz standard is the usual repertoire of musicians who regularly play in bars and clubs. Learning and familiarizing these tunes will not only give you a better understanding of the music but will also help you learn how to communicate with other jazz musicians. Jazz standards are also good practice material for chord progressions.

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Practice Playing With Other Jazz Musicians

Once you’ve familiarized and practiced playing jazz standards, you can move on and start practicing with other jazz musicians. Although it is not required, choosing the musicians you practice with can help a lot. It is important that the musicians you interact with understand what you want to achieve and are like-minded. This will create a general atmosphere of congeniality and respect – for each other and for one another’s artistry.

When you’ve accomplished all these steps, find a good mentor or teacher who is willing to help you study and continuously learn. Studying, continuous learning and practice are the best weapons to mastering jazz music.



Three Jazz Musicians You Should Listen To

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Jazz music is relaxing. It is something you would want to listen to at the end of a long and stressful day. It calms your soul. The cool sounds of the instruments can wash away your anxieties. The experience becomes even more comforting when you choose to listen to the best jazz musicians.

If you want to spend an afternoon or evening listening to soothing jazz music, the first thing you should consider is your choice of musicians. Nothing beats the experience of listening to the masters and some of jazz music’s most talented and most promising. They may not be as popular as the jazz greats, but they are definitely talented and deserve to be appreciated and praised. Here are three jazz musicians you should listen to. You may know some of them already, but many are still not familiar with them or their music.

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Gregory Porter

Born in California, this singer-songwriter has been in the music industry for more than 20 years. Dubbed as “The Next Great Male Jazz Singer” by NPR Music, Porter left his sunny hometown and moved to New York City. This was the break he needed as his career started creating waves after he began performing at St. Nick’s Pub. He has several albums to his credit. Porter is a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal for Liquid Spirit, his 3rd album.

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Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding was born in Portland, Oregon and started displaying her musical skills when she joined the Chamber Music Society of Oregon. Spalding played the violin. In 2006, the talented musician released her first album, Junjo, which generated a lot of buzz in the American jazz music scene. The album also received good reviews from critics. She is the recipient of some Grammy awards and holds the distinction of being the first jazz musician to receive the Grammy Awards for Best New Artist, which was awarded to her in 2010. Aside from singing, Spalding also plays the cello and the bass.

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Jamison Ross

New Orleans resident Jamison Ross started getting involved in music very early in his young life as he performed at the church of his grandfather. This young drummer has an extensive resume that includes awards and a long list of jazz greats he has worked and performed with, including Carmen Lundy (singer) and Jon Batiste. His first album was released in 2015.



Jazz Dance: Similarities with Jazz Music and Ballet Dance

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Jazz music is innovative and unpredictable. Musicians who play or sing jazz music are some of the best in the world. They are creative, disciplined, and technically adept. Jazz music requires a lot of patience, too, especially if you are still learning it. This is why it complements jazz dance.

Jazz Dance and Jazz Music

Jazz makes use of the techniques and rhythms of jazz music to create movements or dances. The music is one of the reasons people like watching jazz dance performances. Like jazz music, jazz dance is lively, fun, and unpredictable. Like jazz musicians and singers, jazz dancers are given the freedom to interpret and perform the steps and movements according to their preferences and understanding of the music and its message. In other words, jazz dancers can improvise in the same manner that jazz musicians and singers can.

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Like jazz music, jazz dance has a past directly connected with African cultures. While jazz music is said to originate from New Orleans’ African American communities, jazz dance traces its early days to the vernacular dance of the African Americans that came out in the latter part of the 1800s to the mid-1900s. Pre-1950s jazz dance was known as a dance imported from African cultures by slaves. Later on, though, after the 2nd World War, jazz dance became synonymous with tap dance because the latter used jazz music.

Over the years, jazz dance evolved and slowly became a fusion of other dance styles. It now has elements of swing, Charleston, boogie, lyrical dance, and hip-hop, among many others. Eventually, it also became synonymous with ballet.

Jazz Dance and Ballet

Even if it is not set to jazz music, ballet dancing has a strong connection with jazz dance.

Jazz dancers have the freedom to experiment with their movements and choreography. Ballet is more disciplined in this aspect, especially since ballet dancers are trained to control their movements. Both dance styles, however, share some forms or moves. For instance, in jazz dance, dancers execute straddle split leaps and pirouettes, which are basic ballet movements. Jazz dance movements, on the other hand, are often used in contemporary ballet performances. Likewise, both styles require a lot of balancing, particularly in tiptoes, leaps, fast turns, and kicks.

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Nowadays, one of the most popular dancing styles is jazz ballet, which combines ballet movements with jazz moves. The dance is set to modern jazz.



An Introduction to the Jazz Guitar Scale

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A guitar scale is something like a guide to those who want to play the guitar properly. If you do not know how to use the scale, you won’t be able to make good music – or guitar music that your listeners will understand. For a jazz musician, the jazz guitar scale is essential. It is what he uses as a guide for playing.

The First Step

The first step for those who are trying to learn how to play the guitar is to learn how to read and understand chords. These chords are symbolized by the letters G, D, E, and F, and so on. Even then; even if you’ve already familiarized and learned how to use the chords, it will all be for nothing if you do not understand and know how to play the scales. One of the most important aspects of music, the tone, can be perfectly achieved through proper use of the scales.

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Three Categories

Scales are classified into three categories: major, melodic minor, and harmonic minor. These are basic jazz scales that you use as a guide to creating good music. These are also the first scales that you need to familiarize and learn. Once you know how to use them, you will be able to improve and enhance sounds and melodies, especially in instances when you want to improvise for a particular audience.

Specific Jazz Scales

Apart from the three basic jazz scale categories, you also have to learn everything that you can about specific jazz scales. This term refers to scales that are developed primarily for jazz music. These specific jazz scales include the major bebop (first mode of major scale), minor bebop (Dorian mode, 2nd major-scale mode), dominant bebop (eighth-note scale), Lydian dominant scale (4th mode), and harmonic minor bebop (for improvisation, eighth-note scale).

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These are just the basic things you need to know about jazz guitar scales, especially if you’re still trying to learn how to play. This is required information because, again, it can help make guitar playing easier and can help you in terms of understanding and learning how to use chords. Most of all, jazz guitar scales are important because they help give that distinct sound jazz music is known for. If you have no idea how you can use them properly, your audience will not understand and appreciate the music you are creating.



5 Important Things You Need to Learn About Jazz Music

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Although it is basically American, jazz music has a lot influences from different cultures. Jazz music is quite complex, and this stems from the fact that it has many identities and characteristics. With improvisation being a major element of every jazz masterpiece, it is one of the musical genres that embrace innovation wholeheartedly. Apart from this, there are many interesting facts that you have yet to know about. Here are some of them.

Beginnings

Jazz started its journey to the limelight towards the end of the 19th century through a musician named Scott Joplin. His style was called ragtime. This was the time in history when thousands were moving and immigrating to the United States, and New York was everyone’s number one choice. The immigrants brought with them various types of music, including waltz and quadrille. These variations, which Joplin mixed with the music of the black community, are what paved the way for the creation of ragtime jazz.

New Orleans Jazz

In the early part of the 20th century, blues music combined with music from the classically trained of New Orleans. This helped create the jazz community of the city. Blues music became popular in New Orleans in no time.

Blues singers were responsible for the proliferation of early jazz music, not only in New Orleans but also in places like Chicago and New York. This paved the way for the start of the Jazz Age.

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Jazz Music Characteristics

There are three elements or characteristics that make jazz music what it is. These are syncopation, blue notes or melodic freedom, and improvisation. Among the three, the most important is improvisation because it is what gives jazz music its unique sound, including syllables that often do not make sense. Improvisation is also about wordless singing. Nonsense syllables and wordless singing are more commonly known as scatting or scat singing.

Different Types of Jazz Music

Jazz music is a vast musical universe. You can listen to a wide variety of this music genre. It may be difficult to mention or count everything, but there are some that are worth mentioning because of their popularity. This includes Latin jazz fusions, Dixieland jazz, gypsy jazz, Bossa Nova jazz, acid jazz, free jazz, and soul jazz, among countless others.

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The Best Jazz Musicians and Personalities

Over the years (or decades), the world of jazz music has created a lot of masters. These musical personalities are looked up to and respected by the music community because they helped put jazz on the world musical map. Additionally, these jazz musicians also inspired people from different walks of life and different parts of the world. Some of the best jazz musicians are Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus, Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, and Max Roach. Singer Louis Armstrong is also one of those who helped use his voice to promote jazz music around the world.

The above mentioned are only several of the important facts that you need to learn about jazz music, especially if you listen to it, or if you have plans of learning how to play it. Jazz music is distinctive, stylish, innovative, and beautiful in every sense.



5 Tips On Buying The Best Turntable Record Players For Your Home Studio

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If you are a collector of the best record players, you know how hard it is to choose which one is the best due to numerous choices available. Don’t worry because there are some tips that you can take advantage of when you are choosing the right player that is perfect in your home studio. Check out the best tips and get your hands on the right turntable record player.

1.    Search the internet

Make use of the web as you can find a lot of people who are selling great turntable record players. You can also find numerous items at different prices. It is the best place to look for a record player than just asking around because it can cost so much more. At this point, Google is the perfect place for you to look for the best player based on what are the features you are looking for.

2.    Compare the prices well

Due to numerous choices available on the internet, make sure you will be able to compare the prices. It is essential so that you will be able to get the best deal. The prices will not be the same so make sure you can get the lowest price available for the record player of your choice. You’ll be surprised to see that some items can be so expensive. I’d recommend for you to look something that is not entirely under a collector’s item category as it can cost you so much more.

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3.    Prioritize the features you want

There are a lot of turntables available, and it comes with different specs. Before making a purchase, set your priorities on which are the features you want and you will use. It is the best way so that you will be able to narrow down your choices and get the best price for it. There will be a lot of turntables that may seem to have a good price but lacks the other features of the player, and that is the reason why it is highly important that you already know what you want before searching for it.

4.    Visual aspect

People who love to listen to music from a turntable record player are more inclined to the art behind it. We know that with all the applications available today, it is easy to listen to all kinds of songs, but there is something different when you make use of a turntable. The specs are not all that matters when you are trying to buy a turntable. The looks matter as well so make sure to find an item that is in an exquisite condition.

5.    Get your money’s worth

Getting the most expensive player or the cheapest one doesn’t necessarily mean that you got the best deal possible. Make your money’s worth, and you can do that if you can find a player good enough to fit your needs based on the features and specs of the player you purchased.

You just have to be cautious when choosing the turntable to want. Follow the tips, and you should not have any problem in getting a player for your home studio.



Three Characteristics of a Good Jazz Improviser

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Jazz is not jazz if there is no improvisation. It is what jazz music is all about. This is also what makes jazz interesting, unpredictable, and unique. You never know what you’re going to get, especially during live shows in hotels, bars, and other similar venues. Improvisation is not something you rehearse. It comes naturally to all good jazz musicians. There are specific characteristics, however, that make jazz musicians different from others. Here are three of those qualities.

1. They never take the basic tools of music for granted.

If you’re expecting mind blowing secrets like how to play the saxophone without breathing, you are definitely not in the right place. The best improvisers never fail to go back to the basics, the fundamentals. Things like scales, long tones, single chord progression, and time matter a lot to them. They do not dwell on the complicated but acknowledge that everything starts with the fundamentals. And this includes discipline, mental preparedness, work ethics, and proper technique. Being a good improviser is more than just musical acrobatics and complicated harmonies. It is about creating and weaving musical phrases that evoke emotions.

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2. They don’t know all the tunes, but they make the most out of them.

Yes, some musicians and improvisers do not know every tune there is in the musical book. But they do not allow this to hamper their style and performance. Instead of cramming and panicking, they simply listen to the melody, find the interval, and identify chord progression and then they immediately know what to do – what to play and how to play it. It’s like turning music to magic.

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3. They never stop learning. They continuously find ways to improve their artistry.

The best improvisers believe that learning is a continuous cycle. It is a lifelong process. They also believe that continuous learning is essential, especially if the goal is to improve their artistry.



Three Elements Essential to Jazz Music

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Jazz music is like no other. It is musically fun, exciting, and creative. It produces a distinct sound that can wake up even the most tired soul. Its structure is different, so much so that first-time listeners will often wonder what it is trying to say. Jazz music requires its audiences to listen. But it is difficult if you do not know what or who to listen to/for. Jazz musicians have one goal – to deliver the finest jazz music to many audiences. However, they have different styles and instrumentation. Therefore, it is important to understand what makes it different from other types of music. It is important to know what characteristics or elements define it.

3 Important Elements of Jazz Music

To understand jazz music, one only needs to know that it has three elements that make up its unique qualities: syncopation, blue notes, and improvisation.

Syncopation

Syncopation is the shift in a song’s rhythm or beat pattern emphasis to weak notes and beats. It’s like stomping your feet, clapping your hand, and counting one, two, three while doing so. As you are counting, try saying “cheese” between every number. The feet stomping refers to the rhythm or beat. Now, stomp your feet and then clap while saying “cheese.” What you did added accent to your music’s weak beat, otherwise known as the offbeat. The clapping is what syncopation is all about. Jazz musicians syncopate by playing two rhythms against each other. This is what makes listeners swing, sway, and dance.

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Blue Notes

Blue notes are created when a jazz musician plays through a scale and flattens or plays some notes a half step lower.  In other words, the musician plays the notes at a slightly different pitch than the expected or the standard. Blue notes are normally done for maximized expression.

Improvisation

Improvisation is the most important element or characteristic of jazz music. Most jazz musicians who play together know each other well enough, so it only takes a nod, a tap of the hand or feet, or a whisper for one to get the cue that a certain part of the song or piece will be improvised or played with. Improvisation is a communication process that takes place between the solo singer or player and his or her co-musicians. It’s like saying, “Hey, let’s play with this song a little” without actually saying anything.