What is defined as jazz music?

Jazz is the music that many people today refuse to define for fear of being excluded. It has not always been so since, in the past, jazz was a genre of music that only referred to a very specific kind of musical tradition. And over time that definition of jazz has evolved over the years.

Jazz is also this special music that has collared all the musical creation in which we are still located, the popular music (in the United States, in Europe and in France in particular), the classical music, the folklore (the gypsy music’s, klezmer, country, Africa in general …) and even commercial mass music (rock-pop, international variety, world music …), even if the latter, dominant and normalizing, only an impoverishing extraction and undermines human intelligence and the notion of folk art.

That this influence comes from an Afro-American minority, marginal and segregated, says enough that the conviction of an expression can raise mountains. That it was made possible only in democratic countries (with all the nuances of relativity but also the certainties of this observation), says enough that jazz, the music of liberation, and needs a favourable political framework to exist.

Jazz is not just a set of notes floating in the air, it’s first a culture, a philosophy, a state of mind, an attitude to life and to others, and artists of this music, which is very broad and very democratic in its uses (unlike the star system), also allow us to say what is jazz and what is not, as well as the color of the blues, the rhythmic pulsation called swing, and an open expression in the world.

This jazz magazine follows, accompanies, promotes, tells and spreads the story of jazz for decades now, in a framework of independent journalism, with an enthusiasm that has accompanied all generations. It is a sign among others (its ability to cross borders) that jazz can cross cultures and generations.

What are the components of jazz music?

More than a singular music genre, jazz is mainly a way of playing characterized by two main elements: the swing and the improvisation.

Swing is defined in jazz as being:

– in the accompaniment, by the accentuation of the second and fourth time of the measure,

– in the melody, by the use of a syncopated phrasing,

– by the use of sound effects prescribed in classical music: grunts (growl), inflections of the notes, frequent use with the brass of different types of mutes, in short, elements that remove the sound from classical purity, but which conforms to the African tradition.

Improvisation in Jazz is defined as being:

Improvisation is defined as the instantaneous or spontaneous creation of a melodic tune within a sequence or harmony.

Originally, it is a simple variation of the theme. Gradually, improvisation is emancipated on the harmonic and rhythmic levels until the claim of total freedom of “free jazz”. Improvisation can also be vocal: it is the “scat”, in which words are replaced by syllables or onomatopoeia devoid of meaning but used only for their sound.