Interesting Video Dissects Giant Steps for General Public

JayeNM

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#2
I guess it's a good vid.

But honestly, one can make the counterargument that this is perhaps why jazz in this age has very much a niche following, as far as general popularity goes. And why it is ungraspable/unebraceable to many....

Just sayin'....
 

randulo

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#3
Gotta say, I have strong feelings about the jazz I love: it shouldn't need to be graspable! Indeed, talking about Giant Steps wouldn't normally be in the mix. If you pull that aspect out, this is a good intro to overtones and key changes. I felt terrible for Tommy Flanagan, too. That's all inside baseball, though. The explanations are nicely illustrated and spoken. I'm sure I've already mentioned that I like to play Spiritual or Equinox if people are curious about jazz, but a new generation has a different approach: make it a visual experience. I hope no one is offended by this, the band is smokin', too.


Edit to clarify: I mean, it should grab people, it shouldn't be an effort to have to understand it. They should feel it. In that aspect, the video maybe fails to actually show the average person how Giant Steps works ;-) The Grace Kelly video grabs people though. (Is it jazz? I think so.)
 
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GCinCT

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#4
Just because something is not popular with the general public doesn't mean it's not worthwhile. Most people don't want to put in the effort to have an understanding of an art form to enjoy it. Simple pop tunes, mindless films, books with no substance.

That's all okay. But I have great intellectual curiosity and I love things that are complex. To each his own. You don't have to listen to or play Giant Steps but it occupies a special place in the history of music.
 

tenorviol

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#9
A caveat before I go any further: this is my take on music development. Maybe when I retire I'll go an do a music degree...

One of my observations about where 'classical' music went awry in the C20th (and I think this applies to other art forms as well as to jazz) is the artists/composers lost sight of the purpose of their art, which is communication with the audience. People got so obsessed with 'being unique' or 'being different' that they left their audiences behind and emptied the concert halls in the process.

Until the C20th new compositions by the composers of the day were eagerly awaited and concerts of new music would sell out. It was in fact unusual to have older music from previous generations of composers as the backbone of performance repertoire: that is in fact a relatively modern thing. Why?

As composers pushed the boundaries of tonality - C19th composers such as Lizst and Wagner had already pushed it to its limits - composers sought new directions. This lead to various alleyways including atonal music and 12 tone serialism (and later on others such as musique concrète). These were 'interesting' but ultimately dead ends. Unfortunately, the music establishment (and that includes institutions like the BBC and Radio 3) became obsessed with this to the point where composers in other styles were ostracised. You had composers who wrote 'tunes' being deliberately sidelined and would not receive commissions for work or could not get their music performed on air. Examples include George Lloyd.

Some found a way round this. John Rutter for example specialised in writing Christmas music for choirs, others went to Hollywood and became film composers.

The obsession with the avant-garde did a lot of damage. It alienated audiences from new music. A concert programmed with new music is very unlikely to sell. This has lead to a narrowing of music since concert halls often only put on programmes of the core canon of classical music leading to endless Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms... etc.

Music eventually came out of the dead-end and slowly moved in other directions, but the damage had been done.

I think jazz - as another art from - followed a very similar route.

I enjoy being able to analyse music and understand how it works. However, as an art form, you shouldn't need a Ph.D on tonal harmony and a 450 page book to understand a work: if you do, it's failed its basic requirement to communicate with its audience.
 

randulo

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#11
I enjoy being able to analyse music and understand how it works. However, as an art form, you shouldn't need a Ph.D on tonal harmony and a 450 page book to understand a work: if you do, it's failed its basic requirement to communicate with its audience.
I agree with you, I love the analysis of music to a point that's probably different from most of the Café denizens because of Joseph Schillinger's Mathematical Basis of the Arts and the two-volume Theory of Musical Composition. The latter taught me how rhythms are generated in any time signature and how to play 5 beats of a measure of 7/4 and that F minor is an inverted C major, which explains the near tonic to dominant effect, even if Fm is not the dominant in C. Fascinating stuff, and some of it helps with the playing.


There are people with no musical education who like jazz. They may not be fans of Cecil Taylor, but they like many kinds, from Bill Evans to Sonny Rollins. It's also probably true that there are more people who like simple music like old country western or blues. I would say this is because music isn't to be digested (except by the likes of us). Music has to speak to you, and in jazz, as I always say, the player has to be telling a story, as opposed to phoning it in. Today, music fans want a show. They like the visual like Grace Kelly, the outrageous like Leo P, and the competition as in rap battles. It has always been the case that music had to speak to the audience and the culture. In the classical world you allude to, it's totally true that things went off the rails when composers felt there was nothing new to write or play. I've heard from teachers that when Paganini wrote and performed his concerti, women would swoon and men thought him the greatest virtuoso of the time, but today, Japanese children are taught and can play those works.

I posted the video because of Giant Steps, but it's click bait title, evoking Giant Steps as a feared right of passage for jazz musicians is true to an extent and it rakes in people who were pleased to learn about the cycle of fifths. According to my reading, musical consonance developed along the lines of the overtone series, which is it self based on ratios. 2:1, 3:2, etc. It seems humans adopted as consonant the intervals in order. A quick riff or two on your instrument will bear that out to an extent: play around with a note and its octaves. Schillinger claims the most remote and primitive tribes in the jungle can hear the octave as a "ghost" of the tonic note. Now play fifths, then thirds. When you get around the +11, you see what I'm saying. I love this stuff. Sure, the average person doesn't need to know anything about it, just as I don't need to recognize the make of a car or the breed of a dog. I can still pet the dog (or get bit by it) and drive the car.

I posted that video yesterday on a social site called Pluspora. Several people chimed in that they loved it. One told me his son sent him the link a few days before and they both enjoyed it. The level of production is excellent, too.

I loved the a capella version by Camille, but I read an interview with her last year where she said she didn't want to be known for that, like a circus performer. I found that to be either denial or disingenuous, because it is a worthy accomplishment to be known for. I can hear that solo in head, but I can never sing it in tune nor play it on any instrument.

I hope you've enjoyed this unexpected dialog at the Café, I didn't expect much action on this one :)
 

randulo

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#14
Why would she need to just to regurgitate Coltranes's solo note for note?
She or someone wrote words to it. Groups and artists have done that for years. In this case it's quite an accomplishment, too. Exactly like any learning experience. Why am I playing Mintzer etudes, note for note?
 

Halfers

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#15
Why would she need to just to regurgitate Coltranes's solo note for note?
Whilst I probably wouldn't want to listen to that video more than once, I think it's worth accepting that it's probably not as simple as to 'just regurgitate' the solo note for note. It's certainly a skill to do that using scat sounds and seemingly random words. A niche skill, granted, but nonetheless..
 

Halfers

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#16
I've got a feeling that 'Giant Steps' was probably the first 'proper' Jazz record I bought, off the back of being introduced to Jazz through various contemporary Pop, Rock and rap musicians. I felt quite grown up walking into Our Price and buying it. It was a Gateway purchase for me. I bumped into this video on Youtube a few weeks back. I thought it was quite well put together.
 

randulo

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#17
Niche skill? Executing an exact melody? I'm at a loss. I get that not everyone likes that. I don't care for Michael Jackson, I wouldn't watch is videos, but the guy was extremely talented. Downbeat published a transcription of this solo and I'm sure thousands of musicians practiced it just from that. I don't understand, this is exactly how we learn music, repeating existing stuff until we can play it, no? If this is regurgitating, than alomost any musician has done it to learn to play.
 

Halfers

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#18
Niche skill? Executing an exact melody? I'm at a loss. I get that not everyone likes that. I don't care for Michael Jackson, I wouldn't watch is videos, but the guy was extremely talented. Downbeat published a transcription of this solo and I'm sure thousands of musicians practiced it just from that. I don't understand, this is exactly how we learn music, repeating existing stuff until we can play it, no? If this is regurgitating, than alomost any musician has done it to learn to play.
No need to be at a loss. It wasn't meant as a criticism. Meant more 'niche' as in probably not a huge 'audience' of people who would actively look to listen to these interpretations. I think I acknowledged the skill in what was done there.
 

randulo

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#19
I see, you refer to recording a video. Here's my opinion: it's meant as a showcase. She works in jazz clubs. The version I saw was her singing with the record, not a guitar. This is someting she has developed as a kind of demo. You can see she's good at it. As I mentioned before, though, she also said she didn't want to be known for it. Thta's a little dd, but I tip my hat to her :)
 

randulo

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#20
Some found a way round this. John Rutter for example specialised in writing Christmas music for choirs, others went to Hollywood and became film composers.
I meant to comment on this, too. Until fairly recently, film music was some of the best composed and as you say, one of the few places a composer would be able to place and we'd be able to hear music. All those Hitchcock movies not only showcased the composer's genius but also gave work to full orchestras. These days, whether a singer's recording or movie, it's increasingly rare to have eben a small orchestra. Movies rely mostly on electronics, although there are some very good composers still working in TV and movies using those technologies.
 
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