Smooth Jazz Guitar

Opening Article

                                      OPENING ARTICLE

I thought it would be good as a first article for my website to define some terms for music genres which are floating around the music industry: Smooth Jazz- A term coined by radio stations and record companies which refer to a lite form of jazz, usually (but not always) containing a funk beat with slap/pop bass and pop oriented harmony, and a simple melodic line played by a sax, guitar, trumpet or keyboard.

Note-if you listen to so-called smooth jazz radio stations you will hear variations of the above with greater/lesser degree of quality, defined by the talent of the musicians involved. Straight Ahead Jazz- This refers to jazz primarily of the mid 40s through the early 60s.This comprises mainly jazz standards and the interpretation of these tunes with improvisation. Bebop, a type of jazz which began in the mid 40s with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, used fast soloing on standard chord changes with the emphasis on interwoven lines that passed through these chords spelling out the harmony and playing the upper tensions of these chords and resolving them in interesting ways.

The harmonic ideas are largely derived from 20th century European classical composers such as Debussy and Stravinsky but with a polyrhythmic base to the melodic content as derived from African rhythms. The result is a very exciting music that has endless possibilities of creativeness. World Music- Music using harmony, melody and instrument timbre from countries other than the US (South America, Middle east, Africa, Far east). It is a fairly broad term covering many styles of music, lumped together when they don't necessarily go together, other than being a non-America sound. New Age- Music which generally uses simple harmony, a lot of space and dreamy melodies.

A wide variety of instruments are used, from very electronic synthesizers to exotic string and wind instruments. My opinion of these terms-I have gone through the process of defining these terms so that I could comment in general on them. The use of these terms generally are for marketing and demographic studies by record companies and radio stations. There obviously are many musicians out there performing and composing whom do not fit into any of these niches and as a result, have trouble marketing their products and moving up to the next level. My approach has been to fully understand and duplicate each one of these categories and then simply play and compose from my heart the way I want to. After, using the knowledge from having studied these styles, develop a marketing campaign to increase my listening audience.

As Duke Ellington said, "there is only good music and bad music". Continue to listen to all styles, really learn your instrument, get some compositional skills under your belt from some good hard study and listen most of all to your inner self and communicate that to the world with your music.