Friday, 2 December 2011

Now, that's my music!

Love jazz, hate rock.

Thanks to my former secondary school band instructor and an old friend, I was given the opportunity to listen to a variety of music. I had always enjoyed listening to jazz and get frustrated with rock. Maybe it's my character, maybe affected by the approach I adopted in life, or maybe as simple as my misunderstanding that had resulted in me loving jazz and hating rock music. 


Listening to rock music, one must be prepared to face with blast after blast of explosions with each instrument trying to be louder than the other. There is no break, no slowing down, no changing in tempo and one must be expected to face that for the entire duration of the music. 

Jazz give people a very soothing feeling, the thought that the pieces are well planned with the idea to prepare its audience towards its highlights. There is a mixture of highs and lows within each pieces of jazz, as if it understands that its audience requires a mixture of pace, excitement and be given time to rest and in preparation to enjoy its highlight. Even when it's low are presented in a fast tempo, one can feel that it is communicative, empowering, involving and never pushy.


Most jazz pieces have a segment for improvisation where the lead musician choose how and what he likes to play. There is only guided time frame for the musician to present his or her creativity. There are no music scores, no preference nor limitation in the octave chosen. This somehow added to the enjoyment and fun in listening to jazz, where the same piece can sound differently when it's played at different locations, at different time and/or by different musicians. Interestingly, that segment for improvisation need not be handed by a particular instrument; the same segment can be presented with improvisation by the saxophone, the vocal, the bass, the piano and even the drum set.

With rock, the musicians tend to follow a strict music score, tempo and approach. Musicians are hardly allowed to improvise. While this ensures standardization, it curbs creativity and therefore limits the presentation and marketability of the music.


Typically with rock, the leader of the band set the tempo and stops the band towards the end the music. It is common to hear the drummer hitting 4 beats or the leader shouting the beat to start the music. 

Jazz had a slightly different approach in my opinion. There are variations where different instrument leads with different style on different pieces. Sometimes it started with the drummer providing the basic beats, sometimes the saxophone will start with an improvisation and sometimes the vocal will leads the audience to start the piece in unconventional ways. With jazz, it is always the official leader taking a back seat, facilitating and leading the team to decide whom to be the leader and in what approach or style should the music be represented.


There is always the blurring of sound in rock music; possibility resulted from the loudness of the pieces and the intention for each instrument to be louder than each other. It is difficult to differentiate the instruments and notice how each contributed towards the formation of the music.

I am always amazed by the ability to clearly listen, the contribution of each instrument and yet fascinated by the end result in jazz. Whenever there is a segment for improvisation, the other instruments carry out the supportive roles of providing the basic rhythm in a subtle and non intrusive manner. This gives the lead instrument the freedom and opportunity to improvise.

Now, that's my music.