Jazz music’s essence is the dimensional harmony created by the kaleidoscope of chromatic tones. It is the pulsating back beat of syncopating African rhythms through the drums’ rumble or the brush’s soft sound to the snare.
The music expresses melody from the soul’s depth conveyed as gospel in many unique ways. These elements, combined with the free impressionistic ambiance of instrumental tones in orchestration as a foundational juxtaposition of 7th, 9th,13th chordal harmony, makes this style truly unique. Jazz music’s essence is music that is upbeat, full of pizzazz, yet laid back with style. One would never guess that this free music style has a foundation that began with Baroque elements found in Classical music.
Classical music comes from the basic structure of homophony when two or more musical lines are played vertically in the same direction as sacred music. In fact, Jazz music is created with homophony in terms of chords’ movement to support the melodic improvisation. However, when it comes to playing intervals and chordal harmonies, Jazz is free from classical form restriction. For example, if a song is written in the key of C or a minor, there are no sharps or flats written on the staff. Many times in Jazz music, Accidentals are put in the music to cause a tonal effect found in chromatic tones. Tonal effects can occur when one or more notes are altered by raising or lowering a pitch by one-half step. Sharps are symbols in the shape of a number sign or tic tac toe board (#). Flats are symbols in the shape of a lower case B(b), yet shaped differently like half a heart.
In some Jazz pieces, both the sharp and flat can occur simultaneously in a chord. The result of such musical experimentation can be Dissonant chords unresolved to produce a certain sound. Depending on what tones are used, the sound is either full of color or full of tension. On the other hand, Consonance is a stable balance of harmonic tones without tension. One example of the essence of Jazz Music is the song “Route 66,” with a cluster of chords with dissonant tones that move from major to minor to diminished to create tonal color.
The Tones in Jazz music is always about the speech rhythm and the chordal harmony full of color as influenced by music in the impressionism period. Jazz music’s essence serves as a personal interpretation of the picture the performer wants us to think about. The icing to the cake is the vocalists and instrumentalists who perform how they feel from the soul as the music beckons them to reply to its statement. As the soloist plays or sings, the beauty of strong kaleidoscope tones in harmony encourages one to soar, especially in ballads.
All of this can occur when the harmony plays in the right position above the correct bass tones found in all Jazz masterpieces. Jazz music’s true essence is present in its ability to shape the music through tones, the syncopation of speech rhythm, chromatic harmony, improvisational solos, and the bass’s constant motion. It is the free structure made from a balanced structure and music expressed from the soul.