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Lesson 1: The Language of Jazz

Swing ( Shuffle) Eighths

In traditional jazz two consecutive eighth notes are played like . At medium-up to very fast tempos the eighth notes tend to become even simply because it's easier to play that way.

Eighth note lines in the swing style are normally played legato. In a line of eighth notes in the swing style the last note is typically emphasized and short.

Straight Eighths

Some jazz is played with straight ( even) eighth notes. Most latin jazz and a lot of jazz-rock/ fusion is played in this way.

Learning the Language of Jazz

Somebody has said that jazz is ear music, not eye music. This means that jazz can't be learned from sheet music, but has to be learned by listening.
  • Listen
  • Imitate - transcribe
  • Create: play and write music yourself

Interaction is important. You need feedback from other people in order to grow as a musician.

  • Get a good teacher
  • Play with other musicians as much as possible

The Four Step Approach

Learning to play jazz is a lot like learning to speak a language. A language is learned first by listening and imitating, later on by starting to speak yourself and ultimately it's about saying something uniquely your own - getting a point across or telling a story.

  • Listen
  • Imitate - quote licks and phrases
  • Start constructing larger statements of your own
  • Start communicating and telling stories ( your own stories!)

2004 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.