How Is Jazz And Rock Music Different?Posted by Mike Schumacher
When talking about music, there are two main types– major genres and styles. Major genres like jazz or rock are totally unique and you can’t just copy what someone else is doing and expect to get the same results.
Music style is more specific than genre. For instance, we have funk, disco, new wave, and alternative. Each of these has their own characteristics that make them different from each other.
Jazz and rock are both considered “generic” genres because they contain many different musical elements and strategies. They are still very individual though, so do not mix up pieces that sound similar with no lyrics.
Jazz is about rhythm
In jazz, the song or piece you are listening to has a structure or pattern that goes along with the music. This structure comes in the form of songs or sequences of notes called chords or progressions.
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These chord changes usually shift quickly from one note to another, creating a smooth flow for the listener. The musician will sometimes add an accent to make the chord more distinctive, giving it a voice.
This process creates a sense of syncronization between the part and the whole. Because the parts move independently, but together they create a feeling of cohesion, just like our own internal clocks do!
Music theory applies to understanding how this works, but at its core what makes jazz unique is its use of rhythmic patterns. These rhythms play a crucial role in defining the genre and distinguishing individual pieces.
Rhythm can be measured as the time between events, such as when a leg moves while walking, or the interval of time between heart beats during normal activity.
In music, there are many different types of rhythms used to define timing and emphasize certain sounds or lines. Some examples include ātaṁ raśi (short and strong), ek śaraṇa (lengthened) and taḥ tan (long).
These rhythms apply directly to the way musicians organize their songs into sections or structures.
Rock is about melody
In rock, the song most of the time starts with an intro or motif that you can play or sing along to several times before the main part comes in. This motif or element usually sticks around for two to three minutes before being incorporated into another song.
It’s then built upon and extended until it becomes something much longer and more complex, which is what makes it interesting. When musicians use this device, they call it harmonic or internal development.
The reason why this works in music is because humans are naturally inclined to make sounds and patterns; we enjoy doing so since the early stages of life.
By giving parts their own voice by extending them and adding onto them, artists bring us some form of peace. It reminds us there is someone out there who cares about our lives enough to spend his or her time creating music. We are not alone!
This effect also helps build suspense, as people wait to see what will come next in the song. It creates interest and keeps listeners wanting to hear more.
Jazz does not have this concept of a main theme or part. Each piece is totally different from the other and nothing repeats unless it is a pattern or riff. This could be considered boring at first, but eventually your ears get used to it and you start to recognize how each musician builds on the last one.
There are many theories as to why this style was chosen over others.
Jazz is all about feeling
In jazz, there are no rules for music making. Technically, this means that musicians can do almost anything they want with their instruments at any time.
Music making in jazz happens when something feels right. A theme or melody emerges from the notes being played and then the other members of the band contribute to developing it further and exploring different variations of it.
This process is influenced by the musician’s mood, what genre of music they like, etc. There are some basic concepts in jazz that help make this process simple. For example, most blues songs use an I-IV-V chord structure.
These chords typically start with an IV (fourth) chord, which is usually a major chord. Then comes a V (fifth) chord, and after that an II(second)-III(third) chord. This pattern repeats until the song ends.
Rock is all about expression
As we’ve discussed, jazz is a form of music that comes down heavily in influence from African roots, so it makes sense that many pieces are characterized by their use of syncopation and complex rhythms.
But what is syncopation? And why does it matter in music?
Syncope, or as some call it, polyrhythm, is when one element (the meter, for example) is not consistent with other elements (notes, chords, etc.). In rock songs, this can be using an off-beat rhythm pattern within a verse, like a half note followed by a whole note, or using an unexpected chord at any point during the song.
It’s because of syncopation that musicians say rock music feels dynamic — there’s always something new happening.
Jazz sounds natural
In jazz, there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. If you like it, listen to more of it! That is why some people have a love for the genre- they listening to so much music made of improvised melodies that it does not stop.
In fact, some musicians will take concepts from other songs and blend them into new pieces. This process is called “transcoding” or taking ideas from one song and incorporating them into another.
The best examples of this are probably known by most people who have listened to any jazz album – each piece goes somewhere new with unexpected lyrics and rhythms. It may also use an element from the original song in its structure, or mix up the instrumentation.
Rock sounds natural
In case you were wondering, there is no definitive way to describe what makes rock music sound “natural”. Some say it’s about having lots of parts that sync with each other, while others say it’s all about how well each note fits into the next one.
Some even suggest that it’s not so much about what notes are used, but rather how many times a given chord (or group of chords) is repeated in a song or sequence.
Whatever style of writing your average rock song embodies, part of its appeal comes from how well-crafted it is. The writer took time to think through the melody, lyrics, and structure of the piece, and then worked on enhancing the intensity and rhythm of the songs via the instruments used.
In fact, musicians devote years to perfecting their craft by doing just that — playing long enough to enhance the depth and diversity of the music they produce.
Jazz is intellectual
In addition to having a steady beat, jazz songs often use language that can be understood. This includes lyrics that describe emotions or thoughts. Many people associate music with feeling, but not all music has this potential. Some pieces are just pure energy!
Jazz musicians create art that appeals to both intellect and emotion. These two qualities make it interesting to listen to. There are many types of jazz, so there’s no one style that is more important than another. Each musician brings their own personal touch to their craft which makes each piece unique.
Music theory is an integral part of being a jazz musician. Concepts such as intervals, chords, and rhythm apply themselves to every genre, not just jazz. Technically-trained musicians usually focus more on the instruments they play and how these tools relate to each other.
As human beings, we connect to different genres of music in ways that go beyond the instrumentation. We find certain tunes emotional or soothing, while others energize us. For example, anyone who listens to heavy metal will feel some type of power when listening to it. It is like watching a movie where the villain is ruthless and powerful.
Rock is emotional
In rock music, there are usually several parts that make up an song. These parts typically go something like this: melody, verse, chorus, bridge, drop. The first part of the song is usually the intro or prelude, which can be anything from one note to a minute long. This is followed by the main body, then the conclusion (or break), and finally the outro or rest at the end.
The important difference between the prelude and break is how they use emotion. A good prelude will set the mood for the rest of the song, but it must also contain some degree of passion or excitement. When the break comes, you should feel relaxed and content!
The same goes for the conclusion. You should leave you feeling happy, excited, or even grateful. That’s what breaks do — they create a small gap, a momentary pause before the next element in the song.
In contrast, most pieces of music written in the 1980s contained no break. There was always just the main theme with maybe a little bit of modulation or change of key. If there were any pauses, they were mostly silence – not enough to qualify as a break, but still creating a sense of calmness.
This lack of break down is another reason why songs from that era seem less satisfying than ones with more variety.
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