Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Andrew White on Voice-Leading

"We have so much prejudice in jazz against classical music that the prejudice encompasses the whole spectrum of classical music, including the theory of music. The whole theory of common practice has been rejected by many jazz players because of the stigma of the bow-tie. Now when that happens, the rules and procedures that can make a jazz performance either successful or a failure are ignored.
The C chord that Beethoven used is the same C chord that Charlie Parker used. Some [jazzmen] don't want to admit that. The 6/4 chord is a C triad with the G on the bottom. When you write it as 6/4, that indicates how it will be resolved, and may indicate how it will be approached. But if we go over here now, you will see this chord indicated by the alphabetical letter of C with a line under it and a G, and that is very bad nomenclature. [That symbol] does not show the function: it does not say anything about placement, the approach, or the departure. But this is what most people are dealing with now. So we are dealing with a vertical sense of music, hearing vertically, playing vertically. What is interpreted as a symbol doesn't have anything to do with what is coming after it or what came before. 
Tension and release---none of those rules mean anything anymore. The whole thing is gone. That's the lack of discipline in jazz. There are certain things that happen in jazz that don't happen in any other place, but they are not totally divorced from European [musical] culture. I don't know why jazz musicians hate the word 'European'; so many Americans hate the word European. What difference does it make where the rules come from? If they are functional, we should use them." [Italics added.]
Andrew White, 1984

A classically trained oboist and the publisher of more transcriptions of Coltrane solos than most people have heard, Andrew White also played bass with Stevie Wonder and saxophone with Elvin Jones. Listen to him play tenor saxophone here 

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