I burnt the wee-dark early candle studying on how to compose a narrative with a jazz voice and not be too riprap rhyme slangy nor show writer hands on the keyboard. That "riprap" word to mean other than the revetment sense and other than rap that is poetry slam duels, "flighting" is the Renaissance-era label for that, was the logjam breakup.
I developed a narrative that jazz features suit and suit the subject, the message, the occasion, and maybe the audience, and maybe appeals. Methods was the stump and the want I sought to satisfy. Study of the masterclass jazz-voice novel, On the Road, Jack Kerouac, helped overcome development considerations.
A few basic methods are episodic occasions, syncopated accentual verse, understandable improvisational diction and syntax, little or no rhyme, though of a quantity and quality mannerism that lightly samples jazz's headlong rhythm and pace flavors and stressed and unstressed improvisational diction and syntax subtleties, gently introduces and keeps low key wot riprap gobsmack, had the bog a gnome. (With a knickknack paddywhack, / Give the dog a bone. ["This Old Man" Welsh nursery rhyme, circa 1870s])
The former riprap is exaggerated for effect. Traditional nursery rhyme, doggerel, limerick, and advertiser jingle methods are a bridge too far. Understatement is crucial for best effect, enough to imply jazz though not so much it calls to itself undue attention, and spiced variety. Riprap right on. Riprap itself, curiously, improvises a new meaning for the word and for jazz rap arts. Huzzah!
Not as much knowledge as public musical performance might want. Some idea of a musical genre's conventions helps. Blues and jazz both loosely emulate poetry's hexameter foot, for example, in their 4/4 time, 3-measure groupings, and twelve-measure conventions. For jazz, the syncopation and improvisation conventions are foremost; secondmost, their leisurely though headlong rhythm and pace and accentual verse syllable stresses of vocal and instrumental rips.
Blues and jazz, most all music genres, also erect an accentual emphasis arc, plot-like, in pieces and parcels that instrumentally and vocally delays satisfaction, holds tension open, through preparation first, then anticipation and suspension segments, then satisfaction segments and on an emotional roller coaster ride throughout until an outcome's final satisfaction.
Jazz, for example, divides by unit measure based on note, tone, and time signature, 4/4, for example, whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, and thirty-second notes and rests. Those time features reflect word and sentence lengths measured by number of syllables.
One subtle blues and jazz feature is a bend that sharps or flats a note. A note bend is a suspension tone of an accentual emotional nature and for jazz and blues improvisations usually is sustained more than a traditional score directs. Note bends reflect written word's stressed accentuations and anticipation segment pieces: tension building.
"Oh When the Saints Go Marching In" recorded by Louis Armstrong is a classic blues-jazz progression model of a traditional gospel song. The fourth note in its measure progression is bent sharp, round, and sustained. I perform the song with a few more sharp and flat note bends than Armstrong's orchestra does, and slower -- on an extreme-bend blues harmonica.
Boogie-woogie and honky-tonk blues and jazz are similar to gospel blues and jazz. Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker are among my other favorite jazz-blues-gospel fusion artists. I'm less enthused by heavy metal and grunge music genres.
Blues and jazz genres are my passions. I know more about their conventions, structures, and aesthetics than other music genres. I haven't yet figured out how to interpret blues as prose to my satisfaction.
Posts: 5158 | Registered: Jun 2008
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Yes - agree that blues and jazz are a poetic form, for sure.
You've certainly described the technical mechanics. I was thinking of something more on the emotional level. Jazz and blues, to me, are very emotional works. For example, when you master a particularly difficult piece (classical or modern, rock or jazz - PS. I play piano and guitar) there is a point at which you are not thinking about the notes you play or where you put your fingers or when to crescendo or play adagio. Instead, you instill your own passions and interpretations of the music and that emotional connection is evidenced in your performance. And that performance can be for your own pleasure or for an audience. It becomes organic.
I think the same thing is true with writing. Once you've mastered the techniques and understand the conventions (the corollary being the rhythm and beat and tempo of a musical piece) then you can begin to write organically and do it well. Create "tension building," as you state above, naturally and without over-thinking.
To transcend as both a writer or a musician would be to reach this state. Very interesting to see how your "jazz narrative" can be applied here.
Posts: 82 | Registered: May 2016
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Aside from mechanics and structure to accomplish an emotional expression, emotional persuasion is creative expression's overt function. That's a too-oversimplified notion, of course, yet crucial for expression effectiveness.
Methods for effecting emotional expression are as near infinite as the cosmos is. Jazz music's are plentifully varied, though the common mechanical and structural conventions are a start place from which to do what jazz is about; that is, improvise within the genre's emotion expression range and otherwise mechanics and structures.
The jazz voice narrative I'm working on uses otherwise prose conventions and episodic interludes of jazzy syncopated emotional charge causes and effects.
A preparation setup starts off with a jazz riff that sets the theme. A non-jazz inclined character, for example, emotionally charges another, who rips out a jazz response. And vice versa. The exchange parries back and forth, each gains a march in a reverb oscillation of upper hand and lower hand, holding suspense and anticipation and doubt of outcome open.
Their clash crescendos at an emotional peak, briefly sustains anticipation. Satisfaction then relieves tension. Tension declines. Natural enough a plot movement for general practice, though emotional movement too, character emotional-moral movement as well, story movement most of all.
For the jazz voice part the clash is episodic, syncopated, non sequitur, improvised squabble on each's part, jazzy duels, for dialogue; thought, a stream-of-conscious jazzy internal duel; action, sensation, description, etc., a jazz approach to perception.
That is, a use of concrete aspects to express abstract aspects, generally; more specifically, jazz's tarnished tins and brasses, dusty mirrors and opaqued windows, smoky rooms, dim lights, and mystic liminalisms, and juxtaposed against their contraries, and emotions' juxtaposed clashes between exposed nerves and raw pleasure centers. In other words, back and forth movement sequences and simultaneous congruencies that emotionally oscillate across a jazz syncopation beat and scale.
I'm practiced enough at the above: that's my life's experience in pieces and parcels. Life is a jazz satire, picaresque, like Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men -- with all that jazz though less viscera.
Posts: 5158 | Registered: Jun 2008
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