Improvised musical performance as conversational language in jazz


  • PhD Student Elisabeta Firtescu Campău "George Enescu" National University of Arts Iași



jazz, interplay, improvisation, performance


Musical interpretation, in the form of the act of spontaneous composition, defined jazz throughout its stylistic evolution. Unlike other serious music, jazz has crystallised mainly due to the creative act of musical interpretation and less to the process of written musical construction. Within this cerebral musical genre, the act of performing took over as the fundamental role in the artistic communication between jazz musicians and audience but it especially took the form of an interrelation in the collective musical interpretation. The act of musical improvisation, in terms of jazz, is controlled by certain stylistic parameters, associated with form, phrasing and timbre, constantly relating to the harmonic, rhythmic and melodic planes. The standardisation of these parameters transformed jazz into a conversational musical language, which allows constant and organised communication between musicians through the phenomenon of interplay (the interaction of performers during the collective interpretive act). The principles of interplay are also integrated in the solo interpretation, especially in the case of pianists, who always improvise referring to the context and the relationship created between the accompaniment and the melodic plane. At the same time, just like verbal communication, mastering the jazz language involves reaching the level of free speech, with a spontaneous and contextual expression. This freedom of artistic expression involves the assimilation of the jazz language, creating a personal vocabulary and its use as a means of constructing authentic (spontaneously created) and eloquent musical discourses. Jazz language cannot be assimilated only through individual study, as is possible in the serious music of European tradition. The study and improvement of jazz musicians constantly depends on artistic socialisation and musical conversation. Jazz is a musical genre in continuous transformation, due to the fact that it is definitely more of an act of interpretation than of a compositional one. Jazz imposed musical interpretation as having the same contribution of creation with the compositional act, in terms of stylistic definition and crystallisation of an elaborated musical current or genre.



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