Author: Jesus Morel

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A reaction to Youtube video “Extreme jazz fusion reharmonization” by Adam Neely

After watching this educational and entertaining video, I was left wondering certain questions about jazz and its effects on other genres when fusing. Is jazz exclusively what it has been musically through theory or is it something more of a spirit to carry on, something that changes based on what’s necessary in that period of time. The point of jazz, especially bebop jazz, is to focus on the music and combat any mainstream music becoming too easy or comfortable. Not only “what is jazz” but how can jazz blend so well with other genres. When other genres, like pop, meets with other genres, like rock, it feels more like a transformation rather than an actual genre fusion.

Jazz is one the most easily to blend genres because from the very beginning it has been formed through a multitude of sounds, techniques and culture. Wynton Marsalis said that in New Orleans when “…Opera, military marching bands, folk music, the blues, different types of church music, ragtime, echoes of traditional African drumming, and all of the dance styles…. When all this music blended into one, jazz was born.” Jazz became immensely popular and this popularity lead to a comfortable and almost formulaic mainstream jazz. This is where bebop jazz was created to counter the commercial jazz, and in a broader sense, the commercial music. So this was to give an idea of how jazz from the beginning was already born from many genres, and also had to keep its focus on music first and foremost. With this very brief description you could say the spirit of jazz is whatever music needs it to be to keep music challenging and evolving.

Jazz theory focuses on how the chord progressions are set up in major and minor thirds, along with tensions. Also included in jazz is the inclusion of scales and improvisations. The rules of jazz naturally lends itself to adding. It can not only grab external influences but it can give itself. What Adam Neely was saying in his video is that you take these chord progressions and turn into chords with tensions, and with some different techniques or arrangements, switched up rhythms it can sound jazzy. There are many kinds of jazz fusion. The most common are with rock, funk, blues, and latin music. Even third stream jazz is a fusion with the classical genre. Jazz fusion is important because it can take any genre and open it up to be as free as the musician wants. If the musician needs music to be a challenge again a bebop type of movement can happen again, or maybe just to re-interpret a song. Ever since the 1950’s jazz fusion has always had and always will have an impact on music. Jazz fusion leads to entirely new genres, and can even change a generation of people’s musical way of thinking. Jazz fusion is the inquisitive art to keep music fresh and energetic.

Citations:

http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/bhistory/history_of_jazz.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_fusion

Random Access Memories Review

Daft Punk is an electronic music French duo who have been making music since the 1990’s. Daft Punk is most known for their influence in shaping electronic dance music, and their early work such as “Homework,” “Discovery,” and “Human After All.” This leads fans to already have an impression of their musical style despite the musical risks they may have already taken, but when they released “Random Access Memories” their sound became incredibly different, and to me the album was refreshing. The overall genre of the album is still electronic but the subgenres vary greatly, as the duo is not afraid to fuse different influences together to evoke different emotions. The band also focuses on instrumentation greatly rather than some synthesizer heavy tracks. Although it can be interpreted in many ways, this album feels like a statement that we should return to our roots, because music in general has lost a lot of what makes music special.

I admire this album because it is like a melting pot of different musical eras to create a perfect representation of Daft Punk’s disco and electronical influences. This album explores a different focus of music, a shift that goes from EDM and sample heavy songs to the production of music and what gives music a feeling of satisfaction. Random Access Memories was meant to convey the message of reflection, and how to evolve yet stay true to yourself as a musician. Musically these songs have orchestras, live instruments, varying vocals and techniques, and collaborations to make a culmination of their entire careers and yet move forward. An interesting song I heard was “Giorgio by Moroder” because this song is set up in the structure of an interview. Giorgio Moroder is one of the biggest influences for Daft Punk and they made a very interesting decision to showcase the interview as a component of the song. The purpose of the interview being a part of the song was to show the beginnings of a struggling musician. The song also portrays how no matter the living conditions or odds stacked against oneself if you stay true to music you could make something influential and add to its history.

I think the reason Daft Punk turned to its influences is because of how rapidly the world of mainstream music has been changing, but it is uncertain if these changes are for the better or worse. This album could be considered a reaction to its environment because albums, and vinyls are dying just like the cassette was dying. I noticed this because the first song I heard, besides the radio hit “Get Lucky,” was “Instant Crush” which is a phenomenal song. Outside of the album the song loses a lot of context. After hearing the Random Access Memories I felt like every song relates to one other and amplifies each other’s meaning, therefore Daft Punk wasn’t just making a collection of songs; they were making a story, a statement and proposition. Daft Punk wants a focus on the quality of whole albums, instead of one mainstream, pop focused song driving the album. An entire album Daft Punk creates now includes more soul and substance than others, who put songs put together with the purpose of selling hit singles. An example of this would be “Within,” “Touch,” Instant Crush,” and “Beyond” sharing themes of unlocking doors, reflecting on oneself, and the musical description of the emotions that make you human.

Overall this album definitely still reflects Daft Punk even though many would prefer their more EDM based style. Despite the use of live instrumentation and focus on production, Daft Punk still has many elements that indicate their style like the robotic vocals, slow build ups, and still very much funky sound present their music.  I urge anyone who wants a vintage sound in the modern era to check this album out.

Citations:
http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/18028-daft-punk-random-access-memories/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bobbyowsinski/2016/07/07/the-album-is-dying-and-good-riddance/#75a946034dbd

Blog Post: April 28th

**Due to the upload limit I could only upload this short 15 second clip. This is to show what it was like for a bit.

 

On April 28 I went to try and see a neo-classical trumpet performance but the venue had a different performance planned out instead. It was an audio engineer experimenting with electronic sounds to make music or a new sounds altogether. I decided to stay because I find the idea of experimenting with music and sounds fascinating. I bounce between thinking how pointless it may seems sometimes, and then how necessary and crucial it is to evolve in music. The focus of this performance was to improvise with a sound board on his laptop, and having that be accompanied with visuals that he recorded himself. The length of this experimental performance was 43 minutes.

 

Before the performance the engineer explained that the visuals were recorded beforehand and that he would play sounds and rhythm on top of the visuals. The subjects of these visuals varied greatly and how they were edited made it difficult at first to make out what they were. They were broccoli, flowers, construction sites, cranes, 50’s movie scenes, the sky, parks, people and some light show effects. He would play very random and ambient sounds on top of these visuals. The rhythm stayed consistent at common time. As he played on this time signature the music his improvised music was v heavily syncopated. The sounds were very foreign but you could hear a piano in there, some phone dial tones, and sometimes even some metal sounds. These samples were taken to their limits and back by stretching out the pitch, and modulating them up and down. These sounds were also quite sporadic. The rhythm was consistent but there were moments when the sounds and melodies went all the place. It was quite polyphonic. Overall the sound was ambient, and despite there being a lot of sounds and rhythms going on at the same time, it was still soothing. A lulling effect almost. These improvisations that lasted for a full 43 minutes lead to many different directions, and this was good because it created interesting moments. On the other hand this was bad because on an equal amount of moments I felt lost. Sometimes a change was too sudden to comprehend or make sense of.

 

As I listened to this piece I couldn’t stop thinking about the week that the class focused on electronic music and we discussed the Theremin, sampling a single sound, and mostly just the origins of making music through electric means to find new sounds. It felt like this piece belonged as one of the selections for a listening assignment that week. An issue that I have with this is exactly that it feels like it belongs with our pieces in the listening assignments. I was looking forward to the improvisations but quickly felt underwhelmed when it didn’t feel like something made in 2017. It felt done already, especially after the week we spent on electronic music. If anything this piece is showing the audience how the artist has grown or simply what his style was. I wouldn’t really recommend this performance simply because it already sounds like what we listened to through Youtube for our homework. Due to there being a lack of instruments or added emotion, hearing this live didn’t add much besides hearing something exclusive to that moment.