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Mikebat321

WHY didn't Bach/Mozart/Beethoven play Jazz Funk?

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I love proposing this question to people- we have basicaly the same piano, the same format, same black and white keys (ish)- and its relatively simple for us to play a basic jazz funk. So the question is, Bach/Mozart/Beethoven (BMB) are generally accepted as god-like geniuses. So do you think they ever played jazz funk?? Even a really basic one. Do you think they were CAPABLE of playing it? But just thought it was stupid or rubbish, or socially unacceptable? And Im not talking about the boogie woogie in Beethovens last Cmajor sonata- Im talking a proper jazz funk rhythm on a proper jazz funk chord (eg, C in the bass, right hand playing Enatural Bb and Eb!). Or do you think BMB were absolutely not capable of such a thing- that they were NOT EVOLVED enough to even comprehend it, which of course begs the question- what are WE not evolved enough right now to comprehend what may be a musical norm sometime in the future.

We need to ask The Doctor!

 

Mike

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Anyone can play anything. A baby could sit on the piano. So they definitely were capable of playing it. But the example chord you gave is quite dissonant, which would have not sounded well to their ears (or mine), and so would not have written it down. Nor at that time were they close to the development of jazz. The development of jazz came out of a need to break apart from social norms (I think), which at that time was only showing through the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution, but not necessarily for music. As far as I know, they were often commissioned to write music for the church or for royalty and their events, so their music needed to please the ears of the audience, otherwise heads might have been chopped off. Also, the question is also of their personal likes and dislikes of the dissonance and how receptive their ears are to it, which you referred to as an evolved hearing if one could comprehend jazz. That we may never know. But if comprehending jazz is evolved, I'm a prehistoric Neanderthal. 

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They didn't play the blues scale for the same reason they didn't drive a car. It wasn't invented yet. in any case, their god-like heads weren't full of bong resin, which, I am suspecting, yours might be. The question is, can you play a basic intergalactic rodeo trance? And should we cast a sideways glance on your ignorant soul if you cannot?

Edited by Austenite
Perhaps the question isn't the best one, but was this really called for?

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My thoughts:

Bach, Mozart and Beethoven didn't play Jazz Funk, because it didn't exist yet. Why it didn't exist yet? I think the public didn't need to have this music genre it at the time these masters lived. When Jazz Funk was 'in fashion' at the time these composers lived, I am sure they would experiment witt it.

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I know I'm kind of an exception among classical music followers, in that I don't care very much about jazz. That being said, there's no way I could envision playing anything not already invented - that is, unless I actually invented it. So I'm glad Bach was Bach, Mozart was Mozart, and Beethoven was Beethoven, rather than something they were not.

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>So I'm glad Bach was Bach, Mozart was Mozart, and Beethoven was Beethoven, rather than something they were not.

Wonderfully said, Austenite.

 

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What I cant quite get my head around is the fact for us today to play a really basic jazz funk rhythm is SO EASY, or a basic reggae is SO EASY, or a basic swing is SO EASY. So WHY WHY didnt it come just as easily into the minds of these god-like geniuses. I mean BMB created works a thousand times more complex than a basic jazz funk rhythm, so why did they never get this comparatively utter simplicity. That's what gets me.

Edited by Mikebat321

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8 minutes ago, Mikebat321 said:

What I cant quite get my head around is the fact for us today to play a really basic jazz funk rhythm is SO EASY, or a basic reggae is SO EASY, or a basic swing is SO EASY. So WHY WHY didnt it come just as easily into the minds of these god-like geniuses. I mean BMB created works a thousand times more complex than a basic jazz funk rhythm, so why did they never get this comparatively utter simplicity. That's what gets me.

 

I don't really get how that changes your question at all. Why is using a phone so easy for us now? The same reason as before; it's simply available for us, and our now standardized use of it is natural to us, but definitely not to them. 12 tone music and prime analysis was being developed around the same era, but our attitude of it now is very differently than what is was before. 

So, overall, I don't think the answers here apply any differently to that question.

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I don't think it's a matter of them "not getting it," which seems to imply that they wouldn't understand jazz-funk if they lived in modern times. All of the composers listed were generally writing on commission for specific audiences, as someone mentioned before. If the audience/patron didn't approve, they wouldn't get paid, and they'd descend into poverty and debt. Their livelihood depended on them writing artistic, expressive music that either fit within the expectations of their audiences or pushed (gently) against the borders. 

Another phrase to consider is "standing on the shoulders of giants" --- later composers, including those who developed jazz and funk, were able to do so with the benefit of centuries' worth of musical knowledge built brick-by-brick by those who came before. So not only did audience tastes change to allow for the profitable publication of jazz-funk, but artistic expression became more and more refined (and fragmented) as composers progressively exhausted the possibilities of their historical genres, freeing up each subsequent generation to explore in other directions.

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I think you are making a lot of assumptions as to what is easy and what isn’t. And then confusing that with the motivations of talented people as to why they would choose the difficult over the easy. Let me just say that there is no such thing as easy. And even if there was, no one would want it. What do they want? They want to touch Jesus’ feet, they want girls, they want respect, they want more money. Beethoven wanted simply to be  equal to Haydn and Handel and Mozart. There is no one in the history of the world who made everything as difficult as possible for himself, than Beethoven.  

You speak of funk as empirically easy. OK, that’s where you are coming from. (It's easier than a fugue). I’ve auditioned for all kinds of music as a drummer, including funk. It’s not easy. No one wants easy. Especially the audience, who is paying for something special.

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I recall a description by the Argentinian novelist Julio Cortázar (himself an avid jazz fan), who wrote about jazz as a kind of music "more international than Esperanto, planes or telephones, and primitive enough to be universal". I stopped right there in "primitive" and said "this guy nailed it". Primitive doesn't mean "easy" - quite often, it's the opposite. Food for thought...

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Thanks for your input guys, very thought provoking. You know bouncy music did exist long time before BMB, for instance Sumer Is Icumen In, an ancient English polyphonic round from the mid-13th Century, which is extremely bouncy to say the least. I think Im inclined to say that BMB were perfectly capable of playing swing-time, or reggae, but didnt think to include it in their writing because they were so busy just doing their own thing. Thats the same for modern composers too. Rachmaninov, who Im sure was very aware of proper jazz and swing-time, again didn't actually write it because he was too busy doing his own thing. But I do like to think that BMB actually did play proper jazz and swing-time etc, but didnt incorperate it into their output because it just wasnt who they were, both as individuals or as part of their society. Beethoven of course officially started breaking into it right at the end of his life.

Reflecting on the Socratic question 'is it better to be the best in one thing, or moderate in many things?' BMB were clearly examples of the former: they were who they were, did their own particular thing, and they took that ball and ran with it literally into orbit. But there were various lesser known composers who were more 'moderate in many things', such as the Baroque composer Baldassare Galuppi. Some of his harpsichord sonatas are literally like Chopin, incredible. Also just as a reflection, I think one must take into account the Jungian global collective consciousness, which I believe can be tapped into as an artist. I really dont think exposure to other cultures is the be-all-and-end-all of creating ground breaking or revolutionary ideas which dont appear at the onset to part of your own culture, quote unquote.  Do you really need to be 'touched by African culture' just to put a bit of bounce in your right hand? Really??  don't think so. Surely putting a bit of bounce in your right hand is a natural human thing that all people have anywhere in the word, and at any time..

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To me, this is kind of like asking "why didn't Shakespeare and Chaucer write in Modern English? I mean, it's so much simpler without all those 'wherefore's and 'forsooth's!" Shakespeare could never have written the lyrics to a modern rap song--he had the same 26 letters and many of the same words, but not the vocabulary or the grammar. That doesn't make him less "evolved" than Drake.

The analogy between language and music is so popular for a reason. Like language, music evolves culturally over many generations, and its grammar--the set of unwritten rules that determine how it is structured--is usually very complex and culture-specific even though it feels "natural" to someone who has grown up with it. Somebody who grew up speaking Russian and has never heard any other language will never randomly start speaking full-blown Spanish--even though Spanish is phonetically and grammatically simpler (and might seem more "natural" for that reason).

I imagine BMB probably did play around with "putting a little bounce in their right hand," though--you don't have to go too far to find examples of swing-like rhythms in Mozart and Beethoven. I wouldn't be surprised if they improvised entire pieces in what we might consider "swing-time" today--but playing bouncy rhythms is very different from playing "proper jazz," which has its own highly-specialized grammar (to go back to the language analogy).

I hadn't heard of Baldassare Galuppi before, and his stuff is interesting--I can see the Chopin analogy in terms of its virtuosity. But Chopin's music is structurally very conservative--take away all the chromatic frills and wide arpeggios, and you basically have the same kind of European folk music that had been around for centuries (and that Galuppi probably heard in his own time).

I have to admit--at first I thought this was a silly topic, but it turns out to be quite thought-provoking (especially exploring the "why" of the question). Thanks!

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Edited Thursday at 12:47 PM by Austenite
Perhaps the question isn't the best one, but was this really called for?

Was what really called for?  Just so you know, I speak from experience from many late night dorm room sessions on subjects just as nutty.

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11 hours ago, Ken320 said:

Edited Thursday at 12:47 PM by Austenite
Perhaps the question isn't the best one, but was this really called for?

Was what really called for?  Just so you know, I speak from experience from many late night dorm room sessions on subjects just as nutty.

This:

On 27/6/2017 at 11:21 PM, Ken320 said:

... in any case, their god-like heads weren't full of bong resin, which, I am suspecting, yours might be.

Granted, the whole thing can be a nutty subject, but this specific part can be easily read as some kind of insult, which we should rather avoid.

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On 7/5/2017 at 0:20 PM, Austenite said:

This:

Granted, the whole thing can be a nutty subject, but this specific part can be easily read as some kind of insult, which we should rather avoid.

 

In my country such digs are common among friends who share common experiences and foibles. The insult is not as severe as you make it, not nearly the knife in the chest, but only the slap on the cheek. In any case, you shouldn't be inserting yourself in threads. Rather, you should be busy writing music to post here instead of listing all the reasons why you can't (shout box) .

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11 hours ago, Ken320 said:

In any case, you shouldn't be inserting yourself in threads.

It's a pity that it's my duty as a Mod to do exactly that when someone reports a potential issue. I believe you, but I had to address the thing in some way.

11 hours ago, Ken320 said:

Rather, you should be busy writing music to post here instead of listing all the reasons why you can't.

Indeed. I wish I really could.

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Hey I'm not a composer but I was thinking about this myself. I would say Bach and mozart never were able to create jazz funk because to my knowledge there was no invention of the drum kit until 1800s. Thinking about it, the modern day one man percussion control is a pretty big part of any music post ragtime. It kinda keeps everything more simple with a common beat and the idea is more about shaking your leg and dancing because of the beat. In mozarts and bachs music there are no drums. You can not really dance to it,thus, the intention isnt really to dance crazy to it like they did with jazz and modern music chords. 

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They did play jazz, watch 8:38, and then watch whole video if in doubts.

 

 

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