jazz and celtic music

jazz and celtic music

I’m curious: How similar does everyone think jazz and celtic music are? There seem to be so many differences, but I can think of a couple general things in common, like they both can use improv, and their links to dance. Does anyone know anything else?

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whenever I play, it’s similar- just because I really have no exposure to traditional sessions, just performed music, and so my friends and I mainly play tunes and go right into improv so it’s sort of like jazz in that sense. Not like much of the style, just the context.

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Come on Danny, this is right down your street.

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Duhhhh…

Wot?
Me?
I’ll put something on when I’ve had some time to come up with some bullsh*t.
Wee bit bizzy right now….

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Jazz and Irish Traditional Music (the only form of Celtic music i know well) are almost as similar as apples and elephants.

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Apples and eliphants share about 85% of the same genes.
PP

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I fed an apple to an elephant once.

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Kettles of fish and kettles of bananas, I’d say.
Also what kind of jazz are you talking about?
To my knowledge, there are 3 generally accepted groups: Traditional Jazz (Dixieland) Big Band (Duke Ellington et al) and Modern Jazz (MJQ, Dave Brubeck, etc.) Then there’s yer ‘more modern’ fusion stuff (Weather Report etc.) which is way out of my stomping ground.
Glauber’s right, they differ fundamentally in structure in that a jazz piece has a theme, then there’s improvisation on the theme, then back to the the theme, another day at the office.
Oor stuff has got different parts - 1st part, then 2nd part and so on up to 8 or more. The way they fit together is like different lines in a poem rhyming (imho). You can do little variations as you play each part, generally keeping to the road map but not going on a straight road. Maybe that’s why you think the variations are like jazz.
Jazz is based on Blues music, so I read in a colour supplement once. I heard on the telly that blues music got its scales from the music of the Scottish and Irish slave masters on the plantations. So, as the rumour goes, Jazz is based on "Celtic" music, whatever that’s supposed to be. That’s my authoritative take on this one, cause I don’t really think it holds much water, but am desperately trying to scrabble some half-baked notions together to save you acute embarassment when the truth dawns that you have made a rather sweeping generalisation, trying to link apples and elephants, which probably share more than 50% of their gene pool, but look and behave totally differently.

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as far as i can see conceptually, there may be similarities, ie: the music is something of the people, for the people, in which anyone can join if they are capable, and a grass roots movement, with standards on which improvisations may be made are elements which could be said to be similar. in terms of the way the actual music works, i’m not so sure.

New Topic

Now compare spaceships to jam sandwiches.

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Fried eggs and galactic clusters

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Fired eggs and galactic clusters actually share 87% of their genes.

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Yeah - and they look and behave identically. I had a really nice breakfast this morning of bacon, sausage, galactic clusters and toast. Delicious.

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Hmm tricky.
As you probably know the infinite improbability drive involved simply hooking the logic circuits of a Bambleweeny 57 Sub-Meson Brain to an atomic vector plotter suspended in a strong Brownian motion producer. The original was of cause a nice hot cup of tea, but it is not inconceivable that the Jam in the Butty being above zero Kelvin would generate a small amount of Brownian motion, which could be amplified by any of the readily available stochastic multipliers found in any good hardware store.

PP

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That’s because fried eggs actually originated in the galactic clusters, instead of —- as popularly believed — in chicken coops.

Improbability drive

Somebody must have fired an improbability drive somewhere, because a piece of The HitchHiker’s Guide To The Galaxy just got embedded in this discussion.

There is a point to this, really

Sorry for this sillyness, but i do have a point to make. Jazz and Irish Traditional Music are as dissimilar in spirity as 2 kinds of music can possibly be. ITM is the anti-jazz. If you come to an Irish music session expecting to use your jazz skills, you will be disappointed, and probably behaved rudely towards.

This is *not* to say that anybody can’t like and play very well both kinds of music.

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Some modern players like Brian Finnegan and Mike McGoldrick sound jazzy, but to my mind they sound Irish with "jazzy" riffs thrown in. Jazz is an improvisational music whereas Irish doesn’t stray away too far from the basic tune other than small variations,(triplets octave jumps etc) Different players of course will play the same tune quite differently, not usually at the same time!
Classical and baroque type music can be played basically the same way for hundreds of years, with players (or conductors) only changing tempo and dynamics.
I heard a jazz saxophonist at a session once, she was a good player but insisted on going off on one and trying to improvise round the tunes at every opportunity. It was nearly custard pies at dawn! Needless to say I haven’t seen her around…or maybe she’s just lurking somewhere, sax and demisemiquavers at the ready. She could on the other hand be at The Restaurant at the end of the Universe waiting to riposte a Vogon love poem.

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Baroque

Amazingly enough, Baroque music is much more similar to Irish music than jazz. Like Irish, Baroque music is all about ornamentation, the stuff that you need to know but doesn’t get written in the notes.

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Don’t forget the dance forms which comprised much of the music from that period. Hornpipes, gigues, waltzs are all in there.

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I was taught that galactic clusters, specifically the spiral galaxies, were caused by God stirring the cream into His morning coffee. So there’s the 87% genetic component.

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Oh, dingo’s kidneys…

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I suppose the lack of famous recorder players is one thing that Jazz has in common with Irish Music…

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Spare a thought for poor Bulelomeiel.

Tenor banjo - that’s something Irish Tradtional Music and Trad Jazz have in common. All right, the tuning may be a bit different, but how many other genres of music are there that are bold enough to make use of this cursed instrument?

I suggest the originator of this thread enter a different discussion forum and substitute ‘Bluegrass’ for ‘Celtic Music’ in the subject line.

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Nice one, Ottery - two previously unrelated discussion threads tied up in one sentence !! Both musical forms seem to be doing OK without them,(recorder players),but if anyone wants to be first………. I remain to be convinced. We already have one totally superfluous recorder player in my local session. Probably a reasonable player of the recorder, but, in my opinion, with no knowledge of, or feel for traditional music, Irish or otherwise - and I think that’s usually the problem.

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Tenor banjo

Tenor banjo a jazz instrument? I don’t think so, at least not currently. I think it was intended as a parlour instrument to play violin pieces, similar to the mandolin.

Speaking of Tenor banjo and off-topic posts, i saw Bela Fleck on TV the other day, talking about his recording in the latest Chieftains album. You should see the guy playing Irish music on a 5-string banjo, using watchamacallit finger things, doing triplets and everything without using a pick. Not your average banjo player.

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A few people play Irish music on a 5-string. I’ve never heard Bela Fleck do it but I’m sure he can. Chris Grotewohl is pretty good and also Tom Somebodyorother. I don’tknow why anyone would take up the 5-string with the intention of playing Irish music though. If you already play bluegrass or something, I can see adding Irish music. I think that’s what Chris G did. It seems a lot harder to play Irish music on the 5-string than to play tenor. Once you get all the ornamentation down they sound pretty much the same.

Steve

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Gluaber, tenor banjo is a staple in Dixieland Jazz, though most players I’ve heard use it to chord accompaniment rather than play lead. Personally, I have a hard time thinking of Dixieland as "jazz" because it’s so often accompanied by blue-haired little old women in 1870s red satin can-can dresses and men wearing straw hats.

And remember: "An Elephant a Day keeps the Doctor Away."

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Right, i forgot Dixieland. When people talk about jazz i tend to think of blues and bebop, but there’s also all that other stuff. Hmm, if Dixieland is jazz, maybe Irish music is jazz too. :-)

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Hmm, I suppose after the first of the daily elephants you’d never need a doctor again.

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Exactly Trevor.
The funny thing is, 85% is actually a very small portion when you’re talking about sharing genetic material. I mean, humans and chimps share over 99%, but I’d wager you’ve seen damn few chimps playing the pipes at your local session. (Bodhrans yes, but that’s another story :o) So Pied *must* be agreeing with us about how different jazz and Irish music really are.

Imagine going to the circus to watch apples roll around in a parade, or getting a job as the apple keeper at a zoo…..

And I’d hate to think about the mess we’d be in if Johnny Appleseed had been Johnny Elephantseed instead….eeeewwwwwwwwww!
:o)

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…And while satire runs rampant, have Zina tell you about "The 5th Elephant!"

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Yes, I’ve read it, as I have almost all of Terry Pratchett’s discworld novels. Imo, one of the best, and most entertaining, writers of English in the last 50 years, at least.

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The Encyclopaedia Galactica defines Jazz as a colourless, volatile, fluid type of music, whereas it defines Irish music as the final clinching proof of the non-existence of God…..

{For the uninitiated, Irish music is so perfectly brilliant that only the existence of God could have been behind its inception, and is therefore a Proof of God’s existence. But God, knowing that proof of his/her existence is untenable because any such proof denies any Faith, and without Faith the God concept is worthless, thus, once having so revealed him/herself, ‘promptly vanishes in a puff of logic’ - I recall that’s how the Prophet Adams put it.}

Enjoy the War

Danny

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The war between the Celts and the Jazzites?

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No, the war of the grownups with no imagination who share over 99% of their DNAs with chimps, to great consternation on the part of said chimps, who are now regretting the day when they started walking erect and thinking that a return to the sea might be in order.

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LOL — see what you lads get up to when my back is turned! You guys, as Bridie has said before, are feckin’ hilarious!

Zina

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I played jazz for about 15 years, now i play ITM and sometime
I miss the improvvisation. The little variations on the ITM tunes are not like a jazz impovvisation. When I’ll be able to improvvise on ITM, i’ll become a Buddha. ( under the name Paddy O’Coltrane )

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Traditional Irish music on a 5-string banjo - Tony Fritado’s yer man.

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Tom Hanway is another one who plays ITM well on the 5-string. He published an instructional book through Mel Bay on playing Irish and Celtic tunes on the five string banjo, which is, as far as I could find, the only such resource for aspiring 5-string Irish musicians.

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Oops, my mistake. I seem to remember that Chris Grotewohl has an instructional book out as well.

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Hey Kenny,

I’ve seen Tony Furtado perform live at the Winter Hawk 2000 Festival. The focus of said festival is bluegrass & beyond. Tony lit up the stage with his amazing facility on the 5-string banjo. He even pulled out a bottleneck and played slide banjo.

Given the context of the festival I was pleasantly surprised to find 1 Irish Traditional Music session had formed in the campground. There may have been more. This festival covers a lot of acreage near Hilsdale, NY, USA.

Tony’s website makes some mention of playing his celtic music and I’d love to hear what he can do.

Peace (can I still use that?)
Gra5ity

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I’ve learnt it’s wise not to comment when you folks are defining the borders of your ghetto, but for what it’s worth here at the Manchester Centre for undermining ITM’s ethnic cleanliness, we are quit happy with our modest success at introducing alien instruments such as the Uillean Pipes, German Flute, Violin, Guitar , Bouzouki, Bodhran, Banjo, Mandolin and Low-Whistle. We’re particularly proud of the "Shaky Egg" which took minuets of development.
Also are cunning plan of re-introducing jazzy American arrangements via Da Danaan and passing them of as native worked very well.
All in All things are going rather well and our ultimate goal of introducing the Kazoo to sessions is on target.

All the best

Pied (the Bull) Piper

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What about the shaky galactic cluster? Don’t tell me it’s not a traditional instrument - I saw a guy play one with a capo on in a session on the telly.

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P.P., nobody is defining the boundaries of any guetto, just defining the (living) boundaries of Irish Traditional Music, which seem to be very consistent everywhere, despite fringe phenomena such as exotic instruments, harmonization, improvisation, etc. You’re free to so whatever you want, but a beginner will have an easier time learning ITM on the whistle than on the recorder. A beginner will have an easier time when she comes to a session if she understands that it’s not the same as a jazz jam session. Once you learn the stuff, once you become an advanced musician, then do whatever you want. However, if you want to start on this kind of music by playing free-style improvisations on the tenor recorder, your learning curve will be a lot steeper and longer than necessary. That’s all. I really don’t believe it’s much different in Manchester either.

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Gra5ity, I’ve played a bit with Tony (or rather, let’s make that, he played and I played with him), and he’s a lovely guy and a great musician. He’s got a great feel for the music, his own, of course, and Irish trad, and he knows quite a bit about this stuff. His swing is lovely! I rarely see him these days as he was a friend of my teachers and not mine, but I’m quite sure he’d know exactly who I am if he saw me again ten years from now. We used to joke that his banjo was held together with duct tape, because he has the head dampened with the stuff almost completely. He prefers the sound that way, he says.

Pied, if you’ve learned not to comment, I wish you’d demonstrate that you’ve done so instead of making snide little comments about how you’ve learned not to.

Zina

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Phhhhhh… Here we go again…
I know I’m a boring old fart stick in the mud, but I happen to like my sessions with as few elephants, galactic clusters, rainsticks, apples, saxes, eggs - shaken or fried (although we got egg mayo sarnies last night), bongos, kazoos, recorders, jam sandwiches, juxtaposed jazz musicians and excess bodhranistas as is legally possible to have.
That said, do your own thing wherever you want, but as Glauber alludes to, don’t expect such gatherings to be the breeding ground of future musicians with the talents of McGoldrick & Donnelly. They’re more likely to have started off at normal sessions.
The nearest parallel I can objectively think of with JM and oor music (apart from Flook - did someone previously mention them?) is some of the old Irish-American 78’s immortalised on that Ron Kavana collection Farewell to Ireland (someone previously quoted it with a different title). Some of the Morrison numbers have a jazz-style guitar accompaniment, but the most that can be said is that there’s a jazz Infuence and no more. It’s still Irish music through and through. Sounds good though…..

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What’re "sarnies"?

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"Sarnie" - colloquialism for "sandwich".

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Ah. Shoulda guessed from the usage. We call ‘em "sammies" round hereabouts. Hmm. Egg salad sammies. Yum. Lunchtime, I’m thinking.

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Try galactic cluster sarnies, Zina.
…oh yeah.. forgot to mention also: that reel set of Dinnie O’Brien’s followed by Farewell To Connaught sounds a bit bluesy, but again, they’re 100% Irish traditional tunes, written as 2-part reels.
So geezabrek, bulelomeiel and PP.

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One fact that people seem to have missed: "celtic" music and jazz are both based around modes. This is a *very very* important similarity, and it sets both types of music apart from other genres such as classical. So in part they are tonally similar. The tonal difference is that in jazz, altered chords are allowed, i.e. chords that allow other notes not contained in the major scale, so that e.g. C and F# could appear in the same chord. "Celtic" music on the other hand only uses diatonic chords if that means anything to anyone who has done any theory.

As evidence for this I present exhibit A: "anyone who backs this music on recordings". You will find that Dennis Cahill, Michael Holmes and Brian McDonough out of Dervish, Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine etc are *all* using jazz chords *all the time* in their playing, even if they are not doing it obviously. This is because the music is modal like jazz music.

In other words, not quite "apples and elephants".

Just because you can’t see the similarities does not mean that they aren’t there…

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In my 1st paragraph "C and F# was a bad example; read "C, F# and G#".

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Dow,

I’m not sure I understand how jazz is based on modes. I had an early interest in jazz when I was a teen ager and I still listen to some. I never knew anything at all about theory at that time. The first time I ever heard of modes at all was when "modal jazz" began to appear in the 1960s. I looked around on the web a bit for modes and jazz and found this statement by Tyler Trezise:

http://members.rogers.com/tyler.t/proj/modejazz.htm

"Many people consider Miles Davis

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Whichever way you look at it, jazz chord sequences are based on modes, and you would have to use modal theory (not classical harmony theory) if you were to analyse them. The chord sequences and the modes cannot be separated - they are part of the same tonal system.

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Jazz is a pretty vast entity, but some of the things that make it what it is are:

(1) rhythmically: syncopation ("it don’t mean a thing it ain’t got swing").

(2) harmonically: unresolved dissonances, intervals of 4ths, diminished 5th, major 7th, etc, chord sequences, chord substitutions, all that jazz.

(3) melodically: improvisation.

(4) attitude: freedom, individuality, personal style, cool

The only place i’ve heard of modes is in the use of modal scales for improvisation in modern jazz (you won’t see that in Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans style, for example), especially bebop. The modal scales are a device used to learn how to improvise "over" specific chords. I’m not sure it even fits with the theory, it’s just a device for learning. You get that from guitar players mostly (or maybe i had more contact with guitar players than with other kinds of improvisers). I can see how Getz wouldn’t do that, since he was a master melodist. I’ve always seen these scales as a way to cheat, because in bebop the chords change so fast that it’s really difficult to come up with an improvised melody.

Of course there are experimentations such as the Miles Davis album mentioned above, and much more, but that’s not mainstream jazz.

The blues, on the other hand, are based on a couple of pentatonic scales (major and minor blues pentatonic). The blues have a much more rigid structure, based on 12 bars which are divided in 3 unequal parts (6 + 3 + 3 bars, i think). In this, the blues are a little "like" Irish music, which is also based on rigid formulas.

In the end it’s all just notes and pauses, right?

g

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Steve, you say in your middle sentence that jazz is not based on modes, but that contradicts the rest of your post - I’m confused - did you mean it the other way round? Very interesting link by the way. Lots of really geeky theory - I love all that :-)

The jazz chord sequences are based mostly on 2 modes: ionian and aeolian.

Glauber, I see your point about blues being similar to Celtic in terms of its rigid structure.

Of course when I mentioned jazz and modes I meant more modern jazz, as opposed to the old banjo playing stuff or whatever. But still I’m hearing you trying to divorce the chord structure from the modal scales themselves. Modes just don’t work like that. They are certainly *not* just a way of cheating in order to be able to improvise over certain chords. And they are also certainly *not* just a device for learning. The modal scales and the chord progressions are part of a whole harmonic system that I think can be thought of as a single unit which this type of jazz and ITM have in common. The fact that the modal scales forms the basic tune in ITM, whereas in jazz the modal scales happen to be used for free improvisation over chords is neither here nor there. What is important is that they use the same system. The two genres just use it differently. Glauber, modes in jazz *are* part of jazz theory. If you’re not sure how they fit, or how each modal scale or chord is used and why, then you’re just going to have to take my word for it :-)

We’re cross-posting here. Referring to your last post Glauber, jazz chord sequences make full use of all the modes, and the chord sequences are constantly shifting between them to the extent that the overlap between each mode becomes ambiguous. (Just like in ITM).

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Maybe this is the problem that I was having. In Irish music the whole tune is usually, but not always, in a single mode so we say that tune is in Amix or whatever. But in jazz a shift in a chord may simultaneously indicate a shift in a scale and this happens with high frequency within a single piece. For instance going from an E7 chord to an A7 would imply a change in the scale you are using in your solo.

Steve

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Yes, but I’ve always thought (and I’ve said this before on other threads) that it’s over-simplistic for us to say that "this tune is in Amix" because modes give us so much flexibility in the way we can view what we’re playing. It just so happens that it’s much easier for us to label tunes like that. As for the E7 to A7 thing - you could use that in ITM if you wanted. In a tune in the key of D major, you could use an E7-A7-D chord progression at the end of a part to give a particular effect. It wouldn’t usually matter that the G# in the E7 chord is alien to the D major scale, because it resolves itself. The difference is that in ITM, the tune being played over the top would stay the same. In jazz, the person improvising over E7-A7 has a choice whether to swap from Emix to Amix, or from Dlyd to Amix, or they could improvise F# phrygian over the A7…

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Dow - in your opening gambit, what jazz do you mean and what classical? I find it difficult to swallow that "classical" music is not based on modes - and also you thus implied that altered chords not ‘allowed’ in classical. Does your definition of classical include, for example, the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos?

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Yes, most jazz pieces are in Ionian and aeolian. But, they are thought of as major and minor; also, those two scales are the most often used scales in pop music. The modal jazz that Davis and Coltrane did on Kind of Blue is not the same kind of modes that we think of in ITM; their modal nature is more influenced by music from India. I think (this is just a personal observation) the word "modal" when used to describe them could also have refer to how the tunes "modulate" up a half step. Like, in So What, we go from Dminor to Eb Minor (somebody correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t played that tune in a while).
Modal scales are used over certain chords, like D mixolydian could be used over a D7 chord. But Dow is right; in ITM, the use is quite different. What’s more, modal music was originally not chordal at all; applying chords to it is not exactly "traditional" (as if people thought that mattered (: ). The only reason that’s done is most people don’t know any other way to do it; the old modal improvisation and counterpoint stuff isn’t taught anymore.

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Danny, by jazz I’m talking about contemporary jazz only, not old-style with set chord progressions. By classical I mean the period of music that revolutionised the way harmony was used in music between the Baroque and Romantic periods, and characterised by the music of Beethoven and Mozart (i.e. "classical" in its proper use of the term - not as the common term used to describe all types of "serious music" - whatever that’s supposed to mean!). Their harmonic system was based on the relationship between chords I-IV-V and the strength of the leading-note to tonic resolution, both in the major and (harmonic) minor. ITM and jazz modal harmony is not based solely on I-IV-V. Both of these styles are more harmonically sophisticated in a way, in that they take each of the chords (or modal scales if you prefer) I to VII and explore fully how each relates to each other, giving each chord different functions at different times, depending on what mode you’re in at any one time. Both genres explore our Western major scale to its full potential, experimenting with different tonal centres - something that the classical composers *never* did. So if ever a classical musician tries to tell you that ITM is "simple" they’re way off the mark, not just because of the complexity of the ornamentation etc, but also simply because of the system upon which it is based.

Loscann7, the Indian scales are a completely different thing. They are scales that are not based around the Western major scale. Some scales like this contain notes at frequencies inbetween the notes of our Western scale, and that’s why jazz musicians find them interesting. Jazz musicians who use these scales would be colouring their basic modal harmony with them. The basic modes used by Miles Davis are the very same modes we use in ITM - mixo, aeo, especially dorian (jazz musos love dorian) and phrygian etc.

The word "mode" does not describe how tunes modulate up half a step like in "So What". That is simply key modulation and has absolutely nothing to do with the way modes relate to each other and the way you’d shift between the modes of the major scale. It’s simply key change. "Mode" refers to the way each one has a certain framework and therefore also creates a unique mood. Steve’s link above talks about this briefly. I think it said (something like) mixo makes you feel a bit melancholy, phrygian is lively and feels as though it needs to "get somewhere". Every "mode" is what the word describes - it’s a unique "feel". Players of Irish music will be familiar with the feel of the dorian versus aeolian or mixolydian. Similarly, an accomplished jazz musician can recognise (say) the phrygian mode either by what is suggested in the chord progressions or by the improvised melody. In the same way, you could play them a stupid chord like Eb7#5b9, and they’d be able to tell you immediately what the chord is and what scale you can play over the top of it, because they’ve heard it hundreds of times before.

Also you said that "applying chords to ITM is not exactly traditional". I think (and I’ve said this before also) that pipe drones and to a lesser extent fiddle double stops suggest certain harmonies to the ear, and the brain can fill in the gaps, even if there are no guitars present. For instance, if a piper plays a tune in Ador like um … "The Pipe On The Hob" with a drone on D in the bass, it becomes easier for the brain to make sense of that tune in terms of Dmix rather than Ador. In other words the brain fills in the gaps and you end up with it being based round a chord of D7sus2 (now we’re getting really geeky). So my point is that harmony in ITM is not a new thing. When people started backing ITM on guitars and pianos, they were filling in the modal harmonies that were already implicit in the melody and drones.

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I should add that this D7sus2 chord that would be outlined by the pipe chanter and D drone is made up of the notes D-E-A-C. That’s a diatonic jazz chord. And *that* is the link between ITM and jazz.

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The relationship between Jazz harmony and ITM harmony might be a little tenuous. But… one thing I haven’t heard mentioned much is the feel. Jazz and ITM both swing like there is no tomorrow. I know we have all heard what happens when a classical player with no exposure to Jazz or ITM attempts to play it off of a score. They might be fine musicians, but without the swing it don’t mean a thing. These musicians can be rehabilitated with liberal application of pub time.

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Hi, while I totally agree that jazz and ITM are all played with swing, the way it is swung is not the same. Check out this dreadful CD (you can hear some clips there from it too):
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005B8RM/

This CD is a perfect example of how the jazz swing and the ITM swing are different and can be uncomplimentary (putting it mildly) when played together.
(by the way, the piper on this CD is none other than Paddy Keenan and the concertina player Niall Vallely)

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Speaking of cross-genre albums that fall a little short…

Yo-Yo Ma (whom I have a profound respect for) put out an album entitled Appalachia Waltz in which he takes a stab at some trad Irish tunes. Technically amazing but won’t move your soul an inch.

Schy

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Ma Yo Yo

It was amusing to hear he do "Mood Indigo" in Wynton Marsallis’ radio program once. We can’t deny the guy has courage. :-)

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Eldarion - just checked that link - it leaves one thinking, what’s the point? none of it fits. Two perfectly good musical traditions being sacrificed for Progress(?).
It really does sound like an apple tree being grafted onto an elephant which hasn’t been anaesthetised.

Danny

Re: jazz and celtic music

The link between ITM and jazz is not "tenuous". If you still don’t believe me here’s a real life example. Michael Holmes (bouzouki tuned GDAd) and Brian McDonagh (mandola tuned DAea) are backing on "Apples In Winter" (Bm setting) on the Dervish album "Harmony Hill". The sound is hardly jazz fusion, but the jazz is there hidden in the harmonies. Here is a full analysis of what chords are being played by whom:

K: Baeo
Ignoring his top d string because it hardly sounds, MH plays:
|:Bm [B,FB]|Em [G,EB]|A [A,Ec]|F#m [A,Fc] A7sus4[A,Gd]|
Bm [B,FB]|Em [G,EB]|A [A,Ec]|A [A,Ec]:|
|:G [G,Gd]|G [G,Gd]|Bm [B,Fd] G [G,Dd]|A [A,Ec]|
G [G,Gd]|Gmaj7 [G,Fd]|Em7 [EBd]|Em7 [EBd]:|

At the same time BM is playing on the mandola:
|:B7sus4 [FBea]|E7sus4 [DBea]|A [Ecea]|A [Ecea] A7sus4 [Gdea]|
B7sus4 [FBea]|E7sus4 [DBea]|A [Ecea]|A [Ecea]:|
|:Gadd9 [DBga]|Gadd9 [DBga]|D [Fdfa] D [DAfa]|A [Ecea]|
Gadd9 [DBga]|D [Fdfa]|Esus4 [EBea]|Esus4 [EBea]:|

When the two play together the backing chords become:
|:B7sus4|Em11|A|A6 A7sus4|
B7sus4|Em11|A|A:|
|:Gadd9|Gadd9|Bm G7sus2|A|
Gadd9|G7sus2|E7sus4|E7sus4:|

These maj7’s, min7’s, 7sus4’s, 6’s, m11’s, add9’s, 7sus2’s and sus4’s are *jazz chords*.

Re: jazz and celtic music

You will all note that I have carefully refrained from mentioning Welsh hornpipes in this context :)

Re: jazz and celtic music

Now, wait a second here, Mark. Is what you’re telling us that the links between Jazz and Irish *accompaniment* for Irish trad music are not tenuous? I’d probably be able to agree with that. Keeping in mind that Irish accompaniment is relatively new, it’s hardly surprising that there would be modal similarities to jazz, as I’d imagine a great many Irish trad accompanists these days would be familiar with jazz accompaniment as well, since jazz has had a strong influence on everything from rock and roll to the newest crop of classical music. But whether there are strong links between jazz and Irish tunes is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, don’t you think? :) Many Irish tunes have been around considerably longer than jazz. Perhaps Irish tunes influenced jazz, d’you think?

Zina

P.s.

To me there’s a strong similarity between Irish traditional music (I hear it especially in the singing) and Chinese folk music, but I doubt that there’s a strong link. I don’t know what makes a "jazz" chord, but isn’t it probably what we say it is? Just like, what makes an ITM chord? I don’t think it’s enough to say that there are implied chords, because the implication is going to be different for every person and every society sub-set — a person used to a different scale is not going to hear the same chord as someone used to a tempered scale. So a Chinese accompanist may use an entirely different set of chords for an Irish tune, because their "implied" chord that they hear will be different from yours.

Re: jazz and celtic music

I completely see what you’re saying Zina. I’ll explain what I mean. I’m not saying that it is only the accompaniment that provides the link. Whilst jazz has obviously had a strong influence on the chords played by ITM backers, I am saying that this is no coincidence, because ITM and (contemporary) jazz are both based round the same modal scales. Modal scales have to be harmonised in a certain way using certain chords; what chords you use would be different for each backer like you say Zina, but nevertheless, those chords are plucked from the same "chord pool" that’s available to the backer. It just so happens that the jazz chord pool is very much bigger than the ITM pool.

And as for the tunes, (and I’m trying to pinpoint exactly the extent of the similarity here) the only similarity is that they are based around the same (basic) scales - i.e. the modes. With jazz melodies, you’re allowed to add all the other notes in the chromatic scale whilst still adhering to the underlying modes. And obviously the structure of jazz "melodies" is free improvisation, as opposed to a strict melodic structure and repetition like you have in ITM tunes. So I’m not saying that the similarities extend beyond that. Yes, they are totally different genres, and their historical links might be tenuous, but they are based on the same basic modal (and therefore by definition harmonic) structure.

To deny this would be to say that it would be perfectly okay to back ITM using only chords from the classical harmony of mozart, or the microtonal harmonies of indian music. And I’m sure that you’d disagree with that :-)

Also, Zina, this idea that backing ITM with chords is somehow an artificial thing has to be false. I realise that it is only relatively recently that people have started using guitars and things to provide filled-out harmony, but you have to look at the melodies themselves. It’s no coincidence that they often outline major or minor chords, because that is a Western cultural phenomenon. As an example that everyone knows (and perhaps would rather not!), take the Atholl Highlanders. Because of the limitations of the scale of the Highland pipes, the tune only contains a set number of notes. The first couple of bars are K:A |e3 ecA|ecA Bcd… This outlines an A major chord - a Western invention. The number of and positioning of notes between each octave and 5th is arbitrary, and only sounds nice to us because we are brought up with it and it is embedded in our culture. Someone from another part of the world who had had no exposure to Western music and had only heard scales with 40-odd notes in them would wince at the sound of it. The development of the modal scales is a Western invention which has constantly been developing. ITM uses the modal scales only to a limited extent. Jazz has taken those scales and messed them about by adding notes and stuff, e.g. mad scales like the Lydian b7 and Super Locrian cited in Steve’s link above.

So I accept that they are totally different genres of music, but I don’t accept that there are *no* links and that they are "like apples and elephants". Just because historically speaking there were no backers playing harmonies does not mean that the framework for producing harmonies was not always there. The scales and accompanying harmonies by definition are born together, even if they don’t develop and grow together. The harmonies played by ITM backers now are not just some arbitrary system that has developed recently and become fashionable. It is based on a complex mathematical system that has been developing for thousands of years.

Re: jazz and celtic music

Hi Zina, yes I do agree that ITM does have some similiarities with certain subsets of Chinese folk music, especially the tunes which are more pentatonic in nature. When I heard Kevin Crawford play "Geoge White’s Favourite", I thought part A sounded like a melody of an instrumental for a Beijing opera. Jiangnan dulcimer (yang qin) tunes also have winding and brisk melodies, something like Irish tunes. (but not quite)

And to answer the last bit of your post, Zina, I’d say that because the chords and progressions you use for ITM have to come from the "modal pool of chords and progressions" (by definition because the tunes are modal), then your Chinese person who may not have been exposed to this pool would have great difficulty backing ITM. He or she would probably have to make do with relying on the chords used for a genre of music they’re more familiar with such as the classical I-IV-V. Really, it’s just like you’ve always said: the tune dictates the chords. If those chords are not in keeping with the ITM modal scales the tunes are based on, then they will clash and everyone will glare at the backer (or bitch behind their back!)

Re: jazz and celtic music

Mm. I don’t know that I think that backing ITM with chords IS an *artificial* thing, but I know for quite some time it was considered just plain wrong by the "old men" (by which I am not referring to age) — Kevin Burke told me that he remembers the best players standing up and walking out of a session if a guitarist (or bodhran) case came in the door, as late as the early 70’s. I suspect that most people have gotten over this aversion to backing of the music by now. Personally, I quite like it, but I’m a product of my generation, of course, and I started listening to this stuff well post-Bothies.

Of course, if jazz scales are more complex than that of those used by trad accompanists, then it could be argued that there’s more differences than there are similarities, as well as for arguing for more similarities than differences. You could go either way with the arguments and easily switch sides in the middle and have it still work out just fine. When the dust settles, they’re ultimately different in feel regardless of chords used — you’re not going to mix one up with the other, I don’t think, regardless of how much jazz influences there are in the modern accompanists skillset. :)

Eldarion, I have a friend who plays a Slavic folk music (to my shame, I can’t remember exactly which kind) and his feeling is the same about that and this stuff as well! :) Of course, there are historical links between the Celts and Turkey, so who knows if that Eastern influence sort of somehow spread back up the Irish gold road posited by some researchers. Certainly there’s a strong connection between the eastern influences of art and some of the different periods of Celtic art (notably the vegetal styles, which often used Celtic versions of the palmette and the lotus bud).

Re: jazz and celtic music

Emm…link? I meant weblink. Try listening to it. Horrid.

Re: jazz and celtic music

Zina, I agree - I think that there are far more differences than similarities whichever way you look at it, and jazz has developed the modal stuff to such an extent and uses the basic system in such a different way to ITM that they are always different in feel. But I do think it’s interesting that their fundamental tonal system is the same, and you’re probably right Zina when you say that jazz nicked the modal system from ITM and other types of traditional music. I’m afraid I don’t know much about the roots of jazz, other than the fact that impressionist composers like Debussy and Ravel were starting to use (what we now call) jazz harmonies in their music, and that jazz was influenced from all sides including ethnic music from different parts of the world. I think it’s interesting to find where the parallels are and why and how they differ, but then I’m just a geek!

Re: jazz and celtic music

…and for the record that fusion stuff on the link doesn’t work and is horrid. It’s how NOT to use jazz chords in ITM.

Re: jazz and celtic music

It is undeniable that many examples of the use of "jazz chords" can be found in modern renditions of Celtic music, or Rock music, or Country music. I have a CD of a really cool Norwegian band called Chateau Neuf that uses "jazz chords" with traditional Norwegian music. David Grisman has been known to use jazz chords with Bluegrass when he feels like it. I think the main thing we can draw from this is that "jazz chords" can be made to fit practically anything.

I wasn’t quite as horrified by the music at the posted link as everyone else seemed to be. I am pretty easily entertained. It did seem that the musician’s could have listened to each other better. It’s like they started with a concept "I will play an ITM tune and you will play a jazzy shuffle on your trap set, and damn it, it will work". Well, it would have worked a lot better if either had been more flexible with their grooves. Even so, an interesting experiment. They say you learn more from failure than success.

Re: jazz and celtic music

…The difference being that rock, country and bluegrass music do not explore the rich possibilites of modes as do jazz and ITM…

Re: jazz and celtic music

Quel horreur! Even including Rush, Mark? *snort*

Re: jazz and celtic music

:-)

Re: jazz and celtic music

What scales qualify as modes and what ones don’t. Is the use of the term mode, as in modal jazz, restricted to the ecclesiastical modes, whether the seven usually given, or the addition of the plagal modes? Are there Indian or Arabic scales that are also modes and what makes them so as distingushed from a scale which isn’t a mode?

Steve

Re: jazz and celtic music

Here are a couple more links. Maybe someone can follow the first one. I can’t but it contains some general statements. The second one is part of a large web site which I am browsing and looks pretty good.

http://www.mashav.com/sha/The%20Language%20Of%20%20Modern%20Jazz%20Music/The%20Language%20Of%20%20Modern%20Jazz%20Music.htm

http://www.outsideshore.com/school/almanac/html/Elements_Of_Jazz/Fundamentals/Harmony.htm

Those are pretty long. I hope they work.

Steve

Re: jazz and celtic music

Don’t worry if you can’t follow the first one. It’s written in bad English. Basically it’s talking about new ways of getting from one chord to another through complex chromatic modulations - called "symmetric harmony". This means instead of doing a simple ii-V7-I cadence, you get e.g. from your ii to your I through "lots of little V7-I’s", passing through a million different keys as you go. This type of progression has little to do with modal scales and harmony really, and nothing at all to do with ITM, but it’s quite interesting anyway :-)

Re: jazz and celtic music

As for the second link - I’m not sure that that explains very well what modal harmony is. It kind of vaguely says "it’s not to do with the frequency of chord changes, it’s that it’s modal, but to be able to understand that you have to know the rules of harmony first". I think that’s a bit of a cop-out. If you click on the "modal" link, it goes on a bit about "So What", saying that it’s modal because it seems to have a tonal centre on Dmin, and then it changes to Ebmin for a while and therefore it’s modal. That’s simply not the whole story. The Dm to Ebm change is simply a key modulation - not "seeming to be one" as it claims, but it simply *is* one. "So What" is modal because the scales it’s based on are D dorian and Eb dorian, which are modal scales. It happens that the chord of Dm establishes the tonal centre of D dorian effectively, but if someone playing "So What" wanted to add some more chords in over the D dorian improvisation, they could, as long as those chords contain notes in the modal scale of D dorian.

Here’s a simple way to understand what modes are, if you ignore for the moment how they are used in jazz. If a musician friend is playing an instrument that can only play a scale of G major, and he or she asks me to compose some trad tunes for it, I can either be very boring and make all the tunes in G major, or I can use the same scale but alter the tonal centre of that scale, i.e. compose in different modes. For ITM this would be Ador, Dmix and Eaeo (E "natural minor"). Now I can go ahead and compose tunes that are all in the same key (1#), but all have very different moods or varying degrees of "minorness" and "majorness". Now, if I were to decide to back these compositions on a guitar, I wouldn’t be able to just play G major progressions all the time. I would have to be prepared to think in different harmonic frameworks for each mode. For each of them, I’m allowed to play 6 basic chords of G, Am, Bm, C, D and Em, but for the different modes, the emphasis on each chord and its function in the harmony is different.

Modal jazz is the same. Basically you’re limiting yourself to certain scales, so in order to improvise interesting stuff, you need to think about creating thoughtful, melodic phrases with the set of notes that you’ve got. The way to do this is to explore different tonal centres in the way I’ve described above. The difference is that in jazz you’re improvising freely and because the structure is not so rigid as ITM you can drift around the tonal centres willy-nilly, lingering for as long as you want on one centre (even for a whole piece).

Re: jazz and celtic music

Steve,
In answer to your question about the difference between modes and scales:

A scale is an octave divided into a certain number of notes at different frequencies. It just so happens that the Western chromatic scale is divided into 12. ITM uses a 7-note scale for most of the time. Other parts of the world such as India divide the octave differently.

A mode is where you take a certain scale - it could be the Western major scale, or an Indian scale, and you start on different notes to create a different feel to the scale and key. You could of course say: wow, a new scale has been created, but if the octave has been divided in the same way then it makes more sense to talk about them as different modes of the same scale, otherwise you’d be ignoring the fact that for example Gmaj and Dmix are the same key and scale. Have a look at this link to read about Indian modes for comparison:

http://www.musicalnirvana.com/introduction/indian_scales.html

And just one last note of clarification, Steve, when I’ve been talking about modes in jazz and ITM and about them being a Western invention, I’m talking about specifically the Western modes, not ones like in the link above.

Re: jazz and celtic music

Thanks for all the information Mark. I had also found a couple of Indian music links that discussed their modes.

Steve