"It's Such a Nice Melody. Why Jazz it Up?" (together with William Westney)

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In a conversational lecture format with live and recorded musical examples, we explore the ways in which the meaning of a melody depends on the rhythm that is employed in its instantiation. When rhythm, meter and/or tempo are altered with regard to a melody, does something get ruined, or do new perceptions and possibilities open up? Classical musicians often express scorn for arrangements that jazz up its elevated melodies, but in some cases this has caused millions more to fall in love with the music simply as great "tunes." One theory we will explore is that jazzing it up generalizes the music - puts it into a generic groove as a toe-tapper of some sort: waltz, techno, ballad with a brush-beat, or whatever. So perhaps we lose the emotional nuance that classical genres deliver so well, but we also gain a new sense of the appeal of the tune in and of itself. The swinging physicality of jazz rhythms, the ways the movements they engender locate themselves in a lower center of gravity in the body, have pedagogical implications for teaching rhythm in general which will also be analyzed. Finally, we reflect upon the habits of Western listeners, whereby we seem to feel the need to ascribe rhythmic structure to any melody we hear.

Emneord: Rhythm, jazzing it up
Periode19. nov. 2009
BegivenhedstitelThe Role of Rhythm in Musical Meaning. The 15th National Meeting of NTSMB,  (Network for Cross-Disciplinary Studies of Music and Meaning/Netværk for Tværvidenskabelige Studier af Musik og Betydning).
ArrangørCynthia M. Grund & Søren R. Frimodt-Møller on behalf of NTSMB.
PlaceringHelsinkiVis på kort


  • Rhythm, jazzing it up