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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Is brilliant music that is just plain funny not seen as being as serious or as deep as music that has a more serious tone? and focuses on technical mastery and the creation of often times complex melodies, harmonic structures, etc. that supposedly have more artistic weight and meaning? But sometimes, music can be played to create an anti-music effect, that is, a music with a grain of salt, not very serious, but that doesn't mean it's not brilliant music. It's brilliant purely because of it's message.

To me, guys like Charlie Parker or John Coltrane are the epitome of "serious" jazz playing. But, someone like Louis Jordan is a heck of a lot funnier, and to me, this is mind-blowing music (jazz) too. But no one would think to give him the kind of credit guys like Parker would get. Would most serious musicians and serious jazz fans see this as very worthwhile music? Even though his sax solos are just a fraction of his whole act, it all ties in together to create what it is... and in some rather serious (imo) jazz playing, such as dixieland, there is sometimes huge technical facility AND humor. But no one takes note of those old dixieland cats these days, not in the eyes of the mainstream anyway. Dixieland is what -used- to be called jazz. I'm thinking of people like Eddie Condon, Bud Freeman, etc.

Is music that strives for pure superiority over-rated relative to other styles? I put this post here next to the "great musician" thread. :D
 

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In my opinion, humour (broadly understood) has always been an importatant part of the jazz tradition. Consider Louis Armstrong's showmanship. Or Parker quoting "In an English Country Garden". Or Monk dancing round his piano and muttering to himself. Re Dixieland - those guys generally do like to put on a show and engage with the audience. Good idea on their part. In my neck of the woods it's the only kind of jazz with a real following.
 

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talking about quoting an english country garden, i remember listening to something in starbucks where the pianist did exactly the same
 

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Apparently, Charlie Parker had a great sense of humor, particularly when he played live. I wish I had something more concrete than my vague memories of what my jazz history textbook said to back that up with, though. :(
 

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I think you're getting into the question of, "What makes great musicians (or music) great?"

As far as humor in music is concerned, I'm a fan of Peter Schickele -- he's the "discoverer" of PDQ Bach, one of JS Bach's 20-odd kids (and certainly the oddest). Anyhow, Mr. S's "research" on PDQ has definitely overflowed into his "serious" music. Sometimes, it's just the odd jaunting rhythms of Schickele's music, but mainly it's really good melody.

Set in time signatures like 4+8/3. But in the key of C.

Check out Monochromes III -- for 9 clarinets. Just the idea is amusing.

However, I really would like to determine why some music is considered great and some isn't. (And no, we can't just say, "Because some of it was written by Kenny G.")
 

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Spike Jones was a wonderful percussionist. He and his band of crazies had wonderful musician ship with an over the top sense of humor.
 

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The fact that I grew up on Spike Jones, PDQ Bach and Gerard Hoffnung probably explains my lack of musical greatness...
 

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As the guitar player in our jazz band said, Wierd Al's Albaquirque (sp) is "nine minutes of genius."
 

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Does Humor Belong In Music?

Absolutely. I love it when i hear fine players obviously taking the mick. It shows character. It shows that an artist doesn't take him/her-self too seriously, which in my opinion far too many of us do. Me included.
 
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On a different vein. I always loved Merrie Melodies and Looney tunes for some great stuff. It's still makes me laugh when I hear certain pieces today. I can't separate the cartoon from the music and vice versa. Those were some seriously talented studio musicians.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
jazzbluescat said:
One could that about most any music. What music are you talking about?
The music I like... which is based around jazz for the most part.

I'm thinking about how "seriously" I personally started to feel about music when I discovered my first favorite jazzer, Coltrane. This is a time in my life where I feel very connected to the music I listened to, which included a lot of Trane. The Atlantic recordings really changed my life. There are plenty of greats who can be classified in this category of "serious" jazz playing, but I think Coltrane would get a medal for it. I feel like he touched on some of the deepest issues in life with his music. Anyway over the years I have become interested in a lot of different music, and I actually find I have a distaste for music that feels too serious now, at least not too often. For example, I reserve listening to Coltrane for only certain occasions.

Sometimes I think the greatest jazzers, creatively, are just the most silly, outrageous and ridiculous ones. Maybe it just appeals to my personality. :D Music in the blues and R&B categories comes to mind, also dixieland, swing, big band, etc. as opposed to like, what they call straight-ahead jazz playing, bebop, hard bop, cool (West coast) style jazz, etc. but I think bebop can be kinda humorous. (think salt peanuts!)

There is creative and technical genius in these 'off-kilter' kinds of tunes and musicians, but I'm wondering if the sort of anti-music, anti-everything attitude they can display, (thats what humor is, right?) puts more "serious" music lovers off in a way that makes them see it as lesser music, or in this case, jazz, although "jazz" is an extremely broad term...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for mentioning Spike Jones...

watching clips on utube now!!! GREATNESS!!! :D
 

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coolsax2k7 said:
Is brilliant music that is just plain funny not seen as being as serious or as deep as music that has a more serious tone?
It's possible to be humourous, serious and deep at the same time.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Rick Adams said:
It's possible to be humourous, serious and deep at the same time.
That's true, but somehow I think the humorous aspects somehow degrade the popularity of the music? There is a radio station here, and it plays mostly jazz. But to me, everything they play is a little watered down, a little wishy washy as far as my taste is concerned. But I used to listen in the car and would occasionally catch decent stuff. Even when it's good, the general tone of what they play is a bit straight (square?) Humor is an important part of making something lively, I think. And it is a thing in jazz that I really welcome. When I hear a sax player or other instrumentalist solo at blistering speeds sometimes I think it is just unreal - and to me it's funny in a way. I laugh at things that are incredible. In some cases, it seems like the absolutely most funny music out there is practically censored. You have to look for it. It may be brilliant, but not so well-known and easy to find as music that is better known for having a more serious artistic tone and intent. Is it a result of this culture? I am in the US on the west coast, but I don't know exactly what it's like in Europe and other places (like Britain where humor is known to be well-appreciated.)
 

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Well, not to get to SERIOUS or anything, but . . .

Music, like all art, is a depiction of the human condition. Sometimes a deep depiction and often a shallow depiction.

There are endless aspects of the human condition. Anybody who focuses too hard on one aspect is missing a lot.

I hear the music of artists like Miles Davis and John Coltrane as embracing a broad range of human emotion AND intellect. Consequently, I hear it as much more rich and subtle than that of Spike Jones or Weird Al, even if they are usually funnier.

But to each his own. No doubt there are people who have put enormous time into Weird Al's music and find many subtleties which go right by me . . .
 

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Comedy is hard to pull off

There's too much agreement in this thread. Allow me to take the other side. Comedy is hard to pull off; particularly stand-up comedy, and most stand-up comedians (to me) are not really even funny. I have never gone out of my way to see a comedian I didn't know, and even some of those who I thought I knew were funny have managed to disappoint me live.
Occasional stage banter is fine for a musician, and even bad jokes can help keep you in touch with the audience. - But a good musician /comedian I've yet to observe - in person or on film. Musicians should stick to doing what they do best - my opinion of course.

ps I admit the Blues Brothers movie does both comedy and music well - but the humor isn't in the music - it's outside of it.
 

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knighttrain said:
There's too much agreement in this thread. Allow me to take the other side. Comedy is hard to pull off; particularly stand-up comedy, and most stand-up comedians (to me) are not really even funny. I have never gone out of my way to see a comedian I didn't know, and even some of those who I thought I knew were funny have managed to disappoint me live.
Occasional stage banter is fine for a musician, and even bad jokes can help keep you in touch with the audience. - But a good musician /comedian I've yet to observe - in person or on film. Musicians should stick to doing what they do best - my opinion of course.

ps I admit the Blues Brothers movie does both comedy and music well - but the humor isn't in the music - it's outside of it.
But comedy and humour aren't synonymous. Comedy is a subset of humour - there is humour in all sorts of things that aren't in the least comical.

Sam said:
I hear the music of artists like Miles Davis and John Coltrane as embracing a broad range of human emotion AND intellect. Consequently, I hear it as much more rich and subtle than that of Spike Jones or Weird Al, even if they are usually funnier.
Humour can be very subtle. Weird Al Jancovitz isn't trying to be subtle - the humour is overt. Scott Hamilton is a great example of a sax player who uses humour in his improvisation. I've laughed out loud sometimes when he's used subtle and intelligent humour in his improv, yet all he's doing is playing notes on the sax and I don't mean "quoting from a funny tune" or anything like that. It's not just the notes but especially it's the dynamics and expression. Many good improvisers use this.
 
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