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rubato.jpg Now I admit Billie Holiday had about the freest time of anyone, but look where she places the notes.

You hand Lady Day a lead sheet for this tune, written as you see there on the lower lines, and what comes out is what is (attempted) transcribed on the upper lines. I defy anyone to place those notes accurately using rigorous notation.
 

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To answer the title of the thread: Classical music is the music of the composer. Successful classical musicians have learned to read very well and not necessarily interpret the music as a section player. The conductor may interpret.

Jazz is the music of the performer (Leonard Feather). The jazz musician may read, but in most situations, reading is secondary to improvisation and reharmonization and feeling, interpretation.

In 2007, The Turtle Island String Quartet ( four seriously talented classical musicians) arranged all four movements of A Love Supreme for four strings. David --- I forget his last name---(violin, I think) spoke of the difficulty of being a classical musician playing jazz with authenticity. None of them knew much about improvisation. The black dot was everything. This is probably true of many (if not most) classical section musicians. There are exceptions,though. A lot of them.

You can probably find the interview on NPR's website.
 

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Good answer!
 

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Classical musicians do not necessarily need to play 'by ear', and quite a few actually cannot just stand up and play anything - but man, can they ever read! If everybody could play by ear, everything would sound like Dixieland! The reason I stress playing by ear is it identifies a musician who can sing, whistle or play any tune he wants along with making up embellishments to it on the fly - this means he can improvise. All he has to do then is learn some tunes/chords, listen to a lot of jazz and he'll be able to at least get started.
 

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The CLASSICAL musicians Ive taught jazz are scared to death of PLAYING A WRONG NOTE. We spend literally weeks breaking through that K
 

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The CLASSICAL musicians Ive taught jazz are scared to death of PLAYING A WRONG NOTE. We spend literally weeks breaking through that K
I think that's right on. Another thing is that classical musicians don't have a jazz feel sometimes, too. I am a classical saxophonist who now plays mostly improvisational music. I read very well but I had to condition myself to not depend on the notes.
For me, transcription books were a hindrance. I had to start learning tunes with my ear. That's the only way I could get a feel for the groove.
In high school I learned a lot of stuff from Boots, Ace Cannon, etc. but I didn't have much knowledge outside that realm except for classical stuff which I worked on diligently.
 

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In my experience, classical musicians have often not listened to enough jazz to internalize the feel and sound concepts. Many of them will push back when it comes to interpreting eighth notes as swing - that’s when I ask them about Baroque dotted eighth/sixteenth interpretation!

The fear of being lead by your ear instead of the page definitely scares many of them away.
 

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I just want to come in here and ask if the OP meant jazz improvisation or just Jazz style/interpretation. Remember that classical musicians used to improvise commonly.

I think both of these have reasons why they might struggle. I have had many talks with musicians about this as well as read educational articles about it.

I look forward to reading what people have discovered themselves. Lots of good responses so far!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I wasn't asking a question, I was providing an example. I don't think I've ever seen someone graphically illustrate the time flexibility in this music so clearly.
 

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I wasn't asking a question, I was providing an example. I don't think I've ever seen someone graphically illustrate the time flexibility in this music so clearly.
Sorry. It has legs, now. Stream of consciousness is a powerful thing. Just accept it. 🙂
 

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For the pedantic types like myself, there are some interesting studies related to this topic. An integrated approach to playing the saxophone by Steve Duke and a more detailed paper Approaching the classical style - a resource for jazz saxophonists by JP Vanderheyden
Thanks for posting saxoclese. In Duke's article it talks about accents and how a Classical player, for example, simply wouldn't know about the specifics in jazz until they are taught (and vice versa). I tried to convey this to a classical cello player and teacher. There was a passage she was saying to accent a certain way, and I said that I thought I was playing it in more of a jazz approach, trying to explain myself. She said "music is music!"- like there was no other way to look at it. There are specifics to different genres, and she's so steeped in classical that she literally didn't know what I was talking about. I have another friend who's a jazz musician who has very little regard for classical and doesn't see much value in studyig it. To each his own, but I really love both worlds, and playing one just strengthens the other. To me it's like rearranging my lving room- all the same elements but looking at the room in a fresh way when you need a change.
 

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Thanks for posting saxoclese. In Duke's article it talks about accents and how a Classical player, for example, simply wouldn't know about the specifics in jazz until they are taught (and vice versa). I tried to convey this to a classical cello player and teacher. There was a passage she was saying to accent a certain way, and I said that I thought I was playing it in more of a jazz approach, trying to explain myself. She said "music is music!"- like there was no other way to look at it. There are specifics to different genres, and she's so steeped in classical that she literally didn't know what I was talking about. I have another friend who's a jazz musician who has very little regard for classical and doesn't see much value in studyig it. To each his own, but I really love both worlds, and playing one just strengthens the other. To me it's like rearranging my lving room- all the same elements but looking at the room in a fresh way when you need a change.
I love that analogy. As a sax player who has studied both classical and jazz playing for me it boils down to listening to great artists in each genre. That is the only way to develop the "concept" of sound and style you are trying to achieve. That is where it has to start. Changing from one style to the other I call putting on a different hat. :)
 

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I would replace the title of OP by "Why most of classical musicians struggle with jazz" It will be closer to the truth. In addition, it is not unique to jazz; make an academically educated musician play Arabic music - get the same result. By the way, also from a part of jazz musicians as well.
It simply refers to two different musical cultures, each of which requires special study.

Wow. Maybe I'm 1/1,024th black after all!
We all to varying degrees .

https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/human-journey/

We should also be proud of it.

. I tried to convey this to a classical cello player and teacher. There was a passage she was saying to accent a certain way, and I said that I thought I was playing it in more of a jazz approach, trying to explain myself. .
Opinion of the former violinist : cello is a very problematic instrument in ( classical) jazz, in contrast to violin, which has blues traditions.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well, pretty much 99% of jazz musicians today, you can hand them a part and say "play exactly as written" and they can do it; but the pure-classical people freak out when you tell them "don't play it as written; bend the time and swing the eighths and pitch the notes".
 

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Well, pretty much 99% of jazz musicians today, you can hand them a part and say "play exactly as written" and they can do it; but the pure-classical people freak out when you tell them "don't play it as written; bend the time and swing the eighths and pitch the notes".
This is an illusion! They can play the precise notes of a classical piece, precisely written rhythm; but the sound and phrasing will not correspond to the spirit of the work - for this you need to know the biography of the composer, the era in which he lived and worked, the musicians around him, music, literature and painting of that time. In a word - explore the culture!
 
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