Author Topic: What is the definition of fusion?  (Read 28565 times)

Halfdim7

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2010, 10:44:14 AM »
I didn't start listening to fusion until I started learning guitar, but if we're going to use the term "musician" to describe me, it will have to be a very loose definition! :)
I've had a rather rough go at learning music, and there really aren't many resources where I live, so I've had to be totally DIY about it.
However, I don't feel like I can't listen to something just because it's too complex for my level of musical education. And I'm hoping that, in the long run, I'll be a better musician for it. So where does that put me???
....lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing....

millions

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2010, 05:11:12 AM »
Well, Steeley Dan is a very cool, laid back band. They use a lot of jazz harmony, but are more song based, than instrumental/improvisational. However their sound is undeniably jazzy, if not their approach.

Steely Dan's gimmick is that they are jazz, but they use their voices as a horn section. And the use of guitar solos makes them have "rock" appeal.

Jazz has always "fused" with new influences. Even the blusier, New Orleans jazz began to incorporate popular tin-pan alley vocal standards into its repertoire. New instruments, like Jimmy Smith on Hammond organ, have worked their way into jazz. The vibraphone is another example. The guitar was relegated to the rhythm section, along with the banjo, because it wasn't loud enough to solo until Charlie Christian plugged in.

 The role horns have played in jazz is important to consider; solo horns are only capable of single-note soloing. Only a horn section can play chords.

I think you can list general characteristics which identify "fusion" jazz as opposed to more traditional jazz.

1. Traditional jazz put the guitar in a "pianistic" role, playing clean chords as a piano would. The use of distorted electric guitars in fusion, and the use of guitar as a solo instrument more than as a chordal instrument, is part of what makes fusion what it is.

2. The use of electric keyboards, like the Mini-Moog solos of Jan Hammer. This allows the keyboards, like guitars, to fill a horn-like, single-note soloing role.

3. Large PA systems, larger venues & audiences than small clubs, and extensive use of heavy amplification. Miles Davis started this trend when he saw his audiences shrinking, and he wanted his jazz to "evolve" and keep up with modern innovations & audiences. In other words, he "modernized" jazz.
"In Spring! In the creation of art, it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg
"The trouble with New Age music is that there's no evil in it."-Brian Eno

Halfdim7

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2010, 05:47:08 PM »
Here's a colorful definition from http://eer-music.com/Fusion.html
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"JAZZ ROCK FUSION  IS NOT FOR ELEVATOR AMBIENCE!!
Fusion is meant to ALIVE, innovative, high-energy, explosions of soul-fire.
It is not to be limp-wristed, smooth jazz fuzak suitable for broadcast in
retirement community recreation halls. Real fusion will never be accepted
as background music for some cruise ship lounge. Fusion is jazz and rock
blended into a synergistic showcase for exciting virtuoso compositions
and musicianship. It should have obvious DYNAMICS, output volumes
near bone-shattering levels, PUNCH, time signature mosaics, and multiple-electric
orgasms of sonic assault. It must have solos, unison lines, grooves, speed,
licks, riffs, jams, and most of all -- cutting-edge vision with NO fear
of condemnation. Fusion as it is meant to be, NEEDS NO EXCUSES, begs to differ,
and offers each musician's very best -- their PEAK of ability and creative
dedication. It may at times be funkified, rockin', jazzy, avant garde, heavy
or mystically mesmerizing -- but always driven by intensity of focus.
(Attention you musician types: avoid trying fusion with the pentatonic scale being
your only mode to jam in. Yea, it doth bore quicky. Break out of your rock-n-roll mind-set
and learn exotic modes, weird scales, and utilize novel phrasings.
Play wild, go crazy, have fun and learn from the olde masters -- then burn that disc.)"
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It's like a manifesto for fusion extremism!
....lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing....

funkle

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2010, 07:35:49 PM »
Here's a colorful definition from http://eer-music.com/Fusion.html

I like eer. That's where I discovered Shawn Lane. His descriptions are priceless. I especially like the 1995 style web design :)

Halfdim7

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2010, 08:06:14 PM »
The "Endless Page", I like to call it!
....lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing....

zarg05

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2010, 04:01:20 AM »
What is fusion?  Where do you stop?  Jazz in general has always added influences from just about everywhere, jazz rock of the late 60's early 70's did it too.  In this era of lame homogenised music its good to see independant minded individuals trying to do what they enjoy without compromises - trouble is you probably don't sell many cds/downloads as a consequence.

I mean look at these handful of players and the massive range of influences they have in their music

Mary Halverson
Bill Frisell
Marc Guillermont
John Mclaughlin
Marc Ribot
Eivind Aarset
Alex Machacek
Pat Metheny

millions

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #21 on: July 04, 2010, 08:10:22 AM »
Adji said: "So I could combine electronica and metal and I end up with Industrial, but technically it is Fusion, yet we don't class it as fusion??"

I thought of John Scofield's "A Go-Go" and "Uberjam" as good examples of "jazz fusion," where jazz harmonic ideas become combined with hip-hop beats, modern editing techniques, etc.

For me, the main "jazz" element of any music is the chords & melodies used.
Jazz used to have to "swing," but with the advent of Latin & bossa nova rhythms, the "swing shuffle" became replaced with evenly spaced 4/4 grooves. Now, jazz fusion can use straight 4/4 beats.
"In Spring! In the creation of art, it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg
"The trouble with New Age music is that there's no evil in it."-Brian Eno

yogibear

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2010, 01:46:30 PM »
i like the definition of mixing and melding styles of music to arrive at what is today's fusion. but i still believe originally fusion was a sub genre of jazz as in def one. while i like hard driving rock music the jazz(emphasis on jazz) fusion is what the forefathers were playing.  so many different ways to define one term. sort of like what is Prog? lol

conebeckham

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #23 on: October 27, 2010, 08:14:34 AM »
I swore I wouldn't touch this....but....well.......never say never.

Classification is an inexact science, or, better yet, an art.  This is all generalization, and is helpful to a degree--but it's when we start arguing about whether a band is or isn't "fusion," rather than whether or not we appreciate/enjoy/like them, that things get silly. 

If I've just heard, say, Brand X, for the first time, and I want to hear more bands like them, I'd naturally try to figure out what Brand X is "classified" as, and check out other artists in the same classification.  I think we've all done this.  Hopefully, we'll never find another band just like Brand X--artists should be unique, yes?-but we'll find other band we enjoy--like, say, Isotope.   However, if someone tells me BS & T is "fusion," in the same genre or class as Brand X, and I don't want to hear Big Band Rock Music with vocals, I'd be confused, and perhaps disappointed, and start to question the definition of the genre.

Looking at this from a historical point of view--which I think is necessary, or at least highly instructive, for an understanding of "genres" and "classification"-- Fusion definitely was a sort of "movement" (though not in an organized sense, more like a 'sea change' perhaps)- started by jazz musicians who incorporated rock rhythms (so-called "straight" rhythm, as oppossed to that nebulous "swing" rhythmic quality), rock instrumentation (and subsequent volume, often-times), and rock compositional structures into this new music.  Improvisation was a key ingredient.  Oten, group improv and interaction was more important than the soloist improv-over-rhythm section model you found in much straight-ahead jazz, though of course you found that in "jazz/rock" or "fusion" too.

If we look at the "birth" of what we now call "fusion," we see the well-known names--Miles, Zawinul, Shorter, Corea, McLaughlin, Hancock, Coryell, White, Cobham, DeJohnette--as well as some that are less-well known--Burton, Galper, and Elton Dean across the pond.   These guys were all Jazz players.  The music they made was labelled "Jazz-rock" and at some point, "fusion."  This stuff was almost all instrumental music, with some rare exceptions.  Lots of improv, both of the group and individual variety.

At the same time, though, we saw bands like BS & T, Chicago (Transit Authority), The Flock, Chase, If....bands that used vocals, and vocally-oriented compositional techniques, as well as what I'd call "Big Band Arranging" techniques, along with straight rock rhythms and instruments.  As far as I know, these bands were always seen as related to the "Jazz-Rock" wave, but I've never heard them spoken of as "fusion" acts in the same way the first group were....there was some improv, for sure, in the earlier days especially.  Many of these musicians were jazz musicians, as well, but they came from a different place than the first group.

Somewhere along the way, many of these "big band" "jazz/rock acts "went pop."  They tended to focus on songs, on arrangements, and less and less on improvisation. 

The first group also veered into more commercial directions, it should be noted....many of the first wave got pretty "polished" and funk, and later disco, became dominant elements of a lot of fusion.  R & B elements were always there, but you started seeing "Soul-Jazz" players mixing it up with fusion elements, and pretty soon "Smooth Jazz" was born.  At the same time, roughly, rock musicians who were not raised on jazz started hearing the first wave of fusion, and started moving in a more instrumental, improv-heavy, direction---guys like Jeff Beck come to mind.

Along with these trends, or maybe as a result, you started to see artists that wanted nothing to do with the Smooth trend, or with the pop trend.....I think this is a case of a newer generation, raised on the early fusion, who want to "re-start" the kind of thing they found exciting. 

In addition, there was a "shrinking" of the world, and an increase in global communications and subsequent global awareness...and elements of all sorts of world music began entering into this music.....from the Bossa Craze of the late 50's and 60's, to the Indian Classical influence, to all sorts of "ethnic" and world musics today.   

So- I think the current "scene" really stems from Jazz, as it seems even those not raised within a mainstream jazz background end up studying and listening to the roots (and, after all, a case can be made that Jazz itself,  a funny word to classify--from Dixieland, to Big Band Swing, to Bebop, to Free--was the birthplace of straight rock-n-roll, and even of funk) but that if incorporates a wide (endless?) variety of influences.  It strikes me as a noncommerical, improv-based, often-rock-instrument-employing (electric guitar with high gain/electric keys/synths/electric bass.etc,) music with rhythmic elements from rock, jazz, and world music, often with a fairly sophisticated harmonic basis ( A la Jazz).





yl_West

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2011, 02:35:38 PM »
K.I.S.S. -  Progressive music stemming from jazz roots with real musicians (actual living and breathing people) which combines the "best" elements from any other genre of music and produces listenable results.

 ;D

YL
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millions

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #25 on: April 24, 2011, 10:59:14 AM »
I'm reposting this from another thread, so pardon the repeat.
Himes said: "Holdsworth has described his music now as not "fusion" because fusion to him involves unison lines and clear breaks (I am paraphrasing)."

I can see what Holdworth is saying: that his compositions don't always have the obvious stylistic trappings we normally associate with 'fusion' or even jazz, such as a 'head,'  stated at the outset, and followed by improvisations based (or related to) the harmonic implications of that head, although often his tunes do follow a jazz form.  Also, he has said that standard jazz voicings, such as a major seventh chord (C-E-G-B) sound 'terrible" to him, hence his open voicings, plus his strange 7, 8, and 9 note scales. No recognizable 'jazz riffs' can be found in Holdsworth, although on occasion, I hear a familiar chord movement.

Pat Metheney, in his notes for the reissue of Jaco Pastorius' first album, wrote "...how odd it is to see this era of historical revisionism in jazz; how this accomplishment (Jaco's legacy) is often relegated by people who should know better as being 'not jazz' or as 'fusion' (possibly the single most ignorant and damaging term ever invented to describe (discount) an important and vital branch of the jazz music tree). Jaco at his best, as on this record, defines what the word jazz really means. Jaco used his own experiences, filtered through an almost unbelievable originality informed by a musicianship as audacious as it was expansive, to manifest into sound through improvisation a musical reality that illuminated his individuality..."

So what can we gather from Metheney's statement?
(1) He seems to be 'anti-history,' meaning by the word 'history' the way that anything which has lasted long enough seems to accrue a 'history' at the end, which looks back on and tries to define (or in some cases re-define) what has happened. If a car accident happens, and there are ten witnesses, you will get ten different versions of what happened; this is history, not an exact science by any stretch.
(2) He sees other terms, such as 'fusion,' as devisive and damaging.
(3) He sees jazz as a 'tree' with diverse and diverging branches, yet all connected to the roots of the form.
(4) He sees jazz as a personal expression of one's personality and being, using improvisation (talking about your ideas through your instrument) as the vehicle.

So, the 'unstable' and ever-changing factor here, which will always continue to threaten rigid 'historical' notions of what jazz is, or is supposed to be, seems to be the human factor. As each new generation comes along, living in whatever new reality that has developed, they will express their experiences of the ever-changing 'now' into the reality of the musical forms which they have learned to use, in their lifetimes. in their 'now.' This seems diametrically opposed to any idea of a 'history' which is rigidly fixed and defined.

So, we can say, jazz is about 'time and changes,' and the time is now; and time is always changing.
"In Spring! In the creation of art, it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg
"The trouble with New Age music is that there's no evil in it."-Brian Eno

GeorgeX

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #26 on: June 01, 2011, 03:25:47 PM »
For me, the def. of fusion is a music form based primarily on the combining of jazz and rock, which can include elements of other complex musics, such as classical or ethnic forms like Indian or Latin. A complex style marked by intricate rhythmic play, polyphonic ensemble playing, improvisatory virtuosic soloing, melodic freedom and a wide ranging harmonic idiom.
   Fusing any 2 musics together doesn't result in fusion to me any more than a band progressing from album to album makes them progressive. Genre terms were originally coined to describe the actual characteristics of a music form, not fit a dictionary definition.

profusion

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2011, 10:36:01 PM »
When I was more of a rock fan, I took a narrower view of what fusion is--that is, it was jazz/rock that I as a rock fan & musician could relate to.  Now that am more attuned to jazz, my view is broader. 

The 1967-80 time period was creatively fertile in just about every area of music, but in retrospect it becomes difficult to draw lines around the music.  Mahavishnu and RTF are unquestionably "fusion" under everyone's definition.  But what about music that drew more from funk and soul than from rock?  A lot of people would agree that Head Hunters is fusion, but what about the wave of jazz/funk that it inspired?  Some of that features vocals and gets closer to commercial R&B.  Or is jazz/funk a separate genre from fusion?  What about the cosmic jazz inspired by Bitches Brew?  Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi band isn't going to excite a lot of rock listeners, but it's much closer philosophically to what Miles was doing.  Some of the ECM stuff that grew out of "cosmic jazz" sounds far away from Mahavishnu or RTF, and yet features that same extended group of players.

And getting into today's music, it's even crazier.  Lots of rock guys like me grew up in the '80s and developed jazz-like chops but with a different vocabulary and different ideas about sound.  Some people lump guitar shredders like Joe Satriani or Steve Vai into the fusion camp.  Man, there's just so much great music out there!  That's why I've tried to take the broader view of things lately.

GeorgeX

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #28 on: August 05, 2011, 11:25:56 AM »
  Some of that features vocals and gets closer to commercial R&B.

  Some people lump guitar shredders like Joe Satriani or Steve Vai into the fusion camp. 

These are two things I don't think I could label fusion, ever. Predominantly vocal albums, no matter the backing music type(but especially commercial music), are not fusion to me. And guitar hero stuff, or even instrumental prog rock band stuff, isn't fusion in my book. I like a ton of the artists in those genres, but it isn't fusion to me.

profusion

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #29 on: August 13, 2011, 05:49:01 PM »
  Some of that features vocals and gets closer to commercial R&B.

  Some people lump guitar shredders like Joe Satriani or Steve Vai into the fusion camp. 

Predominantly vocal albums, no matter the backing music type(but especially commercial music), are not fusion to me.

Not even Flora Purim?  Her albums Open Your Eyes You Can Fly and That's What She Said sound like what RTF might have evolved into had she and Airto not left.  Very much fusion in my book.  I admit she's an exception since she wasn't attempting to be a pop singer.

I generally agree on the guitar hero stuff.  My earlier point was that it gets harder to draw the boundaries between "guitar instrumental" and "fusion" when you have artists like Guthrie Govan and Brett Garsed who work in both styles.