Author Topic: What is the definition of fusion?  (Read 28564 times)

Shadow

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #30 on: March 02, 2012, 03:25:14 AM »
Okay

millions

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move to: Definition of fusion
« Reply #31 on: May 28, 2012, 11:34:16 AM »
It's easier to say what fusion isn't, isn't it! We all know that "fusion" is not one thing, and if your definition is based on musical considerations only, such as elements like scales, chords, and stylistic considerations, your musical genre-based biases will show up. But ironically, "fusion" involves more than just musical elements. Fusion's origins were based to a large degree on pragmatic considerations: "How can I get a gig?", "I'm starving," and "Let's make some friggin' money."

When I hear the term "jazz-rock Fusion," I automatically assume the presence of an electric guitar, since that instrument is almost synonymous with "rock" music.
And although the term can be changed or shortened to "Jazz-rock fusion," "Jazz fusion," or simply "Fusion" (depending on your musical biases), I think the word "rock" is intimately attached to "fusion" and "jazz fusion" like a virus, much to the chagrin of more purist jazz players.

Here's a factor: guitar amps got bigger and bigger, along with big sound systems for rock concerts. This type of "concert" rock venue (The Fillmore, Winterland), or traveling concert "circus" on a large scale, with large expenses and large profit, was what Miles Davis was trying to tap into from "Bitches Brew" on.

What had jazz been before this? Essentially, chamber music, to be played on acoustic instruments in small auditoriums (like where classical music was heard) or in clubs & lounges.

So, "jazz fusion," in a very large and important sense, is how Miles Davis took his jazz-oriented music and changed venues and audiences, in favor of a larger, more modern, updated "rock concert" model. Why should he work in small jazz clubs, which were dying anyway, for $250 a week?

These changes brought in the "rock" paradigm for concert PA sound, miked instruments & drums, and also a different, more important role for the electric guitar.
The electric guitar, no longer in the traditional, clean, jazz "lap piano" role, like Joe Pass and Jim Hall, adopted the new "rock" role: solid-body and distorted, sustained, and loud. Older "jazz" chords did not sound good unless played clean; this changed the whole approach to the role of "jazz" guitar, if it could still be called that.
This was accompanied by a different guitaristic approach which went with the technology: more "shredding," faster runs, fewer "jazz" chords, and more single-note soloing. No longer was the guitar a "lap piano" in the rhythm section.

It is exactly these types of observations, construed as "anti-jazz/pro rock" by conservative jazzers, that helped me get kicked out of the AAJ forum.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 07:22:48 PM by millions »
"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

millions

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Re: move to: Definition of fusion
« Reply #32 on: May 29, 2012, 07:23:21 PM »
"It is exactly these types of observations, construed as "anti-jazz/pro rock" by conservative jazzers, that helped me get kicked out of the AAJ forum."

 Well, specifically, I blamed the piano for "Westernizing" jazz and turning it from a vocal-inflected bluesy language into a harmonically complex, stiff, chamber music type of thing. The emergence of the piano also relegated the electric guitar to the same sort of "stiff" chordal role, as an "inferior piano" to only play chords. No string bending, please.
"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: move to: Definition of fusion
« Reply #33 on: May 29, 2012, 10:38:51 PM »
Well, nobody gets kicked outta here unless they dis Weather Report and insist on being addressed as "Master," so I think you're okay, Mill.
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millions

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #34 on: May 30, 2012, 07:37:48 PM »
Thanks, Halfdim, I needed that.
"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

millions

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #35 on: May 30, 2012, 07:45:28 PM »
Here are things to ponder.
Eric Dolphy and Charles Mingus "rebelled" and tried to make jazz more vocal like it started out. It had gotten too harmonically complex and stiff, thanks to the piano. Sonny Rollins did not use a piano in his bands, nor did Ornette Coleman.
Look at John Lewis (I love him), and how he was the opposite: he played piano and tried to "through-compose" jazz like chamber music; many of his solos are written out note-for-note.
Can you see this tension between a vocal, bluesy, horn-oriented jazz, and a Westernized, harmonically complex, piano-oriented 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 #36 on: May 31, 2012, 08:21:35 AM »
Well, I don't know much about piano tension. I don't even know how to tune one. *rimshot*
However, if what you say is true, couldn't this have been an element in the pretty widespread adoption of the synthesizer? Synths made pitch-bends and other modulation possible, and pianists like Jan Hammer and Chick Corea made extensive use of those added elements in the 70s(RTF's "Romantic Warrior" album being a tour de force of slip-sliding keyboards).
....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 #37 on: May 31, 2012, 06:37:45 PM »
Sure, the synthesizer hit on all fronts at once. Emerson, Lake & Palmer and other rock artists. It wasn't until Mahavishnu that Jan Hammer used it in a "jazz" context. Of course, before that, we had the Hammond organ. This was really embraced as 'jazz' as played by Jimmy Smith & others. Remember that Jan Hammer started out as an organist; his LP "Make Love" on BASF, recorded in Stockholm.

Perhaps we can view the "organ trio" as the prototype of the jazz fusion group: Organ, electric guitar, and drums, sometimes a sax player, the bass being played by the organist's feet.
But, the synthesizer (Mini-Moog) was only capable of single-lines, so it became a solo voice, and could pitch-bend.

So, to sum up, because of this technology, jazz started becoming less harmonically complex as the acoustic piano diminished in stature, to becoming more melodically & single-note oriented.
"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

millions

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #38 on: May 31, 2012, 06:46:02 PM »
Hey, Halfdim, since the question of "What is fusion?" is so potentially incendiary, do you think there's a chance these posts will stir up any controversy? I'm bored, Jones-ing for some trolling...how about yourself, or are you reformed?
"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 #39 on: June 01, 2012, 02:32:35 PM »
I feel pretty formless, actually.
I was reading some YouTube comments below a Soft Machine video, and now I've realized that the Jesuits are behind everything!
This fits perfectly with your ideas about organ trios. Organs being installed in many cathedrals, all over the world.
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profusion

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Re: move to: Definition of fusion
« Reply #40 on: June 02, 2012, 09:08:14 AM »
It is exactly these types of observations, construed as "anti-jazz/pro rock" by conservative jazzers, that helped me get kicked out of the AAJ forum.

Congratulations!  I consider that a worthy accomplishment.  :D

I agree with many of your observations.  I might add, however, that it's guitarists who are the stiffest, most orthodox and theory-bound jazzers around.  And I say that as a guitarist. 

Most of the keyboardists I know see beyond the theory.  However, it must be said that I gravitate towards modal and free jazz players like McCoy Tyner and Cecil Taylor, not to mention all the fusion guys.  Tyner actually refused to answer a theory question in an interview I read, on the ground that he didn't want to poison himself by thinking about that stuff while he was playing.  Sure, he knows the theory, but it's background info.  Also, by playing stacked fourths, Tyner opened up the music and allowed the entire band to play more freely.  In that sense, he got beyond the limitations of the instrument.

One thing that sets me off is listening to my fellow guitarists prattle on to each other about chord substitutions and the like, as if anyone else cares.  Nobody else talks like that!  By contrast, Wes Montgomery couldn't even read sheet music--he played it the way he felt it.

Unfortunately, I see the same stagnation in fusion.  Things seem to have coalesced around the "Baked Potato sound," with less of the openness, experimentation and fire of the early fusion period.  I still enjoy a lot of modern fusion, but I'm always itching to hear these guys really open up and stop "coloring within the lines," as it were.  It happens in concert, but the records are often too pretty for their own good.

millions

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #41 on: June 02, 2012, 04:44:51 PM »
I like theory. I realized how valuable it was when singing harmonies; other musicians would always mess up, but I could remember "I come in on the fifth of this chord" and always got it right. I know all the names of the notes on my guitar, too.

I think that any suggestion of an "anti-theory" argument is a confusing and artificial distinction, and unnecessary. I see music in terms of sound, not from an instrumental perspective, and the characterization of musical attitudes as seen through what instruments people play seems even more tenuous, like a stereotype picked up from some sort of social pecking-order.

If there is any veracity to the idea that guitarists are "theory-bound," this is due to the fact that traditional music theory is heavily keyboard biased; the system of key-signatures, from a certain perspective, is completely derived from the layout of the keyboard, and our notation system and letter-names of notes is also derived from the keyboard layout. Guitar, being a chromatic instrument, is in many ways inverse to the keyboard. Pat Martino explains this difference in his expositions on "automatic mechanisms" of diminished and augmented harmony. He is a guitarist who truly understands this, and has transcended it, just like McCoy Tyner transcended it.

There's not much future in any "suggestion by association" or possible argument that music theory is somehow "poison" or toxic, and I'm not any more convinced by the use of "experts" like McCoy Tyner to back this up: "... he didn't want to poison himself by thinking about that stuff while he was playing.  Sure, he knows the theory, but it's background info..." So is Tyner speaking in defense of music theory, or against it?

There is a time & place for music theory, and that may not always be while performing; but let's be clear about the necessity of theory & ideas, and not suggest that theory is somehow "toxic." Placing those terms so close to each other is a sure recipe for misunderstanding of whatever is trying to be said.

Coltrane himself was exploring Slonimsky's Thesaurus of Scales, so I don't know where Tyner got his negative attitude from. I'd have to see the context of the statement in order for it to have any veracity for me.

Just because Wes Montgomery did not read sheet music does not exclude him from being an "intuitive musical theorist," in that he used "musical ideas" which were derived from ideas about harmony and scales. Although these ideas might have been intuitive, they nonetheless contain a musical logic which could be characterized as "theoretical" or in idea form. This is what "music theory" is, the use of "meta-ideas" to generate derived ideas.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 10:10:35 AM by millions »
"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

millions

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #42 on: June 22, 2012, 06:02:17 PM »
What is it that makes different people adhere to different definitions of what 'jazz' is, or 'jazz fusion?' Do they have an ideological agenda, even if it is unconscious and unrecognized by them?
"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 #43 on: June 23, 2012, 04:36:00 PM »
I'm sure that's the case for some, and there is a precedent for dragging politics, religion, and race into jazz, which, music being a universal language, should not exclude anyone.
Whether it be the "Original Dixie-Land Jass Band" trying to deny the role of blacks or Nicholas Peyton(whose jive-ass prose-poetry blog entry on the subject of "BAM" is unintentionally hilarious: "Lot’s wife turned to a pillar of salt from looking back/Jazz is dead/Miles ahead") denying the role of everyone else, or at least marginalizing them, some people definitely have or have had a personal grudge they've tried to settle via, of all things, a style of music.
It's hard to hang a label to the politics of the music, itself(assuming an abstract idea can have political opinions of its own) regardless of the politics of the musicians.
Most Jazz allows individuals to improvise their own parts, but usually under the direction of a band-leader, who decides who gets to solo and when, and is in charge of song selection and arrangements. I guess that's kind of a Federalist scheme, if you want to make an analogy. I guess that's not surprising, given that Jazz emerged from a Federalist society.
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funkle

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #44 on: June 25, 2012, 08:14:22 AM »
What is it that makes different people adhere to different definitions of what 'jazz' is, or 'jazz fusion?' Do they have an ideological agenda, even if it is unconscious and unrecognized by them?

It probably comes from someone identifying strongly with a type of music, and then seeing things shift, or offshoot at some point (possibly for financially motivated reasons). And then considering these other related forms to be inferior in some way, and they are insulted when the same definition is used. There is really nothing unusual about this kind of behavior. It's just human nature and we're probably more or less all guilty of it in some way.