Interactive Insights

I Love Jazz

In this activity you'll explore the drums, the bass and the voice. You'll get a feel for their roles and interactions in the jazz band. As in sports, the band plays best when each player does their job while coordinating with the whole team. Imitating each instrument with your voice will help you get inside the music and experience what the bass, drums and voice do in jazz. These aren't simplified patterns. They are basic, authentic jazz. Listen as Laura sings each instrument's part. Join in as soon as you are ready. When Laura stops singing, then you can continue singing the part on your own. The last example combines all the parts. On that one, sing any part, or switch from one part to another as the segment plays.





All Parts








All music has feeling. A composed piece may have a certain feeling as part of the plan. Because so much of jazz is improvised, the subtle, changing feelings of each moment go right into the music. In this example, we've taken the feeling aspect out of the context of the tune, to allow you to focus on just that part of jazz. In our shows, we take requests for feelings - happy, sad, confused - and play them in free improvisations based only on those feelings. Give these a name, if you like. Or just feel them.

Feeling 1

Feeling 2





Jazz is a conversational music, with intricate, constant communication. The miracle of jazz conversations is that three, four, or more people can all talk at once, through their instruments, and still hear and respond to each other. Here are a few jazz "conversations" - again, free improvisations - based on scenarios we created for inspiration.


Conversation 1              Conversation 2


Now's the Time

Now's the Time is a 12-bar blues written by jazz great Charlie Parker. In this example, you can learn about the form of the 12-bar blues by counting each bar. You can also try some scat singing and learn a blues riff.

Counting the Blues In music, the form is the whole length of the song, from beginning to end. In jazz, the form repeats, with variations, throughout the performance. Count along with Laura as she counts the first beat of each bar in this 12-bar blues. Each bar has four beats.

Scat Singing Scat singing is a singer's way of improvising jazz using nonsense syllables. Scatting got its start, so the story goes, when Louis Armstrong forgot the words to a song and scatted instead. In this example, Laura will scat a short one bar phrase. In the bar that follows, imitate it, or improvise your own one bar phrase

Riffing A riff is a short, catchy melody that repeats. The riff in this example is played by the sax and the voice. It backs up James William's piano solo. Try scatting along on this sample.