Timbre refers to quality of sound, or tone color. All instruments, including the human voice, have distinct qualities—timbres—that set them apart, even when they play the same pitch. timbre is something we control. We can deliberately manipulate our voices to whisper or shout, to command or console, or to express fear, love, anger, exhaustion. Jazz musicians treat their instrument like their voice in this way.
Understanding timbre is vital to an appreciation of jazz, because it is the first key to a musician's individual style. the first crucial step for young musicians is to find their own sound. the young musician needs to know who he is in order to find a sound he knows to be his own.
The clarinet, a slim, cylindrical, wooden tube that produces a thin, occasionally shrill sound, was a standard component of the New Orleans jazz style. It achieved greater renown during the Swing Era of the 1930s, when two of the most popular bandleaders, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, offered an inadvertent rivalry that excited fans. Beginning in the early 1960s, thanks chiefly to Eric Dolphy, the bass clarinet (pitched lower than the regular clarinet) found acceptance by musicians and is still often heard. Most important chord-producing instrument in the jazz rhythm section. Pianists may use the wide range of the keyboard (over seven octaves) to imitate the sound of a full orchestra or pound on the keys like a drum.
Some instruments are naturally designed to play chords (harmony), including the vibraphone, organ, synthesizer, electric piano, guitar, and, in the earliest years, banjo. The most important, though, is the acoustic piano.
Musical tones are named with the first seven letters of the alphabet—A, B, C, D, E, F, G—repeated over and over, and the octave, as shown below, is the distance from one C to the next (higher or lower), one F to the next, and so on. there are twelve notes inside an octave.
The twelve notes in an octave (counting white and black keys; counting all the 12 notes (sharp and flat, half steps apart)) make up a scale by themselves, known as a chromatic scale, with the interval separating each note a half step. But the chromatic scale is not a common one to use in music. chromatic scale can begin on any note
both major and minor scales can start on any note. what defines a major scale or minor scale is the pattern of half and whole steps between the included notes (the notes that constitute that particular scale).
all major scales follow this pattern of steps:
W, W, H, W, W, W, H
all minor scales follow this pattern of steps:
W, H, W, W, H, W, W
when you sing the pitches from C to C, the white keys on the piano keyboard, on the syllables do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do (the vast majority of people in Western culture can do this easily), this scale, the most basic in Western music, is called the major mode. (in the textbook, "scale" and "mode" are synonymous, but in class, Haas distinguishes them). major mode scales can start on any note, not just C, and sound v happy
The complete pattern of steps between notes (half step or whole step) for a major scale is W, W, H, W, W, W, H.
jazz and blues musicians can use other types of scales (collections of pitches) besides the simple 7-note major and minor scales.
The scale most central to the development of jazz is the blues scale. All American music—jazz, blues, gospel, pop, rhythm and blues, country and western, rock and roll, hip-hop—is influenced by its sound.
The blues scale, somewhere between major and minor, is actually not so much a scale as a system for creating melody. It's impossible to pin down the blues scale because it takes a more relaxed approach to intonation, which in Western usage means "playing in tune."
Certain notes in jazz are played with a great deal of flexibility, sliding through infinitesimal fractions (microtones) of a half step for expressive purposes—a system we might call variable intonation. Jazz musicians refer to these microtones as blue notes, or bent notes, and they cannot be signified in Western notation. On the piano keyboard, they are notes that would fall between the cracks.
microtones= the infinitesimally small spaces of different frequency that reside in between the frequencies of our labeled and recognizable tones. on a piano keyboard they would fall in between keys.
common blues instruments (guitar, bass, trumpet, trombone, sax, clarinet) can all produce subtle gradients of tone between "proper notes". piano cannot, but the effect can be approximated by playing two neighboring keys together (Thelonius Monk did this often).