Music the Evolution Musical Notation Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Fake books with jazz notation might look as if they are intended for amateurs. However, although beginners may use the simplified notation to practice music, the fake book's original intention was to provide a stepping-stone for a musician or an ensemble to create their own, unique rendering of the music. Thus jazz notation reflects the stress in this musical tradition upon the musician or the band's individual style. The musician, rather than the composer is the star, when using jazz notation. Rather than attempt to slavishly recreate a performance from the past, which is impossible, as every audience, every musical context changes from night to night, jazz notation empowers the musician to create a living and vibrant performance on the stage, with his or her fellow musicians. ("Fake Books," Wikipedia, 2006)

Fake books and jazz notation originated with illegal transcriptions of overheard music, although most fake books today copyrighted with the permission of the artist. The original fake book transcribers were not trained musicians, however, merely persons who had overheard or played a particular song they liked and wished to improvise from the tune's base. The books began with music 'of the people' and were designed for musicians who were not often formally trained themselves, perhaps could not even read music very well, but knew enough to use the notes and skeletal information to create music in the context of a performance. Unlike a large orchestra, the musicians knew one another well, and could communicate with one another musically during a performance, unlike musicians across a large concert hall.

The imprecise nature of 'faking' might seem to outrage musical purists. But it is worth remembering that the supposedly precise, classical notations of music heard in concert halls today are not replicas of what persons long ago heard, when they listened to the original musical performances of Mozart or Beethoven. Instruments were constructed differently, of different materials and sometimes are almost unrecognizable to the forms that would have been familiar to the original composers -- compare the 17th century harpsichord with that of a modern piano. Orchestras are vastly larger than they were during the classical composer's lives, and even the acoustics of concert halls are structured differently.

In short, the use of fake books may actually be the more authentic way of creating music, because they allow that musical sounds will always shift over time, even though the tunes remain the same. Today, jazz notation has reintroduced an age-old flexibility to modern music, and allowed performers to make every performance unique and of its time. Jazz notation may seem to sacrifice purity and some of a composer's original intentions but the notation make every musical performance a special communion between the band and the audience. Although jazz notation can never replace classical notation, given that all, except for the most gifted musical ears will always need to learn classical notation first, to be able to improvise off of a jazz score, jazz notation has become fundamental to the way that all modern music is played and experienced today.

Works Cited

Fake Book." Wikipedia. [6 Jun 2006]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fake_book

Marsalis, Wynton. "On a slave's need for improvisation." From Jazz: A PBS documentary by Ken Burns.2001. Companion Website. [6 Jun 2006] http://www.pbs.org/jazz/time/time_slavery.htm

Musical notation." Wikipedia. [6 Jun 2006] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_notation

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Fake Book." Wikipedia. [6 Jun 2006]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fake_book

Marsalis, Wynton. "On a slave's need for improvisation." From Jazz: A PBS documentary by Ken Burns.2001. Companion Website. [6 Jun 2006] http://www.pbs.org/jazz/time/time_slavery.htm

Musical notation." Wikipedia. [6 Jun 2006] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_notation

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