MUSICAL STYLES & GENRES
All music styles and genres involve the fundamental components of pitch, rhythm, dynamics and theory,
so we use a blended approach to learning music including samples of all the main genres.
Once familiar with the options students may choose to specialise, or to have a range of stylistic colours.
Here are some definitions of the three main Western musical disciplines - Jazz, Rock and Classical.
Jazz and Latin American
It has been described like this:
"Classical music is like a train going through picturesque scenery -
beautiful, glossy and always reliably the same.
Jazz is like then getting in a four-wheel drive - exciting, unpredictable, you go where you want to go and never know where you will end up."
Because Jazz is a modern music developed around the industrial revolution, the classification systems are more modern and logical so students often
find it easier to understand and quicker to learn.
Jazz tends to emphasise the attainment of musical perception (rhythm, pitch etc) so even classical & rock musicians benefit by incorporating Jazz concepts, and Jazz is considered by some to be the
modern development of classical music - both use
the same basic theory and require the same
technical skill but Jazz includes some significant
additions - rhythm and improvisation.
Jazz is often more rhythmically complex than classical or rock, especially when we include the Latin American and African rhythmic patterns. The definition of improvisation is 'spontaneous composition of music during performance', in other words, creating music as you play rather than writing it and playing it later. Consequently Jazz musicians are required to think on their feet and to react in split-second timing to rhythmic, harmonic and melodic changes so Jazz requires extremely developed skills in rhythm, coordination, pitch perception, pattern recognition, theory and harmony. Most of the great classical composers, Mozart, Beethoven etc, were improvisers.
Younger students often improvise naturally as it has fewer rules and accesses their innate imagination.
Classical music is the general term for the
European Art Music tradition which includes the Medieval period, the Renaissance period, and the Common Practice period which includes the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods, and through to contemporary classical music.
Classical musicians study classical form and arrangement such as binary form, sonata form,
concerto, symphonic poem etc.
Classical employs compositional techniques
such as counterpoint, 4 part harmony,
voice leading and fugue etc
Repertoire is taken from the great composers
such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.
Classical also studies European music history and conducting music and the conductor.
There is also a much greater emphasis on classical
and Italian terminology, and some French and German.
Classical, Jazz and progressive rock all use the same basic theory and require the same technical skill but classical tends to focus more on music notation.
Musical principles, chordal function and tonality are universal, so harmony, chordal and melodic theory, scales and arpeggios, and reading music (notation)
will be the same or similar to any other
major genre of music study.
Rock, Pop, Funk
Rock music as a study format is defined by its simplicity and accessibility to students. Most younger people, and indeed adults, may not have listened to much jazz or classical music, where they are probably listening to pop music frequently - even if just on tv adds.
This means we can choose current hits that students like and use them as study vehicles. This has the great advantage of maintaining interest, and also that students can then play the songs to their friends
for some peer admiration.
Rock differs from other genres mostly in its beat which is solid and easy to follow. This makes it easier for younger students who may not have developed accurate timing.
Variations on Rock, like Funk, Blues and progressive rock or fusion, are hybrid forms that usually
contain jazz elements. Rock also tends more toward electronic sounds and can used to create Pop variations. Rock can also incorporate classical components for contrast and texture.
Like any other genre rock can lead either to virtuoso playing still in the rock genre, or often students will study rock and gain some technical skill which they may then use to explore jazz or classical music. Progressive rock and fusion musicians are some of the fastest most accurate musicians in the world.