(Ep3mis1) Why mistakes in jazz are possible.
- The Mistakes page has already established with arguments, as well as with a list of actual types of mistakes, that mistakes can and do occur when performing jazz. The question on this page asks for an accounting as to why as well as how this is even possible.
How mistakes in jazz are possible
- What is required for a mistake to be possible? The answer is that there must already be an established criteria that contrasts with any mistake against which the mistake concerned is judged to count as a mistake. There must exist criteria of correctness such that this particular event failed to conform to that standard thereby being out of compliance. Hence, relative to this particular standard the non-compliant event counts as a mistake.
- Now think of how many standard practices there are when playing jazz. The reason it is such an enervating and challenging musical environment is precisely because there are so many standard playing practices and conventions. For example, Thelonious Monk did not like how Miles Davis played a song that Monk had written, but Miles's version of how to play the song became the more standard way to play the bridge, or whatever it was. So, is Miles making a mistake? It is relative to what frame of reference you wish to use. Relative to the musical score, and the composer of the song, the answer would be yes because Miles 'is playing it wrong.' Perhaps, though, Miles is recomposing at that point that Monk doesn't like as to how to play this section of the song, and if this becomes the standard way amongst musicians who perform the song to play it, then it is no longer a mistake regarding standard practices regarding the playing of this particular song.
- The conclusion is supportive of the main point that mistakes can only be judged against some particular standards of correctness.
- ➢ Can there be bad completely free jazz improvisations? The answer is a resounding "Yes there can!"
- It is not as if each free improvisation is as good as any other free improvisation. Even when there are LESS rules to conform to, there is much that can be critiqued as both good and bad in such improvisations. Here it may be less clear during a bad improvisation that a mistake has been made, but arguably one could correctly claim that "at this point in Fred's free improvisation he made a mistake in playing this same one note for an hour." This doesn't seem that out of the ordinary and seems like an acceptable use of the word "mistake."
- The Bad Plus's pianist Ethan Iverson notes two songs that Monk thought Miles 'played wrong' in his article "Think of Thelonious Monk," The New Yorker, October 10, 2017, third paragraph.
“Most of the skeptics ended up admiring his compositions, although certain great musicians, like Miles Davis, Lennie Tristano, and Oscar Peterson, would continue to dislike aspects of his playing. Ironically, Davis began his ascendency with a performance of Monk’s “ ’Round Midnight.” The ironies are compounded when you remember that Monk would always be irritated about how Davis used incorrect chord changes, not just on “ ’Round Midnight” but on “Well, You Needn’t,” as well.” (bold not in original)