Overview of Paul Rinzler's The Contradictions of Jazz Chapter 5: Openness
Overview of PAUL RINZLER’S The Contradictions of Jazz - Chapter 5
Ch. 5 - OPENNESS
Openness is associated with important jazz values, such as creativity and freedom. (p. 47)
- Freedom means that options are not restricted for choosing, but rather, they are open. (p. 47)
- Creativity asks for an openness to all kinds of possibilities, imagined or not. (p. 47)
- Openness is an important value of jazz because it supports freedom and creativity in jazz, as well as other jazz values. (p. 47)
Rinzler lists four definitions of the word "open" that are relevant to jazz: (p. 47)
- Receptivity: Acceptance of input, as in open-minded
- The Unknown: An open destination, or open questions
- Continuation: An open-ended ticket
- Being nonjudgmental: Open to any way
- Rinzler believes receptivity is "the fundamental aspect of openness" (p. 48) because receptivity describes a state in which someone is "ready, willing, and able to gather and accept input or information" (p. 48) that is being sent their way.
- A jazz musician must listen carefully to every musician in the ensemble in order to figure out in what direction the music may go. Since so much of a musical performance is left unspecified, listening is crucial. (p. 48)
- Jazz musicians have to be active listeners and also be "open and receptive to the emerging group consensus about how the music should proceed." (p. 48)
- Openness and receptiveness allow jazz musicians to listen to the other musicians, note what they are doing, and quickly make subtle musical judgments when the need to do so arises. (p. 48)
- "Jazz improve is an unknown because, ultimately, there are no rules that require how a jazz solo must unfold.” (p. 49)
Unpredictability . . . Jazz as an experiment:
- "This experimental aspect introduces an ever-present chance of unpredictability and the unknown.” (p. 49)
- Auto pilot vs. pushing the envelope.
Chaos Theory and the Emergent:
- "Very small changes in initial conditions can unpredictably create large changes in later conditions.” (49)
- "What a jazz ensemble might improvise at the beginning of a chorus late in a piece may well depend on what the group improvised at the beginning of previous choruses.” (50)
Embracing the Unknown:
- "The advantage of openness is that new results are always possible, but disadvantage is risk of failure.” (50)
The Unknown Requires Strength:
- “Openness requires strength, competence, an confidence.” (50)
- Possibility of danger is always present. (50)
- Improvisation as a Journey (51-52)
- A musical composition, in one way or another, is an account of someone’s exploration or a “journey” into the unknown realms of music. In order to make new and original composition, a musician has to be open to the unknown possibilities of music.
- An improvisation is able to show that “journey” in its rawest form. And because it is raw and unrefined at many times, it requires a sense of openness from the audience too.
- John Coltrane was always challenging himself to explore different types of possibilities in jazz and improvisation. When he felt that he had explored a certain field enough, he would start over again from the beginning in a different field. Even if it meant that his music’s quality would be inconsistent from his previous works.
- Viewing these journeys into the unknown as it is happening, and enjoying it, is one of the essences of openness in jazz.
- Openness can be defined as not reaching the end of a process in time.
- Improvisation in Jazz is not a finished thing. It is the current manifestation of all players former improvisations.
- Improvisation is an ongoing process, connection all of the improviser’s improvisations on a particular piece. The improvisation are linked by harmonic and formal structure.
- Improvisers need to reference back to back improvisations because the current and present improvisation is the same piece. Each improvisation is linked as another version of the improvisers approach to the original piece.
- Basically a improvisational piece is all former pieces together. The piece is always continuing.
- Being Nonjudgmental (54)
“Being nonjudgmental refers to rejecting the idea that there is a right and wrong.” (p. 54t)
Ways of being Judgmental:
- All options are equal: all options are equally appealing; no right or wrong choice.
- Neutrality: not to make a judgment.
- Perspectives: “A final judgment as to what is right or wrong may not be possible because of the equivalence of different perspectives.” (p. 54m)
Right and Wrong Notes:
- "At first, there are right and wrong notes in jazz, at the stage when the students of jazz learn which notes and scales fit with which chords…But ultimately, any note may be played over any chord. ” (Beginning of the 2nd paragraph on p. 55)
- If there is an artistic purpose to the notes being played by the improviser, any note can be played over any chord.