Onttech8. Jazz Composition
Jazz Compositional Techniques
It has often been noted by jazz writers that Duke Ellington often wrote music to be played by particular musicians and he wrote to these musicians strengths. Classical composer's, typically, do not have in mind the performer who will execute the classical composition because multiple orchestras are intended to be played by different musicians depending upon which orchestra decides to perform that work.
A second technique in protocol that can be used that is often distinctive in jazz, even if it is not entirely exclusive to jazz, is composing pieces that have sections for an improviser to play in that section and the tunes has been intentionally developed so that it is easy or easier to improvise within that musical context. There are songs that are harder to improvise to or within while performing these songs than others.
Easier tunes to improvise within
- "Honey Suckle Rose"
- "Joy Spring" by Clifford Brown. As reported at JazzAdvice.com “Clifford Brown is one of the most melodic improvisers ever to play this music. And his tune "Joy Spring" is a great example of creating interesting melodic lines with simple diatonic material.”  (bold not in original)
- "Ornithology" by Charlie Parker.
Difficult tunes to improvise within
- "Giant Steps" by John Coltrane. It has been said that Tommy Flanagan struggled with his piano parts during the recording of this tune. The reader can judge for him or herself by listening to it.
- "3) Developing Diatonic Language: Joy Spring," Jazz advice.com, "Why These 8 Jazz Standards Should Be Your New Practice Etudes," by Eric (last name not given), May 27, 2016.
- At Jazz Advice.com it is stated that beginning Bebop players often learn Charlie Parker’s "Ornithology," a 32 bar melody over the chord progressions to "How High the Moon."