What's the difference between jazz and blues as according to music theory?

Politically, blues reacts in the same manner as folk in the sense that it tends to represent the economic and social frustrations of the lower-class. In my opinion, blues is more representative of the working-class and destitute in contrast to mostly conformist melodies of jazz. Now that we know the differences in a political sense, I want to know how jazz differs from the blues as according to music theory.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
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    I wouldn't call Jazz melodies 'conformist' in the political in any way. In fact, the birth of the jazz age was heralded with as much "what's wrong with these kids today" sort of attitude as the birth of Rock and Roll.

    Now, from a theory standpoint, the two are sometimes difficult to seperate as they are not mutually exclusive. Both are commonly played in swing time, both make extensive use of polytonality, and both often share forms.

    Early jazz is based on vi ii V I progressions but usually with a lot of secondary dominants making it more like V/ii V/V V I. Early blues does this also, but more commonly as part of a 12-bar form.

    While we are on the subject, 12 bar form is the staple for blues, but NOT the only form by far! In fact, early blues was a lot more open than modern blues and you would see 12-bar 8-bar, 16-bar, formless progressions, and many other ideas. Some regidly with domintant 7th chords throughout, some with substitutions and secondary dominants.

    Also interesting to note that the 12 bar form is common in jazz as well. One of the major differeneces is that even though they are both played in swing time (similar to 12/8 as an expression of unequal 8ths in 4/4) blues falls more on the down beat and jazz not so much.

    Melodically, jazz improvisation tries to steer away from the tonic and even away from triad chord tones where blues tends to use the tonic and 'blue' notes.

    There are so many details that it is difficult to express them all.

    The really short answer is that blues comes from the heart and jazz from the head.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Actually you've got it backwards. Blues usually always follows form. A standard 12 bar blues is usually 4 lines of 3 bars. the first line of the verse is usually repeated over the first 6 bars, followed by another line over 3 bars and a final bar of the verse over the last 3 bars.

    There are several variations of blues as well, but the 12 bar is the most known form.

    Jazz can follow form if that's the way it's written or if that's the way the musician decides to interpret it, and jazz allows for free improvisation. Any improvisation in blues, still follows the basic musical form.

    Jazz can and does also reflect economic and social situations the same as blues and any other music...ever hear the song Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday? It's about the lynching of black men in the south...the men being sung about were hardly middle class. Blues is the father of jazz chronologically speaking

    Source(s): Professional singer
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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    The only reason people will tell you Jazz is derived from blues is because they dreamed it. Jazz is complex series of chord shapes and variations for VERY TALENTED musicans to improvise over. Improvisation is the only thing that is shared by the blues style. You will NEVER hear B.B. King do a chromatic scale. Hell, I doubt he knows how, or cares. And to hear a Jazz guitarist try to bend a note is mostly a joke. They just don't get it. These styles are as different as the musicans that play the music. Both genre purist's would consider it an insult to call them even remotely the same. P.S. I like the blues best, but do enjoy all kinds of music. Progressive jazz, like Al De Meola, will open up all kinds of new horizions. Joe Pass is another genius.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Blues follows the I-IV-V progression, and Jazz follows the ii-V-I progression, typically. Jazz has also developed more than Blues, allowing for the inclusion of unusual time signatures, modal vamps, and extended chords. I would say that Jazz is not actually one form of music, but a term that defines a whole history of a particular style, so it's hard to define the theory behind Jazz, because it encompasses so many forms. If you were to ask what the music theory behind Big Band Jazz, Modal Jazz, or Cool Jazz was, that would be a bit easier to define. I would even go as far as to say that Blues is one of the forms of Jazz, probably the earliest.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Blues is the father of jazz! Blues conforms to a certain 'musical style & interpretation" i.e. 12 bar blues which follows a format. There are variations, but these still generally conform to a format.

    Jazz allows the same, but has different time signatures, and a lot of improvisation depending on the artists. I would say that blues was more conformist than jazz.

    Source(s): me-music teacher
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  • 1 decade ago

    As a journeyman jazz singer-composer-jazz pianist, I can answer that question by telling you that jazz is a complicated idiom using some compelling harmonies, melodies, et al....Blues is a simple 12-bar format using simpler changes....Thats's a simple answer. That said, you can still

    use upper structure harmonics in blues to make your harmonies sound more complicated...Go for it

    g Carroll

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Soul is in your Heart.( Feeling beyond the written word).

    Blues is in your Back ( that which weighs heavy on your life).

    Jazz is in your Head ( Reaching for the Deeper Meanings)

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  • 1 decade ago

    In jazz, nearly all the chords are seventh chords or larger, thus the melodies and solos frequently make use of chord tones outside of the first octave (ninths, elevenths, thirteenths); for a blues player or writer the seventh is a color tone and the ideas are contained within one octave.

    Ultimately I am reminded of the joke whose text is similar to the question: blues players play three chords for thousands of people while jazz players play thousands of chords for three people.

    Source(s): I've played extensively in both genres over the last thirty years; most blues devotees react less than favorably to frequent use of second octave harmonic content, especially altered ninths and elevenths.
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  • 7 years ago

    actually they seem cousin or brothers speaking musically.

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