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Why Jazz is the Most Supreme Music in the Universe

(Just My Opinion)
There is a lot of great music in the world, some of which I have never heard, but I am willing to say that jazz is the pinnacle of musical expression. Playing jazz well involves the synthesis of several high level skills: careful listening, good reflexes, highly developed rhythmic skills, knowledge of one's instrument, a strong theory base, and well developed technique. I assert that no other music requires all of these skills in as high a level of development.

It is imperative that you listen when you play jazz, and listen very closely. Jazz is based on the interplay that occurs between musicians, and the reactions to the musical decisions of others. While soloing (or comping), a jazz musician will often repeat phrases and ideas played by other band members. If they are comping, jazz musicians will alter the notes in the chords they play, and even play entirely different chords because the situation calls for it. If that were attempted in a rock, or blues band, chaos would inevitably follow (although in a Techno band, it is likely that no one would notice). This also requires good musical reflexes: the ability to react quickly and correctly to various musical stimuli.

Rhythmic skills are a given for any type of music. All types of music have characteristic rhythmic phrases (cliches), and some types of music even have extremely complicated polyrhythmic aspects. Because jazz is a musical synthesis of many cultures, many of the characteristics of different types of music occur in jazz. As an analogy, think about a particular kind of music as a volume in a large encyclopedia set. Jazz is the encyclopedia set.

Technique and knowledge of one's instrument are related aspects, and are also key in many types of music. The rigors of the classical tradition (as well as some folk music such as bluegrass) demand a virtuoso level of technical expertise to perform the passages correctly, and any music with improvisational aspects involves an extensive knowledge of one's instrument.

Most other improvised musics involve much simpler chord and melody progressions, focusing primarily on tonic, dominant, and subdominant chords.

Jeremy Cotton is the guitar faculty at the Dallas School of Music; his girlfriend thinks he's a jazz elitist.