Brandt Wallace

Is language, or the actual act of speaking, solely created by the organs of speech?It is possible that some scholars might agree that communication is not totally vocal, yet how many of these same scholars would agree that language is not restricted to the vocalized speech that is so common in everyday life?This paper will argue that music, specifically instrumental jazz, can be characterized as an alternative language method.
In order to gather information to write this paper, research was conducted at a downtown bar by observing a four piece jazz band and its audience.
Onfirst observing with the notion of “jazz as language” in mind, one very important question arose-what types of things does language convey?Frankly, the answer to this question could continue into book length, but there are several key correlations that the research revealed between the functions of jazz and verbal speaking as language types.
The most obvious similarity is that jazz, like verbal speaking, is used to explain ideas and stories in great detail and emotion.Jazz expresses these ideas and stories to the audience through two distinct entities, group conversation and personal interpretation.
On explaining these entities, one must understand the order in which they are given to the audience.The majority of the pieces that were performed used a common theme or melody, some songs having multiple melodies.In each song, this melody was expressed in one of two ways.In some songs, the band would start with the melody and then enter a “solo period,” where each musician would solo.Before concluding the piece, the band would tie the piece together by playing the melody again.In other songs, the band would switch between melody and solo until each musician had soloed.The melody will be referred to as the “conversation.”The solo is like an individual’s personal thoughts on the conversation.
In the jazz melody, or con…


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