Is Kapustin jazz or classical?

Posted by: pianoloverus

Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 08:58 AM

Many of his pieces sound much like written out jazz improvisations although I don't think many jazz pianists could improvise at quite that level. So are his pieces jazz or classical or some hybrid?

More basically, how would you define jazz vs. classical works? Is it the harmony? Does jazz require at least some improvised passages?

Where would all the transcribed performance by Tatum, Waller, Bill Evans, etc. fit into the classification? How would you classify these transcribed performances vs. Kapustin's music?

Kapustin on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_qu...c.1.Xb0wpteoV50










Posted by: chrisbell

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 09:53 AM

Kapustin is classical, which is a misnomer . . rather it is notated music. It's not jazz, but jazz-influenced. It's great music anyway.

The foundation of Jazz is improvisation.
One could say African rhythm combined with western harmony; throw in some blues, mix with some folk-tunes and you get "Jazz".
It's one of the great inventions made in the US.

Transcriptions are great study tools, but are not jazz.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 10:24 AM

Originally Posted By: chrisbell
Kapustin is classical, which is a misnomer . . rather it is notated music. It's not jazz, but jazz-influenced. It's great music anyway.

The foundation of Jazz is improvisation.
One could say African rhythm combined with western harmony; throw in some blues, mix with some folk-tunes and you get "Jazz".
It's one of the great inventions made in the US.

Transcriptions are great study tools, but are not jazz.

What do you mean by classical vs. notated music?

Couldn't one argue that many great jazz pianists play very similar versions of songs each time they "improvise" and hence they are just playing out versions written out in their minds and are doing fairly minimal improvisation? For example, I've noticed that each of Keith Jarret's versions of Over The Rainbow are quite similar.
Posted by: chrisbell

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 11:44 AM

No vs.
Sorry if I was not clear. Classical music is "usually" defined as music written 1550 - 1900.
Though some argue that Bartók or say Stravinsky is modern music . . .

Yes you could argue that fact. I wouldn't call his version of Over the rainbow for jazz per se.
What I know of Jarrett is that he doesn't like to call his music jazz, but just music.

Thought his solo concerts are definitely improvised.

I think its a sad fact that so many classical performers have not learnt how to improvise; and that it's not part (usually) of the curriculum at music schools.
Posted by: GeorgeB

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 12:19 PM

Originally Posted By: chrisbell
Classical music is "usually" defined as music written 1550 - 1900.



No. Just no. Definitely don't agree with this.
Posted by: GeorgeB

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 12:23 PM

Kapustin is a fusion of several styles. His music has several concepts from many idioms across the spectrum
Posted by: Cheeto717

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 01:39 PM

I consider it classical because I consider classical music to be music where every note is written down. Another defining characteristic for me is that classical music also has clues to interpretation which come in the form of dynamic markings, articulation markings, phrasing, etc. Both concepts are found in Kapustin's music so yes, I consider it classical music.

If you disagree or think something would need to be added to this let me know. It's been a lifelong struggle to give people a broad definition of what classical music is.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 02:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Cheeto717
I consider it classical because I consider classical music to be music where every note is written down. Another defining characteristic for me is that classical music also has clues to interpretation which come in the form of dynamic markings, articulation markings, phrasing, etc. Both concepts are found in Kapustin's music so yes, I consider it classical music.

If you disagree or think something would need to be added to this let me know. It's been a lifelong struggle to give people a broad definition of what classical music is.
But there are classical pieces, Classical period concerti for example, where the performer can improvise a cadenza. There are other examples of works almost universally considered to be classical that have improvisatory passages.

As far as clues to interpretation in the form of markings as a definition of classical, that would eliminate much of Bach's keyboard music. And it would include much of Broadway musicals which most don't classify as classical.
Posted by: DanS

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 02:01 PM

I say classical.

To me, it's classical with influences of the times, just like Gershwin (or even Bach). The form is much better thought out then on jazz improvisations, say for instance Koln concert.




Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

Couldn't one argue that many great jazz pianists play very similar versions of songs each time they "improvise" and hence they are just playing out versions written out in their minds and are doing fairly minimal improvisation?


Absolutely. In fact, I know a drummer who played with a very famous South American jazz pianist. He claimed that this guy played every song the same, note for note, every lick, every night. Going back and listening to the recordings, I believe it.
Posted by: Verbum mirabilis

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 02:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Cheeto717
I consider it classical because I consider classical music to be music where every note is written down. Another defining characteristic for me is that classical music also has clues to interpretation which come in the form of dynamic markings, articulation markings, phrasing, etc. Both concepts are found in Kapustin's music so yes, I consider it classical music.

If you disagree or think something would need to be added to this let me know. It's been a lifelong struggle to give people a broad definition of what classical music is.


Actually, improvisation used to be a important part of classical music. Beethoven was known for being very good at improvisation, Chopin composed by first improvising his pieces, then working on them before writing them down in their final form (even though he did make changes on his pieces aftewards), cadenzas in concertos were originally improvised. I could give more examples if I wanted to.

Also, is ragtime jazz or classical?

What about the second movement of Ravel's violin sonata?
Posted by: Cheeto717

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 03:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Verbum mirabilis
Originally Posted By: Cheeto717
I consider it classical because I consider classical music to be music where every note is written down. Another defining characteristic for me is that classical music also has clues to interpretation which come in the form of dynamic markings, articulation markings, phrasing, etc. Both concepts are found in Kapustin's music so yes, I consider it classical music.

If you disagree or think something would need to be added to this let me know. It's been a lifelong struggle to give people a broad definition of what classical music is.


Actually, improvisation used to be a important part of classical music.



"used to be" being the key phrase. What I'm talking about is giving the modern non-musically trained individual a broad definition of what classical music is. Not its origins or what it 'used to be'. There's hardly any improvisation in classical music today, though it's not unheard of.
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 05:24 PM

As Kapustin writes his music down and thus expects the players to do just what is in the written-down score, he must be 'classic', as no one is expected to go on improvising on his notes, like no one is expected to go on a nice musical stroll on a Chopin-waltz/étude, some do, than it's jazz, most just respect the score and try to do their utmost to make it sound fresh and good. The pianistic technique of Kapustin's opus 40 f.e. is really oldfashioned classical russian school, no jazzer would be able to really play what it says in the notes, only a classically trained pianist, with lots of fingers/rhythmic feeling/ear for voicing/taste for this kind of music (sorry, cheap) can play this difficult music and make it worthwile to listen to, if so: great music, and a very valuable addition to the 'canon' of piano-études.
Posted by: jdhampton924

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 05:38 PM

I would think he was Jazz the same way Gershwin is. It is classical with jazz infused.
Posted by: jjo

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/28/12 07:01 PM

Like the others, to me this sounds like a classical piece that reflects some jazz influences. Now a story: Stephen Sondheim was asked whether he considered Sweeney Todd a musical or an opera. To those that don't know, Sweeney Todd is nearly all sung and the music is fairly complex. Sondheim's answer: When it's performed in an opera house by an opera company, it's opera, when it's performed in a regular theater by broadway style actors, it's a musical.
Posted by: wr

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/29/12 05:33 AM

Originally Posted By: chrisbell
Classical music is "usually" defined as music written 1550 - 1900.


No, it isn't. There is a vast amount of music written during that time bracket that isn't classical. And, conversely, there's a great deal written outside of that bracket that is considered classical.
Posted by: chrisbell

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/29/12 06:12 AM

That's why I wrote the " ".
Posted by: wr

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/29/12 08:03 AM

Originally Posted By: chrisbell
That's why I wrote the " ".


Somehow, that doesn't seem to explain much, at least not to me. I mean, if you didn't think the statement was true or close to true, then what was it you were trying to say with it? Whatever it was, it didn't get through to me. Maybe there's some level of irony or sarcasm involved that's going over my head...
Posted by: chrisbell

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/29/12 08:19 AM

That would be it.
smile
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/29/12 09:05 AM

Originally Posted By: jjo
Like the others, to me this sounds like a classical piece that reflects some jazz influences. Now a story: Stephen Sondheim was asked whether he considered Sweeney Todd a musical or an opera. To those that don't know, Sweeney Todd is nearly all sung and the music is fairly complex. Sondheim's answer: When it's performed in an opera house by an opera company, it's opera, when it's performed in a regular theater by broadway style actors, it's a musical.


....but when it's performed by opera singers (whether in an opera house or theatre), with their full-throated vibrato, it sounds really awful. (Bernstein's West Side Story conducted by the composer with Kiri and José et al should serve as a warning.....)
Posted by: didyougethathing

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/29/12 12:20 PM

He's definitely an interesting case, since many of pieces are very improvisatory, they swing, and use a definite "jazz" vocabulary. However, like others have said, jazz IS improvisation. Even in straightforward performances of showtunes with vocalists, the rhythm section is constantly improvising.

Kapustin's music is an art music in the tradition of classical, for it is notated specifically and notes aren't added or changed.

And saying that a cadenza somehow equates to jazz improvisation is a little silly to me. Most jazz improvisation, except for the most out there stuff, relies on playing in strict adherence to the chord changes of a song. Each song has a structure and you're going to play the head, then take solos, then play the out head. That is how most (not all!) jazz is done, and that's what defined it for decades before people started to break free of that.

Here's a reverse example: Ornette Coleman's fantastic Skies of America. This is a piece he composed and performed on with an orchestra. This is an example of a jazz musician writing in a more classical notated style. It is a composed piece. There are certain parts where he probably improvised what he was playing but the orchestra is still playing notated music.

I'm not trying to really argue with anyone, because I consider both classical music and jazz to be the highest forms of musical art, but people need to realize the approach is very different in both camps, even if they mix with each other.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/29/12 01:21 PM

From Wiki ...

Kapustin regards himself as a composer rather than a jazz musician. He has said, "I was never a jazz musician. I never tried to be a real jazz pianist, but I had to do it because of the composing. I’m not interested in improvisation – and what is a jazz musician without improvisation? All my improvisation is written, of course, and they became much better; it improved them."
Posted by: didyougethathing

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/29/12 01:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
From Wiki ...

Kapustin regards himself as a composer rather than a jazz musician. He has said, "I was never a jazz musician. I never tried to be a real jazz pianist, but I had to do it because of the composing. I’m not interested in improvisation – and what is a jazz musician without improvisation? All my improvisation is written, of course, and they became much better; it improved them."


thumb Great quote. I figured he would say as much. All composers are "improvisers," that's how you write music. But just because he uses harmonies and sensibilities from another genre doesn't make it that genre.

However, I have a feeling that Mr. Kapustin would be a pretty good improviser if put on the spot!
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/29/12 02:12 PM

But what about the fact that apparently some/many jazz pianists don't really improvise very much in their performances and play their songs pretty much the same each time. Seems like the line between jazz and classical, if one says that improvisation is the the key element of jazz, is somewhat blurry.

I assume that most everyone would classify Keith Jarrett as a jazz pianist(except when he's playing classical)but are his renditions of, for example, Over The Rainbow different enough to be called improvisation?

When a classical pianist performs a note for note transcription of a solo by Tatum or Waller does it become a classical piece because the pianist is not improvising?

What about when a classical pianist like Gabriel Montero plays one of her improvisations using mostly classical harmonies and classical figurations...is that jazz or classical or some hybrid?
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/29/12 05:47 PM

I think the big difference between a classical pianist playing 'jazz' and a jazz pianist improvising, when something goes horribly wrong with the jazz pianist, he still manages to make something out of it. It's the ability to think and react quickly on your feet, as it were.

I look at great classical pianists as great actors. They take someone else's words and make it their own, not an easy task to be sure.

The jazz pianist is using his own words and thus 'speaking' is infinitely easier (for those who can easily improvise).

I'm sure (classically trained) actors and those actors who improvise on stage have the same discussions we're having.
Posted by: didyougethathing

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/29/12 10:35 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
But what about the fact that apparently some/many jazz pianists don't really improvise very much in their performances and play their songs pretty much the same each time. Seems like the line between jazz and classical, if one says that improvisation is the the key element of jazz, is somewhat blurry.

I assume that most everyone would classify Keith Jarrett as a jazz pianist(except when he's playing classical)but are his renditions of, for example, Over The Rainbow different enough to be called improvisation?

When a classical pianist performs a note for note transcription of a solo by Tatum or Waller does it become a classical piece because the pianist is not improvising?

What about when a classical pianist like Gabriel Montero plays one of her improvisations using mostly classical harmonies and classical figurations...is that jazz or classical or some hybrid?


Great points, but I still don't think you're seeing the difference between improvising and "jazz." I know there's no real definition of jazz, but I'd say it's commonly accepted to use certain harmonies and sensibilities. It swings and much of the early material was built from popular songs and their chord progressions. The approach is very different.

Gabriela Montero is improvising, but it's not "jazz." She is not using the influence of early blues, showtunes, or swinging in a certain way that signifies to a listener that this is "jazz." Again, it's a very hard genre to define, but if you start from when it started, you see what it is and what it isn't, and also where it's at now. Montero is absolutely amazing at improvising, but when she does, it's most of the time an improvisation "in the style of" or "on a theme of."

Whereas, most modern jazz, even today (which i listen to heavily), the formula is basically the same: A head (melody), solos on the harmonic material by each soloist, the out head. That is a very different approach than someone like Montero takes, or even Jarrett. Jarrett doesn't think of himself as a jazz musician, even though he's played in that setting. Much of his improvising is just "music," like he says.

I'm not saying there are rules to playing jazz, but there are certain signifiers that let you know the lineage of where it came from. You can listen to Coleman Hawkins and then to a modern artist like Orrin Evans, or Jeremy Pelt. The formula is mostly the same, and the swinging is there, albeit more modern. The harmonies are there, but more modern.

Also, I would never pay to hear someone play an Art Tatum transcription, to me it defeats the purpose of what Tatum was trying to do. And yes, even though his versions have similarities, it's mostly because he liked what he came up with. Around that framework, things are constantly changing, however small the details. Sure, the intros of Tea for Two might be virtually the same, but many other things change.

You're posing some great questions, and as we all know, how do you define classical or jazz? I'm just putting forth what I believe, and I would say many musicians that have played both and listen to both might say as well.

To summarize, there is a difference to me between improvising and playing jazz.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/30/12 04:34 AM

Many classical pianists can improvise very well, some of them in a variety of styles, but because they don't play their improvisations in concerts, the public assumes that only jazz pianists can do improvisations.

I've been listening to Dmitri Alexeev accompanying Barbara Hendricks in spirituals - his accompaniments were improvised, and that's how they got together to perform and record such music instead of just Lieder: he substituted for her regular accompanist at short notice (for a classical concert) and she saw him improvising on a spiritual tune....
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/30/12 07:28 AM

We all improvise when we have a conversation with a total stranger. The conversation is not memorized or programmed in advance, we make it up as we go and bounce our speech off of the other person.

Jazz or improvising is also a language of sorts. If you don't practice speaking it, you'll never become fluent. The vast majority of classical teachers I've encountered do not practice the art of improvising ... and neither do their students. (Church organists are usually pretty good in making stuff up as they frequently have to play longer than their prepared music allows.)
Posted by: Verbum mirabilis

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/30/12 10:39 AM

Originally Posted By: didyougethathing

And saying that a cadenza somehow equates to jazz improvisation is a little silly to me. Most jazz improvisation, except for the most out there stuff, relies on playing in strict adherence to the chord changes of a song. Each song has a structure and you're going to play the head, then take solos, then play the out head. That is how most (not all!) jazz is done, and that's what defined it for decades before people started to break free of that.



I didn't say that a cadenza equates to jazz improvisation. I gave improvised cadenzas as an example of classical improvisation.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Is Kapustin jazz or classical? - 11/30/12 12:26 PM

Keyboard players used to read figured bass and would play according to their level of proficiency. Today all the parts are written out ... and that's too bad.