Classical vs. Jazz

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Zeus_Apollo, Jun 17, 2009.

  1. Zeus_Apollo

    Zeus_Apollo New Friend

    Jun 17, 2009
    Southern California
    Is there a gigantic difference in playing classical music and jazz?

    Well, my band director asked me to play lead trumpet for my high school jazz band but then I told him that I'm more of a classical trumpet player and he told me there wasn't that much of a difference between the two other than the fact I'd have to blast more in jazz band but I think he was sort of joking around when he said that.

    I like trying to make my tone sound completely perfect with each note that I play and when I sat in with the jazz band one day, I noticed our best trombone player just blatting out these notes that didn't sound very good at all. I've also noticed that our current jazz trumpet players skim over notes and don't seem to be bothered when some come out wrong but I'm more of a perfectionist trumpet player and I think that would bother me a lot.

    I've only been playing for about a year and I used to steer away from jazz music so I'm not really knowledgable in that field. Would transitioning from principal trumpet in a symphonic orchestra to lead trumpet in jazz band be a big change? Would I have to completely change my style of playing or something?
  2. DanZ_FL

    DanZ_FL Pianissimo User

    Jun 16, 2009
    Clearwater, Florida
    Hi Zeus Apollo,

    I'd say to give the lead opportunity a chance. As long as it doesn't strain you with range (and possibly force some bad habits for playing) then it should be a growing experience for you as a legit player as well. Most all solos and improv are taken by the other trumpet seats.

    I believe it's more about what you bring to it then the other way around. If you're technique is tight that may well begin to rub off on the other players. Just my 2 cents...

  3. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    Later in life you'll look back at high school as a time of great opportunity. You have literally HOURS every day to play and grow. Take advantage of jazz band. It's an opportunity to play the horn with a different group of musicians in a style that you're not familiar with. At the end of the day you're still buzzing into the same mouthpiece, so what's the harm?

    If you've only been playing for a year I'll respectfully submit that you still have a LOT to learn about the trumpet, so at this point accept any reasonable invitation to play...
  4. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Sounds like you're over thinking it. When I was in Jr High and Hi School, playing all kinds of music everyday, I tried to play the same way for each genre, each style. The variables should be feel and style. I've taken that idea into my adult life playing brass quintets and big bands. Same instrument, same chops.

  5. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    There are definitely style differences, however the finest jazz trumpeters came from a classical background. Wynton is a perfect example of that.
  6. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Is there a gigantic difference between jazz and classical?
    Equipment, I'd say yes. You don't see piccolo or Eb trumpet used often in jazz.
    As far as what is being played (notes) not really.
    The scales, patterns, inversions, and triads are the same for classical as they are for jazz. I regularly steal....err... I mean borrow from Rimsky Korsakov, Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart when I play jazz.
    Some would say jazz and classical are gigantically different because jazz has improvisation. For those people I would recommend listening to Gabriella Montero as she improvises on Bach (The CD Bach & Beyond). Also, Beethoven, Mozart, etc. were all MONSTER improvisors. Think about it, doesn't Wynton Marsalis play jazz with a classical sensibilitry? Arguably, the major defining factor that makes a genre of music identifiable is its rhythm and instrumentation. If I say Polka you can easily imagine the basic oompa rhythm and an accordian. Country, rock, jazz, ska, reggae, orchestral, marches, classical are easily recognizable by the rhythm and instruments used.
  7. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    I'd say the main difference is the amount of sloppiness you can get away with in jazz. While most think that nothing less than perfect is acceptable in classical performance, cacked notes and questionable tone are largely overlooked in jazz if the concept, groove and changes are good.
  8. mkmtrumpeter

    mkmtrumpeter New Friend

    Jun 17, 2009
    Hmm... I don't think sloppiness is at all acceptable in jazz, but that's just me. I don't think sloppiness is ever acceptable when you're playing a performance, be it classical or jazz.

    The biggest difference you're going to see between classical and jazz is how you're going to interpret the marks on the page and the style you're going to use. You need good fundamentals no matter what you're doing, particularly when you get to some more difficult licks. When you're playing in a classical setting, your job as a lead trumpet player is to blend perfectly with the rest of the ensemble, and keep all of your dynamics controlled. Your precision has to be dead on and your articulations should be subtle and well dictated. When you're playing jazz, being a little messy (notice I say messy, not sloppy) can be part of the style and is indeed sometimes even marked into the music with things like falls, smears, and ghosted notes. Especially playing lead, you're going to find that your sound will have to really pop in a big band as opposed to a wind ensemble or orchestra setting. It's going to be all the same markings and all the same fundamentals, you're just going to have to interpret it a different way.

    Jazz, more than anything, is really fun. It's much more open to interpretation, especially when you get into improvisation. I would definitely snatch up the opportunity to play in a big band.
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The major difference between lead and classical playing is VERY great.

    Lead playing is specialty work. You are the cutting edge in the brass sound, lead the section and burn a lot more calories in the course of a gig. A very big difference is in the groove of your rhythm which has to be very much like a chameleon depending is you are playing swing, latin, rock or a ballad. I will go so far as to say that a great lead player has a very high output on testostearone that energizes the whole band. If I asked a young trumpet player to play lead, I would make sure that they got lead quality lessons. The face requirements are much different.

    That being said, there is enough easy and intermediate jazz band arrangements that can be played by the classically oriented player - they sound that way too - no groove.

    You need to want to be a lead player. You will develop a much more forceful method of playing and a "smooth" sound will not be on the top of your list anymore.

    My personal opinion is that the second trumpet book in the big band is better for the "smoothy". There are enough high notes, but much more opportunities just to "sound" nice.
  10. Brass crusader

    Brass crusader Mezzo Piano User

    To be a lead and a classical player are two very different and unique jobs. However, the difference between the two can be overcome and many classical players are also great jazz and lead players.

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