Do All Roads Lead to Jazz?

One of the best guitar teachers that I ever had used to say that, "All Roads Lead to Jazz." What do you think of this statement? Is there any truth to it? 

The majority of new (beginner) guitar students seldom pay much attention to jazz music as they study guitar at first. Early days of guitar studies are more often than not spent learning things like; open chords, strumming of popular songs and getting used to the guitar neck.

However, after 4-6 years pass by many guitar students will often begin searching out new styles to explore and after learning about Blues and Rock, quite often their focus leads them to study Jazz. The styles unique harmonies and melody lines allows them a chance to learn many new ideas not found in more basic styles. When it comes to unique sound, Jazz is right up there on the list.


So, what is it about jazz? The style sounds different and has a lot of motion. Yet, it can be explored using most of the ideas used in Blues. The major and minor pentatonic scales will go a long way to helping a guitarist start playing jazz. But, it seems that there's a lot more to it than that.

One of the main reasons I find my own students become interested in jazz music will be the use of modes. The Dorian, Mixolydian and Lydian modes in particular are used often in jazz harmony, and students hear of these concepts with peaked interest.

Another area that leads a student to jazz tends to be arpeggios. As it stands, arpeggios are used in all styles. One of the best examples is the song "Pretty Woman," by Roy Orbison. That intro lick in his song is an "E7" arpeggio and forms a staple part of that songs main theme. But, what music style employs arpeggios in abundance? Well, that would be jazz.

One more reason that I'll find students leading their study into the world of Jazz has to do with improvisation. Early on students will tend to start their improvisational career path with Blues and Rock. However, those styles can become a little stale over time. The formats are essentially all the same and after the challenge wears off, students (who are eager for more complex work), start shifting their focus over to the more complex improv found in Jazz changes.

So, as you can tell, there are many reasons why a guitarist would find their "path" pointing into the direction of Jazz study. And, while this won't hold true for every guitarist, there will be several players who benefit from learning more complicated ideas used in jazz. Whether it's due to boredom with main-stream styles, or a quest for new fresh ideas, Jazz harmony, melody and improvisation will offer guitarists a new direction and a whole palate of new musical sounds to explore.

Personally, I do feel like this statement "Do All Roads Lead to Jazz," has some merit, but I'm curious to know your thoughts. Please leave your ideas in the comments section.



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