Blues or Jazz: What’s the diff?

Posted: February 10, 2012 in Coppell Piano Shop, Instruction, Piano, Wordpress

Blues or Jazz: What’s the diff?.

  1. Ben says:


    Blues is in blue or bebop scale, maybe uses quater tones in singing and sounds bluesy. Uses triadic chords and dominant sevenths on V.

    Jazz uses messed up chords and messed up scales, so modal scales like phrygian; mixolydian; lydian etc and other scales like whole tone, minor pentatonic, diminished; etc. Jazz doesn’t settle on triadic chords eg Jazz will call a C chord a C major eventh with a flattened 13th and an augmented ninth over E.

    Also, For a jazzy feel there’s lots of the 2-5-1 chord pattern eg, Dm7 – Gdom7+ – Cmaj7.

    Although both use improv, I would say that blues imorov tends to be more structured – giving a nod to the otehr players and enforcing the 12 bar (or whatever) pattern being used – whereas a jazz improv tends to allow the soloist to meander into whatever he or she wants the music to feel like, even to the happy decay of the musical structure.

    Overall, I would say that blues is a definite compartmentable musical genre with its own rules and theory book; whereas Jazz is the organised dissarray of musical cohesian (as understood by the classical theorists). I would say the only thing holding jazz together, in leiu of a musical rulebook, is its idiosynchratic and identifiable culture.

    • Appreciate your comments. There is much that might be said about the differences between blues and jazz. In the blog, I was trying to encourage that segment of classically-trained musicians who become frustrated when they try to explore the jazz idiom. I think the Blues is a good and natural place to start on the journey that might lead to jazz. Blues is a journey onto itself though, (as Blues artists might attest) which need not lead to the complexities of chordal music that are fundamental to jazz. Learning the Blues remains a good place to start for those who want to develop skills in improvisation and creativity.