Thursday, 24 October 2013

'The Jazz Effect' - Why does Jazz make you H-O-T?

One of the first things I discovered about Jazz, and it wasn't difficult to figure out, was the actual physical effects it has on your body. 

Jazz is arousing.

'What is my definition of Jazz? Safe Sex of the HIGHEST order' Kurt Vonnegut

Its funny how so many shy away from this subject, but once you bring it up, everyone chimes in and agrees. And all concede that its only Jazz that causes a true physical arousal. I haven't found anyone who can claim the same for another genre. 
(By the way, PLEASE pronounce genre properly- the g is soft not hard, there is NO 'd' before the 'r' and there is no y at the end! REALLY gets my goat when people pronounce it Jen, like short form of Jennifer -Dra or Jen-dray, horrible new trend! But I digress! ) 
There may be songs or particular artists whom a person may find attractive, and therefore garner a physical response. There may be emotional links to particular tracks or even eras for individuals that can do the same. But none of those are as a result of the particular TYPE of music, rather to outside stimuli. 
The more I talk to people the more I realize it is pretty well universal. 

Jazz= Arousal. 


I'm not a musician, so I can't sit here and tell you how this chord does that (yadda yadda). And I'm not a scientist, so I can't tell you the resonations of note X affect the Y gland (yadda yadda). There is no way I can give you clear documented evidence. 
But I can tell you what I believe. Then feel free to tell me your opinion!

So, firstly, for the doubters, why is it so difficult to believe a type of music could cause physical arousal? Research results have proven repeatedly that listening to Mozart's music may induce a short-term improvement in spatial temporal reasoning, and yeah, smarter babies. And the UK Guardian recently released an article citing the playing of Mozart as a stimulator to help sewage decompose faster. I'm serious! Playing Metal doesn't work in either situation, nor does Jazz, Folk, Techno, whatever. Only Mozart . In another oft cited experiment it was discovered that plants exposed to North Indian Classical music grew exponentially larger and healthier than plants exposed to other music, or no music at all. So it is clear TYPES of music have an effect on living things (or decomposing things, yuck, as in the sewage study).
So why is it such a stretch that Jazz could affect our more intimate sides?

Josephine Baker
I can't really explain WHY Jazz does it. I just know that it does. I'm sure some people will scoff and say that it is the NOTION of Jazz that is arousing, and well, it is. Jazz began as a movement. A breaking free of the constraints of society, including sexual constraints. Its very name, 'Jazz', originates from the Creole slang 'Jass' which literally translates to 'vigourous sexual activity'. Jazz has always been associated with drugs, danger, and wild uninhibited sex. Some of the historical figures in the Jazz community were themselves quite 'liberated', and well, VERY SEXY! When the early songs had lyrics, they were usually loosely, VERY loosely, veiled references to sex. Doubt me? Check out Dinah Washington's "Big Long Slidin' Thing", or ANYTHING from JellyRoll Morton. Rappers of today have NOTHING on Jelly Roll. Go here for a youtube mix of JellyRoll's 'Dirty Dozen', but be forewarned, EXPLICIT lyrics. All of these things are true. But they are also true for Rock, Rap, Pop, you name it. That explains individual responses. Not the affect of the genre (did you pronounce it properly?). It still comes down to the fact that if you listen to Jazz, really listen, not some piped background garbage in a lounge or elevator, but if you sit down and LISTEN to Jazz you will feel a response to the music in your body. It may be a slight response. It may be more pronounced. But it does happen. The use of the  little 'off' notes and chords in Jazz are a case for the emotional and psychological effects. They suck you in then throw you off balance, but not dangerously so. Keep you intrigued, but safe. The instruments common to Jazz, sax (I'm a sucker for sax), piano, drums, guitar, bass, are all known to be FELT as much as HEARD. That combination, the psychological/emotional mixed with the physical are very similar to what the body experiences when you meet someone you have chemistry with. Other music may calm or excite, may throw you off balance or be physically felt, but it is the COMBINATION that gets you in Jazz, the SUBTLE combination. Your body reacts in the way it knows best, the way it reacts to another subtle combination of physical and emotional factors.

'The Jazz Effect' is real. It might explain why so many feared Jazz music in its early days. Today very few people talk openly about 'The Jazz Effect'.  I think that's about to change!  

Its all in the chemistry baby! 

The Jazz Effect, its out in the open now!