Jazz music has a particular mood and character, and even groove.
And if you want to, you can even implement the “Jazz Sound” into your music. But how?
Tips for Making Your Music sound Jazzy
1 – 7th Chords
It’s all about those 7th chords, and chord extensions like 9ths and even 11ths. But basically you can think of the 7ths as the “main” type of chords for that jazz vibe. So instead of triads as the main form, start with 7ths.
2 – Slash Chords
Another aspect of the jazz sound is the twisting and turning of the harmonies and chords, so instead of using standard root positions you should definitely use a lot of chord inversions.
But also altered bass notes, called “slash chords”, meaning that bass notes of the chords don’t land on the root note.
For example, if you play a C7 on piano with you right hand (C, E, G, Bb), then you can play an E in octaves with your left hand. Making it a C7/E chord, hence the name “slash chord”.
3 – Walking Bass line
First, the bass should be an upright acoustic bass for the the true jazz sound. And second, you should have fun with walking bass lines, and making the bass line always move and “dance” around. Not only on the chord notes, but sometimes all over the scale, and even chromatic notes sometimes.
4 – Soft Drums
The drums are always laid back and soft in jazz, because they should simply provide a background beat, not be the centre of attention.
Low dynamics (soft hits) and sparse arrangement is a good starting point. Playing with brushes or mallets is better than sticks, to soften the sound.
5 – Jazz Instruments
If you really want to nail the jazz sound, of course one of the best ways is to use instruments common in jazz. The saxophone is of course the king of jazz, but also the clarinet, and horns (trumpet, trombone etc.).
6 – Groove and Swing
A huge part of the jazz sound is to avoid the static nature of fixed BPMs and on the grid playing. Instead, the use of groove and swing is very important in jazz. Rushing and dragging the groove in various parts of the song, as well as playing swing styles (triplets etc) is pretty much standard for that jazz vibe.
7 – Minimal Arrangement
Jazz is a smooth style of music, so not only is playing in the lower dynamic ranges a good guideline, but also having the entire arrangement sparse and minimal. Yes, the chords, progressions and harmonies may be rich and complex, but how much is going on in terms of instrumentation and layering should still be simple. You want the music to have room and air to “breath”, to give the listener that soft and laidback vibe.
Alright, so these are some great starting guidelines for you to nail that “jazz sound” for your music. Good luck jazzing up your music! =)