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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 6, No. 4 April 14, 1943



The first characteristic of genuine hot jazz is improvisation. To understand this we must first dislodge the prejudice that fine music can only be created by that extreme division of labour, the composer, the performer, and the passive listener. Here the performers are themselves the authors, as amply demonstrated in the spontaneous ensemble playing that many bands have achieved. The outcome of group improvisation by the performers ("jamming") is often a thick counterpoint, in which each instrument follows its own line with continual movement and without cashing. The music is so much a part of the players that they listen with one ear and play with the other, so to speak, and impart a peculiar musical tension which gives tremendous vitality. Associated with this is the novel element of "swing," a kind of rhythmic momentum or carryover from one phrase to another, more compulsive than anything we know in Western music.