Too often, I hear musicians and non-musicians speak of jazz in the past tense.
Jazz certainly has an interesting history, but it’s still present. Jazz has stood the test of time by integrating itself into other genres and fusing other styles to adapt to current styles. Jazz is the one genre that can go anywhere and be anything.
And what’s more, jazz is actually good for you. According to science, jazz music activates your entire brain, it helps with the thinking process and the complexities of the melodies match our brain waves.
1. It decreases our stress levels
“The spirit of jazz is the spirit of openness.” – Herbie Hancock
Nothing helps more than listening to smooth jazz music to ease away your stress. You know what they say, people who listen to jazz are “cool.” You know, the ones who sit in the corner at a coffee shop, wearing sunglasses regardless of the weather or time of day. Well, there is truth behind this cliché. According to research, listening to Miles Davis after surgery can lower heart rate, pain and anxiety. Jazz relies heavily on the background instruments so that the lead/solo performers can freely explore their limits. With a smooth bass line, a soft and steady percussion and some gentle guitar or piano chords in the background, it has a relaxing affect. Add a smooth female vocal like Astrud Gilberto or Ana Caran, and we’re golden.
2. It boosts our brain power and creativity
Poetry, like jazz, is one of those dazzling diamonds of creative industry that help human beings make sense out of the comedies and tragedies that contextualize our lives.” – Aberjhani
Listening to jazz will expand your musical knowledge because it will familiarize you with sounds that you don’t hear in popular music. The reason that jazz sounds boring to people who are not used to the genre is that they are simply not familiar enough with the characteristics of the sounds. Apparently, a moderate noise level gets our creative juices flowing because it helps abstract processing, leading to higher creativity.
3. It helps us learn more about our personality
Jazz music celebrates life! Human life; the range of it, the absurdity of it, the ignorance of it, the greatness of it, the intelligence of it, the sexuality of it, the profundity of it. And it deals with it. In all of its…it deals with it! – Wynton Marsalis
Jazz is not just a style of music. It is music that can shape our character by giving us courage, preparing us to improvise, giving others an equal voice and making us listen. In fact, It has been scientifically proven that people who listen to jazz are more creative, outgoing and at ease with themselves.
Jazz encourages individuality, and diversity, which can be exciting or relaxed, intense or mellow, joyful or anguished, sensuous or childish. Jazz says: I will tell you how I feel, I will show you who I am, I will be vulnerable in front of you and I will speak loud and clear. In this society, we must express ourselves and share our thoughts. Jazz can enrich our lives extensively.
4. It can help one develop deep listening skills
“Jazz is there and gone. It happens. You have to be present for it. That simple.”- Keith Jarrett
Jazz music begs its audience to listen. To fully appreciate jazz music the listeners need to pay attention. If the audience doesn’t pay attention, they will miss out on a unique experience. Listening is a crucial part of our everyday lives. It helps us catch important details, and it helps us learn effectively. Listening to jazz can train the mind to hear things more clearly and to hold a better focus. Researchers have conducted a study called “This is Your Brain on Jazz” and noticed that “When Jazz musicians improvise, they often play with eyes closed in a distinctive, personal style that transcends rules of melody and rhythm,” says Charles J. Limb, M.D.
5. It helps the brain and heart communicate with each other
“That’s the thing about jazz: it’s free flowing, it comes from your soul.”- Billy Crystal
When I hear an interesting chord substitution or harmonic texture that captures my interest, I want to know what I heard, why it works, why it’s interesting. Jazz touches the soul, which helps rewire our brains. It has been scientifically proven that when jazz musicians play their thought process become less repressed and
6. It can have an effect on the type of brain waves we produce
“Where’s jazz going? I don’t know. Maybe it’s going to hell. You can’t make anything go anywhere. It just happens.”- Thelonious Monk
Listening to jazz music is a very effective way to reduce anxiety and to relax. Music that is about 60 beats per minute will produce Alpha brain waves and Delta brain waves. Alpha waves relax the body and mind. Deltas waves can help you relax enough to sleep if your brain produces them for long enough in a reclined position. A study done by the January issue of the journal Scientific Reports, jazz pianists played on a keyboard while looking at a picture to improvise melodies to capture the emotions shown in the photograph. In result, “the state of flow could be entered more easily when working on positive creations.”
7. It can better your physical performance and ease chronic pain
“Jazz is the music of the body. The breath comes through the brass. It is the body’s breath, and the strings’ wails and moans are echoes of the body’s music. It is the body’s vibrations which ripple from the fingers.” -Anais Nin
Since listening to jazz relaxes the body, it can help people recover from trauma and reduce pain symptoms. A recent study demonstrated that listening to jazz music could reduce the effects of chronic pain up to 20 percent and decrease the duration and intensity of pain during a migraine. If you don’t feel as good as you would like, try turning on some jazz!