What is the best way of understanding jazz piano?

Question by july_exodus: What is the best way of understanding jazz piano?
I have been classically trained since the age of 4 (I’m now 28), and I think of music in terms of “do-re-mi”, within a key centre (e.g. in D major, D is “do”, E is “re”, F# is “mi” and so on).

But jazz music modulates with almost every chord, and very often there is no discernible key centre.

I therefore have problems with figuring out the chords and sometimes the melody. In fact, I don’t even know if you can call some jazz music as having a “melody” at all.

Is there a good way to understand jazz music and play it by ear?

Right now, I am able to play both the melody and chords by ear for conventional pop songs (e.g. I can tell if it’s a Chord III moving to a Chord VI, then going to a Chord II and so on). However, jazz music continues to elude me, and I can’t figure out what the jazz pianists are doing.

P.S. I have read about modes (e.g. Ionian, Dorian, etc) and scales (e.g. blues, pentatonic, etc) but have no clue as to how they may be used to understand what’s going on!


Best answer:

Answer by Skurliss
This may not help, I am no jazz expert, I just listen to it. I think of jazz compositions as loose frameworks all the participants agree to play within. I can’t imagine being able to pick it out by ear. If you can I would say you are most peculiar. I would have to have the sheet music.

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