It’s (not) only words…

A fellow student in jazz college announced to us one day years ago that he was going to find out the words to all the standards he was learning. And it was quite the revelation to the rest of us.

Because while we were concerned with the melody, the chords, the root notes, the scales we should play when improvising over those chords, possible chord substitutions and many other musical features, the lyrics didn’t play a part at all.

More fools us, because in terms of audience impact, true emotion in performance usually trumps technique or theory, and it’s very hard to know what emotion to convey if you don’t know what the song is about.