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Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/Does modern RnB have anything to do with jazz?


Dear Sir,

May I ask if modern RnB artists like Beyonce and Justin Timberlake have anything to do with jazz? In other words, do they need to have knowledge of jazz to compose their music?

Thank you

Hello Kevin and thank you for contacting me through

A musician today is influenced by all musical genres and styles. However be careful about putting art into categories, for once you do it causes the type of question you now present. You then tend to see the differences instead of the similarities. Artistic categories exist to make it easier to distinguish between things that are similar to start with, so there lies the dilemma.

In my opinion, some of Timberlake's musical arrangements use sophisticated harmonic voicings and syncopated rhythms often found associated with Jazz. The same can be said of Beyonce. Whether they actually need to have an understanding of what's typically thought of as Jazz to be able to perform their music or not can't really be answered. Again, in my opinion, they are both very talented artists and I would rather just enjoy their music instead of attempting to figure it out.

Thanks for the interest,

D C DowDell
Professor of Music
A Passion for Jazz!
studio: (619) 855-2069

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D C DowDell


D C DowDell will answer questions about Jazz improvisation, composition, chord voicing, scales and modes, practice techniques and ear training. Professor DowDell also enjoys discussions on Jazz musicology and the evolution of style.

D C DowDell is a professional Jazz pianist/composer who currently teaches online Jazz studies at A Passion for Jazz!. Professor DowDell has been teaching music for over 30 years at 2 major universities, several community colleges as well as accepting students for private study.


American Federation of Musicians
National Music Teachers Association
International Association of Jazz Educators

Bachelors of Music Education from UCLA
Masters of Music Composition from UNT

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