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Playing outside : excursions from the tonality in jazz improvisation

Dean-Lewis, T. (2001). Playing outside : excursions from the tonality in jazz improvisation. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis examines strategies employed by jazz musicians when they temporarily leave the underlying tonality whilst improvising. The Introduction defines the use of terms such as "outside" and examines texts from the literature. Further. a chronology of the evolution of "playing outside" is proposed. Notation and analysis of twenty short excerpts is given in Chapter 1. along with summary material. This summary material groups "out' playing into three sets: motivic. scalar and spatial. Issues such as common scale choices. placement and the use of compensatory material are also examined. Chapter 2 contains notation and analysis of part of John Coltrane's solo from "Acknowledgement" (from "A Love Supreme"). The analysis reveals a high level of premeditation in this piece. from the choice of the motif to the ordering of transpositions in bars 137-172. Further. two possible sources for these bars are suggested: (a) a construction of transpositions designed to cover the chromatic set and (b) the Mother and Grandmother chords to be found in Slonimsky's ''Thesaurus" (1947). The latter possibility builds upon and supports the work of Demsey (1991). At the end of this chapter is an examination of three pieces by Eric Dolphy. followed by postulations regarding similarities between Dolphy's composition '"245" and Coltrane's "A Love Supreme". Chapter 3 concerns "Chain" strategies employed by Robert Irvin- III on Miles Davis albums ''Decoy" (1984) and "You're Under Arrest' (1985). These strategies are shown to have spatial origins. but to be generally employed in order to maximise the contrast between adjacent chain elements against the underlying tonality. Chapter 4 examines Steve Coleman's published "Symmetry" and "Sum" systems and assesses their use in "Cross-Fade'' (from "Black Science" (1990)). These systems are shown to be natural extensions of Steve Coleman's musical philosophy. Notation and analysis shows that they are highly integrated within his performance and that some elements of his improvisations are premeditated. A final set of conclusions is drawn in Chapter 5. along with ideas for future projects. Related appendices follow.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
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