Author: Hodson, Robert D.
Title: Interaction and Improvisation: Group Interplay in Jazz Performance
Institution: University of Wisconsin--Madison
Begun: January 1998
Completed: August 2000
Most technical writings on jazz focus on improvised lines and their underlying harmonic progressions. These writings often overlook the fact that when one listens to jazz, one almost never hears a single improvised line, but rather a texture, a musical fabric woven by several musicians in real time. An improvised solo is but one thread in that fabric, and it is a thread supported by, responded to, and responsive of the parts being played by the other musicians in the group. This dissertation examines and explores the process of player interaction in jazz and the role this interaction plays in generating improvised music.
In Chapter 1, "Jazz Improvisation: Theory, Analysis, Context and Process," a model of the improvisational process is developed which defines improvisation as a complex activity that combines listening, composing, and performing. Also in this chapter common jazz performance practices are examined, the standard role of each instrument in a small jazz ensemble is defined, and common relationships and interactions between members of the rhythm section are explored. Chapter 2, "Harmony and Interaction," explores the process of harmonic negotiation that takes place in a small-group jazz performance, examining ways that the interaction between musicians can alter or modify the realization of a tune's harmonic progression. Chapter 3, "Form and Interaction," examines ways that musicians play within predefined phrase structures and interact to negotiate the definition of formal boundaries. Finally, Chapter 4, "Breaking Down the Boundaries: Steps Toward Free Jazz," explores performance! s ! that connect "standard-practice" jazz and free jazz by breaking down the constraining factors of prescribed ensemble roles, predefined harmonic progressions, and predetermined formal structures that were examined in Chapters 1-3. The analyses in this chapter show that breaking down these constraints usually requires an increase and intensification in the interaction between players in a small jazz ensemble.
Keywords: jazz, improvisation, interaction, Cannonball Adderley, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker
CHAPTER 1. JAZZ IMPROVISATION: THEORY, ANALYSIS, CONTEXT, AND PROCESS
On the Nature and Analysis of Jazz Improvisation and Performance
Musical Roles and Behaviors
Musical Relationships within the Rhythm Section
Bass and Piano
Bass and Drums
Piano and Drums
CHAPTER 2. HARMONY AND INTERACTION
Basic Harmonic Interaction
"Making the Changes"
Figuring the Blues
Generating Jazz Harmony
"Rhythm-A-Ning": Jazz Harmony in Performance
CHAPTER 3. FORM AND INTERACTION
Turnarounds and Breaks
Keeping the Form
"Blues by Five": Balancing Formal Definition
"E.S.P.": Going with the Flow
CHAPTER 4. BREAKING DOWN THE BOUNDARIES: STEPS TOWARD FREE JAZZ
Bill Evans's Autumn Leaves
Miles Davis's Flamenco Sketches
Ornette Coleman's Chronology, Free Jazz, and Ascension
SUNY - Binghamton
Binghamton, NY 13902-6000