Dissertation Index

Author: Arthurs, Daniel J.

Title: Reconstructing Tonal Principles in the Music of Brad Mehldau

Institution: Indiana University, Bloomington

Begun: March 2008

Completed: May 2011


This study reconstructs tonal principles in selected works of New York jazz composer and pianist Brad Mehldau through a combination of analytical approaches, including Schenkerian analysis, which are informed by his writings and stylistic characteristics. The contrapuntal idiosyncrasies that have come to define Mehldau as a
composer and performer suggest the applicability of Schenkerian analytical techniques. Mehldau’s expressed interests in classical norms and a linear approach motivates the analysis of contrapuntal frameworks in terms of consonant—dissonant requirements pursued in this study. The analyses demonstrate the central role of traditional triadic harmony in dissonance resolution, Mehldau’s characteristic means of employing melodically directed motion and, ultimately, the large-scale forms of goal-orientation that correspond to the “beginning—middle—end” schemes fundamental to Schenkerian theory. Primary works analyzed are featured in Mehldau’s Art of the Trio, Volume 3: Songs (1998), including Sehnsucht, Unrequited, and Convalescent, among other works and arrangements. That
rich analytical results are available through a Schenkerian perspective draws attention to significant problems in work that seeks to apply traditional tonal analysis to other jazz

Keywords: Brad Mehldau, Schenkerian analysis, jazz, tonality, improvisation


Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Literature Review and Methodology
Chapter 3: Sehnsucht and the Suspension
Chapter 4: Temporal Plasticity and Solo Voice Leading in Unrequited
Chapter 5: Aspects of the Free Fantasy in Convalescent
Chapter 6: Conclusions


daniel.j.arthurs@google.com, (940)300-2926

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