Three Multifaceted Compositions by Wayne Shorter: “E.S.P.,” “Infant Eyes,” and “Virgo”

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Barbara Bleij


In the academic study of Wayne Shorter’s compositions, so far most of the attention has been dedicated to the harmony in pieces from the 1950s and ’60s. In this article, I will analyze three compositions dating from 1964 and 1965, “E.S.P.,” “Infant Eyes,” and “Virgo,” while taking a more holistic approach. I examine all musical parameters and demonstrate there exists a great interdependency and entwinement of the varying parameters within each composition. These analyses also consider the broader context in which these pieces were created, such as how they may relate to other compositions, or other repertoires more generally. The analyses demonstrate that Shorter uses varying techniques and procedures, even within single pieces. It turns out that the type of analysis of individual pieces proposed here is an essential step towards a better understanding of Shorter’s compositional style.

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