Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Performing Arts)

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Associate Professor Cat Hope

Second Advisor

Dr Matthew Styles

Third Advisor

Mr Tom O'Halloran

Abstract

This practice-led project investigates the crafting of approaches to solo jazz piano performance. Through a study and application of assimilation techniques derived from a range of different music styles, a series of self-accompaniments were devised. In addition, the process of developing improvisational facility over these accompaniment patterns was documented.

Although performing solo requires a different approach to ensemble work, jazz pianists are commonly only trained in ensemble practices, rendering the solo setting a potentially overwhelming challenge. In order to move away from ensemble-based methods, the project sought to develop pianistic techniques and exercises that provide an independent approach in solo performance.

Techniques such as ‘splitting’ the pianist’s hands to achieve multiple voices, voice-leading, ostinato, and rhythmic focus were explored as methods to develop independent solo performance. The project follows two trajectories. The first was to develop self-accompaniment patterns for solo jazz piano, an area explored by assimilating techniques outside of the jazz idiom into a solo jazz piano context. These techniques were developed within compositions and arrangements. The second was an examination of the practice processes engaged when performing these techniques, including the development of rhythmic coordination to facilitate improvisation over the composed accompaniment patterns.

The outcome is an exploration of different approaches to developing confidence and aptitude in solo jazz piano performance. As well as the creation of accompaniment patterns for solo jazz piano performance, outcomes of this project include a greater descriptive understanding of the process of assimilating performance techniques onto the piano, and developing an improvisational approach over ostinato accompaniment figures. The scores, as well as recorded performances featuring improvisations over the composed accompaniments, are included with the exegesis.

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