Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Music (Honours)

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Nicholas Abbey

Abstract

This dissertation examines the improvisational style of notable jazz pianist Eric Reed, focusing on select performances from the album The Adventurous Monk. As is common for contemporary artists, Reed has not yet been the focus of academic study, despite the fact that his vast experience – particularly with jazz luminaries such as Wynton Marsalis – warranted such investigation. The endeavour of this research was to discuss the observable influence of Thelonious Monk on Reed’s improvisational style through musical transcription and comparative analysis of the two pianists’ solos on the Monk compositions ‘Work’ and ‘Nutty’. Complete Monk transcriptions were initially analysed for idiosyncratic devices and cross-referenced with existing literature to build an inventory of techniques to compare with Reed’s approach. Through this investigation, evidence of probable influence from Monk’s performance practices was observed in Reed’s use of melodic components, motivic development, large melodic intervals, and pianistic figurations. The two performers’ uses of asymmetric phrasing and complex rhythmic figures also demonstrated some notable similarities, though Reed’s approach incorporated modern ideas, including polyrhythmic figures and odd-meter phrasing. Whilst there were some similarities in the two players’ use of arpeggios, approach notes, surrounding techniques, and chromatic material, these devices are inherently more generic in the broader context of jazz improvisation, and a more in-depth study would be required to more definitively link their approaches. As a by-product of the analysis of Reed’s performances, additional devices demonstrating contemporary or alternative influences were noted. Reed’s use of an odd-meter arrangement in his performance on ‘Nutty’ is a common modern performance practice, and his montuno-based syncopation and double-handed melodic approach may have drawn influence from Afro-Caribbean music and alternative bebop pianists, respectively.

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