Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Music Honours

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts

First Advisor

Nicholas Abbey

Abstract

Gwilym Simcock, a seminal jazz pianist at the forefront of the European music scene, sees no boundaries between jazz and classical music. His debut album Perception (2007) received impressive critical acclaim, and has been considered a musical fingerprint of his various influences and composition style. This research pursues a deeper insight into the characteristics of his arranging and improvisational style by identifying notable devices used in the performance of The Way You Look Tonight, a well-known jazz standard that is featured on the album.

The tune itself is has been reimagined as a modern-sounding arrangement centred on a rhythmic bass pattern in an odd meter, featuring extensive reharmonisations and virtuosic improvisations. The study aimed to demystify the specific devices used, and through musical transcription and analysis, prevalent techniques have been categorised to create a vocabulary of rhythmic, melodic and harmonic devices that could be employed when composing and improvising. The notable techniques include adaption to odd time signature, rhythmic super imposition, metric modulation, counterpoint, several reharmonisation techniques, and motivic development, complemented by various more typical jazz concepts. An interview was conducted with Simcock to further explore his approach to the concepts and techniques, adding fascinating insight into their conception and application.

The findings uncovered in this paper contribute to knowledge on an excellent but as yet unstudied modern jazz musician, providing a list of devices that may be used by others to assimilate his techniques into their own playing, a high quality musical transcription of a seminal performance, and a transcript of an insightful and personal interview with the subject.

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Music Commons

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