Author Identifiers

Glyn Alan MacDonald
ORCID: 0000-0002-5696-0970

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (Performing Arts)


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Tom O’Halloran

Second Advisor

Dr Matthew Styles

Field of Research Code



This practice-led research project has produced musical works that bring together ensembles from the Western Classical tradition that only read notation, and, jazz soloists who improvise. Three works ‘Standing Ground’, ‘The Journey’ and ‘Matt versus the Zombies’ were composed for three ensembles each with an improvising soloist. These ensembles included a British style Brass Band, Brass Quintet and a double Saxophone quartet.

The project built on the work of Andy Scott and Eddie Sauter, both of whom wrote for non-jazz ensembles and an improvising artist without including a jazz rhythm section. The accompanying non-jazz ensemble was written in such a way as to provide interactive possibilities to assist the improviser in their creativity. The works in this project included elements found in the jazz rhythm section that I believed could be notated idiomatically. These elements were: call and response; interjection and setting and sustaining the groove. Data was collected through journaling and audio recording of the process from composition, to rehearsal and through to the performance. The compositions were recorded and the works analysed in this exegesis. The exegesis is written in a way to take the reader through the journey I have undertaken to produce these works, hence it is exploratory in nature.

Broadly speaking, injecting the elements from the jazz rhythm section into notated parts for a variety of musicians, both amateur and professional, was a successful and viable approach. The recordings, coupled with the analysis herein, shows that there were moments, where the elements of call and response, and interjection, notated in the accompanying musicians’ parts, created moments of dialogue, and the improvising artist used these to assist them in their improvising creativity. Feedback from all concerned (soloists and groups) was positive and supports the notion that community and professional ensembles, jazz and classical stylistic worlds can coexist, and learn from one another and make music that transcends style and notation constraints. This project adds to the scope of methodologies within creative music research practice. It also stands as an example of one that specifically addresses ways of notating for reading ensembles that will allow them to engage with improvising musicians.