Making the most of life’s uncertainty: An analysis of the philosophies and musical language of David Ades

Author Identifiers

Joshua Appleby


Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts

First Advisor

Tom O’Halloran

Second Advisor

Philip Everall

Third Advisor

Jamie Oehlers


This project explores the compositional and improvisational techniques idiosyncratic to David Ades, specifically within his last two recordings as leader: A Glorious Uncertainty and A Life in a Day. Interviews were conducted with collaborators and those musically associated with Ades to provide a deep understanding of the philosophical values governing his musical approach. In association with this, selected recordings from the aforementioned albums were transcribed for analysis. Areas of analytical focus were arrangement, form and structure, pitch arrangement, rhythmic devices, articulation, effects, dynamics, and interaction. Due to the freedom Ades sought within his music, the work of musicologists such as Ekkehard Jost in his book Free Jazz, Dave Liebman’s and Lewis Porter’s analyses of Coltrane’s music, and Stroessner’s adaptation of Jan LaRue’s work have been employed for analysis. Having established a comprehensive overview of Ades’s musical idiosyncrasies and the philosophy behind them, this document acts not only as an insight into the musician, but a potential source for application to artistic practice, encouraging the development of a personal musical lexicon.

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