Creative constraints: Developing a method for restrictive jazz composition

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Jamie Oehlers

Second Advisor

Tom O’Halloran

Third Advisor

Chris Tarr


This research aimed to develop a method of jazz composition that utilises data-based restrictions to facilitate the composition process. An analysis rating tool (ART) was developed based on methodologies created by Aaron Stroessner and Jan LaRue to extract elements of melody, harmony, rhythm and form from compositions on Seamus Blake’s album Bellwether and Will Vinson’s album Stockholm Syndrome. The ART then facilitated a practice-led composition process in which the data from the analysis were used as the primary source of creativity to generate and record a set of 10 compositions. Through an iterative process of composing with and refining the ART, the study considered the somewhat contradictory relationship between restriction and creative freedom and evaluated how this process affects decision-making. The primary aim of this research was to develop a model for restrictive composition.

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