Author Identifiers

Christian A G Meares
ORCID: 0000-0001-5766-819X

Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Music (Honours)

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Dr Nick Abbey

Abstract

Praised for his non-traditional approach to improvised music, his idiosyncratic chordal voicings and strong sense of time, Wayne Krantz has become a touchstone in modern jazz and a unique voice on the guitar. In 1999, Krantz self-released Greenwich Mean, an album comprising of small vignettes spliced together from a year’s worth of recorded live improvisation from his weekly residency gig at the esteemed 55 Bar in New York’s Greenwich Village. This album marks a fundamental shift in Krantz’s approach to composition from through-composed works to smaller, novel arrangements with a strong emphasis on group improvisation.

Using a practice-led research strategy, this study investigates the circumstances, philosophy, and production methods used to create Greenwich Mean, and explores ways they might be reapplied to generate new works for my own guitar/electric bass/drums trio. The methodology involved borrowing methods familiar to my musical practice (such as musical transcription and analysis, composition, improvisation, practise, rehearsal, performance, audio recording/editing, and scoring and charting) and supporting these with literature review and an insightful semi-structured interview with Wayne Krantz.

The research has uncovered that a key musical principle of the album and Krantz’s music more broadly is ‘balancing improvisation and composition’. Analysis and interview have shown that this is achieved in several ways: in live performance, through four-, eight-, and sixteen-bar forms, cueing, and ‘germs’, meaning short motivic ideas that have been repurposed from older Krantz compositions; on the album, it is achieved through composite takes, looping, and constructing melodies from brief audio fragments. The consequences of this principle include a variety of effects, such as new cues, novel and malleable arrangements, and new improvisational and compositional language. The production methods used by Krantz were then explored in my own practice, leading to the creation of four new scored works. Despite some limitations, this method succeeded in helping me exceed my compositional boundaries.

In spite of his acclaim, Krantz has largely slipped under the academic radar and remains relatively less well-known in comparison to his contemporaries. This research contributes new knowledge on an artist who is, undoubtedly a seminal and unique figure. Additionally, by exploring the novel approach used in the creation of Greenwich Mean, it provides valuable insight into a potentially fruitful process quite removed from traditional compositional methods, helping contemporary artists explore new musical horizons

Access Note

Appendix B is not available in this version of the thesis.

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