Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Music Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Supervisor

Dr Jonathan Paget

Second Supervisor

Mr Stewart Smith


This dissertation explores the question of how a pianist can learn to improvise accompaniments for a ballet class. It aims to examine the background knowledge required in order to embark upon such a task and to provide a theoretical tool kit for pianists to use in improvising. Additionally, this dissertation makes a detailed case study of notated improvisations by Michael Brett, an expert exponent of this genre. A thematic catalogue is provided of Brett’s improvisations for a forthcoming publication, examining accompaniment figurations and rhythmic structures. A more detailed harmonic and phrase analysis is then made of three complete pieces, examining the cadential and melodic structures that underpin these works. Similar to the Baroque partimento tradition, these phrase‐level analyses can be used as templates, providing the middle ground scaffolding for the improvising pianist to embellish. They can also be treated as exemplars as to how a pianist may structure their own improvisations to suit any particular ballet exercise.

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