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Salons 1 & 2 • Thursday afternoon, 2:00–3:30

Revisiting Prolongation and Dissonance in Jazz

Keith Salley (Shenandoah Conservatory), Chair

Henry Martin (Rutgers University-Newark) and Keith Waters (University of Colorado-Boulder) 

Hierarchy vs. Heterarchy in Two Compositions by Wayne Shorter

Joon Park (University of Arkansas)

Theorizing Outside Playing in the Improvised Jazz Solo  

Abstracts

Hierarchy vs. Heterarchy in Two Compositions by Wayne Shorter

Henry Martin (Rutgers University-Newark) and Keith Waters (University of Colorado-Boulder)

Are there conditions for or limitations to prolongation in tonally ambiguous music? Are hierarchical models sufficiently robust, or are other analytical methods required? Such questions have intrigued music theorists of nineteenth-century music from Proctor to Cohn, and have animated the field of transformational theory. And such questions are also significant for jazz theorists, particularly those addressing tonally ambiguous music of the 1960s. In this presentation, two coauthors address such questions by examining two compositions by composer/saxophonist Wayne Shorter, “El Toro” and “Pinocchio.” Building on the theoretical work of Patricia Julien and Steven Strunk, we present distinctly differing points of view on the compositions, providing a forum to frame issues of hierarchy vs. heterarchy. For each piece, the first presenter argues that a hierarchical interpretation (implying monotonality) helps clarify the ambiguity of the internal progressions while the second presenter shows that heterarchical considerations (interactions of locally tonal events with transpositional cycles) overshadow considerations of monotonality.

After discussing each work, the presenters conclude with thoughts on the evolution of jazz harmony through the 1960s. The second presenter offers a view of ic4 schemata, occurring first in earlier—and evidently monotonal—pieces, then worked into deeper levels of structure in ways that challenge hierarchical interpretations. Afterward, the first presenter provides a metric that rates various parameters of the compositions, providing an overall method of viewing jazz compositions on a scale of “clearly tonal” to “non-tonal.”

Theorizing Outside Playing in the Improvised Jazz Solo  

Joon Park (University of Arkansas)

In jazz improvisation, “outside playing” is a particularly challenging technique that demands a deep understanding of a theme’s underlying chord progression as well as the coherent departure from and realignment with the progression. How do the notes involved in outside playing differ from the conventional notion of non-chord tones? This talk re-examines the concept of dissonance in a “straight-ahead” jazz style by analyzing a common improvisational technique called outside playing. I will introduce three ways that an improviser can invoke the “outside-ness” of an improvised melody: pattern-based divergence, successive anti-chord tones, and chord-scale misalignment. The effect of outside playing resembles the tension and resolution commonly associated with that of a non-chord tone in the conventional music theory. However, I will show that the conventional containment structure of chord tone/non-chord tone to determine a note’s stability (e.g., a note inside a chord being considered as consonant) no longer applies in the case of outside playing. As a result, there are cases where an unstable note from outside playing can be falsely recognized as a stable note in the conventional context. Adopting ideas from recent articles by Stefan Caris Love (2016; 2017) and Chris Stover (2017), I suggest that the stability of a note is determined by two different epistemological grounds in an analysis of jazz improvisation: one based on the conventional work based notion and the other based on the treatment of improvisation as an act.