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Randy Creighton Doctoral Thesis

September 2, 2012

Musician and educator Randy Creighton has published his Doctoral Thesis online. Here is a quote from Chapter 5:

The history of harmonic practice in jazz can be viewed as a continuum of steadily
increasing complexity from its inception at the beginning of the twentieth century until
the early 1960s when Free Jazz experiments were underway. What had taken 200 years in
Western art music had taken roughly 50 years in jazz: a development from basic diatonic
structure to one of extreme chromaticism. Many performers from the 1950s onward
began experimenting with “playing outside the changes,” an approach that expands
harmonic complexity by venturing freely outside of key centers. The Art Tatum example
shows an early step in this process by substituting chords outside the tonality for the
turnaround (see Sunday, ex. 4.17 in Chapter 4). Many jazz artists, including Ornette
Coleman, Miles Davis, and Gerry Mulligan, achieved greater harmonic freedom by
reducing the texture either by eliminating homophonic instruments like piano and guitar,
or limiting what they played to occasional chords and monophonic solo lines.

Link to the thesis:


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