Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Music
This collection of original compositions shows the juxtaposition of modern jazz and contemporary classical music. The aim was to create original and interesting compositions based on linear ideas from a variety of pentatonic scales; both existing scales and those of my own device. These works explore and combine heterophonic texture1 with jazz modality. The works were composed and arranged within two distinct genres and four ensembles; a jazz big band, a small jazz combo, a chamber orchestra group and a reduced orchestra. Elements of modern classical, jazz and non-western harmonies were incorporated into these compositions, with melodic ideas limited to five-note scales. The compositions implemented jazz improvisational methods to develop each piece. They were inspired by ancient Japanese literature, poems and some current events, which of these descriptions have been included at the beginning of each piece. My three big band jazz pieces are called A Piece of Hope in the Darkness, Effect, and Rainforest. Each piece explores the compositional methods that have been explained above. All three works were composed and arranged for a regular jazz big band setting, consisting of a saxophone section (two altos, two tenors and baritone); a brass section (three trombones, bass trombone and four trumpets); and a rhythm section (guitar, piano, double bass and drum set). In the composition Effect, however, the first alto saxophone is substituted by clarinet to add a gloomy texture. I tried to achieve linear approach of writing style in each part of the compositions. Resulted sounds like delicate and smooth sounding than the punchy normal setting of the big band sound. A small ensemble piece called Blue Butterfly is in a sonata form. The work was based around the following five-note scale: D, F, A, Bb, C. Performers are required to improvise in a linear fashion within this mode for the improvisation section. The instrumentation of this piece is alto and tenor saxophones, piano, double bass and drums. The pianist and bassist on this piece were to spontaneously create chords based on the five-note scale. Two modern classical setting pieces are called Reminiscence of a Japanese Garden and Conspiracy Theory. Reminiscence of a Japanese Garden is composed with the following two sets of five-note modes: D, E, G, A and Bb; and D, F#, A, C and E as a base. A very prominent heterophonic texture was utilised in this composition, which resulted a very linear work. The ensemble consists of flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano. The cadenza that is performed by the flute is improvised in this mode. Conspiracy Theory is based around the following five notes: D, E, F, G and A. The ensemble consists of flute, clarinet, string sections (violin, viola and cello), piano, timpani and marimba. The resulting compositions are much more linear than my previous works. Performers of these compositions enjoyed working with this concept and have shown great understanding and flexibility. Working within the limited framework of different pentatonic scales has been both restrictive and liberating and the use of heterophonic textures presented me with new dimensions and perspectives on my writing style. The process of writing and recording these compositions has been a rewarding and enlightening experience. 1 Heterophonic texture is the use of a simultaneous variety of single melody lines with embellishment. It can be described as complex monophony. Heterophonic textures are often a feature of non-Western traditional music and can be found in Japanese Gagaku, gamelan music, and traditional music from Thailand.