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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: Elvin Jones and the development of jazz rhythms and drumming techniques
Degree Type: Other
Degree Specialism: Performance
Supervisor(s): Maria McHale
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: September 2011
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Dublin Institute of Technology
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 (51pp.)
Thesis Location / Link: DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama Library
Abstract: Jazz for me is a black American art form born out of the struggles of slavery. In this dissertation, I start with a brief discussion on the history of jazz and how it developed out of the call and response work songs of the plantations to the sophisticated syncopated music that it is today. In Chapter 1, I describe the progression from early New Orleans jazz, through the swing era to the revolutionary music that became bebop, followed by cool jazz and hard bop. I discuss the innovative drummers that were prominent in these eras and describe their influence on the rhythmical approach to the music. When I mention ‘feeling’ or ‘swing feel’, I mean that indefinable ‘groove’ that happens when the musicians really ‘gel’ together. I describe the ‘swing’ as figure of eight note triplets.
Chapter 2 is devoted to Elvin Jones. I describe his beginnings in Detroit, his move to New York and his relationship with John Coltrane. I also discuss Jones’s playing style in great dept. The transcriptions I have used help to demonstrate his style of playing, especially his triplet phrasing, which created and excitement and a flow that had never been heard before.
In my research for this thesis, I have read all known interviews given by Elvin Jones. I have listened to a wide range of his recordings and read in-depth analysis of his style. I have listened to John Coltrane’s album ‘A Love Supreme’ innumerable times and practiced many hours on the drums trying to develop those triplet phrases fluently. I have also listened to all the major drummers who came before Jones and have read extensively about the history of jazz, especially the early years, in the books detailed in the notes and bibliography of this thesis. The study and research of this history has not only been very interesting but contextualizes the place of Elvin Jones in that history.

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