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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: Deconstructing Harry: The contribution, influences and piano style of Harry Connick Jr.
Degree Type: Other
Degree Specialism: Performance
Supervisor(s): Padhraic O Cuinneagain
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: September 2009
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Dublin Institute of Technology
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 (91pp.)
Thesis Location / Link: DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama Library
Abstract: Harry Connick Jr. (1967-) became an international superstar in the late eighties while only just in his twenties. While primarily recognized for his talents as a crooner he is also a formidable and often overlooked jazz pianist.
A child prodigy who first performed in public at the age of five and played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra aged nine, Connick has progressed from being one of the most exciting young pianists of his generation into a multi Grammy-award winning vocalist, pianist, arranger, composer, orchestrator, and conductor. To add to this list of achievements, he is also a highly successful stage, television and film actor.
His pianistic style owes a huge amount to his heritage growing up in New Orleans and his studies both with renowned pianist Ellis Marsalis and New Orleans piano legend and family friend, James Brooker. He is also one of the few contemporary pianists to absorb and adapt the performance styles of Thelonious Monk and Erroll Garner, fusing these disparate approaches to and from a unique style of his own.
For such a successful jazz artist, very little has been written about Connick. No scholarly articles, detailed investigation of his music, or note-for-note transcriptions of his music, have ever been published.
Chapter one looks at the career of Harry Connick Jr, examining his background and music education.
His contribution to jazz music is discussed in Chapter two, in terms of his roles as a pianist/vocalist, composer/songwriter, arranger/orchestrator, and his position as a jazz traditionalist.
Chapter three looks in depth at all three of Connick’s main pianistic influences – James Booker, Thelonious Monk and Erroll Garner – examining characteristic traits of their playing, and investigating how Connick has incorporated these aspects into his own pianistic style.
The final element of this study, Chapter four, is a detailed investigation of a complete transcription of Connicks recording of the jazz standard Avalon from his album Twenty – with the intention of further understanding aspects of his playing and to investigate his pianistic approach over the entire performance.
The appendices contain all transcriptions of Connick’s music used in this study, references, and a track listing for the accompanying CD

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