Note:This thesis is part of a research project submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in the School of Music. The project also involved the preparation and performance of a recital of music related to the thesis topic.

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Title:Miles Davis, going up: Jazz identity and visual representation found in Elevator To The Gallows
Author(s):Beltran, Michael Paul
Advisor(s):Solis, Gabriel
Contributor(s):Pugh, James; McNeill, Charles; Tipei, Sever
Department / Program:School of Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:A.Mus.D. (doctoral)
Subject(s):Miles Davis
Abstract:In 1957, legendary trumpeter Miles Davis traveled to Paris to record the soundtrack to Elevator to the Gallows. The film featured a completely improvised score, which the band recorded as they played to edited cuts of the film. Until then, scores were regularly precomposed and were not recorded in real time. Using unfamiliar compositional techniques, Davis set a new technique for jazz and film composition. The soundtrack featured minimal scoring, simple themes, and truncated chordal structures that set the groundwork for modal jazz which also contributed to Davis’s era-defining album Kind of Blue (1959). Due to the live nature of the band’s recording process, the music in Elevator to the Gallows is responsive to the film, allowing musicians to react to the screen in real time. This created unique musical moments between the musicians and the actors and a stronger assimilation with the mise en scène or the film’s general staging. By examining several scenes in the film, along with recently re-released television footage of the session, this thesis will discuss how jazz in film is represented on screen and show the effects on Davis’s career as seen through film, television, and marketing. Recordings heard through different visual formats such as film or television can alter the music’s perception and have different effects. The analysis of these scenes will show Davis’s ability to influence our perception of the visual image and use our understanding of jazz history to create a stronger audiovisual experience for the viewer. This juxtaposition between film and television media leads to a discussion about audience, advertising, commercialism, and how jazz is sold, with Davis’s sociocultural history at the apex.
Issue Date:2020
Publisher:School of Music, College of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Genre:Dissertation / Thesis
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Michael Paul Beltran
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-07-17

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