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:Jazz piano counterpoint: history, analysis, and exercises
Author(s):Vasiljevic, Dimitrije
Advisor(s):Stephens, John Chip
Contributor(s):Stephens, John Chip; Magee, Jeffrey; Lund, Erik; Gray, Larry
Department / Program:School of Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:A.Mus.D. (doctoral)
Abstract:The goal of this thesis is to examine the contrapuntal jazz piano techniques of several reputable players known for the use of counterpoint in their playing. This revolutionary approach to jazz piano playing introduced contrapuntal thinking in which voices became more independent and the emphasis switched from the vertical (chordal) to the horizontal (melodic). Even though pianists like Art Tatum and Bud Powell occasionally used polyphony in their playing, in the mid‐1950s, Lennie Tristano was the first pianist to extensively use counterpoint and even based his solo piano style around it. Tristano commonly played improvised lines accompanied by a left-­hand walking bass line, thus creating a two‐part counterpoint. Later, Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett further developed this concept by adding different rhythms to the voices and experimenting with the movement of inner voices within a given chord voicing. The modern concept of jazz piano counterpoint was perfected by a number of contemporary jazz pianists who seem to have incorporated many ideas from eighteenth-­ and nineteenth‐century counterpoint. Some of the most significant representatives are Fred Hersch and Brad Mehldau, pianists widely known for their extensive use of polyphonic playing and personal improvisational styles that largely rely on contrapuntal techniques. Moreover, in each of these players’ personal styles, certain distinctions have emerged. This has manifested itself in their characteristic treatments of melody, harmony, and rhythm. The rules, patterns, and motifs found in the personal styles of the aforementioned players will be analyzed and categorized in this thesis. Finally, a set of exercises and methods for practicing and adopting these contrapuntal concepts will be developed.
Issue Date:2017-04-18
Publisher:School of Music. College of Fine and Applied Arts. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Genre:Dissertation / Thesis
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Dimitrije Vasiljevic
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-05-23

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