Thematic Interconnectivity as an Innate Musical Quality: An Investigation of Jandek's "European Jewel" Guitar Riffs
Marchesseau, Nicole Aimee
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This dissertation is divided into two main areas. The first of these explores Jandek-related discourse and contextualizes the project. Also discussed is the interconnectivity that runs through the project through the self-citation of various lyrical, visual, and musical themes. The second main component of this dissertation explores one of these musical themes in detail: the guitar riffs heard in the “European Jewel” song-set and the transmigration/migration of the riff material used in the song to other non-“European Jewel” tracks. Jandek is often described in related discourse as an “outsider musician.” A significant point of discussion in the first area of this dissertation is the outsider music genre as it relates to Jandek. In part, this dissertation responds to an article by Martin James and Mitzi Waltz which was printed in the periodical Popular Music where it was suggested that the marketing of a musician as an outsider risks diminishing the “innate qualities” of the so-called outsider musicians’ works. While the outsider label is in itself problematic—this is discussed at length in Chapter Two—the analysis which comprises the second half of this dissertation delves into self-citation and thematic interconnection as innate qualities within the project. Explored at length in this dissertation are the guitar riffs of the Jandek song “European Jewel,” the closing track appearing on the artist’s debut album, Ready for the House (1978). The riffs are heard 37 times over the course of five different versions of the song. Elements of the riffs also appear in tracks that are not labeled as “European Jewel” variants. A larger structural form in which the song-set is situated has been observed. When heard outside of the “European Jewel” song-set the riffs appear in fragmented form. Continued use of the “European Jewel” riff material lasts until the album One Foot in the North (1991). Much attention has been given to the interconnection between certain visual and lyrical ideas present in the project by Jandek fans; however, Jandek has not been investigated at any great length in music scholarship, popular or otherwise. In part, this investigation contributes to the breadth of popular music scholarship by exploring this underrepresented act. It also delves into the sonic qualities which are intrinsic to Jandek. This type of sonic analysis is performed in order to separate Jandek’s sonic qualities from non-sonic discussions of the project. Finally, this dissertation poses the question of whether or not these qualities are of value to fans and scholars.