Non-Isochronous Meter: A Study of Cross cultural practice, analytic technique, and implications for jazz pedagogy
Saull, Jordan Peter
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This dissertation examines the use of non-isochronous (NI) meters in jazz compositional and performative practices (meters as comprised of cycles of a prime number [e.g., 5, 7, 11] or uneven divisions of non-prime cycles [e.g., 9 divided as 2+2+2+3]). The explorative meter practices of jazz, while constituting a central role in the construction of its own identity, remains curiously absent from jazz scholarship. The conjunct research broadly examines NI meters and the various processes/strategies and systems utilized in historical and current jazz composition and performance practices. While a considerable amount of NI meter composers have advertantly drawn from the metric practices of non-Western music traditions, the potential for utilizing insights gleaned from contemporary music-theoretical discussions of meter have yet to fully emerge as a complimentary and/or organizational schemata within jazz pedagogy and discourse. This paper seeks to address this divide, but not before an accurate picture of historical meter practice is assessed, largely as a means for contextualizing developments within historical and contemporary practice and discourse. The dissertation presents a chronology of explorative meter developments in jazz, firstly, by tracing compositional output, and secondly, by establishing the relevant sources within conjunct periods of development i.e., scholarly works, relative academic developments, and tractable world music sources. Bridging the gap between world music meter sources and theoretical musicology (primarily, the underlying perceptual and cognitive model which represents a topology of the structural premises of meter) the research acts to direct and inform a compositional process which directly accounts for an isomorphic link between structurally similar meters.