Zen in the Art of Drumming: Jim Blackley and His Influence on the Jazz Drummers of Canada
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The objective of this thesis is to examine how the pedagogy of Jim Blackley (1927- 2017) the late Scottish-Canadian jazz drummer and educator influenced several generations of Canadian jazz drummers. Blackleys seminal publications such as Syncopated Rolls for the Modern Drummer Vol.1 (1961) and The Essence of Jazz Drumming (2001) disavow the traditional instruction of the snare drum rudiments in favour of playing and interpreting musical lines. Consequently, Blackley inculcated in his students the importance of the drummers ride cymbal acting as the primary means of stating time and providing the accents, punctuations, and phrases so vital to jazz rhythmic accompaniment. Through emphasizing the development of strong time keeping skills, an awareness of song form, the memorization and vocalization of rhythmic figures and phrases, and the significance of listening carefully to the bass line, chord changes and melody when improvising, Blackley instilled in his students the inviolable tenet of playing the drums musically. Using an ethnographic approach culling data from interviews with Blackleys former students such as Terry Clarke, Barry Elmes, Duris Maxwell, and others, this thesis will also explore issues of identity construction and construal examining how Blackleys pedagogy had led his students on an important journey of identity realization.