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Free improvisation in the context of repertoire interpretation : an applied investigation of Derek Bailey’s ballads


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Kingston, DP ORCID: 0000-0002-8413-6866 2018 , 'Free improvisation in the context of repertoire interpretation : an applied investigation of Derek Bailey’s ballads', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The purpose of this practice-led research was to investigate the use of free improvisation within the context of repertoire interpretation. Through investigating an historical model in which these two approaches to music making co-exist, my aim was to increase my ability as an improviser and interpreter of original music.
Free improvisation can imply an absence of premeditated organisation and content. Performing a repertoire requires the observance of some fixed material - reconciling these two approaches can therefore prove difficult as each contains seemingly contradictory methodologies. By investigating Derek Bailey’s Ballads, a seminal recording on which these two approaches to music making co-exist successfully, a set of key concepts were derived to inform music making that utilises free improvisation in the course of interpreting repertoire. These concepts provide much needed information on the materials and approaches used within the above musical context, and within free improvisation as a whole - an area of research that has thus far been under-represented within academia.
The weighting of this research is 80% folio and 20% exegesis. The exegesis is comprised of an investigation of Ballads through transcription and analysis, self-reflective analysis investigating the utilisation of the research findings in a practice-led capacity, and discussion of recordings produced throughout the course of this research. The folio consists of commercial and concert recordings made between 2013 and 2017.
Considering Bailey’s key materials and organisational approaches has highlighted the importance of a considered and structured approach when combining free improvisation with repertoire interpretation. Investigating a limited set of materials for an extended duration enables any parameter to be improvised upon - be that material derived from a composition, from an established free improvisatory language, or a combination of the two. Applying this knowledge to the performance of my own compositions has greatly expanded my expressive and interpretative capability. Additionally, this research provides useful information for anyone wishing to investigate Bailey’s improvisatory language in both practical and academic settings.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Kingston, DP
Keywords: Derek Bailey, Free Improvisation, Ballads, Analysis, Transcription
DOI / ID Number: 10.25959/100.00029556
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 the author

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