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The drummer’s discourse : an exploration of rhythmic syntax for the enhancement of phrasing within improvised drumset performance

McCoullough, A ORCID: 0000-0001-6120-2982 2021 , 'The drummer’s discourse : an exploration of rhythmic syntax for the enhancement of phrasing within improvised drumset performance', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The capacity to generate and reorganise rhythmic content in the course of improvise performance is noted as a critical aspect for improvising musicians. As such, this research considers a novel way of extending and revitalising drumset practice using my own performances to consider rhythmic invention and arrangement. This investigatory tack is used to reframe my own drumset practice and provide potential applications for drummers and improvising musicians. The outcomes from this performance-led research are represented in a folio of recorded performances and a contextualising exegesis.
The construct of syntax is employed by this study to examine its effective appropriateness for rhythmic analysis, cognitive representation, and drumset practice development. This builds on the body of knowledge that considers musical syntax by presenting a framework for interrogating improvisation, whilst developing unique parameters for improvised drumset performance practice to operate.
An iterative cycle of active learning has been applied to four recordings captured in live and studio environments by this research. These recordings consist of original works, along with Thelonious Monk compositions. At the conclusion of each recording, performance excerpts were transcribed and situated in a developed evaluative mechanism. This process consolidated rhythmic phrasing through analysis and formed source material for reflection, conceptualisation, and experimentation. Aspects of new learning that emerged from engagement with the above stages were then focused in subsequent recordings.
This research has offered an appropriate method for cross-domain linking with regards to theoretical and empirical perspectives within improvisation. The impact of these associations has led to a critical awareness of syntactic cognitive filters for the enhancement of rhythmic phrasing in improvised drumset performance practice.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:McCoullough, A
Keywords: improvisation, drumset, syntax, cognition
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