Jazz music: the technological mediation of an aural tradition




Jarvis, Brent

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Jazz music is transmitted by aural and oral means. As recording and broadcast mediums became increasingly ubiquitous, starting in the mid twentieth-century, an ever greater proportion of jazz’s aural transmission would be mediated by these developing technologies. Many commentators address sound’s mediation from one state to another by identifying the resulting recording as an object. This object transcends temporal and spacial proximity, possessing inherent authority with implications for authorship, related work-concepts, and even issues of cultural assimilation. From a perspective informed by writings in musicology, philosophy, and sound studies, I examine recorded jazz music from the twentieth-century. I begin by positioning the history of jazz music in relation to the emergence of recording technologies to establish recordings as authoritative texts. I then translate (by transcription) primarily non-literate jazz recordings into the primarily literate discourse of musicology. In the course of examining music by James Moody, Eddie Jefferson, Bud Powell, Chick Corea, and others, I conclude that they all exemplify musical intertextuality. In some cases, technological mediation connects the texts. I then turn to an examination of recordings specifically. I begin by questioning musical notation as an adequate description of sound and move to developing a broader analytical framework. This thesis culminates with a comparison of Bud Powell’s 1949 recording of Bouncin’ With Bud and Chick Corea’s 1997 recording. Using the framework mentioned, disparate potentialities afforded by each recording’s mediation are connected to musical characteristics.



Bud Powell, Blossom Dearie, Blue Note, Bouncin' with Bud, Chick Corea, Christian McBride, Eddie Jefferson, I'm In The Mood For Love, James Moody, jazz, King Pleasure, media, music, Moody's Mood For Love, Marshall McLuhan, musicology, recording, Ron Carter, Roy Haynes, Rudy Van Gelder, sound, studies, The Flight of the Bopple Bee