Jazz attributes in twentieth-century Western art music: A study of four selected compositions

Date of Completion

January 2007






Over the course of the twentieth century, jazz grew up from barroom dance music to a powerful artistic medium, gaining notice from Western art music composers. This dissertation investigates the elements of jazz that can be found in compositions from four composers spanning the twentieth century: La Création du monde, Darius Milhaud (1923); Music for the Theatre, Aaron Copland (1925); Concertino for Jazz Quartet and Orchestra, Gunther Schuller (1959); and Red Cape Tango, Michael Daugherty (1993). The four composers came to know jazz in a different time and place in their musical development, leading to differing views on the artistic relevance of jazz. Consequently, each composer chose to incorporate various elements depending on their personal views as well as musical goals for the compositions. The composers' development and views on jazz are included in brief biographical sketches. Using a list of criteria that includes instrumentation, improvisation, rhythm, harmony, use of percussion, and stylistic elements, each piece is analyzed, showing which elements are present in the work. This information is then assimilated into a performance analysis with conducting suggestions. In a final conclusion, each composition is set into the perspective of the development of jazz in order to ascertain if the way in which composers used elements of jazz has changed over the course of the twentieth century.^