Michael Barkley, Miles Davis and the transition from bebop to cool jazz: A historic and stylistic examination (Other, Dublin Institute of Technology, 2013)

These details defined Mon Jan 5 20:43:57 2015  edit
 Author:  Barkley, Michael 
 Title:  Miles Davis and the transition from bebop to cool jazz: A historic and stylistic examination 
 Degree, institution:  Other, Dublin Institute of Technology 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2013 (September 2013) 
 Volumes, pp.:  1 (46pp) + 1 CD 
 Supervisor(s):  Paul McNulty 
 Repository:  DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama Library 
 General specialism:  Musicology: Performance Studies 
 Content, key terms: 

Miles Davis was one of the most innovative trumpet players in the jazz idiom. He was known for his ever-changing style of improvisation and music making as well as for his fiery personality, crude language, sharp sense of dress and for his masterpiece album 'Kind of Blue'.

Davis left behind a legacy of work spanning half a century encompassing numerous genres of jazz - many of which he pioneered - including Bebop, Cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, fusion, funk, rock, electronic music, avant-garde jazz, free jazz, classical jazz, folk. His greatest strength was his drive to create, and to never stand still. His trumpet playing was ever adaptive to the time, from being socialized by the rock music of Jimi Hendrix to pioneering genres such as Cool jazz and modal jazz. He has been described as the single musician who has changed the shape of jazz the most times. With this genius, Davis created some of the most known music of the genre, as well as maintaining an artistic integrity. His voice was undeniably unique and identifiable throughout his career.

This MMus study represents an analysis of two consecutive eras and genres of jazz music, that of Bebop and Cool Jazz, and Davis's playing therein. The Bebop era, often referred to as the 'tradition' of jazz, emerged in the early 1940s. It was a style of complex harmony, virtuosity, rhythmic complexity and great daring. The textures of the music were busy and the overall aura was one of creativity and freedom, however, it was somewhat unpupilar as the music was difficult to dance to and long solos became less memorable than the popular tunes of the day. The Cool era ememrged in the late 1940s in response to this busy music, taking the 'tradition' of Beblop but changing the approach to be slower-paced and more palatable and or danceable to. Aptly named 'Cool' by critics due to the more relaxed demeanor the music carried, the Cool style of playing became most prevalent on the West Coast of America after spreading from New York (East Coast) where Davis was at the forefront of the genre.

This analysis focuses on passages of improvised music in each genre which clearly define Davis's improvisational approach at that time in terms of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic tendencies. This research reveals a number of commonalities as well as clearly defined differences in Davis's approach to improvisation across the two eras of jazz. This paper provides students of jazz and musicologists a socioeconomic background to the changes happening in the music at that time; relevant background into Davis's life; and transcriptions for musicians to study, exposing the differences and similarities in Davis's improvisational approach during his transition of Bebop to Cool Jazz.