Dissertation Index

Author: Butterfield, Matthew W.

Title: Jazz Analysis and the Production of Musical Community: A Situational Perspective

Institution: University of Pennsylvania

Begun: June 1995

Completed: May 2000


The analysis of jazz embodies a contradiction between the solitary listening practices implied by conventional music analysis and the socially integrative nature of jazz performance events. This dissertation develops a rationale and method for the analysis of jazz that seeks to transcend this opposition. I formulate an interdisciplinary approach that I call "situational particularism" to explore the complex relationships between situational structure (a function of the social, economic, temporal, spatial, and acoustic organization of musical events), music perception, and social behavior. The configuration of these elements in each musical situation is shown to express a potential for the production of musical community. Unlike more conventional approaches to analysis, a situational perspective incorporates the special conditions of jazz performance and the athleticism of jazz improvisation within accounts of the particularity of individual performances.

Situational particularism recuperates and extends an analytical paradigm known as "particularism," which was defined and discredited by Matthew Brown and Douglas Dempster. It pursues an understanding of musical details beyond the general context stipulated by the "work-concept" to the actual events in which we encounter them. I draw on recent research in cognitive semantics to develop a novel theory of the musical object as a cognitive formation that emerges in musical situations. I then employ language and concepts of sociologist Erving Goffman to illuminate how participants frame their understanding of these situations, and how this understanding governs both perception and behavior. To illuminate these issues, I present case study analyses of two performances--one recorded and one live--by jazz bassist Ron Carter of his composition "Blues for D. P." I conclude by examining recent trends in jazz history in terms of the typical situations in which we listen to the music today. Jazz analysis is seen in this context as one of several factors that have worked toward the dissolution of local jazz communities outside of New York. As an analytical approach, by contrast, situational particularism finds its rationale in advocating for musical situations in which music can fulfill its "erotic" social potential--i.e., situations in which music serves an integrative social function.

Keywords: jazz, analysis, situational particularism, situationalism, musical community, Ron Carter, musical object, frame analysis, jazz education


Introduction: Situational Particularism, 1
Chapter 1: Particularism, 12
Chapter 2: The Musical Object Revisited, 46
Chapter 3: Musical Community and the Musical Situation, 119
Chapter 4: Analysis: "Blues for D. P.", 170
Chapter 5: Conclusions: Situational Issues in Contemporary Jazz, 266
Appendix: Transcription of "Blues for D. P.", 304
Bibliography, 319


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