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Title: 'Kind of Blue' and the signifyin(g) voice of Miles Davis
Author: Fyffe, Jamie Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 2048
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2017
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Kind of Blue remains one of the most influential and successful jazz albums ever recorded, yet we know surprisingly few details concerning how it was written and the creative roles played by its participants. Previous studies in the literature emphasise modal and blues content within the album, overlooking the creative principle that underpins Kind of Blue – repetition and variation. Davis composed his album by Signifyin(g), transforming and recombining musical items of interest adopted from recent recordings of the period. This thesis employs an interdisciplinary framework that combines note-based observations with intertextual theory. It maps out the intertextual associations of each piece on Kind of Blue, illuminating Davis’s creative practice and more generally, Signifyin(g) in jazz. The study presents a more rounded account of the trumpeter, identifying Significations that possess a transformative power indicative of his idiosyncratic voice. This derives from the trumpeter’s skill in recognising the musical potential implicit in each borrowed item. Davis employed varied modes of revision in response to each insight, which nevertheless exhibit common traits – simplicity/neatness of approach, economical use of materials and revisional instinct. The study catches Davis in the act of revising musical tradition, as the trumpeter renegotiates African-American traditional forms using contemporary jazz devices. Some tracks exhibit “indirection” by saying one thing but meaning another. Thus, while the bluesy vamps of “All Blues” appear to affirm the blues tradition, a series of intertextual readings reveal a hidden dialogue concerning the mutability of style, as musical items traverse stylistic boundaries with ease courtesy of Davis’s Signifyin(g) voice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: M Music