Coleman, Trevor Alexander
The majority of western art, jazz, popular and indeed most music of the world is positioned within a mono-metric system. Furthermore, multiples of ‘4’ often predominate in musical structures, particularly in popular music, whether in subdivisions of a 4/4 metre or in groupings of units that constitute form. Examples of bi-metricism, however, have existed from Renaissance Spanish dance music through to contemporary metal, but compositions of any genre comprising of three simultaneous metres from beginning to end remain rare. This research, in tandem with the creative portfolio, presents an investigation into a formalization process concerning the design of three-part polymetre. It is an attempt to overcome challenges presented in rhythmic and harmonic displacement of recurring motivic cycles of differing lengths. These cycles are layered over polymetric structures while aspiring toward an apparent simplicity within a complex web of “cycles-within-cycles-within-cycles” (Fink 2005, p47). Consequently, this body of work concerns more frequent application of irregular metres. It asks, for example, how a 3/4-4/4-7/4 polymetric piece can be constructed so that, at all points of its eighty-four beat timeline, it synchronizes or ‘grooves’ as congruously as its mono-metric predecessors. This research also investigates how harmonic changes are affected over parallel bars of varying lengths and how musicians cope with unfamiliar realignment of reference points. I use the term comprovisation, an elision of composition and improvisation, in order to establish how this juxtaposition works. It is a relatively new term used to characterize the interrelationships between premeditated material and real-time spontaneity in a music context. The virtually uncharted field of ‘polycyclic comprovisation’ fosters the act of improvisation upon composed cyclic motifs in varying but complementary time signatures that occur and interact simultaneously. Through comprehensive investigation of theoretical precedents and musical analysis of the accompanying scores and four CDs of my compositions, I will examine the inner-workings and performance issues surrounding polycyclic design and improvisation within three broadly defined genres, while advocating well-constructed form as a prerequisite to successfully navigating complex structures.
Advisor: Ritchie, Anthony
Degree Name: Doctor of Musical Arts
Degree Discipline: Music Department
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: polycycle; comprovisation; composition; improvisation; polymetre; polymetric; polycyclic
Research Type: Thesis