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Recent work on phrase rhythm in jazz explores how various parameters interact with hypermeter - meter deeper than the measure. Despite the importance of hypermetrical regularity, however, deviations in phrase length do occur, and the exceptions warrant exploration. This paper addresses hypermetrical deviation in the works of active jazz composer Maria Schneider.

I posit that Schneider enters into a dialogue with tendencies of phrase rhythm established through the century-long jazz tradition. As James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy (2006) have argued regarding music in the decades surrounding 1800, works are placed into “a dialogue with a community-shared pool of preexisting works, probably including some well-known ones, that formed the new work’s context of understanding.” Rather than comprising some body of previous works, I take the “context of understanding” for Schneider’s music to be the normative eight-bar phrase.

My argument centers around two claims: (1) the normative phrase design from the jazz tradition at large is Schneider’s most common compositional choice, and (2) most of Schneider’s deviational phrases dialogue with the norm directly. A corpus study of 24 works composed between 1984 and 2007 confirms that 61% of phrases conform to the norm, and another 31% of phrases dialogue with the norm directly. This paper establishes the characteristics of the normative phrase, describes the analytical procedure, and summarizes the evident deviational phrase types.


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Event location
    • Shott Auditorium

  • Event date
    • 2 December 2017

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022