Gerry Mulligan, Soloist: Transcription and Analysis of his Small-Group Solos on “Line for Lyons,” “Curtains,” and “The Flying Scotsman”

dc.creatorLeigh Pilzer
dc.description.abstractGerald Joseph “Gerry” Mulligan (1927–96) was a highly acclaimed jazz musician in the twentieth century. One of relatively few to adopt baritone saxophone as his or her main instrument he had a nearly fifty-year-long career performing, writing, and leading bands. During his lifetime he was the subject of articles in consumer publications, monographs, and discographies. Scholarship on Mulligan has focused on his compositions, arrangements, and band leadership between the years 1945–64. To date there has been no large-scale study of Mulligan’s improvisation designed to identify techniques and elements he used throughout his career to create his personal and recognizable solo style. For this dissertation I have transcribed and analyzed Mulligan solos in order to show that he does not rely on a vocabulary of licks and patterns to be used over chord progressions in order to craft his solos, but instead uses strategies such as motivic manipulation and limited pitch collections to create a sonic palette for each solo. His concept of the sonic palette for a solo on a tune remains consistent, and is evident on each solo on that tune. The body of the work focuses on Mulligan’s use of repetition and sequence (at times in combination with other techniques such as augmentation, diminution, rhythmic alteration, inversion, and retrograde) on his composition “Line for Lyons” in twenty performances recorded between 1952 and 1993. The analyses and musical examples are presented chronologically, with complete transcriptions included in the appendix. I have also transcribed solos on two additional Mulligan compositions: “Curtains” and “The Flying Scotsman.” In the concluding section I briefly discuss aspects of Mulligan’s approach to soloing over those chord progressions, as an indication of what further study of his improvisation might reveal. This study will complement previous study of Mulligan’s compositions and arranging style by providing information about his performance practice, thereby helping create a more complete understanding of his musicianship. It will augment existing analyses of jazz saxophone improvisation, which have focused primarily on alto and tenor saxophonists, and will add to existing scholarship on jazz improvisation in general. Finally, it will provide a useful pedagogical tool for educators working with students who are interested in learning more about Gerry Mulligan and his style of improvisation.
dc.titleGerry Mulligan, Soloist: Transcription and Analysis of his Small-Group Solos on “Line for Lyons,” “Curtains,” and “The Flying Scotsman” Mason University


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