Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy





Committee Chair

Dr Kreitner

Committee Member

Tim Goodwin

Committee Member

Gavin Bidelman

Committee Member

Jeremy Orosz


Often the term improvisation gives the impression that the music spontaneously materializes from nothing; however, how spontaneous is it really? David Borgo aptly characterizes this conundrum, "To improvise requires the capacity to act, and, for it to mean anything at all it must surely be 'about' something, a common definition of intentionality." Jean-Jacques Nattiez's Discourse on Musicdiscusses this intent and its place within a larger societal context through his adaptation of Molino's tripartition. This is a process in which our broader aesthetic valuation of style influences our creativity and is reflected in a tangible piece of music, which is then passed on to subsequent generations. I contend that evidence of this transference is best seen within a works direct and indirect musical borrowing. Further, that it is in how a work uses topics, melodies, and motives that its rhetorical structure and meaning emerges.In this paper I analyze how remnants of Maurice Ravel's Pavane pour une infante défunte are transferred and evolve in Morton Gould's Pavanne, Bert Shefter's The Lamp is Low,Miles Davis's So What, and finally in John Coltrane's and Wes Montgomery's performances of Impressions. I contextualize how a performer's immediate set of influences, as well as broader societal and economic influences, impact the assimilation, transferal, and evolving novelty in John Coltrane's Impressions. This culminates in an analysis that discusses how the intertexts between these works can be viewed through both classical rhetoric and rhetorical "signifyin'."


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.