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Gunderson, Terence S.

A Pedagogical Approach to Solo Jazz Vibraphone Developed Through an Analysis of Common Performance Practice

D.M.A. University of Northern Colorado, 1992
(terryg@acad.cc.whecn.edu)

The purpose of this study was to develop a method book for solo (i.e. unaccompanied) jazz vibraphone. The curriculum this book presents is based on the performance practices of jazz vibraphonists as found in recodings and written literature. Because jazz vibraphonists and teachers of jazz vibraphone recommend that students learn solo jazz vibraphone through the study and adaptation of jazz piano techniques, jazz piano method books were examined for both content and presentation.

An examination of fifteen piano method books yielded information regarding the techniques jazz piano players are expected to master. Observations were also made regarding the presentation styles of the different texts.

The "pianistic" style of solo vibraphone was started by Gary Burton in the 1960s. He and other players have developed this style for nearly three decades. With a rich history of development, students should be able to study solo jazz vibraphone as a specific art. They should not continually be required to retrace the work of vibraphonists who have already adapted piano techniques to conform to the limitation of the vibraphone.

Selected unaccompanied jazz vibraphone solos were transcribed and analyzed. Published solos composed by jazz vibraphonists were also analyzed. The accompaniment techniques found in these solos correspond to accompaniment techniques found in the jazz piano method books. These techniques form the basis of the solo jazz vibraphone method book. Exercises to help the student attain the physical coordination and theoretical understanding necessary to apply these techniques to a lead sheet were also developed. Appendices include transcriptions and discography of solo vibraphone performances.