Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Monson, Ingrid. "Doubleness and Jazz Improvisation: Irony, Parody, and Ethnomusicology." Critical Inquiry 20 (Winter 1994): 283-313.

Jazz musicians--particularly African-American musicians--draw upon many sources of knowledge from multiple traditions, and their borrowings are characterized by a sophisticated familiarity with practices from traditions to which they may not traditionally have been thought to belong, as well as a virtuosic and playful tendency to transform the materials they borrow to ironic effect. John Coltrane's position within the world of improvised African-American music did not prevent him from appreciating certain elements of European-American musical theater song in My Favorite Things as sung by Mary Martin. Furthermore, his transformed version of Martin's simple delivery of the Rodgers and Hammerstein tune demonstrates a confidence that African-American musical aesthetics could improve European-American music. Roland Kirk's Rip, Rig, and Panic countered assumptions that he would be unfamiliar with Western art music by citing multiple influences from Edgard Varèse, but did so in an irreverent way that implies multiple meanings and motivations. Not all borrowings must be intercultural or even inter-generic: Jaki Byard's Bass-ment Blues makes ironic references to other styles within the jazz tradition. Intermusical relationships can be ambiguous and still communicate: intention does not necessarily need to line up perfectly with perception. A listener has some liberty to interpret a communicative gesture, although each side should be working with a certain amount of shared knowledge and experience.

Works: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (songwriters), John Coltrane (performer): My Favorite Things (292-99); Roland Kirk: Rip, Rig, and Panic (300-302); Jaki Byard: Bass-ment Blues (302-5); Ralph Peterson, Jr.: Princess (306-8).

Sources: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (songwriters), Mary Martin (performer): My Favorite Things (292-99); Edgard Varèse: Poème électronique (300), Ionisation (300).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Jazz

Contributed by: Paul Killinger

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