Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Barrett, Sam. “Classical Music, Modal Jazz, and the Making of Kind of Blue.Dutch Journal of Music Theory 16 (2011): 53-63.

A dynamic or cyclical notion of influence allows for a more sophisticated approach to understanding the relationship between twentieth-century classical music and Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue. While numerous scholars have generated a long list of influences to Davis’s album, multiple techniques and sources invite further consideration. There are three categories of art music that serve as sources to Kind of Blue: late-romantic and impressionist music, American classical modernism, and Stravinsky ballets. In the first category, Rachmaninoff’s and Ravel’s works include general harmonic, intervallic (specifically concerning vamp patterns), and tonal elements that can be found in the songs So What and Flamenco Sketches, while Khachaturian’s use of non-diatonic melodies over tonal harmonies can be found across Davis’s entire album. In the second category, widely spaced leaps and upper-register sonorities from Copland’s music of the 1940s can be found in So What. In the final category, Stravinsky's ballets provide a procedure of fragmentary melodic variation that relates to Davis’s own “melodic variation” in his solos on every song. That these particular classical styles influence Kind of Blue on different levels indicates that “modal” jazz is a meaningful term to describe the album's musical language.

Works: Miles Davis: Kind of Blue.

Sources: Ravel: Piano Concerto for the Left Hand (53-56), String Quartet in F Major (56-57); Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 40 (53-57); Khachaturian: Gayane Suites (57-58); Debussy: Images No. 1 (“Reflets dans l'eau”) (58); Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man (58), Appalachian Spring; Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (59-60), Petrushka (59-60).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Jazz

Contributed by: Nathan Blustein

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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