Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Block, Steven. “Bemsha Swing: The Transformation of a Bebop Classic to Free Jazz.” Music Theory Spectrum 19 (Fall 1997): 206-231.

Critics of Cecil Taylor’s recordings have incorrectly accused him of abandoning tonality and emphasizing texture in his improvisations. Pitch-class set analysis of Taylor’s improvisations, however, reveals a much closer connection between Taylor and his predecessors than previously acknowledged. Two recordings of Thelonious Monk and Denzil Best’s Bemsha Swing, one by Monk in 1955 and one by Taylor in 1958, demonstrate this close connection. Monk uses only a small collection of pitch-class sets and pitch-class operators for many of his improvisations, all in the context of standard bebop extended tonality. Taylor uses sets that imply traditional jazz scales and derive from Monk’s improvisations. By applying pitch-class operations, particularly multiplication, to these sets, Taylor gradually removes them from a tonal context.

Works: Thelonious Monk and Denzel Best (composers) and Cecil Taylor (performer): Bemsha Swing (219-31).

Sources: Thelonious Monk and Denzil Best (composers) and Thelonious Monk (performer): Bemsha Swing (207-19).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Jazz

Contributed by: Nathan Blustein

Except where otherwise noted, this website is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
Creative Commons Attribution License