Raiding genres, remaking contemporary South African jazz discourse: the study of choices and ideals behind my compositional portfolio.
Giandhari, Riley Joseph.
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This thesis is presented as an autoethnography that documents the process of composing a portfolio of works that are identifiable as Jazz. Autoethnography is understood here as both a theory and a method. While my personal perspective is central, the social milieu in which I am positioned is also important as I understand composition as a process that is dependent on, and motivated by, context. In this way, composition is seen as closely tied to identity. The pieces fall into three ensemble categories: those composed with particular musicians in mind, those composed for specific instrumental combination; and those composed for a big band format. In the first category, my focus as a composer is to write music with a particular set of musicians in mind. In the second category, I compose and arrange for instrumentation. In the third category, my focus is writing for a big band, in which I create a simulation; I use recording software to programme the instruments. The intention is to interrogate and analyse how and why I made the compositional decisions, and to expose my perceptions of how the process of composition unfolded. Underlying my compositional strategies is the idea that as a fundamentally improvisational idiom, jazz can accommodate musical characteristics and techniques associated with other established genres like Rock, Goema, Gqom, Latin, and Afro-Cuban music. The motivation for my approach to composition is to bring the jazz idiom closer to the diverse musical environment which I experience in Durban.