Opening Lecture 'Beyond Borders' Dick de Graaf

Fontys Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Zwijsenplein 1, 5038 TZ Tilburg
De Refter

In the opening lecture of the second edition of the Contemporary Music Days Dick de Graaf (saxophonist) will more about his doctorial dissertation 'Beyond Borders'.

About his lecture & research:
The research question of my online doctoral thesis Beyond Borders (2017) is: “How can advanced compositional and improvisational techniques be applied in contemporary jazz, in order to help (composing) improvisers to extend their musical practices beyond functional harmony and beyond the conventional chord-scale approach?”

The goal of this study is to demonstrate how jazz practitioners can employ elements from twentieth century compositional techniques to transcend the limitations caused by the excessive focus on those traditional issues in jazz education. Although the relationship between improvised melodic lines and the current or imaginary underlying harmonies remains a vital element, the emphasis in my study is on how to embed strategies to play “outside the chords”.

My study addresses the twelve-tone music related Tone Clock by Peter Schat (1993) and the symmetry of the “modes de transposition limitée” by Olivier Messiaen (1956). After analyses and evaluations of these models in the practices of expert jazz practitioners, and on the basis of my own experiences using them to create so-called “generative compendia” and compositions, I conclude that elements of these models can be fruitfully transferred into jazz.

In order to transfer my conclusion into music, I will play applications of the fifth hour of Peter Schat’s Tone Clock in my composition “Les Mésanges”, and an arrangement of Olivier Messiaen’s third “mode de transposition limitée” in “A Crow Calling”. Beside, I will use a number of well-known jazz standards as vehicles for improvisations based on my actual study. Pianist Philipp Frenzel, a master research student at Codarts, investigating the application of Messiaen’s harmonic concepts into jazz, will accompany me today.