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Derek Bailey’s ballads: Combining traditions


Kingston, D, Derek Bailey's ballads: Combining traditions, Instrument of Change: The International Rise of the Guitar (c. 1870-1945): abstracts, 9-11 December 2016, University of Melbourne, pp. 11. (2016) [Plenary Presentation]

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Derek Bailey (1930–2005) was an English born guitarist known widely for his work in freely improvised music. His performance and recording career features freely improvised music in a variety of settings, from solo to large ensemble performances. Bailey is viewed by many as one of the progenitors of "European Free Improvisation", and was one of the earliest visible practitioners of the genre, especially on the guitar. His style was characterized by extreme variance of register and timbre, discontinuity of phrasing and extended instrumental technique.

Bailey’s improvisational language, whilst idiosyncratic and highly individual, was born of multiple traditions, most notably those of jazz and early twentieth-century classical compositional technique. Bailey forged a new trajectory for the guitar, combining materials and approaches from these various traditions to create a unique improvisational identity and expand the improvisational resources of the instrument. Never is the influence of these traditions more obvious than in his 2002 recording Ballads—on which a series of jazz ballads are interpreted through the prism of free improvisation.

This paper, through the transcription and analysis of materials contained on Ballads, will investigate the improvisational language of Derek Bailey and seek to identify materials drawn from multiple traditions; demonstrating how these materials were utilized and combined to create a new improvisational context for the guitar, and, more broadly, a new tradition in which the instrument could be situated.

Item Details

Item Type:Plenary Presentation
Keywords:free improvisation, analysis, guitar, jazz, Derek Bailey
Research Division:Creative Arts and Writing
Research Group:Music
Research Field:Music performance
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Arts
Objective Field:Music
UTAS Author:Kingston, D (Mr Damien Kingston)
ID Code:128965
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Office of the School of Creative Arts and Media
Deposited On:2018-10-29
Last Modified:2018-10-30

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