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Body or Soul? Questioning the validity of binary interpretations of Bebop in the history of jazz criticism

Scully, LC (2016) Body or Soul? Questioning the validity of binary interpretations of Bebop in the history of jazz criticism. MMus thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This dissertation examines the effect that two sets of binary concepts have had on the reception and categorical identity of bebop music. This work aims to show evidence of binirisms within the history of jazz and evaluates whether bebop is most accurately understood within these conceptual frameworks. One binary opposition used in jazz discourse that throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries shaped perceptions and expectations of bebop audiences is the trope of ‘revolution’ and ‘evolution.’ Bebop has had a profound effect on the development of modern jazz. The first chapter addresses the dilemma of how to categorise the genre or subgenre of bebop in relation to the overarching jazz genre, given that it can be found to express both traditional and new aesthetic values, aspirations, politics and musical innovations simultaneously. The second chapter examines how the concepts of ‘highbrow’ and ‘lowbrow’ are used in music historiography to classify musical traits and traditions, which also extend to the people whose music falls under these polar categories. Many of the texts I read throughout my research on bebop detail the changes that bebop instituted in jazz, from the discipline and sincerity of musicians to make meaningful art, to the technical musical tropes that became hugely influential. This dissertation unpacks the effect that these bebop changes had on the identity of jazz music that had been previously conceptually framed within restricting binary categories. I conclude that bebop challenged the validity of binary interpretations of jazz, by integrating and reappropriating various different influences from contrasting musical forms and by presenting their music as self-aware, contradictory, entertaining and yet serious.

Item Type: Thesis (MMus)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Music (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Miss LC Scully
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2016 12:23
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2016 12:23
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13934

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