Improvisation, Identity and Tradition: Experimental Music Communities in Los Angeles

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ProQuest, 2008 - 487 pages
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This dissertation examines the relationship between experimental music and communities within Los Angeles from the late 1950s to the present. Ornette Coleman radicalized the ideas of jazz, improvisation and composition in Los Angeles in the late 1950s and his innovations have inspired many different people, including many musicians who have remained notoriously under appreciated in terms of jazz history such as Horace Tapscott, John Carter and Bobby Bradford. All three of these musicians remained in Los Angeles and helped to foster and inspire a number of different communities. These include other experimental jazz musicians, punk, avant rock, and freely improvised music, which will be examined through the life and work of artists like Vinny Golia, Nels Cline, Alex Cline, Greg Ginn, Lynn Johnston, Joe Baiza and others. While these scenes developed, jazz was redefined and institutionalized in way that delegitimized experimental approaches. The effects of this redefinition will be examined in terms of organizations that worked towards supporting diverse kinds of music such as the California Outside Music Association, the Independent Composer's Association, and the Los Angeles Free Music Society. This will also be compared to larger scale multicultural festivals that occurred in Los Angeles during the 1980s and early 1990s. The redefinition of jazz and a backlash against multiculturalism have further polarized the various communities of experimental music and obscured their connection to jazz. This history will be examined using a hermeneutical approach informed by the philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur alongside a critical examination of the economies that are in operation and can impinge upon interpretation. The major difficulty faced here is in considering the relationship between communities and aesthetics. I seek to come to a better understanding of how different communities can have different understands of the same thing. It is my hope that focusing on tradition and history will illustrate that these different communities, scenes, and music genres have things to say to each other.

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Special thanks to my wife Joy Park whose cheerleading and kimchi chigae kept
Ornette Coleman Free Jazz and Aesthetics
Horace Tapscott and the experimental jazz scene
Carter and Bradford and the expansion of the experimental jazz scene92
Scenes influenced by the avantgarde 1970s80s
New experimental traditions and communities punk
John Carter and the Shifting Definition of Jazz in the 1980s
1980s1990s Circulation in the Underground
Festivals and Institutions representation of diversity 1980s to 1990s
1990s to the present
Nels Cline and New Music Mondays
The New Music Scene after 1998
Line Space Line
New Concepts of Jazz in Los Angeles

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