Chapter Four Thinking with the Ear: Strayhorn’s Musical Fingerprints

Walter van de Leur

in Something to Live For

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195124484
Published online September 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199868711 | DOI:
Chapter Four Thinking with the Ear: Strayhorn’s Musical Fingerprints

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This chapter brings up the various distinctive techniques in Strayhorn’s composing and arranging. These include through-composed forms with developmental sections and integrated introductions, transitory sections and codas. His clever use of temporary modulations points up his control over harmony and counterpoint. The chapter shows how Strayhorn further availed himself of a variety of elements — harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic figures and passages that not only guarantee the internal cohesion of a given piece, but also strongly unify his works as a whole, clearly setting it apart it from Ellington’s oeuvre. The characteristics that allow the listener to distinguish Strayhorn’s work from Ellington’s are detailed: specific usage of dissonance, chords, voice leading, instrumentation, rhythmic figures, textures, and backgrounds.

Keywords: Ellington; composing; arranging; instrumentation; harmony; dissonance; chords; voice leading; rhythmic figures; textures; background

Chapter.  5989 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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