Essay #2
Spring 2010


In this essay, we would like you to use music analysis to concentrate on a pair of pieces; at the same time, we would like you to use analysis in the broader context of an argument.

Choose one of the pairs of musical examples listed below. Each of the pairs is related in some way-- by style, performer, or time period. Relying primarily on your analysis of musical sound, construct an argument that simultaneously links the two pieces to a common style, while explaining in detail how each of the examples is unique. Your argument must relate directly to the sound of the music. If you wish, you may place your observations within a social or historical context (e.g., the nature of "blackness" as social identity); you may also draw on readings for the class (chapters from the text, or assigned articles on Monk, bebop, or Miles Davis). Please remember, though, that your argument will be judged on its relationship to musical sound.

Please be sure that your music analysis describes short segments of each performance in detail. Cite specific examples with CD timings. Be specific in your writing by using the musical vocabulary introduced in class to articulate your points. (For a list of terms, see "Definitions" on the web site.)

  • Dizzy Gillespie, "Salt Peanuts" and Charlie Parker, "Scrapple from the Apple"
  • Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers, "Doodlin'" and Cannonball Adderley, "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"
  • Charles Mingus, "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" and "Far Wells, Mill Valley"
  • Miles Davis, "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "Flamenco Sketches"
  • Anthony Braxton and Max Roach, "Spirit Possession" and Ornette Coleman, "Song X Duo"
  • If you wish to propose a different pair of examples, you will have to submit a proposal to your TA that must be approved by Prof. DeVeaux.

    A few disclaimers:

    • This is not a research paper. You may cite articles from outside the class, but your argument should be based primarily on your own observations and material presented in class.
    • Do not base your argument directly on arguments or analysis presented in class or in the textbook. You may use this information as a guide, but use your own ears and your own mind to find specific ideas and musical moments that are interesting to you.
    • Do not suggest in your argument that one kind of jazz is superior because it is compared to an example that is inferior. All the music chosen in this class is of superior quality.
    • Do not hinge your argument on the music's "greatness" or "brilliance." We are interested in more detail and more nuance than that.
    • Make sure that the ideas behind your argument are clearly stated, and that the relationship of your argument to the pieces in question is clear.
    • Be sure to use paragraphs effectively. Each paragraph should have a point, and should normally not last long. A paper written in one or two long paragraphs suggests that the author does not know yet what he/she thinks.
    • Remember that in music analysis, it is very easy simply to follow a piece from beginning to end, but all too often, such a description fails to make any kind of point at all. As before, students who make their argument without analysis can expect to receive a lower grade (B as the best possible grade).
    • If you cite a source--whether it's a page in the textbook, an article in the reading, or some other resource--be sure to put it in quotation marks and cite the source. Failure to do so can be considered plagiarism, which is a serious offense against the Honor System.
    • When citing the class textbook Jazz, use in-text parenthetical notes, listing the source. For example: "According to Jazz [Chapter 8, p. 149], the melody for 'Mood Indigo' came from Barney Bigard." Or: "According to Albert Murray ["The Blues as Such," p. 74], blues musicians were professionals, not folk performers."

    Your paper should have your name, your TA's name, and your discussion section (either the COD # or the time/place).
    These papers will be graded by your TAs in time for the submission of the final grades in mid-December. They are perfectly willing to provide detailed comments, but they are also pressed for time. Students who would like detailed comments should indicate this on the paper (e.g., "comments, please!"). Those students will then be responsible for picking up their papers at the beginning of the next semester.


    3 to 5 pages, double-spaced.


    The paper should be delivered to your TA's mailbox no later than Monday, 3 May.

    Personnel for the examples

    • "Salt Peanuts" (1945): Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet; Charlie Parker, alto sax; Al Haig, Piano; Curley Russell, bass; Sid Catlett, drums
    • "Scrapple from the Apple" (1947): Miles Davis, rrumpet; Charlie Parker, alto sax; Duke Jordan, piano; Tommy Potter, bass; Max Roach, drums
    • "Doodlin'" (1954): Kenny Dorham, trumpet; Hank Mobley, tenor sax; Horace Silver, piano; Doug Watkins, bass; Art Blakely, drums
    • "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" (1966): Cannonball Adderley, alto sax; Nat Adderley, cornet; Joe Zawinul, electric piano; Victor Gaskin, bass; Roy McCurdy, drums
    • "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" (1959): Willie Dennis, Jimmy Knepper, trombones; John Handy, Jackie McLean, alto saxophone; Booker Ervin, tenor saxophone; Pepper Adams, baritone saxophone; Horace Parlan, piano; Charles Mingus, bass; Dannie Richmond, drums
    • "Far Wells, Mill Valley" (1959): Richard Williams, trumpet; Jimmy Knepper, trombone; Jerome Richardson, flute & baritone saxophone; John Handy, alto saxophone; Booker Ervin, Benny Golson, tenor saxophone; Teddy Charles, vibraphone; Roland Hanna, piano; Charles Mingus, bass; Dannie Richmond, drums and timpani
    • "Bye Bye Blackbird" (1956): Miles Davis, trumpet; John Coltrane,
    • "Flamenco Sketches" (1959): Miles Davis, trumpet; John Coltrane, tenor sax; Cannonball Adderley, alto sax; Bill Evans, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Jimmy Cobb, drums
    • "Spirit Possession" (1978): Anthony Braxton, tenor sax; Max Roach, drums
    • "Song X Duo" (1986): Ornette Coleman, alto sax; Pat Metheny, electric guitar