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Freedom SoundsCivil Rights Call Out to Jazz and Africa$
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Ingrid Monson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195128253

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195128253.001.0001

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Aesthetic Agency, Self-Determination, and the Spiritual Quest

Aesthetic Agency, Self-Determination, and the Spiritual Quest

(p.283) 8 Aesthetic Agency, Self-Determination, and the Spiritual Quest
Freedom Sounds


Oxford University Press

The commitment to an intellectual engagement with the materials of music, that is, to theorizing improvisation, seems to have been a central preoccupation of many of the key innovators in jazz. There is no more central figure in this quest than George Russell, whose Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization placed the relationship of chords to scales at the center of the way that jazz musicians talk about harmony and melody. Although Russell's system for thinking about modes and scales is far broader than the style that has become known as “modal jazz,” he was nevertheless a central figure enabling its emergence. This chapter first examines Russell's quest for a comprehensive musical system as an example of the intersection between musical theoretical understanding, and a search for spiritual depth that so animated the aesthetics and practice of musicians such as John Coltrane and Sun Ra. It also considers how an expanded understanding of modal jazz as a link between mainstream and experimental jazz might encapsulate the many themes explored in this volume.

Keywords:   jazz music, George Russell, self-determination, Lydian Chromatic Concept, musical system, modal jazz

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