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BebopToCool
Context,Ideology,andMusicalIdentity
EddieS.Meadows
TheMusicalLanguageofTheloniousMonk
TheloniousSphereMonkwasbornOctober10,1917,inRockyMount,NorthCarolina,anddiedFebruary17,1982,inWeehawken,NewJersey.A
composerandpianist,hewasoneofthemostsignificantarchitectsofBebop.In1921,hemovedwithhisfamilytoNewYorkCity,whichremainedhis
principalcomposingandperformingvenueuntilhisdeath.HiscareerhighlightsincludeastintashousepianistatMintonsPlayhouseintheearly
1940s,whenthetransformationtothenewjazzwasunfolding.In1941,hemadehisfirstrecordingwiththehousebandquartetatMintonswith
CharlieChristian.HealsoparticipatedinnumerousjamsessionsattheclubfeaturingartistslikeDonByas,RoyEldridge,DizzyGillespie,CharlieParker,
andBudPowell.In1944,heteamedupwithColemanHawkins,collaboratedwithCootieWilliamstocomposeRoundaboutMidnight,andplayedwith
thefirstDizzyGillespieOrchestra(bigband).In1947,hemadehisfirstrecordingsunderhisownnameforBlueNote.From1947to1952,herecorded
Humph,Thelonious,Evidence,CrissCross,andCarolinaMoon.
OneofMonksmostproductiveperiodswasthe1950s,whenhewasabandleader,sideman,andcomposer.Asabandleader,hesignedarecording
contractwithPrestigeRecordshisfirstsoloalbumwasrecordedinJune1954,forSwingRecords.Becauseoflowsales,hisPrestigecontractwassold
toRiversidein1955,butbeforeleavingPrestige,herecordedLittleRootieTootie,writtenforhisson,onTheloniousMonkQuintet(1954).He
recordedBrilliantCornersin1956MonksMusic,TheloniousHimself,andTheloniousMonkwithJohnColtranein1957andTheTheloniousMonk
OrchestraatTownHalland5byMonkby5in1959,allonRiversideRecords.Healsomadeseveralsignificantrecordingsasasidemaninthe1950s,
includingBloomdidoandMyMelancholyBabywithParker(1950),SonnyRollinsQuintetwithSonnyRollins(1954),MilesDavisAllStarswithMiles
Davis(1956),GigiGryceQuartetwithGigiGryce(1955),andJazzMessengersandTheloniousMonkwithArtBlakey(1957).
Theerafrom1957to1960wasoneofhismostproductiveasbothacomposerandbandleader.Between1957and1960,hisgroupsincludedJohn
Coltrane,JohnnyGriffin,RoyHaynes,CharlieRouse,WilburWare,andShadowWilson,tonameonlyafew.Duringthisperiod,hereharmonized
SmokeGetsinYourEyesandcomposedBrilliantCorners,RubyMyDear,andCrepusculewithNellie.Bythelatefifties,hisreputationasan
eccentricandcreativeartistandrecognitionastheguruofmodernjazzincreasedhispopularity.KennyBurrellnotedaboutMonk:
Intermsofhiscompositions,heprobablyhasthemostoriginalapproachIveeverheard.Andintermsofhisplayingthepiano,hes
probablygotthemostoriginalapproach....Buthewasrespectedinthesensethathewaswritingtheseveryinterestingcompositions,
andeveninhispianotechnique,itwasenoughtoplaywhathewantedtohear.Inotherwords,theideawasyouacceptpeopleforwhat
theyare....Sowhathewasdoingcompositionallywasobvious.Whathewasdoingonthepianowasmaybenotsoobvious,butaftera
while,...yousay...hesnottryingtobeaflashypianoplayer,hejusthasenoughtechniquetoplaywhathewantstoplay,andhes
happywiththat.(1997)
ImplicitinBurrellsassessmentofMonkarearespectforindividualityandtheideathathavingsufficienttechnicalabilityforselfexpressionwasenough
foracceptanceintotheartisticcommunity.
Fromthe1960suntilhisdeathin1982,MonkscareerhighlightsincludesigningarecordingcontractwithColumbiaRecordsin1962,appearingonthe
coverofTimemagazinein1964,recordingStraight,NoChaserin19661967,andtouringoverseasseveraltimes.Intheearly1970s,hedisbanded
hisgroupandbeganrecordingonAtlanticwiththeGiantsofJazz,aseriesofartiststhatincludedsomeofthemostsignificantperformersofthattime.
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Hecontinuedtorecord,thistimeforBlackLionRecords,arelationshipthatproducedtwosignificantbutunderappreciatedalbums,SomethinginBlue
(1971)andTheManILove(1971),trioandsolorecordings,respectively.HeappearedatCarnegieHallandtheNewportJazzFestivalsin1975and
1976,beforeretiringfrompubliclifearound1977.HespenthislastyearslivingattheestateoftheBaronessPannonicadeKoenigswarter,hispatron,
avidsupporter,andafanofjazz.
Althoughsomecriticsandjazzenthusiastshavefocusedmoreonhiseccentricbehaviorthanhismusicalattributes,Monkshouldberecognizedasone
ofthemostsignificantproponentsofmodernjazzcompositionandperformance.JazzscholarsandthemarketingofBebopcombinedtomainstreamhis
music,althoughheresistedbeingcategorized(Tucker1999:227224).Inaddition,hewasaninspirationtomanyyoungavantgardemusicianswho
werecomingonthesceneatthepeakofhispopularityinthiscontext,RobinKelley(1999:135169)hasaddressedMonksrelationship(aesthetics,
ideological,musical,andpersonal)withartistsincludingJohnColtrane,OrnetteColeman,SteveLacy,andCecilTaylor.Equallyimportanttohismusical
geniusandtothebeliefthattheartistisabovepoliticsisthefactthatMonk,inaneraofsocialchange,wasnotavocalproponentofblackliberation.
UnlikethemusicalandsocialinvolvementofGillespieandParker,theoutpokenviewsofCharlesMingusandMaxRoach,andthenumerousmusicians
whoeitherconvertedorweresympathetictoIslam,Monkwasdecidedlyapoliticalduringthe1940s1960sblackliberationmovement.Asearlyas
1958,hedeniedasocialcontextforhismusic:Mymusicisnotasocialcommentondiscrimintionorpovertyorthelike.Iwouldhavewrittenthe
samewayevenifIhadnotbeenanegro(quotedinBrown1958:45).WhetherMonkwouldhavewrittenthesamewayornotisspeculative,of
course,becausehewasanegro.
Inanotherinterview,heexpressedhisapoliticalviewstoValerieWilmer(1965:22):
Ihardlyknowanythingaboutit...IneverwasinterestedinthoseMuslims.Ifyouwanttoknow,youshouldaskArtBlakey.Ididnthave
tochangemynameitsalwaysbeenweirdenough.Ihaventdoneoneofthosefreedomsuites,
1
andIdontintendto.ImeanI
dontseethepoint.Imnotthinkingthatracethingnowitsnotonmymind.Everybodystryingtogetmetothinkit,though,butit
doesntbotherme.Itonlybugsthepeoplewhoretryingtogetmetothinkit.
AsIngridMonsoncorrectlyasserts,Monksapoliticalstancewasattractivetosomewhiteintellectuals,bohemians,andprogressivesbecausetheycould
findcommoncausewithAfricanAmericanmusiciansinart(1999:188).
Monksapoliticalviewsalsoenabledwhiteintellectuals,bohemians,andprogressivestoseparatethemusicfromthepersonandthesocialcontextthat
createdit,therebycontinuingahistoricalprecedentthatrewardedAfricanAmericanswhosufferedinsilenceforexample,LouisArmstrongand
punishedotherswhospokeout,musicallyorotherwiseMingus,Roach,Rollins,andMalcolmX,forexample.Yet,inspiteofMonksstatedviews,
Monsondemonstratesthatheparticipatedincivilrightsbenefitconcertsinthe1960sandoccasionallywasastrongandwillingvoiceforAfrican
Americanliberation(1999:187201).
WhileMonksgeniuswaseclectic,andnewperspectiveshaveemergedtosupportthispremise,thediscussionhereislimitedtoselectedelementsof
Monkscompositionsandperformancesthatcharacterizehisindividualism,specifically,thewayheusedgenericBebopmusicalpracticesandoriginal
contributionstoformhismusicalidentity.MonkwasoneofthefirstjazzcomposersandperformerstodevelopanoriginalBebopstyle.Bythetimehe
andKennyClarkeperformedtogetherina1938quartetatMintons,hehadconceptualizedhisoriginalpianostyle.Althoughhewasindebtedtothe
HarlemstrideconceptsofLuckeyRobertsandFatsWaller,hedidnotattempttoimitateGillespiesorParkershornlines.Instead,inhisimprovisations,
heaccentuatedtheharmony,usedshortmusicalinserts,ofteninacallandresponsepattern,andplayedlinesthatswungwithinamoderatetempo.
Monkwasoneofthefirstmodernjazzpianiststoclarifyandconceptualizetheroleandfunctionofthepianowithintherhythmsection.Heunderstood
thatthepianistshouldcomplement,notcompetewith,thehornplayers.Heinspiredhornplayersbyconstantlyfeedingthemchordswithastrong,
uniquerhythmicsense.MonkscomplementarycompingstylewasideallysuitedtoBebopbecauseitdidnotforcehimtocompetewiththemore
technicallyproficientpianistsoftheday.Hecraftedauniquemusicalidentitywithinthemorassofsamenessofthelate1930sandearly1940s.
Burrell(1997)notedthatMonksapproachseemedmoreverticalthanlinearbecause,unlikeOscarPetersonorPowell,hewasmoreinterestedin
soundscapes.Monkwaslikeacombopianist...idealforthemusicthathewrote....Hewastryingtopromote...histotalconceptofmusic....He
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hadacertainvisionthathefollowedthrough,righttotheend.HealsonotedthatMonkplayedmostlyhisownmusic,composedtoaccentuatehis
visionandcommensuratewithhistechnicalability.Monkwasnotdeterredbyhismusicalsurrounding,criticisms,orthefactthathewasatypicalwhen
comparedtohispeers.LikeDavis,Gillespie,andParker,heexudedselfconfidenceandwasabletorealizehisidentitywithinthecontextofthe1940s
andafter.
Monk,thoughanintegralpartoftheBebopmovement,wasatthesametimesomewhatremovedfromit.HelivedinasomewhatisolatedAfrican
AmericandistrictneartheHudsonRiverintheNewYorksWestSixties,awayfromHarlem,anddidnottakepartinmanyofthebrainstorming
sessionsthatwereheldattheapartmentsofGilEvans,Gillespie,andMaryLouWilliams.Heeschewedthetendencyofotherpianiststoplayhornlike
lines,refusingtoemulatethestylesorembracethemusicalphilosophiesofothers.Hewasnotthemostsoughtaftersideman,becauseherefusedto
compromisehisindividualityjusttogetjobs.Thislefthimwithsomepainfulearlymemoriesofthepeoplewhowantedhimtoplaystraight
(Keepnews1948:20).Artisticandcreativepurityweremoreimportanttohimthancapitulatingtothemusicalandphilosophicaltastesordemandsof
anyspecificpersonoroccasion.
ItisinterestingthatMonkrecordedonlyonceeachwithGillespieaspartoftheGiantsofJazzbandin19711972andParkeronJune6,1950,for
VerveRecords.PerhapsthereasonMonkseldomperformedandrecordedasaBebopsidemanwashispreferenceformoderatetempotunesandballads
overtheveryfasttunesperformedbyGillespieandParker.Also,Monksapproachtoperformingwasmoreharmonicthanlinear,andhistechniquewas
notcomparabletoAlHaigs,Powells,BillyTaylors,ArtTatums,orPetersons.HemightnothavefeltcomfortableperforminginsomeBebop,especially
whenimprovising.Insteadhisabilitytoperformwithin
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Photo10.1.(Fromlefttoright)DizzyGillespieandTheloniousMonkinNewYorkCityinthe1950s.CourtesyofMICHAELOCHS
ARCHIVES.COM.
hiscomfortlevelwhileothersexcelledtechnicallywasoneofMonksmostsignificantcontributionstojazz,onethatseparatedhimfrommostofhis
pianopeers.
ButMonkwasanoriginalimproviser.AlthoughhistechniquewasnotcomparabletomostBeboppianists,hedevelopedauniqueapproachto
improvisation.Hisimprovisationswereoftenpermeatedwithtonalclusters,repetition,unresolvedintervals,silence,sparseuseofnotes,and
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sequences.BurrellnotesthatMonkwasinfluencedbyEllingtonasapianistandasacomposer.Thatswithoutquestion.Youcanhearit,andheeven
statesithimself(1997).LikeEllington,Monklikedtosustainnotesaslongaspossibleandexplorethelowerregisterofthepiano.AlsolikeEllington,
hewasacomposerwhoplayedpiano,andthereforehetreatedthepianoasaharmonicratherthanalinearinstrument.Inadditiontothepreviously
mentionedtechniques,heoftenemployedarubatorhythmicconceptfullofarpeggios,trills,anddiatonicandwholetoneruns,thelattermostoften
descending.Mostofhisimprovisationsweretwochoruseslongandstayedclosetothemelody.Inthesecondchorus,heoftenornamentedthemelody
ratherthanimprovisingachorusgeneratedprimarilyfromtheharmony.Inaddition,heusedclustersandunresolveddissonancestocreatetension.
Healsoemployedatypicalapproachestoharmonics,harmonicresolutions,andvoiceleading,preferringtofindhisownsolutionstomusicalproblems.
UnlikeotherBeboppianists,Monkusedeconomyofspaceasaprominentfeatureinhisimprovisations.Thisfreedhimtocontributetothemusical
conversationwheneverhewanted.SinceMonksimprovisationsseldomfeaturedlongtechnicalruns,hisimprovisationscanbeviewedasthemelodic
answertothebrokenrhythmicconceptsoftheday.Furthermore,byrandomlyusingclustersandunresolveddissonances,heassertedhisindividuality
withinarecognizablemusicallanguage.WhencomparedwithotherBeboppianists,hisapproachtoimprovisationwasakindofmusicalstutteringthat
allowedtheperformermaximumfreedomtoflowinandoutoftheaestheticandrhythmicfeelofthecomposition.Monksapproachtoimprovisation
wasatypicalofbothswingandBebopandkeptbothhisbandandtheaudienceinamusicallimbo,notknowingwhattoexpect.Heproduced
improvisationsthatcommandedtheattentionofhisbandandjoltedaninattentiveaudienceintofocusingonhisplaying.
MODESANDSCALES
MonksmodeandscalepreferencesincludedDorian,Lydian,blues,andwholetone.HeusedtheDorianmodeinhisOffMinorimprovisationona32
barAABAcomposition,inthefirstmeasureoftheAsection,fourthchorusthemissingEisghosted(musicalexample10.1).Inaddition,thisscalecan
alsobeanalyzedasaGnaturalminor.ThismodeisrealizedoveraIV7vii7iii,progression,withoutharmonyinthelefthand.AnotherDorianmode
canbefoundinmeasure5ofthelastAsectionofhisfirstchorussoloinRubyMyDear(musicalexample10.2).Inthiscase,themodeisspelled
fromF,andrealizedoveraBflatm7harmony.
Monkalsousedthebluesscaleinhisimprovisations.AnexampleissuggestioninIntrospection,measure2,repeatofA,secondchorus(musical
example10.3).Thisexcerptoccursprimarilybetweenthesilenceofbeats1and4ofhislefthand,andisspelledfromC,withtheD,G,andAnaturals
ghosted.
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Musicalexample10.1.DorianmodeinOffMinor.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1947(Renewed)byEmbassyMusic
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Musicalexample10.2.DorainmodeinRubyMyDear.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1945(Renewed)byEmbassy
MusicCorporation(BMI).AllrightsoutsidetheUSAcontrolledbyMusicSalesCorporation(ASCAP).InternationalCopyrightSecured.AllRights
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Introspectionisalsointerestingbecausetheharmonicrhythmfollowsatwochordpermeasuredensityforthreemeasures,followedbyonechord,
andthena2+3+1+1harmonicrhythm.TwochordspermeasurearecommoninMonktunes,however,usingthreechordspermeasurewas
unusualforbothMonkandotherBeboppers.MonkalsousedthebluesscaleinMisterioso,Straight,NoChaser,andOffMinor.
AlthoughMonkusedthesamescalarlanguagethatotherBeboppersused,thewholetonescalemayhavebeenhisfavorite.Heuseditprimarilyintwo
contextstobeginacomposition,andtoevokeasuddendramaticeffectwithinanimprovisedphrase.Anexampleoftheformercanbefoundinthe2
measureintroductiontoRubyMyDear,a32barAABAballad.Intheintroductorycadenza,Monkusedaseriesofoverlappingwholetonescales
descendingfromAtoBflat(musicalexample10.4).Inturn,thedescendingscalesprovideananticipationbeforethemelodyentersonthethird
measure.Themelodybeginsonbeat2,followedimmediatelybyalowFinthelefthand.Bydelayingthemelodyuntilthesecondbeat,heincreased
thedrama,prolongingtheneedtoresolvethetensioncreatedbythecadenza.
RubyMyDearisalsointerestingbecauseofMonksuseofcounterpoint.Throughouttheimprovisation,wheneveronehandplayslongtones,the
otherperformsamovingpart,includingrhythmicratiosofahalfnotetosixteenthnotesinmostcases,followedbyquarternotetosixteenths,and
others.Theimprovisationisunaccompaniedandfeaturesmovementonthefourthbeatofeachmeasure.Sincethemelodyispermeatedwithlong
tones,Monkoftenemploysafournotesixteenthpatternonbeat4tocontinuetheforwardmotionintothenextmeasureorphrase.Thisforward
motionappearstobeanexpansionofthemotionhefirstestablishedinthecadenza.Also,theforwardmotionpreventstheballadfrombecoming
disjointed,withmeasuresorphrasesbecomingterminalideasuntothemselves,ratherthanconnectedtobothanongoing,evolvingmusicaldialogue.
Monkalsousedpentatonicscalesasadramaticdevicewithinhismusicalphrases.InIMeanYou,abouncy,moderatetempo32barAABA
composition,hisuseofdescendingpentatonicscalesinmeasures78ofthebridgeofthefirstchorusisbothabruptanddramatic(seemusical
example10.5).
Inadditiontoprovidingdramaticeffect,thescalesalsobridgesthetimeandspacebetweenthemelodicphrasesofmeasures78,againproviding
forwardmotion.Byusingthepentatonicscaleinthiscontext,Monksignaledthathewascomfortablewithit,abletouseitinwhatevercontexthe
chose.ThepentatonicscalesarebuiltonFandGflat.HealsoachievedmelodicandrhythmicdramabyleapingfromlowGflattoF2.
TheuseoftenthsinmelodicmotifsandopenfifthsandseventhsinthelefthandwerealsostaplesofMonksimprovisationalstyle.Hisimprovisation
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Musicalexample10.3.BluesscaleinIntrospection.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1946(Renewed)byEmbassyMusic
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Musicalexample10.4.WholetonescaleintheintroductiontoRubyMyDear.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1945
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Musicalexample10.5.PentatonicscaleinIMeanYou.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonkandColemanRandolphHawkins.Copyright
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waspermeatedwithatypicalchordprogressionsheseemedtodisdaintheuseofchordalcontinuity,suchasusingtheiiVIoriiiviiiVIprogression
insteadofthemelodytomakeconnections.Inaddition,heusedaverticalharmonicapproachanddevelopedsimplemotifsinhisimprovisationinI
MeanYou.Monkalsousedfewernotesthan,forexample,Tatum,Peterson,orPowellheimbuedtheimprovisationwithsilenceandacontrast
betweenquarterandeighthnotemelodicrhythm.
INTERVALSANDTONECLUSTERS
Leapsofaseventhorless,asinIMeanYou,OffMinor,andInWalkedBud,arecommoninTheloniousMonksimprovisationallanguagelarger
leapsarelessfrequentbutcanbefoundinThelonious,MonksMood,andRubyMyDear.Oneofhismostdramaticusesoflargeintervalsoccurs
inthefinalmeasureoftheIMeanYouimprovisation(musicalexample10.6).Notonlyistheleapdramatic,butthechordisleftunresolved,creating
ratherthanreleasingthetension,afavoriteMonkdevice.
CloselyrelatedtohisuseofscalesandintervalsasdramaticdevicesisMonksuseofbothclustersandunresolvedtones.Althoughunresolvedtonesare
commoninBebop,Monkusedclustersmoreoftenthanhispeers,todramatizetensionpointswithinandtoendaphrase.Amonghisnumeroususesof
clustersaretwoorthreenotegroupings,suchasthosethatappearinOffMinor,IMeanYou,RubyMyDear,InWalkedBud,andEpistrophy.
TwointerestingclustersarefoundinOffMinor.Onefeaturestheuseofclustersasdramaticdeviceswithintheflowoftheimprovisation
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Musicalexample10.6.MonksuseoflargeintervalsinIMeanYou.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonkandColemanRandolphHawkins.
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thisexcerpt(musicalexample10.7)ismeasures78,secondAsection,secondchorus.Monkheightensthedramaticeffectofthesustainedclusterby
usingrhythmicvariation,creatingatensionthatisnotreleaseduntilhereturnstothemelodyoftheAsection.Thereafter,herevisitsthetensionin
measure2ofthefinalAsectionofhissecondchorusbutthistimesurroundsitwithnotensioninmeasures13.
Monkalsousedclusterstodramatizetheendofimprovisations,asinIntrospection,measure1ofthebridgeofhissecondchorus(musicalexample
10.8).Byusingaclustertoendarighthandphraseandsustainingnotesinhislefthand,Monkproducedafeelingofbothcontinuityandchange.The
sustainednotesinthelefthandhelptogenerateafeelingofsecurityforthelistener,amusicalsecurityblanketofsorts.Inturn,thissecurityblanket
providessolaceasthelistenerawaitsasolutiontothecluster.Monkresolvedthattensionbyrepeatingthephraseinthenexttwomeasureswithone
exception,theclusterisnotrepeated.Here,Monkresolvedthetensionwithinthephrasebydemonstratingthatthemelodicphrasecanreachsimilar
yetdifferentmusicalconclusions.
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Musicalexample10.7.ToneclustersinOffMinor.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1947(Renewed)byEmbassyMusic
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Musicalexample10.8.ToneclustersinIntrospection.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1946(Renewed)byEmbassy
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Monkalsousedalteredorcolortonestocreatetension,asshowninmusicalexample10.9,fromOffMinor,thelasttwomeasuresofthebridgeofhis
fourthchorus.InsteadofresolvingtheGsharpatritone,MonkchosetocreateahangingdissonancethatwasresolvedwhenhebegantheAsection.
Heusedthesamedramaticdeviceinthelastmeasureofthebridgeofhissecondchorus.
ARPEGGIOS,MELODICSEQUENCES,ANDREPETITION
Theuseofarpeggiatedchordalmotifs,melodicsequences,andphraserepetitioniscommoninMonksimprovisations.Monkusedarpeggiatedchords
almostasoftenasscalarpassages.Heenhancedthearpeggioswithawiderangeofchordqualitiesandusedthemindifferentmusicalcontexts.He
usedarpeggiostobeginphrases,tocontrastscalarideaswithinphrases,and,lessoften,toendphrases(asinEpistrophyorMonksMood).Oneof
hisfavoritearpeggioswasthediminished,asfoundinmanyofhisimprovisations.ThefollowingexcerptcanbefoundinOffMinor.
AmonghismostinterestingusesofarpeggiosarethosefoundinOffMinor,IMeanYou,andEpistrophy.InOffMinor,measures23ofthelast
Asection,secondchorus,heusedanarpeggiowithinadescendinghalfstepchordprogression(musicalexample10.10).
OtherusesofdescendingarpeggiatedchordaloutlinescanbefoundinIMeanYouandMonksMood.Healsousedahalfstepprogressionto
alternatebetweentwochordqualitiesonediminished,andtheotheramajortriadwithaminorseventhandmajorninthinEpistrophy.Musical
example10.11isfoundinmeasures1112ofhissecondchorus.
Inadditiontoachangeofchordquality,Monksequencedtheharmonyandthemelody,therebyaddingtheelementofcontrasttotheuseofa
diminished
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Musicalexample10.9.HangingdissonanceinOffMinor.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1947(Renewed)byEmbassy
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Musicalexample10.10.ArpeggiosinOffMinor.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1947(Renewed)byEmbassyMusic
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Musicalexample10.11.HalfstepprogressioninEpistrophy.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonkandKennyClarke.Copyright1947
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chordalmelodyrealizedwithinahalfstepprogression.Althoughbothdiminishedchordalmelodieswererealizedwithinhalfstepprogressions,thereare
differencesbetweenthetworealizationsoneascends,andtheotheriscontrastedandsequencedinsuccessivemeasures.Althoughdiminishedchordal
melodiesweregenerictohisimprovisations,Monkcontrastedthembyusingsubtle,yeteffectivereinterpretations.
RepetitionandvariationofharmoniesviahalfstepprogressionswasanothertrademarkofMonks.Amongthenumerousimprovisationsthatemploy
thisdeviceareOffMinor,IMeanYou,andIntrospection.Ashedidwithdiminishedchordalmelodies,Monkusedhalfstepprogressionsto
implementrepetition,asinOffMinor,betweenmeasure3ofthelastAsection,thirdchorus,andmeasure3,secondAsection,fourthchorus
(musicalexample10.12).
HeusedthesameharmoniccontextinIntrospection.Monkalsousedhalfstepprogressions,tovaryorrestate.Whydidhechoosethisharmonic
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context,ratherthantheiiV7IprogressionfavoredbymanyBeboppers?Perhapsbecauseofhispenchantforalteredandextendedharmonies,
clusters,andhisoverallverticalapproachtoperforming,hewantedtoestablishhisindividualitywithinadifferentharmoniccontext.Monkalso
repeatedthephrasewithinadifferenthalfstepprogression,regardlessofaestheticortempo,therebydemonstratinghisindividuality.
MonkrepeatedimprovisationalphrasesoverprogressionsotherthanhalfstepprogressionsinIMeanYouandIntrospection.Musicalexample
10.13isfromIMeanYou.Thismotifisfoundinmeasure5,Asection,thirdchorus,andthenisrepeatedbeginninginmeasures34oftherepeatof
theAsectioninthesamechorus.Thesecondtime,however,therearetwodifferences.ThemotifisrepeatedoveraDflatharmony,anditisvaried
melodicallyandrhythmicallyinmeasure4.Oncemore,Monkusedrepetitionasadevicetoachievesymmetry.Unlikehistendencytousehalfstep
progressionstorealizechordalmelodies,inthisexcerpt,heusedotherprogressionstointroduce,repeat,andthenvaryanimprovisationalmotiveover
Clicktoseelargerimage
Musicalexample10.12.RepetitionviahalfstepprogressioninOffMinor.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1947
(Renewed)byEmbassyMusicCorporation(BMI).AllrightsoutsidetheUSAcontrolledbyMusicSalesCorporation(ASCAP).International
CopyrightSecured.AllRightsReserved.ReprintedbyPermission.
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Musicalexample10.13.MotifinIMeanYou.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonkandColemanRandolphHawkins.Copyright1947
(Renewed)byEmbassyMusicCorporation(BMI)andMusicSalesCorporation(ASCAP).InternationalCopyrightSecured.AllRightsReserved.
ReprintedbyPermission.
thirteenmeasureswithawalkingbassline,anoccasionalsinglenoteinthelefthand,andabrokenrhythmpermeatedwithaccents.
InMonksimprovisations,repetitioncanbefoundinatleasttwodifferentharmoniccontexts.Hetransformedandreinterpretedtheconcepttofithis
ownmusicalidentity.
QUOTES,ARTICULATION,ANDPHRASING
Monkusedquotesandspecificapproachestoarticulation,phrasing,andrhythminhisimprovisations.Moreoftenthannot,hequotedhisown
compositions(includingtheonehewasperformingatthetime)orimprovisations.InIMeanYou,forexample,hequotedthemainmelodicmotifof
thecompositioninthefirstmeasureofthelastAsectionofhisthirdchorus.Byrepeatingtheoriginalmotif,heprovidedsymmetrywiththebeginning
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ofthecompositionandareminderofitsmelodiccontent,althoughinthiscaseitfunctionedsolelyasanimprovisationalpointofdeparture.Monksleft
handwasabsentfromthebridgesectionthroughthelastAsection,whiletherhythmsectionfeaturedawalkingbasslineandarhythmpermeated
withaccents.Monksphrasingandarticulationwerepermeatedwithunexpectedaccents,eighthnotearticulations,andfrequentuseoftriplet
patterns,asinRubyMyDear,CrissCross,Thelonious,andIntrospection.Oneofhismostinterestingusesofphrasingandarticulationoccurred
inCrissCrossattheheadofthecomposition,wheretheeighthnoteswereemphasizedandperformedinalongshortmanner.
Inaddition,Monksarticulationsandphrasingswereoftenpermeatedwithsilenceandwithrhythmicphrasesbothonandoffthebeat.Hisuseofthese
devices,coupledwithhisarticulation,phrasing,andastylerootedintheHarlemstridepianoschooltradition,producedbothtimbralandrhythmic
surprises.AlthoughhisrighthanddexteritywaslessthanthatofAlHaigorBudPowell(somemusiciansevenquestionedhischoiceofnotesbecause
theyfeltheplayedthembymistakeduetohislackofrighthanddexterity),Monkneverthelessproducedahighlyindividualizedpianostylethatis
consideredoneofthemostuniqueinjazzhistory.
AnotherimportantaspectofMonksimprovisationsishispenchantforreinterpretingstandardjazzcompositions.Tounderstandhisreinterpretations,
onemustbecognizantofthemusicalintangiblesoftheoriginalcomposition.WhenlisteningtoaMonkreinterpretation,itisimportanttorealizethat
themissingpartsareasimportantaswhatisbeingplayed.Monkstrippedmanyoftherecognizablemusicalelementsfromacomposition,fillingthe
voidwithMonkisms.Theendresultwasthattheaudiencewasoftenleftunfulfilledbecausetheydidnotheartherecognizablemusicalelements
theyexpected,andwhattheydidhearseemedbothunexpectedanddissonant.
MonkreinterpretedstandardcompositionsincludingSmokeGetsinYourEyes,AprilinParis,andImGettingSentimentaloverYou.Aprilin
ParishadbeenpopularizedbytheCountBasiebandandbecamearecognizablepartofpopularculturebecauseofthePopGoestheWeaseltrumpet
solo,Basiesexhortinghisbandtoplaytheendingonemoretime,andthepowerfulbrasssectionsrespondingtohiscommandwithgreatintensity.
YetwhenMonkdecidedtoreinterpretthispopularsongataskmademoredifficultbecauseitwaswidelyperformedonradiostationsthatplayed
AfricanAmericanpopularmusichesucceededinstampingitwithhisownidentity.HeeliminatedoneofthestaplesofBasiesmusicalidentity(aflat
fourbeatspermeasure)and,initsplace,usedahalting,nonswingrhythmthatwastheantithesisofBasiesswingconcept.Inaddition,Monks
reinterpretationwaspermeatedwithdissonance,arpeggios,andharmonicandmelodicclashes.Itleftthelistenerdesperatelyclingingtowhatever
musicalelementstheymightrememberfromtheoriginalversion.
MonksreinterpretationofImGettingSentimentaloverYouisalsoastudyinimposingMonkismsonastandardcomposition.AsinAprilinParis,he
useddissonanceinharmonicandmelodicrealizationsandarhythmicconceptthatismorerubatothanstraightswing.Itisimportanttonotethathis
reinterpretationsweredoneonpiano,perhapsbecausehefeltmorefreedominthiscontextanddidnothavetoworryaboutgroupinterpretationsof
rhythmorharmonicagreementbetweenbassandpiano.Infact,insuchsettings,heseemstohavepreferredarubatotempo,whichallowsmaximum
freedomofexpressionforthesoloist.Monkismsliketrills,arpeggios,clusters,silence,somestrideaccompaniment,andwholetonescaleswereincluded
asamethodofimplantinghisidentityonaparticularcomposition.Inhisperformanceofstandards,Monkstayedclosetothemelodywhilealteringand
reinterpretingtheminhisownstyle.
COMPOSITIONS
AccordingtoRanBlake,Monkscompositionsfallintothreeperiods:thoserecordedforBlueNoteinthe1940s,hisworksinthe1950sforRiverside
andSignal,andafewtuneswrittenafter1960forColumbia(1994:790).BlakestatesthatmostcriticsconsiderthefirsttwoperiodsMonksmost
significant.Fromthoseperiods,RoundaboutMidnight,Evidence,Misterioso,CrissCross,Jackieing,CrepusculewithNellie,andGallops
Gallopareamonghisbest.Thesecompositionsareuniquefordifferentreasons.RoundaboutMidnight,astapleintheBeboppersrepertoire,isone
ofthefewballadsthatenduredfromtheBebopera.Usuallyperformedinmediumtempo,itisoneofthemostintrospectiveandsoulsearchingjazz
compositionseverpublished.However,thecompositionisatypicalforitstimebecausesomemeasurescontainfourdifferentchords.Monkusedan
entrancetothemelodythatwasconsistentwithcompositionslikeRubyMyDearandStraight,NoChaser,beginningonabeatotherthanthefirst.
Inaddition,hebeganwithaonebeatsixteenthnotepatterninEflatminor.Thecompositionisconstructedinsuchawaythatacompetentperformer
canexplorehisorherdeepestemotions,aningeniouscontributiontotherepertoire.
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AnydiscussionofMonkscompositionsmusttreatthemethodsheusedtoconstructhismelodies.Hismelodiesoftenincludedintervalssuchasmajor
seconds(inRubyMyDear,forexample)andfifthsandsixths(InWalkedBudandMisterioso).Themajorsecondcanbefoundinmeasures1,3,
and5ofRubyMyDear(Musicalexample10.14).
AftersoundingtheGmin7chordinmeasure1andAmin7inmeasure3,themelodyentersonthesecondbeat,creatingacluster.Theprocessis
repeatedinmeasure5,inbothcases,overaiiV7flat9Iprogression.InMonkssolopianorendition,hecreatesacontinuityofforwardmotionby
fillingthetimeandspaceofsomemeasureswithaddedchords.Boththeharmonyandtheharmonicrhythmofmeasures2and4contrastwiththose
of1and3.InsteadofiiV7flat9Iprogressions,hisfillerharmoniesarerealizedinascendinghalfstepprogressionsinmeasure2,andacombination
ofwholeandhalfstepsinmeasure4.ItappearsthatMonkwantedtocombinelinearandverticalharmonicconceptstocreateamusicalwhole.The
dissonantclustersinthemelodywereunitedaestheticallywiththehorizontalharmoniesrealizedinmeasures2and4.Hencethemusicalimpactof
theseapproachesismuchdeeperthanitappearstobeonthesurface.
MonksusedfifthsandsixthstoconstructamelodyinInWalkedBud(musicalexample10.15).
TheuseofaperfectfifthandminorandmajorsixthsequencesfollowedbyotherdisjunctintervalsisconsistentinthecompositionalpracticesofMonk
andotherBeboppers.Thesedisjunctintervalsprovideanopennessthatallowstheimproviserstoexplorethevariousregistersoftheirinstrumentmore
fully.Inhisimprovisations,Monkachievedthisopennessbyusingclustersandunresolvednotes.AsimilarintervallicconceptappearsinMisterioso,a
12barbluescharacterizedbyarepetitioususeofeighthnoteswithnorestsorsustainedtones.Inaddition,theeighthnotesareperformedlegatoina
smoothrenditionoflowtohigh,harmonizedinsixths.Theintervalsarealsosequenced,andmoreconsistently,inanascendingpath.Suchuseof
legatowasatypicalforBebop.
Monksindividualityalsoextendstohisconstructionofthebridge.Althoughmostcompositionsoftheerafeaturedonebridge,Monkcomposed
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Musicalexample10.14.MajorsecondinRubyMyDear.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1945(Renewed)byEmbassy
MusicCorporation(BMI).AllrightsoutsidetheUSAcontrolledbyMusicSalesCorporation(ASCAP).InternationalCopyrightSecured.AllRights
Reserved.ReprintedbyPermission.
asecondbridgeforWellYouNeednt.Thefirstbridgebeginsasillustratedinmusicalexample10.16.Itcontinuesbysequencingaseriesoffour
eighthnotegroupingsbeginninginmeasures58,beforereturningtotheAsection.Thefirstthreemeasuresofthealternatebridgeareshownin
musicalexample10.17.
Therearetwoapparentdifferencesinthebridges.First,thesecondversionisalmostidenticaltothethirdmeasureofthefirstbridge.Also,thefirsttwo
measuresmoveahalfstephigherinthesecondversion,reiteratingMonksstrongpreferenceforsequentialmelodiesandhistendencytoward
unpredictability.Inadditiontothemelodiccontrast,thereisaharmoniccontrastinhissubstitutionofDflat9foraG7,andaD9foranAflat7,
tritonesubstitutionsandawidespreadBeboppracticethatdeepensthecontrastbetweenthetwobridges.
Monkalsousedspecificmotivicdevelopmentalideasinhiscompositions.The4barphrasewascommon.InOffMinor,itisrepeatedidenticallyin
measure5,andalteredthereaftertheAsectionisbasedononemotivicidea
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Musicalexample10.15.FifthsandsixthsinInWalkedBud.WordsandMusicbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1948(Renewed)by
EmbassyMusicCorporation(BMI).InternationalCopyrightSecured.AllRightsReserved.ReprintedbyPermission.
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Musicalexample10.16.FirstbridgeinWellYouNeednt.WELLYOUNEEDNTbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1944(Renewed)byRegent
MusicCorporation.AllRightsReserved.UsedbyPermission.InternationalCopyrightSecured.
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Musicalexample10.17.SecondbridgeinWellYouNeednt.WELLYOUNEEDNTbyTheloniousMonk.Copyright1944(Renewed)by
RegentMusicCorporation.AllRightsReserved.UsedbyPermission.InternationalCopyrightSecured.
andaltered,whilethebridgeoffersmorecontrast.TheoppositeistrueofRubyMyDear,inwhichtheAsectionconsistsoftwocontrastingmelodic
motifs,andthebridgealsocontainstwocontrastingideas.InWalkedBudisconstructedsimilarlytoOffMinor,becausetheAsectionisbased
primarilyononemotifthatisexpandedintheturnback,beginninginmeasure6.UnlikethebridgeofOffMinor,thebridgeofInWalkedBudis
basedonone4barmotifthatisrepeatedbeginninginmeasure5.IMeanYouisalsobasedprimarilyononemelodicmotifinitsAsection,andone
motivicideathatisrepeatedandalteredslightlybeginninginmeasure5ofthebridge.However,italsobeginsandendswitha4barphrase.Thesolos
beginafterthe4barpatternattheendofthe32barAABAform.
Epistrophyhasamelodybasedprimarilyononesequencedmotif.Useofthatmotifmakesthisarifftune.
2
Its32barAABAformisinteresting
because,althoughthereareanumberofBebopriffblues,suchasBlueMonk(byMonk),NowstheTimeandCoolBlues(byCharlieParker),and
BirksWorks(byDizzyGillespie),thereareveryfewrifftunes.Onceagain,MonkreassertshisindividualityasacomposerofBeboptunes.The
compositionalsofeaturesarepetitiveharmony:thefirst4barsarebasedonaCsharp7D7progression,andthenexteightarebasedonaDsharp
7E7progression.BoththeriffmelodicstructureandtheharmonicarrangementareunusualforBebopcomposition.Monkalsosoundsachordornote
severaltimesinsequenceinCrissCross,Evidence,andIShouldCare.
Monkscompositionalindividualityalsoextendedtohisbluescompositions,includingStraight,NoChaser,BlueMonk,andMisterioso.These
instrumentalbluesfeatureeitherawiderintervallicrangeormorerhythmicvarietythanmostvocalblues.TheuseofleapsofasixthinMisterioso
andBlueMonkareatypicalofmostblues,instrumentalorvocal,asishisuseofasinglemotifalteredthroughrhythmicdisplacement.Bothconcepts
wereusedinpreviouslydiscussedMonkcompositions,andrhythmicdisplacementcanbefoundinCrissCross,OffMinor,IMeanYou,and
Straight,NoChaser.Theuseofrhythmicdisplacementinabluesisatypicalforitstime.InStraight,NoChaseronemotifservesasthegermidea
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butisalteredrhythmicallythroughouttheheadtoachievemusicalcontrast.
Monkalsoexperimentedwithmusicalformsandreharmonization,includingbothalteringorvaryinga12barbluesanda32barAABAcomposition.He
variedthetraditionalapproachofa32barcompositioninBemshaSwing,a16barcompositionbrokenintofour4barphrases,astarkcontrastto
theusualdivisionofa32barcompositionintofour8barphrases.Inaddition,heuseda4barphraserepeatedatthesamepitchlevelinFridaythe
Thirteenth,forminga16barcompositioninanatypicalAAAAform.Italsocontainsa2barharmonicprogression,G7F7Eflat7D7,whichis
repeatedand,withonerepeatofthe4barphrase,resultsinarepetitivepattern.
AmongMonksothercompositionaldeviceswerethereharmonizationofcompositionslikeSmokeGetsinYourEyesandCarolinaMoon.Heused
thewholetonescaleinHorninIn,andaspectsofwholetoneandLydianscalesandchromaticisminBrilliantCorners.Theextentofhiscontinuing
fascinationwithclustersandcrushednotesisevidentinCrepusculewithNellie.Severalofhiscompositionswerebasedoncontrafacts,forexample,
RhythmningandGointoMintons(bothbasedonIGotRhythm)andBrightMississippi(onSweetGeorgiaBrown).Butoverall,his
compositionaloutputwascharacterizedbyindividuality,featuringcopioususeoftimeandspaceandstructuredtoallowsomeonetofillthespace.He
sometimesfilledthespaceswithdramaticdeviceslikescalarpassagesorharmoniestocreateandcontinuetheforwardrhythmicmotionofthe
composition,asinRubyMyDearandIMeanYou.Thusmanyofhisscalesandharmonies,includingclustersandcrushednotes,wereusedto
achieveextramusicalresults,resultsthatcreatedtensionandhelpedtocatapultthesoloisttonewheights.WhilesomeBebopcomposerstendedto
followoneformatforconstructingmelodicmotifs,Monkvariedformats.Forinstance,inthebridgeofInWalkedBud,heusedonemotifforanentire
section,whileRubyMyDear,incontrast,containstwodifferentandcontrastingmotifsinitsAsectionandone4barmotifrepeatedinthebridge.I
MeanYoucontainsonebasicmotifforbothitsAandBsections.
BecauseMonksmusicwaspermeatedwithalteredandextendedharmoniessevenths,ninths,elevenths,andthirteenthsaswellasmorecommon
dominantseventh,flattedninthharmonies,itisnotgenerallyrecognizedthatherepeatednotesandharmoniesseveraltimesinsuccessioninsome
compositions(forexample,CrissCross,Evidence,IShouldCare,andEpistrophy).Monklackednothinginthewayofharmonicsophistication,
sotherepetitionofeithernotesorharmoniesmusthavebeenintendedtoproducebothasoundscapeandatimeline.Thelatterwouldproducea
harmoniccomfortzonethatenabledMonktorealizeothersoundsinthatcreativesituation.Hisimprovisationsandcompositionsallowedtheperformer
toexperimentwithtimeandspaceandtoexplorethedeepestregionsofsensual,theoretical,andtechnicalmusicalcreativity.Forthesereasons,
Monksmusicisanationaltreasureinthejazzidiom.Inaddition,heinfluencedthejazzstylesthatcameafterhim,asartistslikeMilesDavisbeganto
incorporatehisuseoffewerchordsandopenspace,lessrelianceonuptempocompositions,andactualizinganindividualmusicallanguagewithout
capitulatingtothegenericmusicallanguageofthetime.
RHYTHM
TheloniousMonkwasaproponentofrhythmicdisplacementdisruptingtherhythmicflowwithsilenceand,occasionally,usingahalting,interrupted
rhythm.InCrissCross,heusedaharddrivingrhythmsectiontounderpintherhythmicdisplacementinthemelody.Thisrhythmicdisplacementis
effectivebecauseofthefasttempo(
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=188)andasequencedintervalpassageinthemelodyofsevenths,sixths,andfifthsintempo,followedbyadisplacedrhythmicconceptofaneighth
notetiedintoahalfnoteontheandofthesecondbeat.Thesequencedintervalpassagereoccursonthethirdbeatofthenextmeasure,followedby
twoeighthnotes,onetiedtoahalfnoteonthefirstbeatofthelastmeasure.The8barthemerivalsStraight,NoChaserasoneofMonksmost
ingeniousandprovocativeusesofrhythmicdisplacement.
MonkusedadifferentrhythmicdisplacementinBlueMonk,wheretherhythmisratherstraightforwarduntilthelastthreemeasures.The
compositionischaracterizedbytheintroductionofamotifinmeasure3,whichisthenrepeatedidenticallyinmeasures7and10.Butwhenthemotif
isrepeatedinmeasure11,itbeginsonthesecondbeatofthemeasureinsteadofonthecustomaryfirstbeat.Theresultisa5beatphrasein4/4
meter,auniqueconceptforitstime,andonethatMonkusedonotheroccasions.Thesubtlebuteffectiverhythmicdisplacementproducesan
unsettlingeffectuponbothlistenerandperformer.
Monkalsousedrhythmicdisplacementtoreplaceamelodicmotifwithinacomposition.Althoughtheconceptofrepetitionofaspecificmelodicphrase
withinacompositionwasnotnew(CharlieParkerhaduseditinhisimprovisations),Monkusedittoalterandtransformamusicalmotifbydisplacing
themotifrhythmicallywhenitoccurredlaterinthecomposition.HeusedthisconceptinJackieing,a16barcompositionintheLydianmode.
Theprimarymotifisrepeatedinmeasures56,anexactduplication(withoutthepickup),andisrepeatedandalteredmelodicallyandrhythmicallyin
measures910and1214.
Monkfirmlyimplantedtherespectivemotifsintothemindofthelistenerbeforehesprangthesurprisereinterpretation.Inbothcases,therhythmic
displacementisusedneartheendofthefirststatementofthemelody,whentherespectivemotifshavebeenfirmlyestablished.Thedisplacementis
moreeffectivebecauseitproducesabreachbetweenexpectationsandreality.
AnotherexampleofrhythmicdisplacementoccursinCrissCross.Thedisplacementisheightenedbecausethelistenerexpectstoheartherepeated
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ideathesamewayeachtime.However,afterintroducingthemotif,Monkaltereditthreeconsecutivetimesinmeasures13.
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MonkuseddifferentversionsofrhythmicdisplacementinEpistrophy,Straight,NoChaser,andPlayedTwice.Oncemore,Monkdevisedaunique
motifand,throughrhythmicdisplacement,motivictransformation,andreinterpretation,realizedauniquemusicalcomposition.Epistrophy,a16bar
compositionbasedonaseriesof2barphrases,isrhythmicallyunique.Oneuniqueaspectofthemelodyisthatitconsistsofa3beatmotifina4
beatpermeasurerhythm.Thisisrepeatedinthefirsttwobars,andthereafteralteredmelodically.Anotherinterestingpointabouttherhythmic
displacementisthattheoriginalmotifbeginsonthesecondbeatofthemeasure,butwhenitisrepeated,itisaltered.
Straight,NoChaserisa12barbluesfullofunexpectedrhythmicchangesandamelodythatevokesacrossrhythmbystressing3beatsinthe
melodyagainst4beatsintherhythmsection.InbothStraight,NoChaserandEpistrophy,therhythmicdisplacementoccursatthebeginningof
thecomposition,notattheend(asinBlueMonkandJackieing).Bysuperimposinga3beatmelodicunitona4beatrhythmicunit,Monkcreated
arhythmthatwassimultaneouslylinearandvertical.
MONKSGENIUS
ThetruemeasureofTheloniousMonkscompositionalabilityhasbeensomewhatlimitedbecausemostscholarshavefailedtoacknowledgethe
importanceofrhythminhiscompositions.MonksnewapproachtoBebopcompositionmayhavecomeaboutbecausehismusicalpeersweremore
attunedtoharmonicmelodicarrangementsthantheyweretorhythmicconcepts.Monkdemonstratedthatmelodiescouldberealizedwithinthe
contextofrhythm.Indeed,rhythmmayhavebeenamoreimportantstructuraldeviceinhiscompositionthaneitherharmonyormelody.Monks
geniusasacomposerforcedimproviserstoreassesstheirapproachtoimprovisation.IhavepresentedalimitedviewofMonksarticulationsfor
additionalinformationregardingMonkscompositionalprocessesandhisaffinityforpopularsongs,consultLawrenceKoch(1983:6780)andScott
DeVeaux(1999:167187),respectively.DeVeauxacknowledgesMonksindebtnesstoTinPanAlleyandpopularsongsandidentifiesconnections
betweenMonksharmonicpracticesandcommercialmusic.
InadditiontotheneedforareassessmentoftheinfluenceofrhythmictransformationandreinterpretationinMonkscompositions,thereisalsoa
needformoreresearchontheimpacthiscompositionshadonframingtheimprovisationsofotherperformers(seeKelley1999).Monkchallenged
improvisersharmonically,melodically,andrhythmically.Hisuseofclusters,alteredchords,andatypicalprogressionswereenoughofachallenge,but
hisrhythmicconceptsincreasedit.CompositionslikeStraight,NoChaserandCrissCrossmightfeatureaswingingrhythmsection,butthatswing
wasinterruptedwiththerhythmicdisplacementsoftherespectivemelodies.Ifthedrummeradheredtothedisplacements,theimproviseralsohadto
becognizantofthosesignposts.Monkforcedthecreationofanewkindofimproviser,onewhowasoftenforcedtocondensehisideasintoshort
rhythmiccells.Duringthe1940sand1950s,itwascommonforBebopdrummerstobreakupthesmoothflowwiththebassdrum,highhat,and
othercymbals.Monkcarriedthistoanotherlevelbyincorporatingthemintohiscompositions.Hisuseofsilenceandrhythmicdisplacementareamong
hisgreatestcontributionstojazz.HedemonstratedtoBebopperslikeMilesDavisthatonecouldbeanexcellentandeffectiveimproviserandcraftan
individualidentitywithoutfollowingthehighlyenergizeduptempousedbymostBeboppers.Davis,inturn,usedsilenceasastapleofhisCoolstyle.
AlthoughCharlieParkercondensedmanyofhisslowimprovisationswithin2measuresandfastimprovisationswithin4barphrases,hewasnotforced
touseeitherapproachbysilenceorrhythmicdisplacementinthecomposition.ButMonkusedthesedevicesasstructuralelementsinsome
compositions,forcinganymelodicorimprovisationalinterpretertoadheretotheseconcepts.Perhapsthiswaswhyhewasveryselectivewhen
choosingatenorsaxophonistbecausefewunderstoodhismusicwellenoughtofitcomfortablywithinhisgroupaesthetic.
MonksoriginalarticulationsMonkismscanbeheardinhiscompostionsandhisimprovisations.Thecompositions,characterizedbydisjunctintervals,
wereatypicalfortheirtime.Melodicrhythms(asinStraight,NoChaser)consistedofasinglemelodicmotifthatwasrepeatedandvariedrhythmically
insubsequentmeasureswithdifferentendings.Thecompositionsoftenincludedunexpectedmelodicaccents(likethoseinRhythmning),which
requiredstrictattentiontobeperformedsuccessfully,andthecreativeuseofintervals(asinMysterioso).Monkscombinationofmelodyandsilence
requiredthesoloisttoimprovisefrombothaharmonicandarhythmicpointofview.ThusimprovisationsinMonkstunesoftenfeaturedshort,2or4
barphrasesinsteadofthelongerlinescommonlyheardduringthe1940s1980s.
MonkspianostylewasmoreharmonicandrhythmicthanthelinearstylesofhispeersBudPowellandArtTatum,beingrootedinthestridestyleof
LuckeyRoberts,JamesP.Johnson,andFatsWaller.Monkscompingwasmorepercussivethanhispeers,helaidoutforlongperiods,heusedthe
wholetonescalemoreoftenthanhispeers,hisquotedprimarilyfromhisowncompositionsorimprovisations,clusterswerefeaturedinthemiddleand
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attheendofhiscompositionsandimprovisations,andheaccordedmelodyandsilenceequalimportance.Monksarticulationsareamongthemost
originalandidentifiableeverconceived,distinguishinghimasoneofthetruegeniusesofjazz.
NOTES
1.MonkwasreferringtoFreedomSuite,bySonnyRollins.
2.Arifftuneusesasinglerepeatedmelodicmotifasthebasicconstructofitsmelody.
*****************CITATION**************
BebopToCool:Context,Ideology,andMusicalIdentity
MLA
"TheMusicalLanguageofTheloniousMonk."BebopToCool:Context,Ideology,andMusicalIdentity.Westport,CT:Praeger,2003.TheAfricanAmericanExperience.
GreenwoodPublishingGroup.6May2014.<http://testaae.greenwood.com/doc.aspx?fileID=GM0071&chapterID=GM00711228&path=books/greenwood>
ChicagoManualofStyle
"TheMusicalLanguageofTheloniousMonk."InBebopToCool:Context,Ideology,andMusicalIdentity,Westport,CT:Praeger,2003.TheAfricanAmerican
Experience.GreenwoodPublishingGroup.http://testaae.greenwood.com/doc.aspx?fileID=GM0071&chapterID=GM00711228&path=books/greenwood.(accessedMay6,
2014).
Allrightsreserved.2009ABCClio
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