Visa Mertanen

  • Tohtorikoulutettava, S/MuTri-tohtorikoulu1, Sibelius-Akatemia
  • +358406433555

Tutkimus ja julkaisut


Five Aspects to Jazz Synthesizer Improvisation 

-Developing my personal jazz expression on synthesizers and live-electronics by imitating and assimilating recorded examples of five jazz-fusion era synthesizer pioneers 

In my artistic doctoral work I have examined the musical styles of jazz synthesizer pioneers Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, Joe Zawinul, George Duke and Jan Hammer. Despite of their age differences (Zawinul b.1932, Brecker b.1949), these musicians base their expression on thorough understanding of tonal harmonic movement of the bebop/hard bop tradition, but developed modally and chromatically advanced improvising concepts in the process. Common to these musicians is also that they all started their careers on an acoustic instrument and later moved to synthesizer. The main research question is how to develop a recognizable identity for myself as a jazz synthesizer improviser. My main research tool is imitation which has throughout the history been an important part of learning the jazz tradition. This traditional learning process has later been conceptualized as Imitation-Assimilation-Innovation (IAI) studying concept by jazz trumpeter and educator Clark Terry. During first four doctoral concerts I have searched, selected, transcribed, analyzed and performed live both original compositions by the five pioneers and other compositions often performed by them. The last doctoral concert will feature my original jazz fusion music and improvising concept.

In the written work I present an overview of my artistic research process, define important terminology, relate my work to other scholar works on the same subject and present a detailed analysis of five solos (one by each pioneer) by using the IAI learning process. As a result I present possible thinking patterns and musical phenomena (gestures) that I find interesting, inspiring (i.e useful in a live improvising situation) and characteristic for each pioneers improviser identity.