Ordered Step Motives in Jazz Standards

Keith Salley


The focus of this study is the melodic motive. It uses a tool called the Ordered Step Motive (OSM) to investigate the way linear motives give shape to jazz compositions that have frequently changing tonal centers, nonfunctional chord connections, no clear global tonics, or structurally open, circular forms. This study contributes to the written body of theoretical knowledge about jazz composition by engaging with current scholarship on tonal ambiguity, circular form, and motivic associations between melody and harmonic organization. This study also invites further research into the relationship between common riffs and underlying structure in jazz composition, which may reveal crucial differences between standards written by Broadway and Tin-Pan-Alley composers and those written by practicing jazz musicians.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14713/jjs.v8i2.42


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