First Advisor

Dahlke, Andrew Richard

Document Type


Date Created



Jazz studies programs have become established within the realm of formal education systems and currently play an increasingly important role in the development of jazz education as well as providing means for jazz students to study improvisation. Among the array of college-level jazz courses such as jazz history, jazz arranging and composition, jazz theory, and jazz ensembles, jazz improvisation sequences are often the focal point within jazz programs. However, as previous researchers have pointed out, jazz improvisation pedagogy is almost exclusively focused on chord/scale systems and harmonic based elements of improvisation. This has led to a pedagogical model that neglects non-harmonic elements of jazz improvisation. Through the analysis of improvisations by Sonny Rollins, Ahmad Jamal, Lee Morgan, and Jim Hall, the following research identifies seven primary rhythmic elements of jazz improvisation (rhythmic variety, time feel and beat placement, syncopation, polyrhythm, rhythmic repetition, rhythmic tension and release, and rhythmic motivic improvisation). Each improviser’s specific use of these rhythmic elements is analyzed in detail. The findings of these four rhythmic analyses are then used to create a series of pedagogical exercises intended to strengthen jazz musicians application of rhythmic elements within improvisation.

Abstract Format



Jazz; Improvisation (Music); Rhythm; Pedagogy


155 pages

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Copyright is held by author.