First Advisor

Dahlke, Andrew

Second Advisor

Hall, James

Document Type


Date Created



Rhythm is largely noted as a defining characteristic of jazz, yet as jazz education has gained a more prominent role in higher education, course time and materials dedicated to rhythmic training remain scarce. As previous research has demonstrated, there is an abundance of resources and methods that emphasize harmonic elements, focusing largely on chord/scale relationships; this prevalence of materials dedicated to harmony only serves to highlight the paucity of resources related to rhythm. This study seeks to develop exercises that can supplement harmonic exercises and concepts to aid educators and performers in gaining a broader understanding of rhythm, while bolstering a performer’s rhythmic vocabulary. This is accomplished by analyzing rhythmic characteristics of West African ensemble music, the influence this music had on the development of jazz, and how the rhythmic characteristics have been manifested in modern jazz. West African ensemble music was selected because of its noted correlation on the development of jazz, as well as for the practicality the characteristics have on applying to jazz and improvised music. From this analysis, exercises were developed that can be included in classroom or applied instruction.


Jazz, Pedagogy, Rhythm


136 pages

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Copyright is held by the author.