Title page for ETD etd-0118103-203326

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Martin, Patricia A
URN etd-0118103-203326
Title The Solo Style of Jazz Clarinetist Johnny Dodds: 1923 - 1938
Degree Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)
Department Music
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Steve Cohen Committee Chair
Richard Warge Committee Member
Wallace McKenzie Committee Member
William Grimes Committee Member
William Ludwig Committee Member
Willis Deloney Committee Member
  • jazz
  • clarinet
Date of Defense 2002-12-16
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this study is to explore the personality, background, influence and playing style of Johnny Dodds (1892-1940), a New Orleans jazz clarinetist.

Jazz is an art form that has been passed down aurally for over a hundred years. Although the development of jazz and the performers who played it have been the subject for numerous jazz historians, there are still scant resources available for a musician to learn jazz clarinet style. The ease with which a musician can emulate an early jazz clarinetist depends on the amount of time devoted to listening and emulating whatever recordings are available. This study is an attempt to shorten this learning process by providing a series of transcriptions and analyses that identify and document specific melodic and harmonic traits that form the solo vocabulary of Johnny Dodds.

The infusion of blues-playing techniques that Dodds used gave his sound an emotional intensity and expressiveness uniquely his own. As a member of many of the finest New Orleans style jazz bands, he contributed to the early development of the classical New Orleans ensemble-style jazz.

The first chapter contains related prefatory material, including a brief history of jazz and its first recordings, an analysis of the difficulty in assessing particular clarinet jazz styles, and the need to provide written study materials for musicians who wish to learn early jazz clarinet styles. It concludes with reasons for picking Johnny Dodds as the subject of this study and brief descriptions of the pieces that will be transcribed.

The second chapter focuses on Johnny Dodds. It describes how he grew up, how music and the clarinet became a part of his life, and the social, economic and educational influences that impacted his development as a musician,

The third chapter contains examples from the analyses of each of the six recordings noted chapter one. Each analysis contains details showing how Johnny Dodds gave this piece his own stylistic interpretation.

The fourth chapter contains a summary of the preceding three chapters. A transcription of the clarinet part from each analysis is contained in the appendix.

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