Cultural identity and transnational heritage in contemporary jazz: a practice-based study of composition and collaboration
  This study focuses on three albums of original music performed and recorded by the author as the leader of the Haftor Medbøe Group and released variously by Linn Records and Fabrikant Records between 2006 and 2010.

Through the prisms of historiography, community and boundary, cultural migration, and collaboration, the thesis explores creative identity and practice as formatively and summatively applied in the realisation of the published works. The thesis employs personal reflection on the composition and performance of the published works to present an account of evolving engagement with current and historical thinking on narrative, trope and identity in jazz music and its communities.
The discussion will challenge accepted constructions of linear, canonical history in jazz, offering instead a pluralist understanding of its stylistic and aesthetic development over the past century. The assumptive and selective modalities through which jazz histories and practices are collectively constructed will be viewed in parallel with the author’s retrospective understanding of personal creative history and cumulative identity.

The imagining of global, national and local communities of jazz production and reception will be examined in relation to their influence on the cultural positioning of the author as a jazz composer and performer. In looking beyond historical perceptions of jazz as an instrument of American cultural diplomacy and dominance, it will be shown that the European adoption of the musical language of jazz has, using the example of Nordic Tone, given rise to discrete reinterpretations and divergences from the genre’s ethnic roots. The role of national identity in non-American conceptions of jazz is consequently examined in the context of the author’s experience of creative and collaborative practice through the published works.

It will be argued that in spite of being culturally rooted in early 20th Century America, jazz has become a ‘glocally’-informed music, with locally and individually framed values of genre authenticity and guardianship extant alongside traditionalist claims to heritable lineage. Through considering and
reflecting on cultural and national identities and communities, the thesis will demonstrate that musical practice and collaboration are informed and affected by complex conscious and subconscious relationships with these themes, that are ultimately synthesised in the published works.

  • Dates:

    2011 to 2013

  • Qualification:

    Doctorate (PhD by published works)

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