Jazz Vocal Improvisation: The Effect of Role Conflict

Hargreaves, Wendy ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0055-8253 (2013) Jazz Vocal Improvisation: The Effect of Role Conflict. In: Performance Studies Network Third International Conference (2013), 4 Apr - 7th Apr 2013, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

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A recent survey of Australian jazz musicians revealed there is a lower expectation that vocalists will improvise a solo in performance than instrumentalists. Data suggest the lower expectation is likely to emanate from a difference in the perceived role of the musicians. This research report addresses the question of how perceptions of role affect the vocalist’s decision of whether to engage in the creative practice of improvising during jazz performance. The findings suggest role conflict may influence motivation and reduce the likelihood that a singer will scat.

Data for this report were obtained from a two phase study conducted as part of doctoral research at the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University. Phase one surveyed 209 Australian jazz vocalists and instrumentalists, investigating their perceptions and experiences of jazz education and performance. PASW was used to conduct chi square analysis of the datum. Phase two employed qualitative interviews of 22 Australian jazz vocal performers and/or jazz educators in Australian tertiary institutions. NVivo was used to assist the thematic analysis of the datum.

The results from the survey and the interviews generate insight into the improvising jazz vocalist’s experience of role conflict during performance. It reveals that lyric is of central importance to singers. The capability to communicate words fosters an identity as an interpreter of music, story-teller and facilitator of the relationship between performer and audience. The replacement of lyric with scat syllables, however, can disrupt these perceived roles, disturbing some vocalists, instrumentalists and audiences. The role change of the singer from interpreter to improviser generates unique stressors as the perceived boundaries are crossed.

The finding that conflict in perceived role may contribute to a lower frequency of achievement in jazz improvising has significant implications for practice. While this presentation will not incorporate live performance, awareness of this conflict may assist educators in tailoring a classroom environment that directly addresses these stressors. Such adjustments may increase the opportunity for vocalists to engage in improvising and foster their motivation for scat singing in public performances.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Speech)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2022 03:04
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2022 03:04
Uncontrolled Keywords: jazz, improvisation, vocalists, role
Fields of Research (2020): 36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3603 Music > 360302 Music composition and improvisation
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/48947

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