Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn

Learning Objective
An in-depth confrontation with the repertory, idioms, composition and arranging techniques of Ellington and Strayhorn. Development of text reading skills. Introduction to methods and techniques from historiography. Introduction to jazz scores and original autograph scores.

Course Description
Duke Ellington is generally seen as one of the most important jazz composers of the 20th century. He left an impressive oeuvre, preserved on hundreds of recordings. In addition, numerous original autograph scores have survived. By reading selected chapters from the extensive literature on Duke Ellington, listening to exemplary recordings, studying published scores, autographs, and transcriptions, and viewing relevant videos the student will be offered a view on a multi-faceted and enigmatic musician. We will also study the collaboration between Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. The latter was a barely visible but driving force behind the orchestra. The different ways in which the repertory of the Ellington orchestra has been discussed over the years, provide a view on the changing reception of jazz. 

Course Details

teacher Walter van de Leur
term January-May 2024; Wednesdays
method of instruction Weekly group seminars
assignments Each student weekly studies the required literature. A minimum 80% attendance is mandatory (but students are expected to follow all classes, i.e., 100%).
assessment Each student will at least give one presentation on a sub-topic from Ellingtonia, such as a sideman (e.g., Cootie Williams), an instrument (e.g., the trombone) a section (e.g., the reeds), a sub-repertory (e.g., The Far-East Suite), an aspect from composition-techniques (e.g., form), or a sociological aspect (e.g., Ellington as representative of African Americans).
credits 5