A Deep Joy Inside It: The Musical Aesthetics of Keith Jarrett

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2005-08-09

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Keith Jarrett is an American pianist whose music and aesthetics stand out as dynamic, polarizing forces not only in jazz, but within the entire contemporary American musical world. The breadth of Jarrett's musical activities, crossing jazz, classical, and even "world music" boundaries, is unprecedented, yet his name is rarely mentioned outside of jazz. Aside from one biography and a handful of dissertations, academic writing dealing with Jarrett is scant.

Jarrett's philosophical justifications for his music offer a rare example of a creative musician unafraid to grapple publicly with self-analysis. His aesthetics fall squarely within the lineage of American musical "individualists," and this thesis draws comparisons to Charles Ives and American Transcendentalism. Through an examination of Jarrett's writings and interviews, this thesis examines: 1) the nature of his aesthetics, 2) possible origins of these ideas, and 3) how Jarrett's music does or does not correspond with his stated philosophies.

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