An evaluation of the concept of Third Stream music and its applicability to selected works by Gunther Schuller and Mark-Anthony Turnage

Matthew Styles

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

In a public lecture given by Gunther Schuller in 1957, the term 'third stream music' was suggested as a way of describing the combination of 'first stream music' (Western classical) and 'second stream music' (American jazz) within a musical work. 'Third stream' was proposed as a term to denote the fusion of "... the improvisational spontaneity and rhythmic vitality of jazz with the compositional procedures and techniques acquired in Western music during 700 years of musical development" (Schuller 1986:115). This paper will discuss the separate identity, maturity and validity of the 'third stream' concept through a comparative analysis of two works that might possibly be classified using this proposed term. The chosen pieces are Concertino for Jazz Quartet and Orchestra (1959) by the proposer of the term, Gunther Schuller, and a piece using similar forces, Blood on the Floor (1993-96), by English composer and one-time student of Schuller's, Mark-Anthony Turnage. A brief overview of the pertinent music and literature from the 1930s up until 2001 will begin this discussion and will aid in the investigation of the growth and acceptance of this concept pre- and post- its proposal. Theories of 'generic categorisation' as defined by Robert Pascall (1989), accompanied and supported by Heather Dubrow's idea of generic classification (1982), will also be introduced, which will later be used to test the validity of Schuller's proposed musical genre. Following these historical and analytical discussions, conclusions will be sought as to whether 'third stream music' is a true fusion of styles or a collaboration of jazz and classical music, maintaining their separate identities. Further, in light of the results obtained by the aforementioned discussions and questions, the validity of the concept will then be scrutinised with a view to making conclusions about its possible future usage as a classification tool.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctorate
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008

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