Volume 8, January 2017
Revolution in Action: A Motivic Analysis of "Ghosts: First Variation" As Performed by Gary Peacock

by Robert Sabin, Ph.D.

Abstract: Avant-garde jazz of the1960s was characterized by rapidly expanding technical virtuosity and a dynamic individualism. Bassist Gary Peacock stands out in this era as a central collaborator to many of the iconic yet comparatively more documented jazz artists of the decade. By using a multi-dimensional motivic analysis of Peacock's performance on the seminal Albert Ayler Trio recording "Ghosts," a snapshot of this singular virtuosity comes into view, illuminating many of the innovative improvisation techniques that comprised his idiom. These techniques can be examined with regard to specific multidimensional motivic relationships characterized by rapidly changing expressive use of tempo, rhythm, melodic content, and ensemble interaction. Specifically addressed in the analysis is Peacock's unique application of disjunct tempo shifts and polyrhythm, along with stylistic breaks from common practice harmonic and melodic devices. The uncommon technical demands involved in the performance's execution will be highlighted with new notational methods that allow the representation of a performance that has previously defied conventional notational restrictions.

1. Background

2. Methodology

3. Ghosts: First Variation Overview

4. Tempo Motives

5. Melodic Motives

6. Interactions and Overlap

7. Climax

8. Conclusions



About the Author