Educational Resources

Dissertation

The Evolution of Ella Fitzgerald's Syllabic Choices in Scat Singing: A Critical Analysis of Her Decca Recordings: 1943-1952

Abstract: This study examines the evolution of Ella Fitzgerald's scat syllable vocabulary during a key developmental period in her career when she was recording for Decca Records. Between 1943 and 1952, Fitzgerald established the syllabic vocabulary that would serve as a defining characteristic of her improvisational style for the rest of her career. Fitzgerald is commonly praised as the greatest vocal improviser in jazz history, but while much has been written about Fitzgerald's melodic and harmonic approach to jazz improvisation, little has been written about her syllabic approach. Timbre and articulation are considered to be vital elements of any jazz musician's style; the study examines the changes in Ella Fitzgerald's syllabic approach through transcription and analyses of thirteen scat solos recorded during this time period, using scat syllable choices to discuss timbre and articulation. This analysis provides a model for further research of its kind, as well as informing historically accurate performance practice by both teachers and students of jazz singing.

UNT Digital Libraries Page

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Music Theory Resources

 

During the Summer of 2020, Justin undertook a fairly unique project: creating a series of documents providing examples of standard Music Theory and Aural Skills concepts, but highlighting examples from jazz songs written by African American and Latin American composers. Eventually, Justin added a document devoted to examples from Stevie Wonder's music. This resource will continue to expand.

Examples from Jazz Songs by African-American and Latin American Writers

Music Theory Concepts - Jazz Songs by African American and Latin American Writers - 1) Intervals and Suspensions

Music Theory Concepts - Jazz Songs by African American and Latin American Writers - 2) Modes and Mode Mixture

Music Theory Concepts - Jazz Songs by African American and Latin American Writers - 3) Modulation

Music Theory Concepts - Jazz Songs by African American and Latin American Writers - 4) Secondary Dominant Chords, Secondary Leading Tone Chords, and Tri-Tone Substitutions

Music Theory Concepts - Jazz Songs by African American and Latin American Writers - 5) Additional Concepts
Music Theory Concepts - Jazz Songs by African American and Latin American Writers - 6) Contrafacts 

Examples from Rock, Pop, R&B, and Hip Hop

Music Theory Concepts - Stevie Wonder Songs

Music Theory Concepts Extended - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart vs Lil' Nas X

Selected Conference Clinics and Research Presentations

The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Scat Singers (Revisited) - 2021 JENX Online Conference

In this research presentation and paper, Justin revisited the section that I wrote for Diana Spradling's Jazz Singing: Developing Artistry and Authenticity a decade after the fact to see if his conclusions still held up. He also edited the scat solo transcriptions that accompanied the original article.

Research Paper

PowerPoint

If I Don't Scat Sing, How Can I Teach It? - 2020 SWACDA Conference

Presented as part of the Vocal Jazz Immersion Day at the 2020 SWACDA Conference, this session focused on providing teachers uncomfortable with teaching vocal improvisation with tools to help their students succeed.

Clinic Handout

PowerPoint

Vocal Improvisation: It's a Matter of Style - 2020 JEN Conference

In this clinic, Justin discussed the importance of crafting improvised scat solos in a way that made them extensions of the original song, in terms of both melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, and - ultimately - stylistic concepts. He also included sample solos in a variety of styles on the jazz standard "There Will Never Be Another You."

Clinic Handout

PowerPoint

The Ella-Ments of Scat Articulation: Developing Syllabic Vocabulary Through Analysis and Application of Ella Fitzgerald's Improvisational Concepts - 2018 JEN Conference

Justin crafted this clinic, inspired by his Dissertation research, to illustrate different concepts of syllabic groupings in Ella Fitzgerald's scat solos, and also to show how they can be applied in the classroom and the private studio.

Clinic Handout

PowerPoint

How to Perform and Communicate as a Duo Using Guitar Approaches to Vocal Accompaniment - 2018 JEN Conferece (co-presented with John Baboian)

Berklee School of Music Professor of Guitar John Baboian and Justin developed a clinic to discuss the art of the guitar/vocal duo, inspired in large part by master classes that they had given together at the Halewynstichting Jazz Workshop in Belgium.

Clinic Handout

The Evolution of Ella Fitzgerald's Syllabic Choices in Scat Singing: A Critical Analysis of Her Decca Recordings, 1943-1952 - 2017 JEN Conference

In this research presentation, Justin presented the key findings from his Dissertation research at the University of North Texas.

Research Handout

PowerPoint

Miscellaneous Articles and Handouts

"Another You" - Jazz Piano Chord Comping and Bass Line Construction

Crafted for The Jazz Harmony Retreat, this presents a step-by-step guide to comping chord voicings and bass lines on the jazz standard "There Will Never Be Another You" at gradually increasing levels of complexity.

"Another You" - Comping and Bass Lines

Ella Fitzgerald: syllabic choice in scat singing and her timbral syllabic development between 1944 and 1947

The research that eventually led to Justin's Dissertation.

Ella Fitzgerald 1944-1947

Pedagogy for the Jazz Singer

Co-written with Diana Spradling, retired Adjunct Assistant Professor of Voice and Vocal Pedagogy and Founding Director of the Applied Studio Technology Laboratory at Western Michigan University. Published in Choral Journal, Vol. 55, No. 11

Pedagogy for the Jazz Singer