Identification and analysis of Wes Montgomery’s solo phrases used in ‘West Coast Blues’

Joshua Hindmarsh

The thesis investigates Wes Montgomery’s improvisational style, with the aim of uncovering the inner workings of Montgomery’s improvisational process, specifically his sequencing and placement  of  musical  elements  on  a  phrase  by  phrase basis.  The  material  chosen  for  this project is Montgomery’s composition ‘West Coast Blues’, a tune that employs 3/4 meter and a variety of chordal backgrounds and moving key centers, and which is historically regarded as a breakthrough recording for modern jazz guitar.
The  thesis  reports  on  an  analysis  of  Montgomery’s  4 single  note  choruses  of  ‘West  Coast Blues’,  covering  the  three  categories  of  Harmonic  Elements,  Melody,  and  Rhythmic Diversions. The solo is transcribed from the recording and divided into phrases, which are then  examined  for  harmonic  elements,  element  sequences  and  structural  or  form  devices. Harmonic  elements  are  identified  into  chordal  and  scalar  categories,  and  Montgomery’s rhythmic elements are identified and catalogued. Melodic investigation analyses each phrase according to three categories and these are compared throughout the solo. Montgomery’s use of rhythmic diversions, or instances when the predominant eighth note subdivision is not in effect,  are  identified  and  cataloged.  Finally  structural  devices  such  as  phrase  length  are examined, whereby phrases are compared to the harmonic background for beat placement.

Identification and analysis of Wes Montgomery’s solo phrases used in ‘West Coast Blues’

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