Fretboard Navigation Strategies in Jazz Guitar Improvisation Theory and Practice

James Christian Roger Dean

University of Surrey Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Surrey 29/03/2024


This thesis explores how the standard guitar fretboard may be navigated during common-practice jazz improvisation through the analysis of expert practitioners and the construction of relevant theoretical models. Analysis of some representative players is used to develop some novel graphic representations of selected improvisations with a focus on how the fretboard is navigated and to show how an understanding of individual navigations can illuminate ‘fretboard personalities’ from which various navigational strategies can be discovered, extracted and applied for the learner, as well as for purely analytical purposes.  Composed of two main sections – theory and practice – the theory section includes contextual and analytical work, whilst the practice section applies some of the findings of the analysis as a mechanism which can be used for jazz guitar improvisation pedagogy.

Fretboard Navigation Strategies in Jazz Guitar Improvisation: Theory and Practice

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