Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2016

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation examines four albums released by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra in the LP era, highlighting the intertwined roles composition and collaboration play in the realization of the sonic products. The first chapter analyzes 1951s Masterpieces by Ellington, the bands first 12-inch LP and one of the first jazz albums to explore the possibilities of the long-playing record as a medium. I balance discussion of Ellingtons compositional techniques in The Tattooed Bride, an eleven-minute concert work, with an examination of interaction as it occurs on the extended arrangements of three standards that constitute the albums remaining tracks. Chapter 2 looks at Duke Ellington, His Piano, and His Orchestra at the Bal Masque, a 1959 concept album that depicts the Ellington band in the guise of a supper-club orchestra. I look at Ellington and Billy Strayhorns arrangements of the preexisting material for insights into their creative process while also looking at the role of three other collaborators: Dick Vance, an outside arranger contracted for three arrangements on the album; Columbia records producer Irving Townsend, who splices fake applause at the beginning and end of each track to simulate a live recording; and the intended audience, who can choose whether or not to imaginatively engage with the albums simulated concert concept. In Chapter 3, I address The Ellington Suites, a 1976 posthumous release of pieces Ellington wrote to commemorate different people and places. After a detailed look at Ellingtons treatment of compositional parameters in The Queens Suite, I provide a comprehensive history and analysis of Ellingtons place-themed suites, offering a way of using place to hear these pieces as collaborations with members of his orchestra. In the final chapter, I focus on two multimedia collaborations for which Ellington provided the scores: an unfinished documentary film by Sam Shaw on Edgar Degas and a successful ballet choreographed by Alvin Ailey. The last chapter in particular reveals Ellingtons reliance on recording technology as a compositional practice, using tape as a sketchbook to work out, develop, and preserve ideas. Though composition and collaboration may seem opposed, they are reciprocal trajectories in addressing the music of Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Paul Steinbeck

Committee Members

Patrick Burke, Todd Decker, Robert Snarrenberg, Gabriel Solis,


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