The Exotic Rhythms of Don Ellis
In May 2002, I completed and submitted The Exotic Rhythms Of Don Ellis, a dissertation submitted to The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA).
The complete dissertation may be downloaded for free as an Adobe Acrobat file by clicking here (4.5MB):
Please note that Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view this document.
Bound copies of this document are available for $50 plus shipping. Please contact me directly to request a hard copy.
This dissertation examines the rhythmic innovations of jazz musician and composer
Don Ellis (1934-1978), both in Ellis's theory and in his musical practice. It begins with a brief biographical overview of Ellis and his musical development. It then explores the historical development of jazz rhythms and meters,
with special attention to Dave Brubeck and Stan Kenton, Ellis's predecessors in the use of "exotic" rhythms. Three documents that Ellis wrote about his rhythmic theories are analyzed: "An Introduction to Indian
Music for the Jazz Musician" (1965), The New Rhythm Book (1972), and Rhythm (c. 1973). Based on these sources a general framework is proposed that encompasses
Ellis's important concepts and innovations in rhythms. This framework is applied in a narrative analysis of "Strawberry Soup" (1971), one of Don Ellis's most
rhythmically-complex and also most-popular compositions. The dissertation is dedicated to Hank Levy (1928-2001).
TABLE OF CONTENTS