The applications of the Tone Clock in this chapter confirm the utility of its twelve-tone operations and elements for the practice of (composing) improvisers in jazz. They show compositional and improvisational techniques based on characteristic operations both with complete twelve-tone rows and with segments of these rows. In improvisations however the emphasis is more on manipulating these segments, namely the trichords and tetrachords of the Tone Clock hours. From the perspective of my research aim to develop improvisational techniques beyond tonal limitations, these operations with trichords and tetrachords appear to be attractive.
O’Gallagher (2013) provides examples of trichords and trichord combinations with explicit references to tonal colors of scales and chords, by which they are supposed to “blend” with the content characteristics of diatonic phrases. Just like Bergonzi (2000) and Garzone (2009), both discussed in chapter 3, I do not intend to refer to explicit tonal colors although I am aware that I cannot prevent them from emerging spontaneously. Few examples of these references can be found in my suggestions for improvisation in subchapter 4.5 and in the patterns presented in subchapter 4.7. The identification of implied tonal colors depends on the individual performers’ informed intuition (defined in section 3.3.1) and on their intention to deliberately avoid or create tonal connections. In the latter case the twelve-tone operations can be merged with fragments of conventional chord-scale approaches. In this respect I agree with Liebman who likewise expressed the purpose of his chromatic approach as “… to integrate this material alongside already established and familiar tonal ideas … into a coherent musical statement to satisfy both the intellectual and emotional needs of artistic creation" (Liebman 2013: 9).
The process of learning twelve-tone improvisational idioms is at large comparable with the traditional language acquisition of a jazz student. It includes the creation and manipulation of patterns as deep structures for "spontaneous" variations. Most jazz musicians are familiar with this learning strategy from the day they started to develop their improvisational skills. Similarly, this application of variation techniques is meant to enrich one's “backpack” with a choice of individual patterns that, after being securely memorized, will pop up “spontaneously” during improvisations. However, due to the absence of a substantial body of existing examples, developing twelve-tone skills will appeal more to the student’s individual curiosity than to his imitation and emulation of existing examples.
Beside the fruitful application of the Tone Clock as a model to generate interesting melodic patterns, its quality as an analytic tool also helps the (composing) improviser to enrich his artistic palette by applying interventions to existing repertoire. In subchapter 1.4.2, I explained how I re-composed two jazz standards into contrafacts as a step to develop my personal sound. How trichord analysis likewise can help to re-compose a diatonic melody I demonstrated in subchapter 3.7.2, with my transformation of Parkers “Quasimodo” into the contrafact “Quasi Mad Though”. There, I also showed how existing chord changes can be re-composed by twelve-tone ordered successions of alternative chord changes. The reharmonization of Davis’ “Tune Up” becoming the harmonic structure of “Count Your Blessings” can be considered as a convincing example. Next, in my discussion of Liebman’s “Invocation” I have shown how trichord analysis can be successfully applied to identify complex simultaneities that result from multiple contrapuntal lines and how such analysis can serve as a thoughtful point of departure for improvisations.
One could argue that trichordal analysis leads to a simplification of the complex web of intervallic structures in a composition or improvisation. It is obvious that selecting trichords, and reducing them to their prime form, neglects the surface of the music with its complexity of distinguishing features as registers, texture, tempo, rhythm, and dynamics. But it is also obvious from the transcriptions of the improvised fragments in this chapter that experienced (composing) improvisers are not at all tied down by this simple format in the deep structures of their musical grammar.
The theory of the Tone Clock strives for simplicity instead of complexity, allowing the performer to freely employ its “self-explaining quality” that Schat considered as “the most important requirement for a ‘common language’” (Schat 1998: 44). Thus it appears not only a useful, but also an easily accessible tool to embed twelve-tone techniques in the improvisational languages of contemporary jazz artists. By its limited number of intervals and orderings it looks like a relatively simple musical grammar that can be quickly memorized, without the compulsions and restrictions of a complex arithmetical system, but with the basic elements and operations of the twelve-tone system. Tonal references can be avoided or easily obscured by the twelve-tone techniques in its DNA, giving priority to orderings of notes and intervals above their tonal meanings. The next chapter highlights a compositional technique combining serial elements with tonal elements that are more obvious: Messiaen’s modes of limited transpositions.