Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English


Liberal Studies

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 64 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

John S Pipkin


Jazz, Jazz musicians, Interpersonal relations, Interpersonal relations and culture, Betrothal, Community music, Improvisation (Music)

Subject Categories

Music | Sociology | Urban Studies and Planning


There is general consensus in urban theory that "community" is good. Nevertheless people in communities may or may not interact to a significant extent with one another nor engage in intertwined social lives, yet tend to claim within-group unity and harmony. A musical model of interaction and engagement may offer a new perspective on the dynamics of community. By listening closely I explore how musicians in small jazz ensembles interact with one another and function during their collective music-making processes and find a set of musical behaviors that exhibits an ideal model for human interaction and engagement in the social world. Comprising both distinct individual and coherent multi-person team expressions, musical improvisational processes consist of contributions of all members of a group acting together despite differences. My present work applies these musical competencies to theories of urban community. As a result I find principles shared between social groups and musical groups. Whether social or musical, building a group depends upon people interacting with one another and engaging in their social lives. This thesis proposes that "abstract categorical work norms" of musical behavior offer new insights into the idea of community and may foster creation of urban realms where different people interact without merging or socially segregating.