Preferred Name

Amy Birdsong

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


School of Music


Stephen P. Bolstad

Chuck Dotas

Eric Guinivan


Within the world of instrumental music there tends to be strict adherence to styles and genres that have historically been connected to a standard collection of instruments. Wind ensembles are expected to perform contemporary art music, orchestral transcriptions, or military marches, with little expectation of individual creative interpretation. Jazz ensembles, or “big bands,” are expected to perform styles of music such as “swing,” which cannot be properly notated using western notation, while also being rigidly glued to reduced instrument choices, repetitive chord cycles and standard song forms. While wind ensemble performers are confined to read and perform all aspects of the composer’s intentions through strict adherence to western notation, big band musicians receive individual and collective freedom to play by ear, improvise, and read standard notation as well as chord symbols. Few wind composers elect to cross streams and infuse attributes of the jazz world into their compositions for wind ensemble. Alternately, jazz composers tend to adhere to the limitations of standard big band instrumentation and forms rather than expanding their orchestration palette to include the almost limitless timbre combinations and larger swath of forms available to the wind ensemble composer. Jazz composer and bandleader Maria Schneider frequently abandons the song form trends of her jazz predecessors and contemporaries. She writes for expanded instrumentation and programmatic or through-composed scores to set her jazz compositions apart. By arranging two jazz works by Maria Schneider for wind ensemble, one can see the value of cross-pollinating historical compositional approaches from the jazz idiom into art music of the contemporary wind ensemble, while adding the value of increased diversity in the wind repertoire



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