Johnny Hodges: an analysis and study of his improvisational style through selected transcriptions

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Aaron D. Hill (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Steven Stusek

Abstract: This document investigates the improvisational style of Johnny Hodges based on improvised solos selected from a broad swath of his recording career. Hodges is widely considered one of the foundational voices of the alto saxophone, and yet there are no comprehensive studies of his style. This study includes the analysis of four solos recorded between 1928 and 1962 which have been divided into the categories of blues, swing, and ballads, and his harmonic, rhythmic, and affective tendencies will be discussed. Hodges’ harmonic approach regularly balanced diatonicism with the accentuation of locally significant non-diatonic tones, and his improvisations frequently relied on ornamentation of the melody. He demonstrated considerable rhythmic fluidity in terms of swing, polyrhythmic, and double time feel. The most individually identifiable quality of his style was his frequent and often exaggerated use of affectations, such as scoops, sighs, and glissandi. The resulting body of research highlights the identifiable characteristics of Hodges’ style, and it provides both musical and historical contributions to the scholarship.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2021
Analysis, Johnny Hodges, Saxophone, Transcription
Hodges, Johnny $x Criticism and interpretation.
Improvisation (Music)
Blues (Music)
Swing (Music)

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