Ambient sound and onomatopoeia in jazz


The defining feature of the harmonical component of contemporary jazz is sonority that underlines spatiality. In jazz, it first appeared in 1950s, mostly thanks to the progressive approaches of Miles Davis and his innovative principles based on the then-newly rediscovered modal music. In the continuum of jazz style transformations, a new trend appeared at the turn of the millenia. Under the auspices of ECM publishing house, American and European musical traditions amalgamate in a globalised world to create a solid basis for the new, both local and global, trends that form today’s jazz language. This trend also brought new particularities into jazz harmony, which is looked at more closely in this study. One of the most significant personalities who contributed to the formation of the onomatopoeic harmonic language of jazz is American guitar player Bill Frisell. His compositional and improvisational style is analysed, along with a closer look at the musical premises he respected, and related to the music of European descent in order to present a viewpoint on the principles that form the basis of harmonic onomatopoeia in jazz.