The Role of Instrumental Technique in Creative Process: Applying the ‘Canadian School of Double Bass’ to Jazz Performance.

Activity: Examination typesThesis Examination


Masters by Research: Master of Music (Performance) M.Mus.

Contemporary research exploring embodiment in music has suggested that creative musical thought is directly linked to a performer’s learnt physical techniques. Within this strain of discourse, it is understood that an improvising musician’s embodied physical techniques play a primary role in informing their creative processes. The implications of this view suggest that subsequent changes or developments to a jazz musician’s physical technique may fundamentally influence the ways in which musical ideas are conceived while improvising. This thesis utilises an innovative combination of practice-led methodologies to explore this phenomenon. At its core, it presents a case study of the author’s attempt to transition to a new way of playing the bass, informed by Joel Quarrington’s The Canadian School of Double Bass. This transition is mapped out through the analysis of improvised arco solos performed over jazz standards. There were a number of technical developments observed following this practice intervention including transformations in hand-frame, an increased use of vertical shifts, extended use of register and improved dexterity. This reformed technical approach affected the physical accessibility of certain intervallic options and appear to have fundamentally impacted the conception and construction of melodic content on a cognitive level. Overall, this thesis aims to challenge the ways in which we analyse the effect of applying new technical methods within the context of jazz improvisation while setting into play a new kind of auto-ethnographic enquiry for studies of performance practice.
PeriodMar 2021
ExamineeSamuel Dobson
Examination held at
  • University of Sydney
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Instrumental Technique
  • Canadian School of Double Bass
  • Double Bass
  • Jazz performance
  • embodiment in music
  • Quarrington
  • improvisation