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This document presents a method of jazz instruction that synthesizes elements of the jazz language with traditional Chinese folk songs. This research first analyzes the characteristics of Chinese folk songs, such as the melodies, rhythms, and pentatonic features. An overview of Chinese jazz history indicates that the lack of resources, educational opportunities, and differences in cultural music performance practice contribute to the stunted growth of jazz education in China. Since Chinese folk songs are pervasive in Chinese culture, they offer an appropriate source on which to apply idiomatic jazz elements, such as swing feel, chromaticism, enclosures, blue notes, syncopations, anticipations, blues form, rhythm changes, modal changes, and basic reharmonization to provide Chinese students an excellent opportunity to understand jazz practices, jazz language, and jazz harmony. Moreover, because these songs are so well known that even with manipulation and alteration, the novice Chinese jazz musician will still be aware of the original melodies. To demonstrate this synthesis, this document provides five jazz etudes to demonstrate how jazz elements can be incorporated in Chinese folk songs.
Advisor: Dr. Paul Haar