Today's post is a response to Craig's comment on yesterday's post - This asked me what I thought of the concept of viewing "melody as rhythm" and the hierarchy of melody/harmony/rhythm in Western music.
My honest answer is that I don't know yet... I am storing up a collection of ideas that I wish to explore with new compositions - once my PhD is written up. (See various previous posts.)
I definitely get the concept of Parker's bebop tunes making more sense as rhythmic material than as conventional developments of an initial melodic motif. There is a Dizzy Gillespie story of him always improvising by thinking of new ideas as rhythms and then hanging notes on these rhythms. Especially in a bebop situation where the harmonic material is a given (usually the chord changes borrowed from a jazz standard). with harmonies changing every 2 or 4 beats within a 12 or 32 bar structure.
A classical composer (either Satie or Stravinsky - I can't remember exactly) - would often compose the rhythmic structure of sections of a piece before assigning notes to these rhythms. I think this is way of getting the neo-classical "wrong-note" harmonies to work... The rhythms make sense even though the notes are "wrong".
As far as Andrew Hill's Time Lines album goes: This seems to consist of lots of rubato loosely imitative trumpet and clarinet/sax lines over piano washes and drum and bass busy-ness. An interesting effect to use for short periods, but not an idea I would want to over-use. I just find that the lack of any clear pulse means that the rubato lines float in mid-air rather than pushing and pulling against the beat. This lacks any real energy and it just ends up sounding busy for no real reason - a case of much ado about nothing. Not really my cup of tea.
NB: I have just ordered his 21 Piano Compositions -
to see how it looks on the page... (And to see if my aural analysis is correct!)
Any more comments gratefully received...