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date: 08 April 2020

Third streamlocked

  • Gunther Schuller


A term coined by Gunther Schuller, in a lecture at Brandeis University in 1957, for a type of music which, through improvisation or written composition or both, synthesizes the essential characteristics and techniques of contemporary Western art music and other musical traditions. At the heart of this concept is the notion that any music stands to profit from a confrontation with another; thus composers of Western art music can learn a great deal from the rhythmic vitality and swing of jazz, while jazz musicians can find new avenues of development in the large-scale forms and complex tonal systems of classical music.

The term was originally applied to a style in which attempts were made to fuse basic elements of jazz and Western art music – the two mainstreams joining to form a ‘third stream’. This style had been in existence for some years, and is exemplified by such pieces as Red Norvo’s ...

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