This study examines the process of accompanying the jazz vocalist and explains the performance subtleties inherent in the art form from the pianist’s perspective.
Through interviews of eight pianists, the study specifies differences between instrumental and vocal accompanying and explains how pianists learn and improve upon their accompaniment skills.


The study addresses common issues that arise when working with a vocalist, such as creating appropriate introductions, performing rubato, attention to lyrics, performing in a duo setting, the use of musical texture, chord voicings, avoiding harmonic conflicts with the melody, the improvised solo, transposition and the use of ornamentation with the vocal line. The project examines how an accompanist arranges for and adapts to the each vocalist. Descriptions of musical examples and transcriptions from recordings supplement and illuminate the artist’s comments.


This study finds that there is a difference between being a proficient improviser and a proficient accompanist. The preeminent accompanists are, in essence, co- collaborators with vocalists. There is currently sparse academic study in the area of jazz vocal accompaniment and this project seeks to fill that void.




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