Composing the Chimera Suite: Grafting the Conventions of Extreme Metal onto a Jazz Orchestra Setting
The Chimera Suite is a five-movement composition for a modern jazz orchestra augmented with timbres derived from extreme metal. Each movement explores how conventions located in extreme metal can be combined with modern jazz orchestra conventions to create a unique multi-movement suite. While each movement is composed discretely and can stand on its own, the Chimera Suite is intended to be experienced in one continuous sitting, as local and global through-composed forms are used to create thematic unity across the entire suite. Chapter 1 examines the global scenes of jazz and extreme metal, as well as the local Wellington jazz scene through Fabian Holt’s popular genre framework of ‘networks’ and ‘conventions’, and identifies the musical aesthetics that I drew from during the Chimera Suite’s compositional process. In Chapter 2, I analyse extreme metal band Between the Buried and Me’s ‘Silent Flight Parliament’ off their album The Parallax II: Future Sequence, jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan’s ‘The Grid’ and ‘Out of The Grid’, and jazz drummer Dan Weiss’ ‘Annica’. Each of the artists’ works exhibits various musical conventions located in both jazz and extreme metal genres that I observe via the lenses of through-composed form, heaviness, and the dialectic of freedom and control. I analyse my own composition, the Chimera Suite, through the same lenses of through-composed form, heaviness, and the dialectic of freedom and control in Chapter 3, while discussing the ways in which the musical scenes identified in Chapter 1, and the musical inspirations found in Chapter 2, have impact the suite’s conception. Throughout this thesis, I discuss the unique perspectives afforded through this combination of genres that in turn, call into question the defining elements that contribute towards a genre’s identity.