Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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What Dreams May Come - Ambient Suite for Jazz Orchestra

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posted on 2021-12-09, 09:36 authored by Williamson, Louisa

What Dreams May Come is a five-movement suite for jazz orchestra, intended to create a calm and relaxing listening experience. The project is inspired by the mystery of dreaming, and it attempts to communicate musical ideas which reflect the relaxed state one is in when sleeping. The aims of What Dreams May Come are to highlight the timbral combinations available in a jazz orchestra and to draw on characteristics of ambient music to give the listener a relaxing atmosphere. This exegesis explores timbre both in music that served as inspiration for this composition and in the composition itself, and it describes how emphasising timbre in my compositional process affected other musical elements of the piece. Chapter 1 explores Brian Eno’s ambient album Ambient 1: Music for Airports, specifically looking at the role of timbre and texture in the album, and at the overall structuring techniques used by Eno on the album to create coherency. Chapter 2 analyses two compositions for jazz orchestra by Maria Schneider, “Nocturne” and “Sea of Tranquility”, examining the role of timbre in the compositions, as well as the ways Schneider uses soft dynamics and harmonic techniques to structure the pieces. These two chapters look into how Eno and Schneider, in different ways, both highlight timbre in their compositional approaches and processes. Each chapter dives deep into timbral and textural analysis, with additional analysis of form and harmony. Chapter 3 reflects on the ways these two composers informed What Dreams May Come, focussing on how I used techniques from Eno and Schneider to challenge myself in composing for jazz orchestra. In the course of the project, I strove to tap into music’s therapeutic qualities, putting this idea at the forefront of my intentions as a composer. Using dreaming as aesthetic and conceptual influence, Brian Eno’s ambient music as inspiration, and Maria Schneider’s compositions as a musical guide, I have been able to produce a work which not only challenges traditional jazz orchestra techniques but also relaxes listeners by complementing their environments.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Music

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Lisik, Dave; Wilson, Dave