Thomas Pynchon Discography

Auditory sensations like all others it seems play a part in Pynchon's work. Here collected is some of his omnivorous taste in musical surroundings, with some commentary on the musical theory behind Thomas Pynchon's choice of jazz.

Collection of Cited Works
Random pieces from a wide collection of origins that have received the nod from Thomas Pynchon in works or interviews.
Jazz In Pynchon
Musical analysis of the significance of Pynchon's choices of various pieces and elements of jazz music throughout his works.

Collection of Cited Works

  • "Free Jazz", Free Jazz,Ornette Coleman Double Quartet
  • "Begin the Beguine", Music From the Motion Picture Soundtrack the Rocketeer
  • "The National Anthem", Soundtrack to Baseball
  • "Django", Modern Jazz Quartet, In Concert
  • "William Tell Overture", Clockwork Orange Soundtrack, Rossini
  • "Om Part I", Om, John Coltrane
  • "Fables Of Faubus", Ah Um, Charles Mingus
  • "Over the Rainbow", The Best of the Decca Years Vol. I, Judy Garland
  • "Minnie the Moocher", Best of the Big Bands, Cab Calloway
  • "I Left My Heart In San Francisco", Essence of Tony Bennet, Tony Bennet
  • "San Antonio Rose", Classic Western Swing, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys
  • "I'll Remember April", The Modern Jazz Quartet, The Modern Jazz Quartet

  • Free Jazz in Pynchon

    "'What he is trying to say,' Duke said, 'is no root chords. Nothing to listen to while you blow a horizontal line. What one does in such a case is, one thinks the roots.' A horrified awareness was dawning on Meatball. 'And the next logical extension,'he said. 'Is to think everything,' Duke announced with simple dignity. 'Roots, line, everything.'"("Entropy", Slow Learner p. 94-5).

    McClintic Sphere "played disregarging chord changes completely"(V., p.60).

    The style of music to which these passages explicitly refer is called "free jazz". Free jazz musicians tended to concentrate on the texture of the sound rather than any melody. They were looking to escape from the restrictions of following any pre-detrmined chord progressions. Most free jazz groups therefore omitted piano because it was the pianist who traditionally supplied the chord progressions.

    Ornette Coleman is usually considered the father of free jazz. His 1960 album, Free Jazz, did much to popularize this style. Coleman was "a saxophonist who specialized in improvising with no preset harmonies at all. He would spontaneously introduce tone centers and then work from that, then shifted to another center, then another"(Jazz Styles, p.274).

    John Coltrane's free music involved "simultaneous collective improvisations and the creation of frantic turbulence that emphasized textures more than development of melodic improvised lines"(Jazz Styles, p.263). His album, Om, was meant to approximate the beginning of life and the development of sound which began with the utterance of "om"; the first sound vibration which began the universe and all life.

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