Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Studio Music and Jazz (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Gary Lindsay

Second Committee Member

John Daversa

Third Committee Member

John Hart

Fourth Committee Member

Charles Mason


It has been argued that a distinctive European big band sound began to emerge in the second half of the 20th century and has continued to develop over the following decades. As of this writing, however, only one book – in German – attempts to address the idea of a contemporary European big band approach, and no known publications are extant in the English language that specifically analyze works solely of contemporary European big band composers. With this in mind, this essay explores the music, compositions, and arranging styles of the following influential contemporary European composers: Peter Herbolzheimer, George Gruntz, Kenny Wheeler, Helge Sunde, and Florian Ross. The author identifies specific techniques, compositional trends, and influences that make these writers unique to the European continent. These findings are then applied in the creation of three extended jazz compositions totaling approximately 35 minutes in length and the author enumerates how these techniques and concepts were incorporated.


European Big Band; Jazz Arranging; Jazz Composition; Jazz; Big Band