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

Martin Bejerano

Second Committee Member

David Ake

Third Committee Member

John Hart

Fourth Committee Member

Dante Luciani


This paper offers a case study of the iconic jazz bassist Eddie Gomez. By locating his negotiations of timbre within historical and social contexts, and examining how others have interpreted his sound, I show that jazz bass timbre can communicate meanings and facilitate discourses of identity, authenticity, gender, and race. Specifically, I rely on a close hearing of Gomez’s tone on the 1981 recording Three Quartets, framing my analysis in research from the fields of historical musicology, ethnomusicology, African American studies, gender studies, timbral and sound studies, and music phenomenology. In doing so, I portray timbre as a common thread in the stories of jazz musicians, a shared axis of interpretation where musicians, critics, historians, and listeners can either hear or sound their own meanings, thereby further establishing bass timbre as an important hermeneutical vantage point in jazz studies.


jazz bass; double bass; electric bass; timbre; Three Quartets; Eddie Gomez