John Coltrane as a composer


  • Christa Bruckner-Haring University of Music and Performing Arts of Graz



Coltrane, composer, composition, work


John Coltrane is mainly known as a jazz musician and excellent improviser, but he is also generally recognised as one of the great jazz composers. In this paper, an overview of Coltrane’s compositional works will be presented in the form of a comprehensive analysis of the composed themes of 55 selected recordings. These pieces have thoroughly been analysed regarding structure and form, harmony, rhythm and melody. The principal aim of this paper is to explore Coltrane’s basic compositional techniques. Regarding the main objective of this paper, the results of the overall musical analysis lead to the following categorisation: A. Blues pieces: pieces in common blues forms with the main characteristic of the subdominant in bar five. B. Pieces with functional harmony: functional relationship of chords with the main characteristic of a V7–I progression. C. Modal pieces: modal playing based on a few chords (or scales) without a V7–I functional relationship as main characteristic. The different types of Coltrane’s works, their specific characteristics and the applied compositional techniques will be demonstrated by discussing selected representative examples.

Author Biography

Christa Bruckner-Haring, University of Music and Performing Arts of Graz

Research assistant Institute for Jazz Research


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How to Cite

Bruckner-Haring, C. (2009). John Coltrane as a composer. Jazz Research Journal, 2(2), 133–153.




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