Rik Cornelissen, PhD in the Arts

The list of accordionists working within or close related to the field of jazz music and improvisation isn’t long. Also, the development of the instrument and repertoire is still in progress and have had an impressive spurt in the last 70 years, although the research literature is limited and related to jazz even absent. The lack of using the highly developed free-bass system within jazz music, and seeing the harmonic and melodic potential of this invention, became my motivation for this research.

Although the almost exclusive use of standard bass in jazz music is explainable within the tradition of the instrument and its role within the genre, the system has its limits. My goal is to map the use of the accordion through the history of jazz and improvisation, investigate the role of the left hand and implement the free-bass.

From a performers’ and composers’ perspective I will focus on the following research questions:

  • How is the instrument used throughout history? And how is the use of the accordion related to the other band members and to other instruments?
  • How functions the standard bass? And how can it be translated to free-bass? What new options are generated by using free-bass?
  • And how can the sound of both hands be merged while exploring new paths?
  • Supervisor: Dr. Carl Van Eyndhoven (KU Leuven / LUCA)

Research unit Music & Drama

Duration: 2020 - 2024