The Mental Effect of the (Temporary) Tonic

I have decided to share the thesis I wrote for my master’s at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. I would be honoured if it would be read by some with an interest in ear training and music theory and would love to hear from anyone who reads it! Please contact me if you have any questions!


In general, the level of musicianship of (jazz) singers is considered to lag far behind that of their instrumentalist classmates. Are singers somehow not as musical? Or not as interested? Is something different in the approach? Or is the approach not different enough? Looking at what is really needed to be able to improvise in a jazz context according to Frans Elsen, Lennie Tristano, and David Reed (Improvise for Real), and approaching this through John Curwen’s Tonic Sol-fa method, this research is an exploration of a vocal and mental alternative to the pianistic approach of vocal improvisation, that is true to our musical experience.

This link leads to the pdf file: The Mental Effect of the Temporary Tonic – Patricia Wisse