"Round Midnight" (1944): Performative Identities Reconsidered

Faculty Sponsor

Katharina Uhde


Arts and Sciences


Music Education

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-28-2022


My research discusses Thelonious Monk's (1917-82) and Miles Davis's (1926-91) famous performance of Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight" (1944), one of the most frequently recorded jazz standards composed by a Jazz musician. This research investigates a performance at Newport on 7/17/1955. This iconic performance initiated a comeback for Davis and the recording made that night shows Monk at his finest in terms of pianistic creativity and musicianship. To this day, however, this performance is "shrouded in myth" (Kelley, 2010). The primary objective of this research is to analyze "Round Midnight" and determine what made this piece an opportune choice for these two players at this particular time; and the secondary objective is to "de-mythologize" this performance -- on the basis of the recording -- by analyzing features of balance, musical chemistry, timbre, and instrumental effects. How did Davis's hazy sound contribute to the record's afterlife? How did Monk's effect-full pianism and skill add to the success of this performance? By pinpointing these aspects, this research throws light on what immortalized this performance of "Round Midnight", thereby concretizing its reception history.