Torbjörn Gulz vid flygel. Foto: Garry Corbett

Foto: Garry Corbett

Torbjörn Gulz

Torbjörn Gulz focuses in his diessertation work on how improvisation strategies look like for jazz musicians, such as tone, rhythm and tone colour.

Project title: Improvisation Strategies for Jazz Musicians
Third-cycle subject area: Medie and communication technology
Principal supervisor: Prof. Anders Friberg, KTH
Assistant supervisor: André Holzapfel, KTH and prof. Joakim Milder, KMH
Admitted to:
Project period: 2017-2025

Purpose of the dissertation work

The aim is to describe one part of the musical reality that is found behind notations and general music theory models, with available technical tools combined with in-depth interviews.


In the first instance, the main emphasis is placed on investigating rhythmic conditions within musical communication, in the form of microrhythmic that cannot be described in a standard notation.

The microrhythmic analysis is also central to this work's focus on improvisation where a rapid response to changing conditions in the form of harmonic or rhythmic processes is in focus.

In this context, the work will also expand the application of the term “storytelling in jazz”, from describing when a soloist tells a story to an audience to describe the collective conversation in jazz, specifically addressing how the story changes direction when the conditions change.

The delimitation of the work in terms of defining the object of investigation, is furthermore made in order to ensure a high artistic level.

Improvisation is complex to investigate, jazz improvisation is in a wide field where some of the fields are based on defined musical language skills in combination with communicative skills.

The personal expression has always been and will always be a foundation for the musical representation.The goal is to describe the communication as detailed as possible based on existing measurement and to analyse these processes in combination with more straight-on analysis based on jazz theory.

It is also fundamental that, as in other artistic research, the process is an integral part of the work, to enable initiated follow-up of the events that occur both in situations of play/performance as well as in in-depth interviews.

About the PhD student

Torbjörn Gulz is active as a jazz pianist since the early 1990s. At KMH he is a senior lecturer in jazz theory and piano and vice chairman of the education and research committee.

He has been a member of several groups in Stockholm's music life such as:

  • Fredrik Ljungkvist Quartet,
  • Fredrik Norén Band,
  • Jeanette Lindström Quintet,
  • Magnus Broo Quartet,
  • Jonas Kullhammar Quartet,
  • Krister Andersson Quartet,
  • Horncraft,
  • Torbjörn Gulz Trio and
  • Bengt Andersson Quartet.

He participates in about 30 albums, one of which is in his own name and has been touring in 20 countries.

In 2001 his book on jazz arranging was published, a book that is used in universities of music and other schools around Sweden.

Torbjörn also holds a Master of Science from Chalmer University of Technology in Engineering Physics.