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"Epistrophy" is a jazz standard composed by Thelonious Monk and Kenny Clarke in 1941.[1][2] It has been called "the first classic, modern jazz composition."[3] It was first recorded later that year, under the title "Fly Right," by a big band led by Cootie Williams.

Its 'A' section is based on a pattern of alternating chords a semitone apart.

The title "Epistrophy" is not a word in any dictionary. However, the word "epistrophe" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "the repetition of a word or expression at the end of successive phrases, clauses, sentences, or verses especially for rhetorical or poetic effect." It is therefore likely that Monk coined the word to mean the use of repeated sounds at the end of a musical line. This corresponds to the term "BeBop" which refers not only to the new style of jazz Monk and others helped to create at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, but to the imitative onomatopoeia of the two-note phrase so often repeated at the end of a 1940s bebop musical line, in which the "bop" is five tones down from the "be."

Recordings & Releases[edit]


  1. ^ Gioa, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. Oxford University Press. p. 101. ISBN 0199937397. 
  2. ^ Kelley, Robin (2009). Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original. Simon and Schuster. p. 69. ISBN 1439190496. 
  3. ^ Anthony Brown, "Modern Jazz Drumset Artistry," The Black Perspective in Music, Vol. 18, No. 1/2 (1990), pp. 39-58