Intro To Jazz Improvisation: Class Schedule

Class #: MUSI 1601, section 1
Semester: Spring 2019
Meeting times: Mondays & Wednesdays, 11:15 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.
Class Room: MUSB 109
Instructor: Earl MacDonald, Professor of Music & Director of Jazz Studies
Office Hours: Mondays, 10 – 11AM; Wednesdays, 12:05 – 1PM, and by appointment (room MUSB 207)


Jan. 23 (Wed.):

Course outline, content, office hours & grading explained.
Topic #1: chord symbol notation: triads & seventh chords.
Topic #2: chordal extensions & alterations.
* Print and study the PDF attachments. Complete the homework practice assignments (found at the bottom of the topical web pages).

Jan. 28 (Mon.):

Instructor will be out of town. No class. View the following online lesson and complete the attached, outlined assignment.
Topic #3: labeling “voiced” chords

Jan. 30 (Wed.):

Instructor will be out of town. No class. Review the three previous online lectures, accompanying PDFs and assignments.  Complete the following practice test and correct your own work, using the answer key. Be prepared to request clarification on Feb. 4th.
Homework: chord symbol practice test #1,  [answer key]

Feb. 4 (Mon.):

Add/Drop via Student Administration System closes. Courses added or dropped after this date require additional signatures. Dropped courses will have a “W” for the withdrawal recorded on the academic record.
Topic #4: Learning from recordings.
Reading: 1) Why transcribe? 2) Transcription techniques
Assignment: Transcription Project — Transcribe, learn and memorize 2 choruses (minimum) of the blues from a recording of your choice, approved by Prof. MacDonald. Due dates: Solos must be selected & approved by Feb. 18th. Completed transcriptions will be submitted on March 13th. Solos will be performed with and without the recording on April 22nd & 24th.

Feb. 6 (Wed.):

Topic #5: the blues: chord progression & harmonic analysis. Blues scale, arpeggiating chords, chord tone patterns, and improvising with chord tones.
Sonny Moon for Two” and blues worksheets distributed.
Homework: chord symbol practice test #2, [answer key]

Feb. 11 (Mon.):

Call and response ear-training exercises.
Practice session: the blues.
Rhythmic displacement of 4-note cells.
Homework: chord symbol practice test #3, [answer key]

Feb. 13 (Wed.):

Quiz: chord symbol notation, identification & labeling. (10%)
The quiz will be administered by a proctor, as the instructor will be absent, adjudicating the Manchester High School Jazz Festival.

Feb. 18 (Mon.):

Deadline for solo transcription selection & approval.
Ear-training exercises.
Topic #6: song forms: AABA, ABAC, AA1 etc.
tunes: Satin Doll, Oleo, Anthropology, Just Friends, It’s You Or No-one, On Green Dolphin Street

Introduction to “So What” and “Impressions.” [iTunes play-a-long download link]
Practice session: the blues.

Feb. 20 (Wed.):

Topic #7: diatonic seventh chord harmony: major & minor scales.
Topic #8: soloing with thirds, triads & seventh chords as “building blocks” – C major (concert pitch), D major (Bb transposition), A major (Eb transposition), C major in bass clef.
Practice session: “Impressions,” the blues

Feb. 25 (Mon.):

Playing test: the blues (10%)
key:  Bb concert. Memorized. No written music permitted. Perform “the head,” arpeggios (up & down), chord-tone patterns, the blues scale. Solo with: 1) half notes and quarters, using chord-tones, 2) the blues scale, 3) seventh chord arpeggios with eighth notes.

Feb. 27 (Wed.):

Mid-semester progress reports issued to students.
Topic #9: Chord-scale theory.
Diatonic seventh chord harmony (continued) and symmetrical scales (chromatic, whole tone, diminished, augmented)
“Impressions” practice session.

Mar. 4 (Mon.):


Mar. 6 (Wed.):

“Impressions” practice session.
Topic #10:Blue Bossa” [download “Solar Flair” on iTunes]
Analysis of song form & harmony.  Recorded examples. Chordal arpeggiation.

Mar. 11 (Mon.):

“Blue Bossa”: scale options: Chord-scale relationships, applied to “Blue Bossa”
Topic #11: Articulating dominant chords resolving to I.
V7 to I “licks” and practice techniques.

Mar. 13 (Wed.):

Playing test: “Impressions” (15%)
Know the head. Outline the form in an obvious manner. Play/build a cohesive 2-chorus solo incorporating: melody, rhythm, and space. Demonstrate 2nds, 3rds, triads, and seventh chords and use as “building blocks.” Memorized. No written music permitted.

Mar. 16 – 23: Spring Recess

Mar. 25 (Mon.):

Deadline for submitting completed solo transcriptions. (5%)
chord–scale relationships.
“Blue Bossa” practice session: chord tone arpeggiation/improv., V7 to I resolutions
Topic #12: Triadic Upper Extensions

Mar. 27 (Wed.):

“Blue Bossa” practice session: chord tone arpeggiation/improv., V7 to I resolutions, triadic upper extensions

March 30 (Sat.):

Emergency closing class make-up date

Apr. 1 (Mon.):

NASM reaccreditation site visit.
Last day to drop a course.
Topic #13: motivic sequencing & development
“Blue Bossa” practice session

Apr. 3 (Wed.):

Review: chord–scale relationships and diatonic harmony.
“Blue Bossa” practice session.

Apr. 8 (Mon.):

Quiz: chord-scale relationships. (10%)

Apr. 10 (Wed.):

Topic #14: pentatonic scale improvisation
“Blue Bossa” practice session.

Apr. 15 (Mon.):

Applying triadic upper extensions, V7 licks, and pentatonic scales to other songs.
Analysis of selections from the standard jazz repertoire.
“Blue Bossa” practice session.

Apr. 17 (Wed.):

Playing test: “Blue Bossa” (15%)
Know the melody and how to apply specific V7 licks in the correct measures. Improvise 2 choruses, incorporating chord tones, triadic upper extensions, appropriate scales, V7 licks, motivic sequencing & development and other addressed concepts.

Apr. 22 (Mon.):

Playing test: Performance of solo transcriptions (15%)
Review for cumulative quiz

Apr. 24 (Wed.):

Playing test: Performance of solo transcriptions
Review for cumulative quiz

Apr. 29 (Mon.):

Cumulative written quiz (10%)

May 1 (Wed.):

Requested topics, TBA

May 6 – 11: UConn’s final examination period
Cumulative performance test, by appointment (10%)

Comments are closed.