Improv Class Schedule

Introduction to Jazz Improvisation

Fall Semester, 2011
Earl MacDonald, Associate Professor
Tuesdays & Thursdays: 10 – 10:50 a.m.  MUSB 109

Aug. 30 (Tues.):
No class.  Ensemble auditions.

Sept. 1 (Thurs.):
Course outline, content & grading explained.  Permission #’s issued.
Topic #1: chord symbol notation: triads & seventh chords.
Topic #2: chordal extensions & alterations.

Sept. 6 (Tues.):
Review & reinforcement: chord construction worksheet
Topic #3: Labeling “voiced” chords.

Sept. 8 (Thurs.):
Homework: chord symbol practice test #1
Topic #4: Learning from recordings.  Transcription techniques, etc.
Assignment: 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 Thurs., Sept. 22nd. Completed transcriptions will be submitted on Thurs., Oct. 20th.  Solos will be performed with and without the recording on Nov. 29th & Dec. 1st.

Sept. 12 (Mon.):
Last day to add / drop courses via online Student Administration System (without additional signatures)

Sept. 13 (Tues.):
Topic #5: the blues: chord progression & harmonic analysis. Blues scale, arpeggiating chords, and improvising with chord tones.
Homework: chord symbol practice test #2

Sept. 15 (Thurs.):
Call and response ear-training exercises.
Practice session: the blues.
Rhythmic displacement of 4-note cells.
Homework: chord symbol practice test #1

Sept. 20 (Tues.):
Quiz: chord symbol notation, identification & labeling.            10%

Sept. 22 (Thurs.):
Deadline for solo transcription selection & approval.
Ear-training exercises.
Topic #6: song forms: AABA, ABAC, AA1 etc.
Practice session: the blues.

Sept. 27 (Tues.):

Topic #7: diatonic seventh chord harmony: major & minor scales.
Topic #8: soloing with thirds, triads & seventh chords as “building blocks”
Practice session: “So What / Impressions”, the blues   

Sept. 29 (Thurs.):
Playing test: the blues.                            15%
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.

Oct. 4 (Tues.):
Topic #9: Chord-scale theory.
Symmetrical scales and diatonic seventh chord harmony, continued.

Oct. 6 (Thurs.):
Chord-scale theory, continued.
“Impressions” / “So What” practice session.
Distribution of “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise”

Oct. 7 (Fri.):

Mid-semester progress reports distributed to students via e-mail.

Oct. 11 (Tues.):
Topic #10: “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise”.
Analysis of song form & harmony.  Scale options.  Recorded examples.   

Oct. 13 (Thurs.):
Playing test: “Impressions” / “So What”                 10%
Know the head.  Outline the form in an obvious manner. Play / build a cohesive 2-chorus solo incorporating: melody, rhythm, and space.  Use 2nds, 3rds, triads, and seventh chords as “building blocks”.  Memorized.  No written music permitted.

Oct. 18 (Tues.):
Topic #11: Articulating dominant chords resolving to I.
V7 to I “licks” and practice techniques.

Oct. 20 (Thurs.):
Deadline for submitting completed solo transcriptions.            5%
Review: chord–scale relationships.
“Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise” practice session.

Oct. 25 (Tues.):
Topic #12: the bebop scale (mixolydian w/ passing tone) and its uses

Oct. 27 (Thurs.):
“Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise” practice session.
The bebop scale, continued: neighbor notes / enclosures.       

Oct. 31 (Mon.):
Last day to drop a course. ☹

Nov. 1 (Tues.):

Playing test: “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise”.            10%
Know the melody and how to apply specific V7 licks in the correct measures.  Improvise 2 choruses, incorporating chord tones, appropriate scales, V7 licks and other addressed concepts.

Nov. 3 (Thurs.):

The bebop scale, continued: neighbor notes / enclosures.           

Nov. 8 (Tues.):
Quiz: chord-scale relationships.                    10%   

Nov. 10 (Thurs.):
Practice session: the bebop scale
Review: chord–scale relationships and diatonic harmony.

Nov. 15 (Tues.):
Practice session: the bebop scale
Analysis of selections from the “standard jazz repertoire”.

Nov. 17 (Thurs.):
Playing test: the bebop scale                         5%

Nov. 20 – 26:        Thanksgiving Recess.

Nov. 29 (Tues.):
Performance of solo transcriptions.
Review for cumulative quiz

Dec. 1 (Thurs.):
Performance of solo transcriptions.                    15%
Review for cumulative quiz

Dec. 6 (Tues.):
Review / requested topics / T.B.A.

Dec. 8 (Thurs.):
Cumulative written quiz.                        10%

Dec. 12 – 17 (Finals):
Cumulative performance test (by appointment)                10%