Jazz Composition

Course Outline, Schedule and Assignments
Course #: MUSI 3331, section 1.  One credit.
Instructor: Earl MacDonald

Text Book: “Jazz Composition: Theory & Practice” by Ted Pease.  Berklee Press.
ISBN 978-87639-001-6

During the course of the semester, we will work our way through the text book and it’s exercises. A week-by-week schedule of assignments is attached to correspond with the 14-week semester. Students will also be expected to listen to two, complete jazz albums per week and blog about their musical observations. Blog entries do not have to be exceedingly long (approximately 3 paragraphs would be acceptable). Include the recording date, personnel and instrumentation. Points of discussion could include general impressions, orchestration techniques, the rhythm section’s role, song forms, harmonic considerations, song descriptions/summaries, and ideas you might wish to copy or further explore in your own work as a composer.

It is important for developing composers to hear their music. Your new pieces will be rehearsed and performed in Music Convocation.

Schedule and Assignments:

Week 1: Introduction, Orientation & Review

  • http://earlmacdonald.com/jazz-piano-lessons/triads-7th_chords
  • http://earlmacdonald.com/jazz-piano-lessons/chordal-extensions-alterations
  • http://earlmacdonald.com/jazz-piano-lessons/labeling-voiced-chords

Week 2: Melodic Considerations

  • melodic rhythm, scale resources, interval patterns, melodic variation via modal interchange
  • assignments: p. 3, 7, 13 – 15, 17
  • listening/blog: Art Blakey – Caravan, Bill Holman – Big Band In Jazz Orbit

Week 3: Motivic Devices

  • melodic repetition, sequence, motivic transformation, motivic embellishment, motifs based on intervallic patterns, melodies based on guide tones, melodies based on compound lines
  • assignments: p. 22 – 25, 27, 29, 32 – 33
  • listening/blog: Vanguard Jazz Orchestra – Thad Jones Legacy, Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage

Week 4:

  • antecedent and consequent phrases, pitch contour and range, apex, melodic tension
  • assignments: p. 36, 40 & 41, 43, 45
  • listening/blog: Miles Davis – Milestones, Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um

Week 5: Harmonic Considerations

  • tonal harmony, modal harmony
  • assignments: p. 55, 56, 60 – 61, 72 – 75
  • listening/blog: Miles Davis – Kind of Blue, Count Basie – Straight Ahead

Week 6:

  • modal interchange, chromatic harmony, harmonic rhythm, modulations, ostinato, slash chords, pedal point and constant structures
  • assignments: p. 79, 86, 87, 89, 93
  • listening/blog: Clifford Brown – Study In Brown, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra – Up From The Skies

Week 7:

  • pedal point and pandiatonicism, harmonization, reharmonization
  • assignments: p. 96, 101 – 103, 107 – 108
  • listening/blog: Kenny Wheeler – Music For Large & Small Ensembles (2 discs)

Week 8: Blues and Song Form

  • the blues – harmonic form and melodic form
  • assignments: p. 123 – 124
  • listening/blog: John Coltrane – Love Supreme, Art Farmer / Jay Jay Johnson – The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson. Volume 1.

Week 9:

  • “Rhythm Changes”
  • assignments: p. 125
  • listening/blog: Miles Davis – Miles Ahead, Wayne Shorter – Ju Ju

Week 10:

  • AABA song form
  • assignments: p. 131 – 136
  • listening/blog: Ornette Coleman – Shape of Jazz To Come, McCoy Tyner – The Real McCoy

Week 11:

  • AABA song form, continued
  • assignments: p. 137, Convo performance on Nov. 10th
  • listening/blog: The Best of Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker, Herbie Hancock – New Standard

Week 12:

  • AABC song form
  • assignments: p. 142
  • listening/blog: Larry Young – Unity, Louis Armstrong – 25 Greatest Hot Fives & Hot Sevens

Week 13:

  • Ostinatos, ABCA song form, through-composed tunes
  • assignments: p. 145, 148, 158 – 163
  • listening/blog: Miles Davis – Complete Birth of the Cool, John Coltrane – My Favorite Things

Week 14: Metric Modulations

  • Metric Modulations
  • assignments: p. 183
  • listening/blog: Hank Mobley – Soul Station, Eric Dolphy – Out To Lunch

Grading:

Properly preparing your music for the rehearsal will account for 10% of your grade. For the remaining 90%, every assignment will be equally weighted and will receive a grade out of 10, which will be factored into your final grade. Assignments will be discussed and graded in class. There will be no final exam. Late and incomplete assignments will not be accepted and will receive a grade of zero. A mid-semester progress report will be e-mailed from the instructor.
*The course content, schedule and grading scheme are subject to change at the instructor’s discretion.

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