Jazz Composition

Course Outline, Schedule and Assignments
Fall Semester, 2011
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 textbook 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.  On Thursday, Nov. 10th your new pieces will be performed in Music Convocation.  A rehearsal will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 8th in von der Mehden Recital Hall from 3 – 5 p.m.

 

Schedule and Assignments:

Week 1: Introduction, Orientation & Review (Aug. 29 – Sept. 2)


Week 2: Melodic Considerations (Sept. 5 – Sept. 9)

  • 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 (Sept 12 – Sept. 16)

  • 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:  (Sept. 19 – 23)

  • 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 (Sept. 26 – 30)

  • 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: (Oct. 3 – 7)

  • 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: (Oct. 10 – 14)

  • 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 (Oct. 17 – 21)

  • 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: (Oct. 24 – 28)

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

 

Week 10: (Oct. 31 – Nov. 4)

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

 

Week 11: (Nov. 7 – 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: (Nov. 14 – 18)

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

 

Thanksgiving Recess: Nov. 20 – 26

 

Week 13: (Nov. 28 – Dec. 2)

  • 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 (Dec. 5 – 9)

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

 

Grading:

Properly preparing your music for the rehearsal on Nov. 10th 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 on Friday, Oct. 7th.
*The course content, schedule and grading scheme are subject to change at the instructor’s discretion.