Intro To Jazz Improvisation: Class Schedule

In this introductory jazz improvisation class, students will concentrate on elements of jazz theory, ear training, transcription, and performance. As a result, students should establish a solid foundation upon which to build as beginning jazz soloists.

Class #: MUSI 1601, section 1. Two credit.
Semester: Fall 2020
Meeting times: Mondays & Wednesdays, 11:15 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.
(synchronous, online instruction, via ZOOM)
Instructor: Earl MacDonald, Professor of Music & Director of Jazz Studies
Online Office Hours: Fridays, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. and by appointment. 
I will be working remotely this semester.

Note: This online syllabus/class schedule is an evolving and frequently updated document. Therefore, check it frequently.

Aug. 31 (Monday):

Course outline, content, office hours & grading explained.
Topic #1: chord symbol notation: triads & seventh chords.

Sept. 2 (Wed.):

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).
Chord Construction Worksheet
Chord Symbol Notation & Identification

KEY – Chord Construction Worksheet

Sept. 7 (Mon.): Labor Day — no UConn classes.

Sept. 9 (Wed.):

Topic #3:
 labeling “voiced” chords

Sept. 14 (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.

Homework: chord symbol practice test #1,  [answer key]
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: First of all, solos must be selected & approved by Sept. 28th. Completed transcriptions will be submitted on Oct. 21st. Finally, solos will be performed with and without the recording on Nov. 18th.

Sept. 16 (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.
Play-a-long track
Homework: chord symbol practice test #2, [answer key]

Sept. 21 (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]

Sept. 23 (Wed.):

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

Sept. 28 (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.

Sept. 30 (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.

Oct. 5 (Mon.):

Practice session: “Impressions,” the blues

Oct. 7 (Wed.):

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.

Oct. 9 (Fri.):

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

Oct. 12 (Mon.):

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

Oct. 14 (Wed.):

Analysis of song form & harmony.  Recorded examples.
Articulating Five to I
“Impressions” practice session.
Analysis of song form & harmony.  Recorded examples. Chordal Arpeggios.

Oct. 19 (Mon.):

“Summertime” scale options.
Blues Scale application to Summertime.
Topic #11: Articulating dominant chords resolving to I.
V7 to I “licks” and practice techniques.

Oct. 21 (Wed.):

Deadline for submitting completed solo transcriptions. (5%)
chord–scale relationships.
V7 to I resolutions
Topic #12: Triadic Upper Extensions

Oct. 26 (Mon.):

Playing test: “Impressions” (15%)

In lieu of an in-class performance assessment, please prepare and submit a video recording using the guidelines at the link which will be posted below.

Oct. 28 (Wed.):

Topic #13: motivic sequencing & development
“Summertime” practice session: chord tone arpeggiation/improv., V7 to I resolutions, triadic upper extensions
Chord-scale relationships practice quiz homework

Nov. 2 (Mon.):

Last day to drop a course.
Review: chord–scale relationships and diatonic harmony.
“Summertime” practice session.
Chord-scale relationships practice quiz homework

Nov. 4 (Wed.):

Quiz: chord-scale relationships. (10%)

Nov. 9 (Mon.):

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

Nov. 11 (Wed.):

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

Nov. 16 (Mon.):

The graded chord-scale relationships quiz will be returned.  
We will review for the upcoming cumulative quiz.

Playing test:
 “Summertime” (15%)
Outside of class, please prepare and submit a video recording using the guidelines at the link which will be posted below.

Nov. 18 (Wed.):

Playing test: Performance of solo transcriptions (15%)

Nov. 21 – 29: Thanksgiving Recess

Nov. 30 (Mon.):

Review for cumulative quiz
Requested topics, TBA

Dec. 2 (Wed.):

Cumulative written quiz (10%)

Dec. 7 (Mon.):

Review for playing quiz
Requested topics, TBA

Dec. 8 – 13:
 Reading Days

Dec. 14-20 UConn’s final examination period
Cumulative jazz improvisation performance test, by appointment (10%)

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