Theory

DEGREE PROGRAMS

Theory

Course Numbering

The 100- and 200-numbered courses are lower division courses. The 300- and 400-numbered courses are upper division courses.

THE100A, THE100B, THE200A and THE200B
Jazz Theory and Improvisation
3 credits, 3 hours lecture/lab
A four-semester course covering jazz theory and improvisation techniques and styles based on the artistic practice of jazz masters, from the early twentieth century innovations of Louis Armstrong, to the contemporary artistry of Herbie Hancock and beyond. Students gain a solid understanding of jazz theory and improvisation, from the fundamentals to chord/scale theory, soloing, reharmonization, and transcription and analysis. Theoretical concepts are illustrated with select recordings of leading jazz artists and applied to relevant exercises and repertoire in class. This course lays important groundwork critical in the development of individual style.

THE201
Introduction to Jazz Transcription
1 credit, 1 hour lecture/lab
An introduction to techniques for transcribing jazz melodies, rhythms, and chord progressions. Transcribing assignments increase in level of difficulty throughout the semester. This course serves as an optional prerequisite for THE200B, which involves advanced level transcription.

THE300A
Advanced Jazz Theory and Improvisation
3 credits, 3 hours lecture/lab
An introduction to the harmonic and melodic approaches David Liebman innovated and expanded in his seminal book A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony. Beginning with John Coltrane and the second Miles Davis quintet (who independently began developing an advanced jazz language of chromaticism in the 1960s), this course addresses the work of David Liebman, along with Michael Brecker, Chick Corea and others who later that decade moved it to a new level of sophisticated control of consonance and dissonance that remains the gold standard for controlled harmonic tension and release, most commonly known as “playing in and out of the changes.” Prerequisite: THE200B or consent of instructor.

THE300B
Advanced Transcription and
Analysis of the Jazz Masters
3 credits, 3 hours lecture/lab
A continuation of THE300A Jazz Theory and Improvisation, focusing on transcription and analysis of more challenging works by jazz masters.

THE301
Form and Analysis of Jazz Standards
2 credits, 2 hours lecture/lab
A course in an ensemble format focusing on form and analysis of jazz standards essential to the professional musician. Prerequisite: THE200B or concurrent enrollment.

THE302
Polyrhythms and Odd Rhythm Groupings
2 credits, 2 hours lecture/lab
The nature and history of polyrhythms and odd rhythm groupings and their application to composition and improvisation. All instruments and voice. Prerequisites: MUS100A and THE100A

THE305
21st Century Trends and Aesthetics in Jazz
2 credits, lecture — elective
Analysis of work by seminal jazz artists from 2000 to the present, focusing on their signature rhythmic, harmonic and melodic innovations and artistic influences. Artists covered include Brad Mehldau, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Gilad Hekselman and Gretchen Parlato, among others. Prerequisites: THE200B and HIS200A

THE205A, THE205B
Single Line Soloing for Instrumentalists
3 credits, 3 hours lecture/lab
A course for instrumentalists focusing on developing single line soloing techniques idiomatic to the bebop and post-bop traditions. Includes analysis and performance of key transcriptions of bebop and post-bop masters as well as in-class application of the fundamental devices employed in modern jazz improvisation. Prerequisites: MUS201 and THE100B.

THE315A, 315B
Single Line Soloing for Vocalists
3 credits, 3 hours lecture/lab
A course for vocalists (or instrumentalists who wish to participate as vocalists) focusing on developing single line soloing techniques idiomatic to the bebop and post-bop traditions. Includes analysis and performance of key transcriptions of bebop and post-bop masters as well as in-class application of the fundamental devices employed in modern jazz improvisation. Prerequisites: MUS201 and THE100B.

THE330
Latin Jazz Theory and Improvisation
3 credits, 3 hours lecture/lab
Latin jazz theory and improvisation techniques and styles based on the artistic practice of Latin jazz masters, from the early twentieth century innovations of Arsenio Rodriguez to the contemporary artistry of Eddie Palmieri and beyond. Students gain an understanding of Latin jazz theory and improvisation, from the rhythmic fundamentals, including the function of clave, to chord/scale theory, soloing, reharmonization, and transcription and analysis. Theoretical concepts are illustrated with select recordings of leading Latin jazz artists and applied to relevant exercises and repertoire in class. This course lays groundwork critical in the development of individual style. Prerequisites: THE200B or concurrent enrollment.

THE250
Traditional North Indian Rhythmic Concepts for the Jazz Musician
3 credits, 3 hours lecture/lab
An in-depth exploration of traditional rhythmic concepts from the North Indian system of classical music. Through the medium of vocal percussion syllables known as bols, students are introduced to Indian rhythmic idioms such as tala (rhythmic cycles), layakari (rhythmic modulation), and tihai (thrice-repeated cadential phrases used to end a musical idea). Students learn traditional Indian rhythmic compositions drawn from the repertoire of classical North Indian percussion instruments such as tabla and pakhawaj. This class delves into the history and theory of North Indian rhythm as well as its influence on jazz over the last 50 years. Emphasis is placed on pointing out the cross-cultural applications of Indian rhythmic concepts to any instrument and any style of music, enriching students’ compositional and improvisational skills.

THE251
Traditional South Indian Rhythmic Concepts for the Jazz Musician
3 credits, 3 hours lecture/lab
An in-depth exploration of traditional rhythmic concepts from the South Indian system of classical music. Through the medium of vocal percussion syllables known as solkattu, students are introduced to Indian rhythmic idioms such as tala (rhythmic cycles), nadai (odd subdivisions of the beat), layakari (rhythmic modulation), and mora (thrice-repeated cadential phrases used to end a musical idea). Students learn traditional Indian rhythmic compositions drawn from the repertoire of classical Indian percussion instruments such as tabla, mridangam, kanjira, ghatam, thavil, and morsing. Emphasis is placed on pointing out the cross-cultural applications of Indian rhythms to any instrument and any style of music, enriching students’ compositional and improvisational skills.

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