Have you ever wondered how artists like Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper and Moonchild write their music? In this class you will learn how to hear, analyze, improvise and write your very own neo-soul tunes. Over the course of 6 weeks, you’ll take a deep dive into neo-soul/jazz harmony through a series of ear training exercises, harmonic analysis methods, improvisation and chord scale usage techniques and reharmonization & composition strategies, ultimately composing your own neo-soul chord progression or song by the end of the course. Prerequisites: basic keyboard proficiency and knowledge of chord structures (triads and 7th chords).
Wednesdays 8:15 – 9:45 pm
7/11 – 8/15 (6 weeks)
Marcelino Quiroz • $280
COURSE TITLE: Neo-Soul Harmony & Improvisation for Keyboardist
History – What is Neo-Soul music? How is it related to soul music? Let’s take a listen and talk about the history of this genre, including the late 1990’s musical collective, the Soulquarians. In this introductory week, we’ll define the neo-soul genre as a class and listen to a few examples of tunes by J Dilla, Robert Glasper, Erykah Badu and other similar artists. If there’s time, we’ll start transcribing some chord progressions for tunes like Move Love by R. Glasper.
Homework: Listen to some neo-soul tunes and pick a song that you would like to dive deeper into.
Harmonic Analysis – In week 2, we’ll start to discuss and analyze a couple of tunes from the homework assignment. We’ll use traditional harmonic analysis methods to discover which chords are native to a given key center, borrowed chords and alternate key centers. We’ll also go into detail on chord qualities, including but not limited to: traditional tensions (9, 11 & 13), cluster chords, slash chords and upper structure triads.
Homework: Transcribe a neo-soul harmonic progression/song (just chords). Then analyze using traditional harmonic analysis methods. Choose a favorite classic soul tune for reharmonization in week 3.
Reharmonization – In this class, we will take a traditional soul tune and reharmonizes it, identifying where melody notes lie and how we can alter chords to give a classic soul tune a modern twist with rich, new harmonies. We’ll use Proud Mary as an in-class example and write all new chords to this classic tune.
Homework: Reharmonize a chorus or verse of a classic soul tune.
Improvisation Techniques – Okay, we got some chord progression down, now how do we get our right hand to play some tasteful improvisation lines over the saucy chord changes we’ve been discussing, listening to and analyzing? In this class, we”ll talk chord scales and scale overlap. From modes and beyond, this class should give you an idea of how to think melodically over some different neo-soul chord progressions.
Homework: What chord scales can you use over this 8-bar chord progression?
Composition Strategies – In this class, we will write our own neo-soul chord progressions. We will discuss basic chord progressions like ii-V-I and move on to more robust chord progressions. If there’s time, we can even add a melody line on top of our newly composed chord progressions.
Homework: Finish your chord progressions (with or with our melodies) and be prepared to perform them in class during the final week.
Performances & Q&A – It’s the final week and now it’s time to show what you’ve learned over the past 6 weeks! During our final class together, we’ll perform our neo-soul chord progressions and tie up any loose ends and answer any questions the class may have.
Marcelino Quiroz (piano)
B.M. Film Scoring (’04), Berklee College of Music (piano principal), studied jazz piano performance with Joanne Brackeen; MRQ Productions, principal film composer/audio editor; Professional Musician, performing on piano, synth and Hammond B-3 regularly in the SF Bay Area in a variety of genres, including: jazz, funk, neo-soul, R&B, reggae and more; Private Piano Instructor/Certified K-6 Educator, 14 years experience teaching music theory to groups and individuals, ranging from beginner children to advanced-level adults; Musical Director/Bandleader, Mango Kingz (island reggae) and The Mars Express (neo-soul/cosmic gospel).