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MUJS 5490, Advanced Jazz Improvisation

MUJS 5490 Course Syllabus
Fred Hamilton
Office #277


This is a graduate performance seminar with emphasis upon concepts to help each student in the performance and teaching of jazz. The focus will be on the essential parameters of the music: Time, Melody, Phrasing and Harmony. I expect every student to have melodies, changes and forms memorized prior to the first class scheduled for the particular composition. All compositions are available by numerous artists on the I Tunes store. If you download, get major artists and go to other sites and find the personnel on the recording.

The goals of the class are:
1) Find the mental or emotional "roadblocks" in students' creative improvisation and work toward minimizing them.
2) Work on developing students’ rhythmic vitality and sense of time.
3) Develop the student’s view of melody as an improvisational focus.
4) Improve harmonic skills through focus upon triads and paired triads.

I expect every student to have melodies and forms memorized prior to the first class scheduled for the particular composition. In the case of the standards, figure out a personal phrasing of the melody for the meter listed. All compositions are available from the iTunes store. There may not be recordings of the standards in the designated meter. If you download, go to other sites and try to find out the personnel on the recording. Smatter, More than Ever and a Little Blues for You are published in the European Real Book and are available as sheet music downloads for $1.95 at www.freehandmusic.com.

Repertoire to be studied:
Stella by Starlight
Milestones (bebop, not modal)
Have You Met Miss Jones (6/4 and 5/4)
Giant Steps
How Deep is the Ocean? (7/4)
Someday My Prince Will Come (5/4)
Eternal Triangle
Ballads to be chosen from the following:
What’s New, My Foolish Heart, You Don’t Know What Love Is, Peace, I Can’t Get Started, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, Darn that Dream, I Fall in Love Too Easily, Blame it on My Youth

Reference Materials (not required texts): Intervallic Improvisation, Walt Weiskopf; Coltrane: a Player’s Guide to His Harmony, Walt Weskopf & Ramon Ricker; Expansions, Gary Campbell

Grades: Students are required to write performance evaluations for their midterm and final. Attendance is a priority for this class. One absence will lower the semester grade to a B, two absences to a C and three absences is a fail. If accrued before the drop deadline, it is the student’s responsibility to drop the class. Two times being tardy (10- 15 minutes late) will count for an absence. Over 15 minutes late is an absence. The GIPE will count as a final jury for this class. If the GIPE is failed, the semester grade will be a C. If it is passed, then the attendance policy will determine the grade.