Jazz Composition Major

The student majoring in jazz composition will develop the creative application of the basic musical elements of melody, harmony, and rhythm in the contexts and practices associated with jazz music. Theoretical and compositional study will emphasize the development of contrapuntal skills, melodic and formal development, and techniques of instrumentation and orchestration. The student will demonstrate understanding of these skills and concepts with the completion of a portfolio of jazz compositions for ensembles of varying sizes and types, together with recordings that include public performances of selected pieces.

Through the study of acknowledged masters of jazz composition, as well as by attendance at clinics and concerts, the student will develop aesthetic vision and the critical ability to recognize and discuss quality elements in jazz composition. Interpersonal and situational skills will be developed as the student works with musicians and fellow composers, rehearsing and conducting public performances, and also through work with other students on their projects and concerts.

The jazz composition major will develop sufficient skills to pursue a professional career as a jazz writer, working among colleagues in one of the many cooperative groups dedicated to the production and performance of new music, contributing to the repertoire of established jazz artists as composer and/or arranger, or to gain entry to graduate programs in jazz studies in preparation for a career as an instructor and scholar in the field of jazz theory, composition, and improvisation.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of a jazz composition major, students will:

  • Transcribe and analyze historic and contemporary jazz recordings
  • Synthesize and apply knowledge of jazz harmony and styles in improvisation
  • Synthesize and apply knowledge of jazz harmony and styles in the creation of original compositions
  • Write music for ensembles of varying size and instrumentation
  • Create musical scores using a variety of musical notation (e.g. lead sheets)
  • Conduct and collaborate with other musicians using historic, contemporary, and original jazz compositions

Download the jazz composition concentrate courses. Students are strongly encouraged to verify their course requirements with the Office of the Registrar.

Jazz Composition Links