The courses at Berklee are continually reviewed and evaluated so that they are up-to-date and consistently reflect today's musical needs. In classes such as Survey of Vocal Styles, you will learn about the development of the jazz blues vocalist, analyze major artists, and perform using techniques and styles from 1890 to the present. Take a look at some of the courses you can take during your Berklee education.
Eastern Vocal Styles Ensemble
A performance ensemble that explores various vocal traditions from the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, North Africa, as well as Central and South Asia through listening, transcription, and performance. Artists covered include Umm Kulthum (Egypt), Fairuz (Lebanon), Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares (Bulgaria), Erkan Ogur (Turkey), Cheb Mami (Algeria), Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Pakistan), and Taraf de Haïdouks (Romania), as well as popular crossover artists such as Ofra Haza, Sussan Deyhim, Zulal, Natacha Atlas, and Sheila Chandra. Students also experiment with hearing and executing microtones, in addition to learning rhythms, modes, forms, and improvisation concepts from the different regions.
Vintage Vocals Ensemble
Vocalists are immersed in the jazz music of important and influential vocal groups from 1930 to present. Vocal groups covered include the Boswell Sisters; the Mills Brothers; Mel Torme and the Mel-Tones; Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross; Swingle Singers; Take 6; and Manhattan Transfer. Students will strive for authentic performances through listening, studying printed transcriptions, emulating tone, articulation, diction, and phrasing of specific vocal arrangements. Materials covered vary according to the starting level of the student group. A final performance is required.
A Cappella Workshop Ensemble
Vocal ensemble that concentrates on small group singing without instrumental accompaniment. Content will focus on developing musical independence and ear training within the context of popular and jazz vocal styles. Will include vocal styles and song selections such as Take Six, Singers Unlimited, The Manhattan Transfer, The Bobs, Impact, New York Voices, and The King Singers, as well as original compositions and arrangements.
Jazz Fundamentals Ensemble for Vocalists
An intermediate ensemble for aspiring jazz vocalists. Study of American composers and repertoire including Porter, Gershwin, and Rodgers and Hart. Emphasis on sight-reading, analysis, elements of swing, bebop, and vocalise, rhythmic figures, scales, and melodic embellishments.
Vocal Improvisation Ensemble 2: Jazz
An intermediate ensemble for vocalists focusing on improvisation in the jazz idiom. Topics include articulation and groove, melodic and rhythmic phrasing, embellishments, using tone colors, hearing basic instrumental patterns, blues patterns, vamps, turnarounds, and II-V progressions.
Instrumental Vocal Singing Ensemble
This ensemble is designed to teach each student how to explore and discover all the boundaries of what is vocally possible. Each student will obtain the skills necessary to reproduce an instrumental track using just the voice. Students are required to have a functioning version of Digital Performer installed before the first class session.
Vocal Improvisation Ensemble 2: R&B
An intermediate ensemble for vocalists focusing on improvisation skills in the R&B idiom. Melodic and rhythmic phrasing embellishments using tone colors and hearing basic blues patterns.
Great American Songbook Ensemble
This course will familiarize voice students with jazz standard songs and composers of the Great American Songbook, including George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, and many more who impacted America's music. Students will learn to sing and perform songs in the jazz style with rhythm section. In addition, students will learn about a specific song era, historical content, and the composer by making song introductions regarding the composer and song.
Rehearsal Techniques for Vocalists
An ensemble designed to prepare singers for performance with accompanying instrumentalists. Students will conduct open rehearsals of their own basic arrangements of pop, rock, jazz, and R&B tunes. Emphasizes communication skills, effective rehearsal procedures, and the independent and collective role of each rhythm section member. Intended to increase the singer's aptitude for participation in college ensemble offerings.
Self-Accompanying Singer Ensemble
An ensemble for singers who accompany themselves and wish to develop vocal performing skills. Topics will include basic singing techniques, tone quality, diction, projection, stylistic vocal delivery, approaches stage presence, and effective utilization of microphones and PA systems.
Musical Theater Workshop
This musical theater performance class is a non-auditioned performance ensemble with musical theater repertoire. The curriculum includes the study of stage craft, musical theater repertoire and genres, and the study of specific musical theater composers. This course prepares students for future work in musical theater and introduces students to musical theater repertoire and performance techniques.
Vocal Jazz Choir
This choir consists of 4-12 singers divided into SATB (soprano, alto, tenor bass) parts and performs standard jazz choir repertoire with full rhythm section accompaniment (piano, bass, drums). Each meeting is devoted to rehearsing parts, focusing on blend, dynamics, intonation, articulation, expression, interpretation, and stage presence. Iconic groups that would be emulated include The Manhattan Transfer, New York Voices, Syncopation, and Vox One. Vocal arrangements recorded, performed, and published by these groups (and others) will be used in addition to the works of contemporary arrangers including Michele Weir, April Arabian, Greg Jasperse, Darmon Meader, Paris Rutherford, Ward Swingle, and Ned Rosenblatt.