In this course, students explore different topics in improvisation in various musical styles, including rock, pop, blues, and more. Students will explore the melodic styles and content of improvised solos through history, listening, ear training, shared student transcriptions and analyses, practice assignments, and creative performance projects. Students increase their knowledge of the musical choices, issues, and possibilities they face as improvisers. They learn the historical context of their own original work. Students will improve their musical ear and the connections among their musical imagination (inner hearing), aural perception, musical notation, and instrumental performance. They will develop their skills in transcription and analysis, with the goal of gaining a greater command of musical materials for use in their own music. They will experience ways in which the work of improvisers in the past can inspire their contemporary creative work in the present. The titles of individual sections of PS-621 identify the theme of that section. Individual course descriptions are available to registering students at https://www.berklee.edu/graduate-studies/graduate-topics-courses.
PS-622 continues the learning that began in PS-619 Masters Performance Forum: Production. In this seminar and performance-based course, students learn interdisciplinary approaches to music-making and develop practical materials useful for a profession as a performer. Students also explore various concepts of aesthetics, with a focus on developing their own aesthetic philosophy and artistic identity. Students perform and analyze their own music projects; they learn to evaluate and critique each other; and they learn to respond to feedback and advice. Students collaborate with classmates, guest lecturers and visiting artists from a variety of diverse styles and backgrounds: performers, producers and educators, among others. They synthesize rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic vocabulary from a variety of musical styles.
This course provides a structured approach to the many aspects of record production. Through project-based, experiential learning exercises, designed to arm students with powerful tools and strategies in music production, this course enables students to create a recording that may serve as an essential piece of their culminating experience. Students gain first-hand experience in the preproduction, recording and mixing process. Recording sessions take place in a variety of venues, from professional recording studios with a large-format console, to project studios, to home recording set ups. Students further explore how the recording process best serves their individual artistic and professional goals, as they collaborate with musicians, technologists, and stakeholders involved in developing material for record company release.
In this workshop, vocalists and instrumentalists develop and perfect the skills necessary for live performance. They explore the concept that good performances involve not only excellent musicianship but also a high level of stage presence and audience interaction. Students explore the different kinds of stage performance techniques that are appropriate in different settings. They investigate concepts of musical and artistic interaction with the audience, and explore different kinds of audiences. They also explore performance as communication. They evaluate strategies to communicate musically through their music and their body. Additionally, students synthesize concepts of acting and persona creation that are part of every performance. In-class performances will be recorded and critiqued for effectiveness in movement, presentation, and overall performance. Students learn skills and strategies for microphone and rehearsal techniques, lead sheet preparation, stage presence, programming, audience interaction, persona development, and more. Students also learn strategies for effective auditioning. Students will give special consideration to the technical aspects of performance (e.g. acoustics, achieving an appropriate mix for the venue, and recording live performances). At the end of the semester, the class will hold a recital.
Through this course, advanced instrumentalists and vocalists learn effective teaching and clinical skills. Students learn to analyze group and individual skills; structure lessons, clinics, and rehearsals; and assess student progress. Students also model teaching scenarios with peers and engage in active professor-moderated feedback. As they apply models of music instruction, students explore educational philosophies, objectives and methods. Students master principles of educational psychology, models of music pedagogy, and various teaching techniques, with special emphasis on jazz pedagogy (jazz harmony, improvisation, jazz styles, etc.). Throughout the course, students explore motivational concepts, lesson planning, technology-based instruction, administrative organization, the student/instructor relationship, and mentorship. Students also learn strategies for working with diverse groups. This course is highly recommended for students who would like to transfer their performance skills into applied teaching knowledge using basic pedagogy principles.
In this hands-on seminar, students enrich their musical vocabulary by exploring alternatives to traditional improvisational techniques (i.e., playing inside the changes). Through analysis and performance exercises, students learn to improvise a free melodic line over structured harmonic continuity. Instruction focuses on the triad—major, minor, augmented, and diminished—as the building block for fluid, nonrepetitive chromatic lines. Students also learn to transcribe improvisations in an extended tonal context.
In this continuation of PS-633, students advance their musical vocabulary by exploring alternatives to traditional improvisational techniques. Building on their skills with major and minor triads, students move on to augmented and diminished triads to create fluid, nonrepetitive chromatic lines. Students combine all forms of triads to practice increasingly advanced methods of improvisation as well as advanced transcription skills.
This course enables students to deepen their knowledge of rhythm, focusing on the study and practice of rhythms from different world cultures, while also analyzing their essence and synthesizing them within their own musical vocabulary for performance and composition. Working under the direction of a senior faculty member, students enhance their sense of rhythm, interpretative skills, and improvisational skills in a practical environment that involves composition, transcription, listening, improvisation, and playing music. Through listening, transcribing and analysing different rhythmic cells, students will be able to expand their musical language and creative skills by developing their ability to understand complex rhythms and apply them to their own music. Students learn to maintain stylistic integrity by developing their domain over rhythmic practices which involve the coordination of body and mind to integrate rhythm in a much deeper way.
PS-640 continues the learning that began in PS-540 Masters Performance Forum: Global Jazz. In this performance workshop, students continue to learn interdisciplinary approaches to music-making. They explore various concepts of aesthetics, with a focus on developing their own aesthetic philosophy as they critique each other. The course provides a platform for students in the contemporary performance master’s program to launch the execution phase of their culminating experience project. The course also provides a framework for project management, including planned milestones, visiting artists, and material strategies to incorporate students’ projects into tangible career opportunities. Additionally, students complete weekly directed studies with artists-in-residence, focusing especially on their own artistic projects.
Working in close consultation with their advisor throughout the academic year, students develop a unique project. This may be an artistic production or performance or a project that involves research. Research is understood here in its broadest sense, involving also artistic research. Artistic research may take many different forms, such as exploring the capabilities of an instrument in order to introduce it to unfamiliar audiences; joining different musical styles to create a new musical fusion; developing interdisciplinary performance projects that bring together literature, visual arts, sciences, poetry, jazz and/or folk; or exploring connections between language and music. Students are encouraged to be as creative and as collaborative as possible in the design of their projects. In addition, students must have a performance based outcome, such as a recording or recital. This could be accompanied with video recordings and booklet projects. Students projects will also require various supporting materials. Those supporting materials may take a variety of forms: a student might build a website to promote a recording, for example, or draft a grant proposal for a public performance of his/her music, using a recording project to supplement the grant proposal application. Students are expected to meet with their advisors on a weekly basis to assess their progress. The final project must be defended before a faculty committee chaired by the student’s advisor.
This course will engage students in the musical and lyrical analysis in the varied styles of Kenny ""Babyface"" Edmonds. Students will be required to write lead sheets of their analysis identifying characteristics of hit songs such as melody harmonic chord relationships rhythmic motifs and lyrical content. Select student compositions as well as music of the artist will be chosen to be performed each week in class. Some research and compositional writings that relate to the historical documentation of the artist as a singer/songwriter/producer as well as exposure to and knowledge of his vast catalog will be included as part of the required research.
This course will study all aspects of professional-level concert production. Classes are held in various formats: lectures, production meetings, music sequencing classes, and live performance rehearsals. This course provides a focused study of development and presentation of a thematic concert. It also addresses the roles of the stage manager, the musical director, and technology in contemporary concert production.