The Mostly Mahavishnu Ensemble highlights one of the great musical innovators of the 20th century, John McLaughlin. This course focuses on the Mahavishnu Orchestra and some other compositions from that era, and emphasizes understanding odd time signatures and using creative melodic development techniques. Once students gain familiarity with these concepts, they integrate current grooves (e.g. from hip-hop, J Dilla beats, drum and bass, techno, and/or electronica) as John incorporated rock, the music of his time, into his music. All compositions are by John McLaughlin unless otherwise indicated. Towards the end of the semester, students are encouraged to write original compositions in his style.
The Yellowjackets Ensemble is a high-level ensemble that learns and performs the challenging and beautifully crafted music of the world-famous Yellowjackets, a band that for forty years has successfully performed around the world and recorded an album every year. The jazz fusion group includes Russell Ferrante (piano/keyboards) and Bob Mintzer (tenor/EWI), along with phenomenal bassist Dane Alderson and highly creative and groove-oriented drummer Will Kennedy. In this ensemble students are expected to practice the tunes several hours per week outside of class with an occasional extra rehearsal. Piano players should expect to learn and play the synth/keyboard parts for this ensemble. The professor has an extensive library of the music from several sources that the students receive in advance.
We will experiment with mixing current grooves and unusual modes and harmonies in a jazz improv context. The purpose of this class is to bridge the divide between jazz harmonies and groove vamps by combining both. Furthermore, heavy emphasis is on melodic development techniques. By the end of this class you will have a working knowledge of rock, funk, reggae, ska, dance hall, drum 'n' bass, reggaeton, house, 2-step, 32nd note hi-hat grooves, hip-hop, go-go, and clipped and bounce beats.
The Herbie Hancock ensemble will transcribe, study and perform the music of Herbie Hancock. In this course, students will participate in weekly supervised rehearsals. Students will gain experience in transcribing one album per week. Emphasis will be given to stylistic integrity, as well as melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic accuracy.
This ensemble focuses on the music of Soulive, Lettuce, and their musical contemporaries.
The P-Funk ensemble will study and perform the music of George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic. In this course, students will participate in weekly supervised rehearsals. Students will gain experience in performing and entertaining. Emphasis will be given to stylistic integrity, as well as melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic accuracy. The ensemble will perform a forty-five minute concert at the end of semester.
Students in the Klezmer Music ensemble will study and perform roots music from the eastern European Jewish tradition and diaspora, focusing on dance music for weddings and celebrations, as well as various crossover styles such as Yiddish swing, Yiddish theatre, and contemporary jazz/experimental repertoire by John Zorn, Masada, and others. Students will also compose or arrange at least one piece in a Klezmer style for the ensemble. Students will participate in weekly supervised rehearsals. Students will gain experience in performing Klezmer and Yiddish music, either instrumental, vocal, or both. Vocalists may sing in Yiddish and/or English and vocalese. Emphasis will be given to stylistic integrity, as well as melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic accuracy. Students will also gain an appreciation for cultural context of the music.
Qantara Berklee is an ensemble that blends Arab, jazz, Western classical, and Latin American music to transcend the boundaries of genre and geography. Qantara means arch in Arabic, and this ensemble provides students an entryway to these musical cultures. Students in this ensemble will develop their instrumental, aural, and improvisational skills in this unique context at the same time as understanding how to fuse different modes, rhythms, and compositional concepts to create a cross-cultural ensemble.
The South American Contemporary Music Ensemble focuses on the performance of modern arrangements of music from different South American countries such as Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and others. This course emphasizes stylistic integrity, as well as melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic accuracy. Students use advanced analytical tools by learning how to recognize traditional elements in folkloric music from different regions in South America. Using unique creative processes, the students adapt these traditional elements into modern arrangements of the same tunes, or new compositions inspired from these folkloric elements.
This ensemble will perform contemporary compositions and standard repertoire from the Arab world, Turkey, Iran, and Central Asia. Emphasis is on improvisation, communication within the ensemble, developing a groove (including tunes in asymmetrical meters), and exploring the musical resources of the Middle East. Since the music is primarily modal, this ensemble offers students to an opportunity to explore dynamics, instrumental timbre, embellishment, and phrasing free from the constraints of complex harmony. Repertoire is chosen each semester, based on students' preference, from the work of artists such as: Fairuz, Abdel Wahab, Natacha Atlas, Laço Tayfa, Simon Shaheen, Charbel Rouhana, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, and many others.
A large ensemble modeled after afro-pop bands of West Africa but fused with American influences. Styles include afro-beat, soukous, and derivative American styles. The music includes covers, original compositions, and improvisations by the ensemble. The first half of the semester is organized in a workshop format. The second half is used to learn repertoire. Emphasis will be given to stylistic integrity, as well as melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic accuracy.
The Celtic Music ensemble will study and perform the music of broad grouping of musical genres that evolved out of the folk musical traditions of the Celtic people of Western Europe. In this course, students will participate in weekly, supervised rehearsals. Students will gain experience in discussion, researching, and performance of specific styles. Emphasis will be given to stylistic integrity, musicality, individual interpretation, as well as melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic accuracy.