Program Description

As a Berklee jazz composition major, you’ll acquire significant technical skills and also begin to develop your voice as a jazz composer. Through the college’s rigorous core music program, you’ll receive the foundational training that will allow you to become a versatile musician. In this major, you’ll engage in critical analysis of a wide variety of music, compose and arrange for a variety of ensembles, and have the opportunity to hear your pieces performed, have access to state-of-the-art music facilities, and work with a large and diverse community of faculty, students, and industry professionals. You’ll gain real-world experience while earning a Bachelor of Music degree.

Program Details

The student majoring in jazz composition will receive a comprehensive overview of the history of jazz composition. Students at Berklee have the opportunity to attend numerous concerts, clinics, and master classes given by students, faculty, and visiting artists that will broaden their experience of jazz music. Through the study of the scores of acknowledged masters, the student will develop a sense of aesthetics within the larger genre and the critical ability to discuss jazz compositions qualitatively.

Through a carefully sequenced program of study, the student will learn techniques of harmonization, counterpoint, motivic development, and orchestration, and will demonstrate understanding of these skills and concepts at every level of the program by completing arrangements and original compositions that are recorded and then evaluated. The student will also learn to produce printed scores and parts that promote efficient rehearsal and accurate performance. Students will develop interpersonal skills while rehearsing for recording sessions and public performances with fellow students, guest artists, and faculty musicians.

The capstone project of the major is the assembly of a portfolio of original compositions and arrangements for ensembles of varied size and instrumentation. In the final semester, students in the program work with a faculty mentor to evaluate, edit, and expand on the work done in previous semesters. The collected compositions along with live recorded performances are evaluated by the concentration faculty to ensure that the student has met the appropriate level of proficiency for graduation and leaves the college with a portfolio that is representative of their best work.

The jazz composition major will develop skills sufficient to pursue a professional career as a jazz writer or to gain entry to graduate programs in jazz studies in preparation for an academic career in the fields of jazz theory, composition, and improvisation.


Explore the Jazz Composition Program

Get a glimpse of what it's like working with a diverse community of professional jazz musicians, on stage and in the studio, all while gaining real world experience.

Program at a Glance

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