As a jazz composition major, you’ll develop your aesthetic vision and technical chops within the contexts and practices of jazz. Over eight semesters, while completing the college’s core music curriculum, you will learn to critically analyze elements in jazz compositions as well as compose for a variety of ensemble sizes. On the college’s Boston campus, you will have access to our state of the art music facilities as you work with a diverse community of musicians, faculty, industry professionals, all the while gaining real world experience while earning a bachelor’s degree.
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.
Meet the Jazz Composition Department
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
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); and
- Conduct and collaborate with other musicians using historic, contemporary, and original jazz compositions.
There are 30 credits required for this major. To view the full program of study, which includes core music, liberal arts, and general electives, see sample curriculum for the bachelor's degree.
- ISKB-211: Basic Keyboard 1
- ISKB-212: Basic Keyboard 2
- AR-112: Arranging 2
- AR-228: Survey of Jazz Composition and Arranging
- AR-201: Chord Scale Voicings for Arranging
- AR-331: Big Band Arranging/Score Analysis
- HR-325: Reharmonization Techniques
- CM-371: Jazz Composition 1
- CM-373: Jazz Composition 2
- CM-375: Jazz Composition 3
- CP-361: Jazz Counterpoint 1
- CP-362: Jazz Counterpoint 2
- CM-499: Directed Study in Jazz Composition
6 credits Approved Specified Electives Score/Parts Notation/Layout Proficiency Senior Portfolio Project