21M.355 | Spring 2013 | Undergraduate
Musical Improvisation

Readings and Listening

Course Handouts

Improvisation / Composition: Basic Variables, Melodic and Structural Aspects (PDF)

Course Bibliography

Following are reference readings for the course.

Berkowitz, Aaron. The Improvisational Mind: Cognition and Creativity in the Musical Moment. Oxford University Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780199590957. [Preview with Google Books]

Berliner, Paul. Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation. University of Chicago Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780226043814. [Preview with Google Books]

Budds, Michael J. Jazz in the Sixties: The Expansion of Musical Resources and Techniques. 2nd ed. University of Iowa Press, 1990. ISBN: 9780877452812.

Cage, John. Notations. Something Else Press, 1969. ISBN: 9780685148648.

Cogswell, Michael. “Melodic Organization in Two Solos by Ornette Coleman.” In Annual Review of Jazz Studies, Vol. 7 (1994–5). Scarecrow Press, 1996, pp. 101–44. ISBN: 9780810831223.

Gann, Kyle. American Music in the Twentieth Century. Cengage Learning, 1997. ISBN: 9780028646558.

———. Music Downtown: Writings for The Village Voice. University of California Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780520229822. [Preview with Google Books]

Haywood, Mark S. “The Harmonic Role of Melody in Vertical and Horizontal Jazz.” In Annual Review of Jazz Studies, Vol. 5. Scarecrow Press, 1991. ISBN: 9780810824782.

Higgins, Lee, and Patricia Campbell. Free To Be Musical: Group Improvisation in Music. Rowman & Littlefield Educational, 2010. ISBN: 9781607094982. [Preview with Google Books]

Jost, Ekkehard. Free Jazz (The Roots of Jazz). Da Capo Press, 1981. ISBN: 9780306761409.

Kahn, Ashley. Kind of Blue: The Making Of The Miles Davis Masterpiece. Da Capo Press, 2000. ISBN: 9780306809866.

Levine, Mark. The Jazz Theory Book. Sher Music Co., 1995. ISBN: 9781883217044.

Litweiler, John. The Freedom Principle: Jazz after 1958. Da Capo Press, 1990. ISBN: 9780306803772.

Miller, Ron. Modal Jazz Composition and Harmony, Vol. 1. Advance Music, 2000.

Monson, Ingrid. Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction. University of Chicago Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780226534787. [Preview with Google Books]

Nettl, Bruno, and Melinda Russell, eds. In The Course of Performance: Studies in the World of Musical Improvisation. University of Chicago Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780226574110. [Preview with Google Books]

Nisenson, Eric. The Making of Kind of Blue: Miles Davis and his Masterpiece. St. Martin’s Press, 2000. ISBN: 9780312266172.

Reeves, Scott. Creative Beginnings: An Introduction to Jazz Improvisation. Pearson, 1996. ISBN: 9780133454635.

———. Creative Jazz Improvisation [transcriptions]. 4th ed. Pearson, 2006. ISBN: 9780131776395.

Russell, George. Selections in The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization for Improvisation. 4th ed. Concept Publishing, 2001. ISBN: 9780970373908.

  • Endrey, George T. “Historical Perspective.” pp. xiii-xvii.
  • Russell, George. “The ‘River Trip’ Explanation of Jazz and Improvisational Styles. pp. xviii-xix.
  • Russell, George, and Martin Williams. “Ornette Coleman and Tonality.” pp. xx-xxiii.

Schuller, Gunther. “Thelonious Monk,” and “Sonny Rollins and Thematic Improvising.” In Jazz Panorama. Edited by Martin Williams. Collier Books, 1967. pp. 216–52.


Lec 8 “Kind of Blue” (Miles Davis) Davis, Miles. Kind of Blue. Sony / Columbia Records. Originally released in 1959.
Lec 9 “In a Silent Way” (Miles Davis) Davis, Miles. In a Silent Way. Sony / Columbia Records. Originally released in 1969.
Lec10-11 Guest artist / lecturers: Phil Scarff and Chitravina Ravikiran Natraj. Deccan Dance. Galloping Goat, 1998. Listen to 2 or 3 tracks.
Lec17-18 Flexology

Aardvark Jazz Orchestra. “Flexology.” Trumpet Madness. Leo Records, 2005.

Morris, Butch. Conduction #41. Vol. 10 in Testament: A Conduction Collection. New World Records, 1995.

Soundpainting with Walter Thompson: OCW videos from 21M.342 Composing for Jazz Orchestra

Lec 19 Themes & Intervals: “Blue Seven” (Sonny Rollins) Rollins, Sonny. “Blue 7.” Saxophone Collosus. Prestige / Fantasy Records. Originally released in 1956.
Lec 22-23 Guest artist / lecturers: Tim Ray, Eugene Friesen, and Greg Hopkins (Tre Corda) Tre Corda. Tre Corda. Agitated Cat Music, 2002. Listen to 2 or 3 tracks.
Course Info
As Taught In
Spring 2013
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group_work Projects with Examples
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