About this Course
The blues is an American art form and the most important musical form in jazz. Although there are other formal paradigms of the blues, such as 8-bar or 16-bar, this course focuses on different incarnations of the 12-bar blues. There are considerable differences between Early Jazz blues, Swing blues, Bebop blues, Modal blues, and Post Bop blues. Each type has its unique harmonic syntax, melodic vocabulary and, associated with them, improvisational techniques. While other aspects of jazz performance practice have been constantly changing from one stylistic convention to another, the blues has never lost its identity and expressive power, and continues to exert a powerful influence on the harmonic and melodic syntax of jazz. This seven-week course explores important aspects of the blues, blues improvisation, basic keyboard textures, jazz harmonic and melodic syntax. Topics include: (1) Blues Progressions; (2) Blues and Other Scales; (3) Improvisational Tools, and others. This course will also cover valuable theoretical concepts enabling the student to master the art of jazz improvisation. Each topic will be introduced from a practical perspective with the clearly stated goal: to improve one’s improvisational skills. Jazz improvisation is rooted in spontaneity, creativity, self-expression and, at the same time, self-control and order. A unique pedagogical approach based on a one-to-one musical interaction conducted with different instrumentalists will help to reinforce many of the concepts introduced in this course and realize its stated objectives.
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100% online course

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Clock

Approx. 15 hours to complete

Suggested: 7 weeks of study, 1-2 hours/week
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English

Subtitles: English
Globe

100% online course

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Clock

Approx. 15 hours to complete

Suggested: 7 weeks of study, 1-2 hours/week
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Blues Progressions – Theory and Practice

Lesson 1 focuses on foundational aspects of the blues, examining its history, innovation, and evolving harmonic structure. At the end of this lecture, students should have a firm understanding of the harmonic structure of the basic, generic, and minor blues forms, as well as a familiarity with the A A’ B phrase-structure of the blues. ...
Reading
7 videos (Total 50 min), 1 quiz
Video7 videos
Lesson 1 Introduction4m
Historical Overview (12:00)11m
Generic Blues (6:25)6m
Basic Blues Progression8m
Minor Blues (6:49)6m
AA’B Phrase Structures (5:54)5m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz - Lesson 124m

2

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Blues Scales

Lesson 2 dives into what makes the blues tick, beginning with an examination of the blues scale and the basics of jazz rhythms and blues riffs. Students will then explore call and response techniques and application of the blues scale in improvisation through demonstration with a live musician. ...
Reading
6 videos (Total 57 min), 1 quiz
Video6 videos
The Blues Scale (8:08)8m
Jazz Notation and Jazz Rhythm (12:34)12m
Blues Riffs (11:40)11m
Call and Response (6:34)6m
One-Scale Improvisation and “East Main Blues” (13:22)13m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz - Lesson 222m

3

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Keyboard Realization

Lesson 3 introduces the concept of guide tones and its association with invertible counterpoint. Four-part and five-part chords are discussed in detail by exploring their construction and function, as well as techniques to facilitate good voice-leading between chords using chordal inversions. ...
Reading
7 videos (Total 65 min), 1 quiz
Video7 videos
Guide Tones (8:53)8m
Invertible Counterpoint (4:20)4m
Charleston Rhythm (10:04)10m
Four-Part Chords (9:35)9m
Five-Part Chords (9:43)9m
Comping Texture (18:58)18m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz - Lesson 326m

4

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

“Bird” Blues and Other Blues Progressions

In lesson 4 students analyze harmonic progressions from 3 jazz standards: “Now’s The Time,” “Billie’s Bounce,” and “Blues For Alice.” Practice techniques are discussed, including ear-training strategies, rhythmic displacement, and voice-leading exercises. ...
Reading
7 videos (Total 52 min), 1 quiz
Video7 videos
“Now’s the Time” Progression - Analysis (5:45)5m
Ear Training Strategies (9:11)9m
“Billie’s Bounce” Progression - Analysis (4:49)4m
Rhythmic Displacement (10:34)10m
“Blues for Alice” Progression - Analysis (6:06)6m
Practical Tips (13:01)13m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz - Lesson 420m

5

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Improvisational Tools

Lesson 5 introduces 3 more jazz standards for analysis: “Mr. PC,” “Mr. Day,” and “Isotope.” Tritone substitutions are examined, and pentatonic scale as tools in improvisation are introduced through exploration of their construction, typical voicings, and voice-leading principles....
Reading
8 videos (Total 65 min), 1 quiz
Video8 videos
“Mr. PC” Progression – Analysis and Tritone Substitutions (10:49)10m
Pentatonics and Pentatonic Voicings (13:44)13m
“Mr. Day” Progression – Analysis (3:36)3m
Pentatonic Voicings – Voice-Leading Principles (7:20)7m
Pentatonic Voicings – Practical Exercises (6:09)6m
“Isotope” Progression – Analysis (8:00)7m
The Drop-Two Voicing Technique (12:48)12m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz - Lesson 524m

6

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Improvising the Blues – Part 1

Lesson 6 centers around the demonstration of improvisational techniques discussed thus far, including motivic development, guide-tone lines, and chordal arpeggiation. Observation of live Eastman musicians, as well as play-along tracks provided by the rhythm section, allow the student to imitate, assimilate, and apply the techniques discussed in the course. ...
Reading
14 videos (Total 87 min), 1 quiz
Video14 videos
Techniques of Motivic Improvisation (13:19)13m
Demonstration of Motivic Improvisation (3:30)3m
Play-Along Session – “Now is the Time” Progression (4:19)4m
“Billie’s Dance” (3:12)3m
Guide-Tone Improvisation (15:38)15m
Demonstration of Guide-Tone Improvisation (3:49)3m
Play-Along Session – “Billie’s Bounce” Progression (4:19)4m
“Birdie Song” (3:46)3m
Chordal Arpeggiation – 4-Part Chords (11:14)11m
Demonstration of Arpeggiation of 4-part Chords (4:16)4m
Chordal Arpeggiation – 5-Part Chords (5:54)5m
Demonstration of Arpeggiation of 5-part Chords (4:30)4m
Play-Along Session – “Blues for Alice” Progression (4:16)4m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz - Lesson 622m

7

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Improvising the Blues – Part 2

Lesson 7 explores modal categories and scalar patterns in improvisation, in addition to continued discussion on pentatonics. As in the previous lesson, live musicians demonstrate key concepts and principles presented in the lecture, with additional play-along tracks provided for the student to explore concepts on their own. ...
Reading
12 videos (Total 79 min), 1 quiz
Video12 videos
Modal Categories (10:06)10m
Characteristic Triads and Practice Tips (13:13)13m
Minor Blues - “Sea Blues” Improvisation (7:50)7m
Play-Along Session - “Mr. PC” Progression (3:06)3m
Pentatonics – Introduction (7:09)7m
Sus7 Blues Improvisation with Pentatonics (7:36)7m
Play-Along Session – “Sus Blues” Progression (2:52)2m
Scalar Patterns – Introduction (7:41)7m
Scalar Patterns - “Top Set” Improvisation (7:39)7m
Play-Along Session – “Isotope” Progression (2:42)2m
Conclusion (0:47)0m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Quiz - Lesson 720m
4.8
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By DBOct 8th 2016

Such a great course! Even though I am a bass player this course has made me understand patterns and ways in which the Blues can be taken to. Thank you very much for such an amazing experience.

By DZMar 4th 2017

This is very practical and useful course. I really learned something from it! I love this courser and I strongly recommend this course to everyone who is fascinated in Blues.

Instructor

Avatar

Dariusz Terefenko

Associate Professor of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media

About University of Rochester

The University of Rochester is one of the nation's leading private universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University provides exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by its Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, and the Memorial Art Gallery....

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