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Back to The Blues: Understanding and Performing an American Art Form

Learner Reviews & Feedback for The Blues: Understanding and Performing an American Art Form by University of Rochester

585 ratings

About the 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....

Top reviews


Jul 27, 2020

Very good and enjoyable mix of practice and theory - from basics to more advanced with good explanations throughout. I just wish I was a better piano player to be able to take full advantage of it!


Oct 7, 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.

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226 - 240 of 240 Reviews for The Blues: Understanding and Performing an American Art Form

By Loïc C

Oct 24, 2017

The prof explains the concepts very clearly and provides helpful resources

The quiz/assignments could be more challenging to better put into practice the learned material.

By Esther A

Nov 17, 2020

Seems comprehensive, with many great techniques for understanding jazz and practicing improvisation. Besides quizzes though, there are no assignments.

By Anthony R

May 13, 2020

Well presented Theoretical Practical Jazz Improvisational Foundational Building Blocks. Great Information. Thanks Professor D.T.

By Roberto G C

Sep 24, 2016

Muy buen curso, excelente para músicos e intérpretes. Recomendable en todos sus aspectos y sumamente claro en su comunicación.

By José M A

Sep 1, 2016

Explica de forma clara, desde su forma más simple hasta la más compleja, qué es un Blues y cómo se estructura. Enhorabuena.

By Joy S

Oct 6, 2018

Related to jazz, which I enjoy. However, this teaches you to perform the music. Prefer music appreciation classes.

By Pedro L A D

Jul 7, 2020

Maybe a little bit complex for people who are not very specialised in music...

By Steve R

Jul 26, 2016

It seemed to be more jazz than blues, but it was entertaining and educational.

By Oscar R

Jan 1, 2020

learn about blues and Jazz history from a harmonic perspective!

By Janet P

Nov 27, 2021

Deducted one star due to lack of women represented.

By Luuk S

May 21, 2019

Very nice

By Claude J

Aug 28, 2018

This training deals with jazz, not with simple blues, which was my first interest. I found it very challenging, starting with flat 7 chords (why not a simple E7 blues progression ?), and introducing from lesson one the II-V progression, which is to me an advanced topic. I gave up after lesson 3 because I am not comfortable listening many chromatic harmonies that I typically associate with the jazz.

By Kenneth B

May 28, 2017

Some of the course content came across unsure. This is a good course that needs to be tweaked. There were cases when information was unclear and undecided.

By Jean R

Aug 24, 2016

This course is not for me.

Principal concepts seem very difficult from the first lesson.

Professor hesitates, quiz is incomprehensible.

So, Good Bye ! I do like blues and listen it very often, but this doesn't help me.

By Isaac R

May 19, 2016

Mucha Teoria en una semana, poca pratica.