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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

4.8
355 ratings
144 reviews

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

DZ

Mar 04, 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.

JJ

Sep 18, 2017

Thanks so much to all involved - I found the material to be clearly presented and rich in content. It really helped me to understand how to grow in my jazz exploration.

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126 - 141 of 141 Reviews for The Blues: Understanding and Performing an American Art Form

By Marc S

May 17, 2018

This course was not at all what I expected; I'm not sure if I misread the syllabus or just misunderstood its contents. First, I was expecting the course to center around the blues, a la Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Le Hooker, B.B King, etc. It turned out to be a lot less blues and a LOT more jazz with the likes of John Coltrane, Miles David, Joe Henderson, etc! Second, I was expecting more history with little to no theory. As it turns out, this course was highly theoretical and performance heavy. All in all though, it was a great course but certainly not for a beginner musician.

By Steve

Aug 24, 2017

At first I though it was a very poor course but certain parts of it were gold for me and I got a lot out of it. I particularly appreciated the advice on how to improvise through out the course. I was less keen on the parts on modes and pentatonics but on the other hand for someone further along in their musical journey it may be just the thing. Although the course is ostensibly on the blues it also covers a lot of material relevant to Jazz.

Pedagogically there were some problems.I think the course has way too much material and could be split into 2 parts each part maybe a bit slower.The presenter need to sharpen up his game a little as regards presentation skills, reading material of an IPad is not very inspiring. His English is not very idiomatic but that's not really a big problem. Written sheets with the changes and summarizing the lectures would have made the course better. Finally there are no peer reviews and all quizzes are theoretical - rather disappointing. I prefer a hands on approach with peer based reviews as in Gary Burton's course also on Coursera.

By José M A

Sep 01, 2016

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

By Arthur G

May 16, 2018

My reason for only giving four stars is because I could not find the materials associated with the lessons. I created my own notes for the course which for me is very helpful. I also wish that the correct answers would be provided for the ones that I got wrong even though I passed the quiz.

By Steve R

Jul 27, 2016

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

By Roberto G

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

Jul 11, 2017

Great overall planification and sequence of matters. Some errors in written materials. Some ambiguous questions on quiz. Great music examples played by collaborators. Very poor written transcriptions of spoken text.

By Loïc C

Oct 25, 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 Lorenzo A

Apr 25, 2017

This course is great and I found it very complementary to the Berklee Improv course. This is more advanced and it dives deeper. But it is less "hands on". My only remark is that people would benefit more from it if it had some practical homework beyond quizzes and if the material was made available in a nice format.

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 Mitch R

Jun 17, 2017

If you are expecting an introduction to Blues (within the context of Jazz) this course may not be for you. This is a very complex course, and often it seems as though the terminology changes rather than evolves. I have a strong background studying classical, 20th century and modern music theory techniques, and that was the only reason I was able to finish this course. Give yourself a lot of time to practice and review the material. Two good things about the course. The professor is very passionate about the topic, and John the moderator has done a great job of collecting the charts and additional material presented for more detailed study.

By Kenneth B

May 29, 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 Karen S

Sep 14, 2017

I thought we were going to learn about the blues and it's all about jazz. I was looking forward to learning more about BB King and Muddy Waters and I'm very disappointed.

By Isaac R

May 20, 2016

Mucha Teoria en una semana, poca pratica.