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Contemporary Instrumental Improvisation I

Course Code: MUSC 1114
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Department: Music
Credits: 1.5
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Tutorial
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course deals with the study and application of the rhythmic and harmonic language of jazz and related contemporary music, with a focus on solo improvisation. Through class participation, students will develop technical and aural ability through the study of the blues, modes and selected II-V-I progressions. Students may participate on either their primary or secondary instrument. Drummers will play either a mallet instrument (vibraphone) or percussion in addition to drums. As this course is designed for the beginner or novice jazz soloist, no previous experience in jazz improvisation is required.

Course Content


  • The blues, II-V-I and modes
  • Using lead sheets
  • Playing a melody
  • Applying knowledge of the harmony
  • Assimilating jazz rhythms
  • Playing by ear
  • Improvising using limited resources
  • Developing a rhythmic flow
  • Phrasing in jazz
  • Understanding the importance of a musical vocabulary - "licks" and patterns
  • Organizing an improvised solo
  • Practicing techniques
  • Studying the masters
  • Transcribing a solo
  • Interacting in the group setting
  • Comping (improvised accompaniment for guitarists and pianists)

Methods of Instruction


Means of Assessment

Class participation up to the mid-term: 15%

Class participation from the mid-term to the end of the course: 15%

Solo improvisation - tested at the end of the course: 30%

Written Exams (mid-term and final): 20%

Transcription projects (2 minimum): 20%

Total: 100%

Learning Outcomes

The successful student will be able to:

  1. Perform a basic solo in the blues style
  2. Read basic chord changes as found in the blues using either the blues scales or proper chord/scale combinations
  3. Demonstrate understanding of the basic blues forms (12-bar, 16-bar, minor, modal)
  4. Demonstrate understanding of selected blues melodies as studied in class

course prerequisites



Registration in one of the following MUSC courses: 1150, 1250, 2350, 2450, 1152, 1252, 2352, 2452, 1153, 1253, 2353, 2453

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.