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Contemporary Instrumental Improvisation III

Course Code: MUSC 2314
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 further 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. This course is the continuation of MUSC 1214 and is designed for the intermediate level improvisor. MUSC 2314 and 1114 are taken with both levels in the same class, working together. Those registered in MUSC 2314 will be expected to show a higher level of competency on the basic material, and will be asked to demonstrate to their MUSC 1114 counterparts. Repertoire is carefully managed by the instructor to ensure that students in both levels are exposed to as much new material as possible.

Course Content


  • Applying knowledge of the blues form, II-V-I progressions and modes
  • Reading lead sheets
  • Playing a melody
  • Memorizing the harmonic changes in a tune
  • Interpreting jazz rhythms
  • Playing by ear
  • Improvising using limited resources
  • Creating backgrounds and riffs
  • Developing a rhythmic flow
  • Developing individual jazz phrasing
  • Understanding the importance of a vocabulary of "licks" and patterns
  • Organizing an improvised solo
  • Studying the masters
  • Transcribing solos
  • 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 coherent solo in the blues style
  2. Read basic chord changes as found in the blues using either the blues scale or accepted chord/scale combinations
  3. Demonstrate understanding of the basic blues formats (12-bar, 16-bar, minor, modal)
  4. Play selected blues melodies as studied in class, by memory
  5. Play selected jazz standard melodies as studied in class, by memory
  6. Express some individual phrasing ideas during a solo
  7. Create a unison background line to be taken up by ear, by the other players

course prerequisites

MUSC 1214


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.