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Introduction to Jazz Online

 

Introduction to Jazz Online offers a general overview of the periods of jazz. The course’s integrated approach allows students with no previous musical experience to explore the history of jazz through reading, listening, writing assignments, concert attendance, and research. Topics covered in the 15-lesson course include the historical periods of jazz, biographies of jazz greats, as well as instrumental legacies, oral and literate traditions, and jazz as an art form.

Students navigate the course using a printed guide that serves as a textbook and workbook. Included with the guide are three music CDs compiled and produced by Sony Music. These contain a rich selection of excerpts and pieces that are referenced in the lectures, reading assignments and quizzes. Timed listening notes guide students in the art of listening and can be accessed online, where they interact with the CD and follow the progress of the piece, even showing some of the musical themes as they occur. Whether a student is planning to pursue additional studies in the field of music or taking this online course to enhance their understanding and enjoyment of the incredibly rich history of jazz, we believe students will find it interesting, entertaining, and enriching.

This course is also well-suited for a Flipped Classroom or hybrid class.

The textbook/workbook to accompany this course is Introduction to Jazz Online, written by Donald W. Megill, David W. Megill, and Paul O.W. Tanner. Additional information is provided under the “How to Adopt Course & Print Materials” tab below. To request access to an electronic review copy of the textbook/workbook, please contact Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.

For access to Coast Learning Systems’ online course preview site, please complete a Preview Request Form.

Lesson Titles and Descriptions

1. Jazz to You: Warming Up

Jazz has some identifiable traits (structure, sound, performance) that distinguish it from other musical genres, such as classical and rock. These traits include specific measurable characteristics, but you also bring some understandings of jazz to this class that are more subjective. Awareness of this subjective aspect is also important to your appreciation.

2. Jazz Issues: Definitions & the Big Picture

Although jazz is an American phenomenon, most Americans have a very narrow image of both jazz and the jazz musician. Jazz has grown up with America and has changed as much as the rest of the culture. One’s personal image of jazz is usually correct in some ways but is often based on stereotypes and myths. The history of jazz offers a glimpse into the development of America from the perspective of a unique and expressive art form.

3. Roots of Jazz: Pre-Jazz, Work Songs & the Blues

The voice of jazz was shaped in the music of the late 19th-century church and early marching bands. The blues took shape not only from African Americans’ singing style in church but also from the songs that accompanied their daily activities. Much as the blues was at the beginning of jazz’s development, it again played an important role as rock began to take shape 50 years later. Both the structure of the blues and its expressive style are woven into the fabric of both traditions. The blues remains the backbone of jazz history. Musicians in all styles of jazz often retreat to the blues in some form to recharge their batteries.

4. Keys to the Piano: Early Styles & Innovators

The piano has been a defining sound of jazz from the early ragtime styles to the solo jazz artists today. The early styles of ragtime, boogie-woogie, and stride remain in the vocabulary of jazz musicians throughout the world. Except for the synthesizer, the Hammond organ, and maybe the electric guitar, all of which came later, no other instrument can provide such a complete jazz texture.

5. Dixieland North & South: The Ensemble & Collective Improvisation

Dixieland is considered by many jazz scholars to be the purest of all jazz styles. Collective improvisation offered the most robust improvisational practices within the traditional Western European tradition. Such collective improvisation would not appear again until the 1960s, in free jazz. The instrumental style of jazz explored in this lesson established jazz as a primarily instrumental style, born out of the blues tradition.

6. Review 1: Pre-Jazz, Piano & Dixieland. Introduction to the Concert Report

Familiarity with the musical examples is best gained through repeated listenings. As you listen, try to make connections between the music and the appropriate reading from this student guide. Try to identify characteristics in performance and structure that would help you identify and differentiate these early jazz styles. Also try to learn the general characteristics of these styles so that you can recognize the stylistic category to which other jazz performances you might hear belong. The live experience can bring this study even more to life, and knowledge and awareness can make the experience richer.

7. Swing & the big Band: Jazz hits Number One

The big bands of the Swing Era created a new popularity for jazz that would never be repeated. The focus shifted from the excitement of the Dixieland ensemble to the large powerful sounds of the big band ensemble. At the same time, the importance of the individual soloist soared. Solos were longer and much more developed, especially in the smaller groups of the Swing Era. Solos were melodic and based on the original composed melody. Only at the end of the Swing Era were solos moving away from this melodic approach to improvisation and more toward “working the chords” of the song. This was the first step into bebop (explored in the next lesson), which established jazz as a primarily instrumental style born out of the blues tradition.

8. Bebop, Cool & Other Streams: End of War & the Headwaters of Mainstream

Bebop has become the most identifiable sound of jazz. The aggressive rhythm section and the virtuosic horns have become canonized in jazz. The jazz quintet and the fast fluid melodic lines have invaded nearly all musical styles that have followed. It even appears in some country music. It is very active in the pop/commercial styles and rock. Although the bebop period was relatively short, aspects of it migrated into all the jazz styles that followed: cool, straight-ahead, third stream, modal, and fusion. (The later styles will be explored in upcoming lessons.)

9. Review 2: Swing & Bebop

Familiarity with the musical examples is best gained through repeated listenings. As you listen, try to make connections between the music and the appropriate reading from this student guide. Try to identify characteristics in performance and structure that would help you identify and differentiate these jazz styles. Also try to learn the general characteristics of these styles so that you could recognize the stylistic category to which other jazz performances you might hear belong.

10. Avant-Garde & Free Jazz: New Freedoms & Shared Results. Concert Report No. 1

As musicians explored the experimental edges of jazz, their activities paralleled the activities of musicians in the classical music world. In fact there was a crossover of both personnel and intent, as musicians in both streams looked for new and extended ways to express themselves.

11. Modal Jazz & Fusion: Digging Deeper & Handling New Influences

The jazz experimentation with rock elements proved to be controversial because rock’s popularity threatened to overshadow and perhaps even absorb jazz in its wake. Jazz, however, held its ground but benefited stylistically from its adventure.

12. Review 3: Free Jazz, Modal & Fusion. Concert Report No. 2

Familiarity with the musical examples is best gained through repeated listenings. As you listen, try to make connections between the music and the appropriate reading from this guide. Try to identify the characteristics of performance and structure that would help you identify and differentiate these jazz styles. Also try to learn the general characteristics of these styles so that you can recognize the stylistic categories in future jazz performances you might hear.

13. Jazz Legacies: Expressions of Jazz’s Mainstream

The giants of early jazz established, through their own performance, the expectations for jazz performers that followed. Bop and hard bop proved to be the stylistic center of gravity for the developing mainstream. The performers who extend the mainstream still work primarily within these guidelines and traditions.

14. Oral & Literate Traditions: The Role of Opposing Forces. Concert Report No. 3

The balance between the literate and oral traditions is but one of the intersections of Western European and African cultures reflected throughout the history of jazz. Each tradition brought with it advantages that jazz used to shape its own unique development. For a healthy evolution, jazz needed to keep both of these traditions alive and healthy, even as the balance shifted to favor one or the other at various times. Even in its most compositional period, jazz kept ties to its improvisational roots. And when the balance shifted in favor of the oral tradition, jazz improvisers were often judged by how compositionally inspired their solos might be.

15. Jazz as an Art Form: Past, Present & Future

The American culture is tremendously diverse. It is only appropriate that the musical art form that reflects it should be equally diverse. As jazz developed, its future status was not always assured. Its cross-cultural voice had to find a place in the mainstream of American music, which was not always accessible to the African-American voice. Its future as a vibrant art form depends on its ability to continually reflect the dominant cultural concerns of the day in a meaningful and useful way.

Authors/Partners

Authors/Partners
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Chemeketa Community College has been working with Coast Learning Systems for many years. We have experienced timely responses, exemplary customer service, and professionalism from our partners at Coast."
Debra Hogle, Distance Education & Academic Technology, Chemeketa Community College

Customization

Instructors can customize the course by making learning assets open or closed to student view, add learning assets such as new assignments, discussion forums, web research activities, and extra credit work. Instructors also have the option to request a “copy” of their prior course each term. Finally, there is the option of turning on automatic student tracking that simplifies the evaluation process.

How to Adopt Course & Print Materials

There is no fee paid by an institution or instructor when the online course/content is adopted. Each student is required to purchase the course materials which includes a one-time use Access Code. To adopt and offer this course online, instructors complete an Online Course Request Form prior to the start of each term, and a course shell will be provided by the date requested. Instructors also have the option to request a “copy” of their prior course each term.

This online course is hosted and provided in a Moodle® (LMS) shell, and instructors can link from their institution’s LMS or send their students directly to the class URL. Coast Learning Systems provides instructor and student technical support via an electronic help desk, which is monitored 7 days a week. Our goal is to make sure you enjoy teaching with our content and that your students have an engaging and positive learning experience.

The Online Course Request Form should be submitted at least two weeks prior to the start of your class.

Introduction to Jazz Online
Kendall Hunt Publishing Company
ISBN: 978-1-4652-0595-7
This course is also well-suited for a Flipped Classroom or hybrid class.