Music Improvisation and Symbolic Philosphoy Music

164A Fall 2001

The Improvisation class will be in Room 135 in Morrison Hall on the University of Berkeley campus on Monday 4:00 to 7:00 pm

Professor: Steve Coleman
Control Number: 60791

Units:  3

Required Texts

Harmonic Experience : Tonal Harmony from Its Natural Origins to Its Modern Expression. W. A. Mathieu.  Rochester Vermont  Inner Traditions Intl Ltd, 1997

Additional recommended texts (at least one of the following is required)

*A Theory of Harmony.  Ernst Levy  Albany New York.  State University of New York Press 1985
*Structural Set Analysis of African Music : 1-Adowa, 2-Bawa.  Willie Anku.  Legon Ghana.  Soundstage Production

Addition Recommended Reading

*Applied Metaphysics : Truth and Passing Time.  [from The Review of Metaphysics Vol. XIX, No. 4]  Robert Brumbaugh.  Boston Massetuchsets 1966
*The Melakarta Janya-Raca Scheme [diagram of 72 Melakarta formations]
(* texts may be difficult to find, excerpts may be distributed for the purposes of the class only )

Notes and Tones : Musician-To-Musician Interviews. Arthur Taylor
New York:  Perigee Book 1982

To Be Or Not To Bop. Memoirs. Dizzy Gillespie. Garden City, N.Y.  Doubleday 1979

Miles, The Autobiography. Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe. New York : Simon and Schuster,  1990

African Rhythm and African Sensibility. John Miller Chernoff. Chicago:  University of Chicago Press  1979

I. Course Content

Focus on the basic skills recommended to build a foundation as a music improviser.  It includes analysis of the work of master improvisers and concentrates on the acquisition of skills and understanding required to appreciate and participate in true improvisation.  The primary focus is on the communicative aspect of music improvisation within a group setting.

There will be a great deal of emphasis on the historical development of improvisation, specifically as developed in the United States in this century.  However there will also be some discussion of how this development relates to the development of musical thought throughout history, including but not limited to the ancient world.  Also there will be some discussion of the philosophy behind the music and some insights on historically what purpose music served including focus on the philosophical and theoretical implications of music improvisation.  Some attention will be placed on recent developments of the major African-American spontaneous composers in this century, this tradition being the most extensive and accessible of the improvisation systems available today.  In addition some material from the continent of Africa and the sub-continent of India will be analyzed as well as some of the approaches of the course instructor.  Considerations of music philosophies from the recent and ancient cultures will also be stressed.

II. Assignments

Emphasis is placed on thinking, creating, listening, analysis and participation.  Students will be asked to participate in improvisation sessions that demonstrate absorption of the materials presented throughout the course as well as demonstrating an understanding of some theoretical and philosophical aspects.  Also there will be some discussion of music theory and the importance of balance and relationships in music in general and improvisation in particular.  Throughout the course the importance of experience, study and using the ear will be stressed.

III. Reading Assignment

Harmonic Experience

IV. Listening Assignment

Excerpts from (but not limited to) some of the following:

The Complete Dean Benedetti Recordings of Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker : The Complete Savoy Studio Sessions
Bird : The Complete Charlie Parker On Verve
Steve Coleman : Drop Kick
John Coltrane : The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings
Louis Armstrong : The Hot Five Recordings

This schedule may vary according to the level of the students.