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The University of Southampton

MUSI2024 Jazz Theory

Module Overview

This module focuses on common jazz harmony as used by jazz musicians and improvisers. It also explores harmonic and rhythmic devices used by some jazz musicians to inform their improvisations. The course will focus predominantly on jazz standards (music from The Great American Songbook), and there may also be a chance to look at more contemporary styles.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Introduction to identifying and analysing common harmonic and rhythmic devices used within jazz standards. - Introduction to making creative decisions about chord reharmonisation. - Introduction to applying appropriate scale choices when composing a solo over a set of common jazz changes.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Analysing and labeling a jazz leadsheet using appropriate harmonic devices
  • Building chords and scales using upper extensions
  • Altering chord progressions with substitute and passing chords
  • Making creative choices about chord extensions
  • Transcribing and analysing a typical jazz solo
  • Writing a single-line jazz solo over a standard chord progression


This module introduces students to the theoretical understanding of harmonic and some rhythmic conventions associated with jazz music, much which will be drawn from the classic repertoire of The Great American Songbook. It starts with simple nomenclature (chord symbols & spelling) and progresses through analysing functional harmony, modes, chord extensions and substitutions. It culminates in students having knowledge and understanding of adding their own chord substitutions to a well-known standard, transcribing a typical jazz solo, and writing an exemplar solo line over a given chord progression employing theoretical concepts assimilated from the module.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures Individual study and listening ï‚· Library-based research ï‚· On-line based research ï‚· Individual tutorials by arrangement

Preparation for scheduled sessions24
Completion of assessment task60
Wider reading or practice42
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Hartley Library audio/visual reserves. 

Module Blackboard site. 

Barry Kernfield (1995). What to Listen for In Jazz. 

Mark Levine (1995). The Jazz Theory Book. 

Mark Levine (1995). The Jazz Piano Book. 

Hartley Library reserves. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  ( words) 50%
Essay  ( words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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