Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
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

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  Library-based research  On-line based research  Individual tutorials by arrangement

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

Resources & Reading list

Module Blackboard site. 

Mark Levine (1995). The Jazz Piano Book. 

Hartley Library reserves. 

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

Hartley Library audio/visual reserves. 

Mark Levine (1995). The Jazz Theory Book. 



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


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings