Main Subject Composition Jazz & Pop 1

Module code
Curricular domain
Practical Classes
Group size
Number of course weeks
Class duration
One 50-minute lesson per week
Total contact hours
25 hours
Study load
451 hours

Form / content / level

Admitted to the ArtEZ Jazz & Pop Composition main subject year 1.
See Competencies Matrix.
Acquiring a broad understanding of the artistic and technical aspects of composing and arranging. The compositions/arrangements produced during this year should lead to a pass at the propaedeutic exam. For this, students have to display their readiness to learn new skills/concepts and to show that their talents allow for sufficient further development.
Relation to other modules
The module Harmony at the Piano for Composing teaches students to effectively use the piano as a tool for composing and analyzing pieces.

The general theory modules provide a solid foundation in music notation, harmony and ear skills.

The module Music Theory for Composing/Arranging Jazz & Pop is taught by a teacher in classical music theory and addresses key aspects of musical theory, including but not limited to: musical analysis, counterpoint, theory of musical form, and twentieth-century music.

Harmony: voicings and voice leading, adapting chord progressions, harmonization, harmonic rhythm, modulation.


Function, content and characteristics of melodies and counterparts in various musical styles/idioms; the effect of text on melodic pitch, rhythm and pattern.


The ability to correctly and efficiently notate music in various styles/idioms; creating and processing sheet music.

The composition process: when to make important decisions and on what grounds; planning and building.


Researching approach, concept, idiom, instrumentation, ideas, and translating this research into a composition or arrangement, using lead sheets, scores, and by ear.

Simple big band pieces (e.g., Basie), vocal compositions (e.g., Manhattan Transfer), small ensembles (e.g., Birth of the Cool, Tower of Power).


Instrumentation theory continued: range, notation and function of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion


Discussing self-composed pieces, which should include a pop song, a jazz composition with one or more brass instruments, a piece with two or more voices, and several smaller solo or duo pieces as 'instrument studies'.
Mode(s) of instruction
Individual lessons and group lessons, which are also attended by students from different years of the main course.
Material & Tools
A selection from the reading list above, based on the student's development and the nature of his own compositions:

Big band pieces of a complexity level comparable to Big Dipper (Thad Jones);

Simple Ellington pieces (e.g., from Such Sweet Thunder);

Vocal compositions (e.g., A Nightingale Sang by Manhattan Transfer);

Real Book pieces, including harmonically more advanced pieces like Omaha Celebration by Pat Metheny and Change of Mind by Bob Mintzer.
Student activity
Composing/arranging original pieces.

Organizing performances; studying and recording compositions by the student.

Attending a wide and diverse range of concerts.

Building a professional network of potential performers and fellow students of Composition, including students at other locations.

Presenting and discussing self-written pieces with fellow students of Composition.

Examination and assessment

Mode(s) of assessment
Assessment by the main subject instructor at the end of each semester.
Generally, the criteria are: consistency, efficiency, economy of means, practicality, intrinsic persuasiveness, richness, balance, intelligence, motivation, inventiveness, stylistic awareness, imagination, reflection (analysis, presentation), timing, authenticity and diversity.
Pass requirements
The student has completed this module if he is awarded a minimum grade of 5.5 at the end of the second semester.
Examination procedure
At the end of both semesters the instructor fills out an assessment form designed specifically for this module. Assessment is comprised of a verbal evaluation and a concluding grade. The instructor reviews this assessment with the student during the first subsequent lesson. Assessment at the end of the autumn semester is formative and expressed in terms of satisfactory/unsatisfactory. It indicates a student's progress in this module. No ECs are awarded and there is no resit. Modules can only be absolved, and ECs awarded, after the end of the spring semester.
Resit options
See the Education and Assessment Plan.

Module summary

This module is intended to prepare students through weekly lessons for the propaedeutic exam Composition Jazz & Pop. The student's compositions should reveal his advanced understanding of the artistic and technical aspects of composing and arranging, his readiness to learn new skills/concepts; in addition, he should display talents that allow for sufficient further development.