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Unit of study_

JAZZ2624: Jazz Music Skills 4

Semester 2, 2020 [Normal day] - Sydney

Harmony and Arranging Module: Students learn big band orchestration including ensemble scoring, sax soli, background writing, form and the related uses of counterpoint. There will be detailed analysis of scores of major composers and arrangers. Selected arrangements will be rehearsed and recorded by a Big Band. Students may study contemporary techniques encompassing elements of polytonality, serial composition, extended instrumental effects and textural voicings. This subject also deals with the harmonic concepts used in Jazz Improvisation. Aural Module: Consolidates all concepts from Jazz Music Skills 1, 2 and 3. By its conclusion, students will have systematically examined, over four semesters, aural concepts that are essential to creative musical interplay in jazz performance. N.B Both the Harmony and Aural Modules must be passed in order for the student to complete.

Unit details and rules

Unit code JAZZ2624
Academic unit Jazz
Credit points 6
JAZZ2604 or JAZZ2634
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Andrew Robertson,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Homework assignments for H&A module
5% Multiple weeks 1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Arranging assignments (H&A module)
2 x assignments, 20% for each
20% Multiple weeks 3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Small test Class Test 1 - Ear Training module
10% Week 03 90 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO6 LO8 LO7
Small test Class Test 2 (Ear Training)
10% Week 07 90 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO6 LO8 LO7
Small test End of Semester H&A Class test
10% Week 12 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Small test End Of Semester Test (Ear Training)
Final test for Ear Training module
30% Week 12 90 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO6 LO8 LO7
Assignment End of semester assignment (H&A module)
Summation of all work in Semester 4 (Harmony module)
15% Week 12 20-30 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

Assessment summary

  • Homework assignments (Harmony): Homework assignments will cover different topics based on content covered in class. There will be 5 weeks of homework tasks each with a 2% weighting.
  • Arranging assignments (Harmony): Students are required to submit two larger assignments throughout the semester. Each assignment is of equal weighting (20%), and is designed to build skills toward the final assignment.
  • Class tests (Ear Training): Students will be required to complete a written test in which they will be asked to identify and transcribe exercises performed on the piano by the examiner. 
  • End of semester assignment (Harmony): Extended big band arrangement with a duration of 3-5 mins with full score, parts and recording with a Conservatorium big band. Students are required to submit an arrangement that successfully demonstrates the student’s knowledge of jazz harmony and arranging in the most immediate and direct way. This arrangement will demonstrate an overall grasp of both fundamentals and more advanced concepts in jazz harmony, and exhibit facility with the content covered in class.
  • End of Semester Class Test (Harmony): Students will be required to complete a handwritten test covering all topic areas covered in Semester 2.
  • End of Semester Class Test (Ear Training): Students will be required to complete a written exam in which they will be asked to identify and transcribe exercises performed on the piano by the examiner.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The following assessment criteria are used for performance work in this unit of study:

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Comprehensive and outstanding technical control and musical integrity in relation to developmental expectations. Musical individuality consistently projected to create a persuasive personal representation of the work. Performance flair indicative of soloist standard. A mark of 95 or above indicates extraordinary technical virtuosity and musical artistry.


75 - 84

Excellent technical, musical and stylistic achievement. Consistently coherent and expressive performance. Some personal interpretation of the work suggesting soloist potential. 


65 - 74

Confident technique with evidence of solid musicality and some stylistic achievement. Occasional lapses indicative of unresolved technical, artistic and/or stylistic issues. Projects potential for further development.


50 - 64

Satisfactory level of preparation and musical engagement. Some inconsistencies in musicianship, style and/or technique. Musical imagination and overall performance sense developing though some insecurity in this area.


0 - 49

Unsatisfactory technical achievement and/or unsatisfactory level of musical and artistic engagement. Limitations may be of such a scale and consistency as to call into question the student’s future direction in the programme.

The following assessment criteria are used for written work in this unit of study:

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Demonstrates high level of initiative in research and reading; sophisticated critical analysis of evidence; high level engagement with theoretical issues, innovative use of reading/research material and impressive command of underlying debates and assumptions; properly documented and written with style, originality and precision.


75 - 84

Demonstrates initiative in research and wide, appropriate reading; complex understanding of question and ability to critically review material in relation to underlying assumptions and values; analyses material in relation to empirical and theoretical contexts; properly documented; clear, well-developed structure and argument with some signs of literary style.


65 - 74

Evidence of broader understanding than pass level; offers synthesis with some critical evaluation of material; coherent argument using a range of relevant evidence; some evidence of independent thought, good referencing. A high credit (70-74) shows some evidence of ability to problematise and think conceptually.


50 - 64

Written work meets basic requirements in terms of reading/research; relevant material; tendency to descriptive summary rather than critical argument; makes a reasonable attempt to avoid paraphrasing; reasonably coherent structure; often has weaknesses in particular areas, especially in terms of narrow or underdeveloped treatment of question; acceptable documentation.


0 - 49

Work may fail for any or all of the following reasons: Unacceptable paraphrasing; irrelevance of content; poor spelling; poor presentation; grammar or structure so sloppy it cannot be understood; failure to demonstrate understanding of content; insufficient or overlong word length.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

As per University of Sydney guidelines

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Extended (non-diatonic) reharmonisation Exploring re-harmonisation of melodies using non-diatonic means. Concentrating on expanding tri-tone substitution; Coltrane harmony; reharmonising from melody note. is a good resource on the Coltrane harmonic concepts. Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 02 Counterlines In The Big Band We’ve explored these previously however today we’ll look creating counterlines in a Big Band context. Making use of unison across multiple sections; section vs section; harmonised lines; individualised instruments; selecting the best instruments to work with each other; blending colours. Also, where and when do we use counterlines. Are they influenced by the tempo of the piece. Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 03 Colouring Ensembles – The Colours and Styles of the Greats One of the marks of many of the greatest arrangers was their ability to create unusual and new instrumental colours. For some, certain sounds became their signature and hallmark. Over the coming weeks we’ll examine a number of these including Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Nelson Riddle, Gil Evans and Glenn Miller. - Quincy Jones/Sammy Nestico – Flutes and Trumpets - Duke Ellington/Glenn Miller – Clarinet Lead - Gil Evans – Flute and Pic; Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 04 Writing For Strings A key element of many jazz recordings from the earliest days of jazz, is string ensemble writing. We will listen to and investigate some of the most famous recordings with jazz and string ensembles – including: ‘Bird With Strings’ Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 05 Up Tempo Charts Writing a chart at fast tempo is a completely different beast to a mid tempo or ballad arrangement. Specific considerations must be made for faster tempos including style of voicing; counterline development; rhythm section writing. Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Music of Latin America The study of the musical styles of this continent is a lifelong one, however we will begin looking at the principle rhythms of the region that have directly impacted jazz. Initially we’ll look at the most commonly used styles of ‘Latin-American’ music: • Salsa; • Son • Bossanova; • Samba Specifically we’ll look at understanding the ‘clave’ rhythm and how it works in with melody and the rhythm section. Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Score Analysis – You Go To My Head (Bill Holman) Bill Holman is one of the most respected Post WWII Big Band arrangers. His unique style was a key contributor in moving Big Band writing away from the traditional ‘block’ style writing toward what we would now call ‘contemporary’ Big Band arranging. He is a master of the counterline, an element which features in many of his arrangements. He is also a wonderful colourist of instrumental sounds and chords. This chart demonstrates many of his signat Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 Formulating a Successful Big Band Chart To date we have only written single chorus Big Band arrangements. With our main end of year assignment looming of a full maximum 5 minute arrangement, we should examine how to effectively structure a Big Band chart. Let’s listen to a few arrangements and note their structure. Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 09 Score Analysis – ‘Manteca’ by Gil Fuller We’ll analyze another score today to assist with your own major assignment. The score will be famous track ‘Manteca’ as recorded by Dizzy Gillespie’s Big Band. We will look at the voicing choices and options as well as instrumentation decisions. Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 Transposition Review We will review transposition for standard and non-standard Big Band instruments. This includes Eb Saxophones (Alto & Bari); Bb Saxophones (Tenors); Bb Tpts; Bb Clarinets (including Bass Clarinet); Guitar; Tuba and even F Horn Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 11 Music Engraving We will review your music engraving skills and discuss improvements. This is a lesson to best equip you with the skills to format and print out all parts of your major assignment for rehearsal and recording. Semester Summary We’ll do this over the following 2 weeks in preparation for the final class assessment in Week 12. This is your opportunity to ask and discuss anything from our work during the semester. Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 12 End of Semester Class Test - covering all learning activities from Semester 2 Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate knowledge of fundamental jazz harmonic principles through improvisation in a coherent way
  • LO2. analyse jazz arrangements from a range of styles and eras
  • LO3. write arrangements for jazz big band in a number of styles
  • LO4. be becoming fluent in more complex jazz harmony and arranging techniques
  • LO5. complete a smaller-sized arrangement for full big band, and rehearsed and recorded their arrangement.
  • LO6. recognise all intervals within two octaves
  • LO7. identify all chord qualities including all extension and alterations up to 13ths
  • LO8. transcribe short melodies and chord progressions of increasing complexity including chromaticism, modulations and non-functional movement.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.



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