Jazz Music Theory

The principal subject of Jazz Music Theory is a combination of art education and theoretical reflection, in both the bachelor’s and the master’s degree programme. Theoretical knowledge, skills and reflection go hand in hand with a musical practice, for example as an instrumentalist or arranger. The starting point is the unique character of jazz music, with a keen eye for the broader musical-cultural and historical context of which jazz is a part. The CvA, with its broadly oriented internationally acclaimed jazz programme is pre-eminently the place where these principles can be fruitfully put into practice. 

In addition to the regular lessons other events will be organised during the academic year. These include: a colloquium where students and teachers can present work in progress; guest lecturers, such as the annual ‘Music Theorist in Residence’ programme; and study days and conferences organised by the Dutch-Flemish Society for Music Theory. 

The year in which the students start is determined by their previous knowledge and experience. This decision is taken after the entrance exam.

Edwin Paarlberg

Section representative
Barbara Bleij

In the bachelor’s phase, the programme provides a thorough grounding in jazz theory skills. Core subjects include analysis/transcription, harmony and arranging/orchestrating. Students also get acquainted with main movements in the professional field by means of theoretical literature study. In addition, a broad package of traditional Western music theory is part of the study programme, such as classical analysis and harmony, counterpoint and instrumentation. Students also acquire didactic skills in methodology lessons and internships, and learn how to work with young musicians in various practical situations. 

Most of the lessons of the principal subject of Music Theory are given individually or in very small groups, which makes intensive, tailor-made study possible. Furthermore, within the rich curriculum of the CvA there are many possibilities to place individual accents.

After the study
With a bachelor's degree, music theorists can work as teachers at the level of higher professional eduction and in institutions for amateur musicians. 

Admission requirements
The entrance examination focuses especially on:

  • affinity with jazz
  • knowledge of jazz history
  • aptitude towards and proficiency in the specific rhythm and harmony of jazz
  • ear perception (harmonic, rhythmic and melodic hearing)* harmony at the piano
  • certain knowledge of classical music theory
  • readiness to do music-theoretical research

In the master’s phase, the emphasis will increasingly lie on the personal interests and ambitions of the student, both within the core subjects and in the rest of the programme, culminating in the Master’s Thesis.

After the study
With a master’s degree, students are qualified to teach at institutions of professional music education or universities. They can also apply for PhD positions at home and abroad. 

Edwin Paarlberg coordinator
Barbara Bleij analysis, counterpoint, ear-training, methodology
Walther Stuhlmacher harmony at the piano
Henk Huizingaharmony, arranging