Super Nova: Wayne Shorter, Composer/Improviser

Course Description
In this course the music of Wayne Shorter will be analysed. Shorter used many different techniques and approaches in his compositions. In a way, analyzing Shorter’s music provides us with an overview of 20th century compositional techniques, firmly connected to the vocabulary and the tradition of jazz.  Insights in Shorter’s compositional techniques will help students in creating their own music as well.

Shorter’s compositions are of an elegant complexity which often only reveals itself after thorough analysis. Analysis will provide an understanding of the structure of a composition, and will enforce both awareness and appreciation of the individuality of a composition. It will turn out that many compositions are created starting from a specific ‘idea’, every time unique for an individual composition. Although some pieces seem to be composed loosely, or some seem to be enigmatic at times, in this course we will see that often a tight construction is present.
Close analysis will also reveal more of the relationships between Shorter’s compositions and his improvisations. While this is instructive for learning more about Shorter’s approach to music, the student can learn how improvisation in general can be informed by analyzing music. This will help to strengthen and deepen their own way of improvising, and show possible ways of connecting a composition to an improvisation on that piece.
For every class students will fulfill analytical assignments; some transcribing will be required as well. Reading of analytical literature may be part of the course.

Course Details

teacher Barbara Bleij
term September-December 2023
method of instruction weekly group lessons
assessment portfolio of analyses of the pieces dealt with in class, and one individual exam assignment
credits 5