University of Pittsburgh

Jazz Track

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Music BA Curriculum 42 credits

Jazz Track

Dr. Geri Allen, Advisor –


The Jazz Track provides opportunities for each student to develop their individual interests and strengths in jazz performance, composition, and scholarship. Core courses in jazz, ethnomusicology and popular music, as well as Western music history, theory, and musicianship, complement courses in composition, arranging, and improvisation. Jazz is a spontaneous performance art and an ideal collaborative vehicle for exploration across musical genres. The Jazz Track reflects this exploratory ideal by emphasizing innovation and creativity in both performance and scholarship.  Jazz students gain valuable experience by studying with members of our renowned faculty, as well as visiting performers and scholars. They also enjoy opportunities to learn professional recording techniques in the Internet2-ready William R. Robinson Recording Studio; study and practice archival and historical research methods in the Sonny Rollins International Jazz Archives; engage with distinguished local, national, and international jazz artists, scholars, and music industry professionals in the annual Pitt Jazz Seminar and Concert; and perform in the Pitt Jazz Ensemble


Prerequisite course:          

MUS 0100 Fundamentals of Western Music (3 cr.) 


Required Core Courses for all Music Major tracks - 21 credits

MUS 0411 Theory I (3 cr.)

MUS 0412 & 0416 Musicianship 1&2 (2 cr.)

MUS 0222 Music History I (3 cr.), OR MUS 0224 Music History II (3 cr.)

MUS 1310 Intro to Global/Popular Music (3 cr.)

MUS 0711 History of Jazz (3 cr.), or MUS 1326 African American Music in the US (3 cr.)

*MUS 1904 Senior Seminar   (3 cr.)

MUS 1903 Senior Project (1 cr.)

**Ensemble/Private Lessons: 3 semesters (3 cr.) 

(must include at least one world music ensemble)


Jazz Track additions = 21 credits

MUS 1450 Music Production Techniques and Methods (3 cr.)

MUS 0711 History of Jazz (3 cr.) OR MUS 1326 African American Music in the US (3 cr.), whichever course was not taken as part of the required core course

 MUS 1731/2 Jazz Composition and Arranging I or II (3 cr.)

 MUS 1741 Jazz Improvisation I (3 cr.)

 MUS 1742 Jazz Improvisation II (3 cr.)


Private Lessons/Ensemble: 6 semesters (6 cr.) (must include one semester of participation in Jazz Ensemble)


Prerequisite course:  Music 0100 must be passed with at least a “B-” grade before a student is accepted as a Music Major. 


* The Senior Project may consist of a recital, a paper, an oral presentation, or other culminating project suitable to the interests and abilities of the student.  Ambitious Senior Projects could be taken as a “Special Topics-Directed Research” for 1 credit.   


NOTE: Majors may accumulate up to 60 credits in music courses that count towards graduation.  Additional electives may be selected depending on the interests of the student from these: MUS 1222 Medieval & Early Renaissance, MUS 1224, Later Renaissance & Baroque, MUS 1226 Classical & Early Romantic, MUS 1228 Late Romantic & Early 20th Century, MUS 1230 Music since 1945, MUS 1242 Major Composer, MUS 1252 History of Performance Styles, MUS 1332 Music in Latin America, MUS 1340 Music in Africa, MUS 1352 Music in East Asia, MUS 1421 Composition 1, MUS 1422 Composition 2, MUS 1431 Instrumentation & Orchestration, MUS 1441 Electronic & Computer Music 1, MUS 1442 Electronic & Computer Music 2 


* Senior Project: Each student plans a Senior Project under the guidance of a faculty member, and signs a written agreement signed by the faculty members and submitted to the Director of Jazz Studies and the Director of Undergraduate Studies that maps out the project from beginning to completion.  The project might grow out of or result from the Senior Seminar.

The Senior Project should showcase the student’s strengths and interests, whether it is:

1) performing a solo recital;

2) performing in a jazz combo, or  improvising ensemble with traditional and non-traditional instrumentation.

3) having an original composition performed;

4) presenting a research paper, in either written or oral form; or

5) other type of project.

The faculty member may be regular full-time faculty, or a part-time instructor of performance or ensembles employed by the University to teach in the Music Department.  The faculty member will guide and monitor the quality of the Senior Project.

The more ambitious student who wishes to prepare and present a solo recital for 1 credit (registered as “Special Topics-Directed Research”) would write a biographical sketch of each composer represented on the recital program, write program notes, find and pay an accompanist, reserve a recital venue, and publicize the event (i.e. do sufficient work to justify the credit). 


Departmental Honors: To graduate with "Departmental Honors," a student must earn a minimum 3.25 QPA overall, a minimum 3.50 QPA in the music courses with no grade lower than a B-, take the Department's Honors course (Senior Seminar MUSIC 1904 or other designated course) and complete a Senior Project for at least one credit.

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