The New School for
Jazz and Contemporary Music

M-BASE Ensemble

This course uses oral dictation to improve students’ melodic ear training abilities and their ability to distinguish new and unfamiliar rhythms and melodic passages. The music taught is based primarily on the compositions of Ralph Alessi, David Gilmore, Steve Coleman, and Andy Milne, where the students face very specific rhythmic challenges not normally found in standard jazz repertoire. The goal is to give students a firsthand look at the anatomy of some of the music characterized as “M-BASE” and help them develop the musical muscles to understand and improvise with this music. Although much of this music doesn’t “sound like” traditional jazz standards, it draws heavily on the lexicon of that music. Therefore much attention is given to making a connection between the melodic and harmonic content of M-BASE and the more familiar jazz standards. This is not intended to be a superficial survey on “how to solo over odd time signatures” but rather an extensive study in rhythm and how to develop a rhythmic concept that will open doors for playing in any meter, including 4/4. The approach used encourages students to hear musical phrases rather than time signatures. The process of eliminating the conceptual bar line helps foster a greater sense of freedom, based on understanding the music from the ground up. Final enrollment is at the discretion of the instructor. 2 credits (Fall only)

Connect with the New School