What is the course about?
This course aims to take you on a journey from the beginnings of jazz piano at the turn of the twentieth century and introduce you to the key styles that evolved over the last 100 years as well as the pianists who became associated with or helped to develop certain styles of playing. We will place these developments in a historical context and using some classic recordings as examples, we will develop a further listening guide.
What will we cover?
- The origins of the music looking in particular at the birthplace of jazz piano, New Orleans, and why it was these new sounds started to emerge from this particular city
- Boogie-woogie and early blues styles which came from the south and stride piano which developed in the Northeast and included practitioners such as James P. Johnson, Early Hines, Fats Waller and Art Tatum
- The Swing era of the 1930s, and two great band-leaders, Count Basie and the inimitable Duke Ellington who made an indelible mark on the music
- Analyse some of the styles that emerged postwar from the 1940s onwards, including the innovations of bebop as well as post-bop, abstraction, funk, and some of the key features and players of these different styles including Thelonius Monk and Bud Powell
- The pianists who emerged in the 1950s and 1960s including Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Cecil Taylor.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Have an overview of the development of jazz piano from its origins in New Orleans through to the present day
- Distinguish more clearly the different styles of jazz piano which evolved over the last century and some key figures associated with these styles
- Understand better why certain styles of jazz piano evolved in the way they did and how some of these styles fed directly into and influenced popular culture.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No previous knowledge of music is required but you should have an interest in music and be keen to find out more. You will need to follow written and verbal instructions in English, engage in class discussions and take notes in English.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Tutor presentation and explanation, including handouts
Guided listening and watching of audio and audio-visual examples
Class discussion and debate
Listening and reading outside class is encouraged and once enrolled futher online resources will be available.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Please bring a notebook and pen.
You may wish to buy some of the music or books recommended in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
We recommend: MD651 A short history of jazz: Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis
To find out more about music history classes and to read our year-long selection of courses, please see the blog post Music history: your guide to the 2019/20 programme which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.