21M.342 Composing for Jazz Orchestra

Fall 2008

Photo of part of a large jazz ensemble on stage - saxophones and trombones - with conductor and composer out front.

Mark Harvey conducts the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra through a reading of student Mike Lee's final composition project "Empty Bottles."  The score of this composition is among the materials provided on the assignments page. (Image courtesy of Mark Harvey.)

Course Highlights

This site features an extensive discography on the listening page, and two complete scores from the students' final composition assignment

Coming shortly: audio and video recordings of six class lectures, Soundpainting workshops and performances with Walter Thompson, and performances of two student compositions by the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble and Aardvark Jazz Orchestra. Subscribe to the RSS feed at the bottom of this page to be notified when this content is added.

Course Description

This class explores composition and arrangement for the large jazz ensemble from 1920s foundations to current postmodern practice. Consideration given to a variety of styles and to the interaction of improvisation and composition. Study of works by Basie, Ellington, Evans, Gillespie, Golson, Mingus, Morris, Nelson, Williams, and others. Open rehearsals, workshops, and performances of student compositions by the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble and the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra.


This class was made possible by the MIT Music and Theater Arts Section with special funding from the MIT Alumni Class Funds program to encourage curricular innovation. Dr. Fred Harris made it possible for Walter Thompson to appear with the Festival Jazz Ensemble. Mark Harvey's spring 2009 faculty concert featuring Walter Thompson with the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra was made possible with support from Music and Theater Arts and a grant from the Council for the Arts at MIT. Mulatu Astatke's lecture was funded by the Abramowitz Artist-in-Residence program.

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Dr. Mark Harvey

Course Meeting Times

2 sessions / week
1.5 hours / session

Plus required outside events