Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
MUC 155B
Course Title:
Improvisation II
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Covers how scales and chords are constructed and used, including melodic construction, phrasing, motifs, riffs, substitution chords, voice leading, paraphrase and melodic ramps. Includes harmonic construction of all styles jazz and ear training. By the end of the sequence, students match solo against song form. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Pattern/scale booklet and new songs (¿lead sheetsî) will be practiced each session by the group. Other material will be handed out as needed. Lecture and instructor demonstration covering patterns, songs, and applications will be longer this term because of the increased complexity of the material. Applications and improvisations will be performed individually.

  • Students will be able to play the eight first term patterns from memory.
  • Students will be able to play these patterns at quarter note = 160 speed.
  • Students will be able to play all first term songs from memory.
  • Students will be able to play all given seventh chords and related scales.
  • Students will be able to play all melodies and their chord progressions.
  • Students will be able to solo over blues, A1/A2, and AABA forms.
  • Students will be able to complete solos in a tempo range of quarter note = 70 to quarter note = 160.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Sub-grouping and grading of class by skill levels may or may not be continued depending on first term achievement by students continuing the course. If class has leveled outî grading will become competitive. All grading will be based on classroom performance of items listed below (as recorded weekly by instructor); because testing is ongoing, no final exam will be given. Criteria will include:

  • Individual performance of patterns, chords, and scales, read or memorized
  • Individual performance of songs, read or memorized
  • Individual applications of suggested techniques
  • Individual soloing over all songs and song forms as used throughout term

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • Review of first term patterns; decorative tones added to short patterns and triads
  • Introduction of minor 7th, dominant 7th, major 7th chords-play through
  • Alignment of traditional minor scales and dorian mode to minor 7th chord
  • Alignment of be-bop scale to dominant 7th; major and pentatonic scales to major 7th
  • Introducing the turn-back and a new pattern; play through
  • Application of first term patterns to the turn-back
  • Speed drills on all material
  • Reappointment of all material to different progressions


  • Up ramps
  • Down ramps
  • Melodic arches and inverted arches
  • Random insertions of triads, 7th chords, related scales
  • Random insertions of decorated short patterns
  • Precise insertions of both the turnaround and the turn-back

Songs: (vocal selections TBA)

  • A1/A2 form: Groovin Hi, Ornitholog
  • AABA form: Take the A Train, All the Things You Are, Hi Fly
  • Short form minor: Solar
  • Blues (with bridge): Unit Seven

Competencies and Skills:
Skills required for at least a C or grade are as follows:

  • Performance of all first term patterns and songs from memory
  • Performance of all first term patterns at quarter note = 160
  • Performance of all new chords, scales, and songs at sight
  • Performance, upon request, of ramps, arches, and inserts with 70% accuracy
  • Good and accurate soloing on older material
  • Solo(s) generally fitting the chord changes and form of new material