A student working on a musical composition
A student works on a musical composition. Photo credit: William Bradford
Program Overview

Jazz Composition

Program Type: Major
  • Bachelor of Music (BM)
Division: Jazz Studies

The jazz composition curriculum closely follows the jazz performance course of study. All jazz composition students study with an applied studies teacher on their principal instrument. Students in the jazz composition program begin the sequence of courses in private composition in their first year and explore a variety of styles and idioms. Jazz composition study culminates with the public presentation of original works for jazz ensembles of various sizes on students’ junior and senior recitals.

photo of man conducting jazz group
Guest composer/arranger Michael Mossman ’82 directs the Oberlin Jazz Ensemble. Photo credit: Walter Novak

Oberlin Jazz Ensemble

The Oberlin Jazz Ensemble features jazz as well as classical performance majors. The group performs in Finney Chapel during the academic year and appears at college festivals throughout the United States. The jazz ensemble presents standard repertoire and new works including pieces by student composers. Recent guest solo artists include Etienne Charles, Nicholas Payton, Michael Mossman, Rufus Reid, John and Gerald Clayton, and Eddie Henderson.

Sample Courses

  • JAZZ 120 - Jazz Theory 4 credits
  • JAZZ 130 - Basic Arranging/Composition Techniques 2 credits
  • JAZZ 290 - Introduction to African American Music 4 credits
  • COMP 201 - Composition Class I 4 credits

Jazz Composition News

A drawing of two musicians one playing a guitar the other playing a keyboard

Winter Term: Creating Music Miles Apart

September 23, 2020
Seniors Arthur Welsh and Mark Ligonde had an ambitious goal for Winter Term. The pair planned to release a seven-song album with six different genres and subgenres of music, while residing miles apart. The project would challenge their compositional and production skills, but the end result was even more complex and creative than they imagined.