ATS2687 - The ethnomusicology of improvisation - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music


Dr Adrian McNeil

Unit guides



  • First semester 2017 (Day)


This unit provides a series of structured strategies and devices for developing a systematic approach to melodic based improvisation skills. It looks at melodic elements and structures in terms of modes, intonation, microtonal inflections and flavours and draws upon systems and processes for developing improvisatory approaches from jazz, blues, Hindustani music, Arabic music, Latin music, Western art music and other musical sources. The unit involves both practical and theoretical components.


Upon successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. identify and explain the theoretical and practical aspects of improvisation in music;
  2. discuss the formative relationship between culture, music and improvisation practices;
  3. interpret the forms and processes of improvisatory practices from a diverse range of cultural sources;
  4. implement practical skills and strategies for developing individual improvisatory approaches to music.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units.