Author Archives: Ellington Study Group

2/6/2021 – Masterclass Signup and Pandemic Update

The Ellington Study Group LA has been on hiatus since March, 2020 – we’re having our first online meeting on Sunday Feb 7th 2021 at 10am PST. This event is available only to ASA members, so please visit the Academy of Scoring Arts website for more information.

In the meantime I’m collecting names and gauging interest for a private online composition and arranging masterclass. I’m envisioning a very small group of say, six? Four? Three or four meetings, a week apart, with written assignments and individual original score study/analysis…in other words your own works presented to the group.

I would like to keep this group moving fast and furious, and focus primarily on linear/quantum jazz and contemporary harmony – topics we’ve touched on in past meetings, but with a more in-depth and applied focus. I’m really interested in ways to inject cool harmonic movement into modern film/TV/jazz and rock music, in a way that isn’t talking about traditional analysis or chord symbols. We did this with early jazz music and the many ways to use passing “chords”, which are actually just a moment by moment manifestation of linear movement – thus the term “quantum” harmony – it’s not really a chord until the moment you perceive it and then it moves somewhere else.

And I’m REALLY into looking at your original music, and sharing it with a small group will be really good for you and everyone.

I’m looking at a price of $100 – $400 for anything from two to four classes, or more?

Please fill out the following form and let me know what you think and if you’d like to be added to the list to pursue this masterclass.   Thanks and feel free to contact me directly- Thanks! Scott

2/1/2019 – Quantum Harmony, Early Jazz – Special Guest Joshua Moshier

Our next class on February 1st will be jam-packed with a detailed of some of the basic harmony of jazz music. I’ll start with a deep dive into early jazz harmony, focusing on how improvising players manipulated and exploited the “classical” chromaticism of popular music and the evolved late 19th century European tradition. I’ll talk about interpreting diminished passing chords, secondary dominants, other chromaticism, and some of the ways the complex jazz harmonic tradition evolved from three and four-voice harmony and voice leading. I want to take a look at the classic Ellington piece “East St. Louis Toodle-oo,” and if we have time we’ll get into the more modern polyphonic music of artists like Steve Lacy, the “Downtown” NYC sound, and some music from the 21st century “Trad” jazz movement.

After a short schmooze break I’ll bring up our special guest Joshua Moshier. Joshua is a magnificent jazz pianist and composer, and has become an established presence as composer for film and TV. He’ll discuss his career, his jazz background, how he combines improvisation with composed material, and the process of recording and editing scores which feature improvised music.

Link to purchase tickets on Eventbrite

About Joshua Moshier:

Joshua’s live-action work includes scoring the FX series Baskets, starring Zach Galifianakis, the Emmy-nominated Netflix series Special from Jim Parsons’ That’s Wonderful Productions, the Netflix film Happy Anniversary from writer/director Jared Stern, and the main title music for the Emmy-nominated IFC series Documentary Now! starring Fred Armisen and Bill Hader.
In animation, Joshua’s work includes the upcoming HBO Max series Looney Tunes Cartoons, the Netflix series Dragons: Rescue Riders from DreamWorks, and the viral animated hit Sidewalk, directed by Celia Bullwinkel.
Joshua studied music at Northwestern University. Throughout and after college, he delved deeply into the Chicago jazz scene, performing as a pianist with Marquis Hill, Chris Madsen, Milton Suggs, John Moulder and many others. In his own group co-led with Mike Lebrun, he released Joy Not Jaded and The Local Colorists, as well as his Chamber Music America commissioned work Touch and Go: The Studs Terkel Project.
Joshua is an alumnus of the Sundance Institute Film Music Program (Narrative Feature) and the BMI Conducting Workshop.

Class Materials 9/21/19

VALT 4 - Dragnet
Valt 6 -Dragon

Linear Movement 1
Sweet Smell of Success Analysis



9/21/2019 More Noir, Linear Harmony and Jeff Beal

On Saturday, Sept. 21st the Academy of Scoring Arts will host the latest installment of my Ellington Study Group.  I am excited to have as a guest speaker Jeff Beal (House of Cards, Monk, Blackfish, The Queen of Versailles). This jazz-oriented discussion will continue our exploration about scoring techniques in film noir. Jeff is an exceptionally creative and prolific composer and has a wealth of wisdom to share. Don’t miss this unforgettable meeting with a modern legend in film and television scoring.

I’ll start by give a talk about harmony: linear, chromatic, and non-functional harmony are all parts of the jazz and film composer’s “noir” toolkit, with roots in late 19th and early 20th century classical music. In the 40’s and 50’s. jazz and film composers and performers drew heavily on this tradition. We’ll start with Billy Strayhorn’s arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Blue Serge” from 1947, then I’ll give a quick overview of some concepts of linear/chromatic harmony from a jazz and modern music composer’s perspective. Then we’ll then look at a few more cues from Elmer Bernstein’s 1957 score for “Sweet Smell of Success” as well as a some excerpts of a recent scoring project of  my own.

Jeff Beal will talk about his jazz influences, his trumpet background, and noir chromatic harmony in his highly lauded score for “House of Cards”, and about his upcoming commission from the LA Master Chorale.

Class Materials 3/23/2019

Sweet Smell of Success Analysis

Sweet Smell of Success Analysis