|INTODUCTION TO JAZZ HARMONY AT THE
Jazz HAP is a practical textbook on the basic principles
of harmony, intended specifically for the jazz musician. In 60 lessons,
divided into 12 chapters, it treats harmony and voice leading applied
in jazz. An overview of the subjects is given in the table of contents.
Jazz HAP is employed as required subject matter at the jazz department
of a number of conservatories in Holland and Belgium.
The book is mainly intended for those jazz musicians, both professional
and amateur, who feel handicapped by their shortcomings at the keyboard.
Specifically I have in mind vocalists - for them the piano is indispensable
for many reasons - and horn players and bass players, who may wish to
accompany their students, demonstrate the harmonic aspects of jazz music
in their lessons, or deepen their own insight by means of the piano.
Learning to know your way around the keyboard is also a great help for
ear training and for an understanding of music in general, besides, it's
fun! It's also conceivable, that people who are familiar with traditional
harmony might be interested to learn how chords are applied in the realm
Jazz is, for the most part, tonal music. For this reason the material
discussed in Jazz HAP predominantly follows the traditional concepts of
harmony and voice leading. In my opinion, these have proven their value
for centuries. However, Jazz HAP will almost immediately deal with seventh
chords and chromaticism, both essential elements of jazz harmony.
In jazz HAP, special attention is paid to the relevance of embellishing
chords. These are, to my opinion, slightly under-exposed in most harmony
books. In jazz music, harmonic decorations are commonly used to enliven
the harmonies under a melody. They present an opportunity to constantly
vary the harmonization of a melody, without interfering with the global
harmonic functions of the chords.
Those who want to study Jazz HAP without the help of a teacher should
realize though, that the book is no bedtime reading, but a textbook on
a fairly complex subject. Understanding the subject matter requires concentration
and patience. Students should not be dismayed by the terminology and symbol
notation, which are unavoidable in any discipline. Besides, they will
quickly become familiar with these specifics.
For carrying out the exercises successfully, the accompanying text and
the analysis of the examples are a little more advanced than strictly
necessary. Students should not be discouraged when they do not immediately
grasp something. In such cases it is best to read on and trust that things
will become clearer on second reading. Especially in the beginning, a
solid understanding of the examples is more important than brooding upon
the accompanying analysis. In reading chord symbols, don't neglect the
voice-leading rules, but do not let them get in your way. Usually it's
better to develop some fluency and lustily play on, than to struggle with
the best connection of the chords.
Finally, one last - not unimportant - advice: While playing the examples
and exercises, never discard anything! Always listen closely to the sound
of the chords and chord progressions. A slip, a 'wrong note', or an error
might turn out to be an unexpected discovery.