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The Jazz Language: A Theory Text for Jazz Composition and Improvisation [Paperback]

Dan Haerle
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 1982 0760400148 978-0760400142 1982
This text presents all of the materials commonly used by the jazz musician in a logical order dictated both by complexity and need. The book is not intended to be either an arranging or improvisation text, but a pedagogical reference providing the information musicians need to pursue any activity they wish.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive resource for the jazz theorist Aug. 11 2002
Format:Paperback
The Jazz Language is, quite simply, a theory resource for the jazz improvisor and writer. The book effectively functions as an index of chord change nomenclature & corresponding chords and scales, running the gambit from basic chords and modes to polychords, pentatonic chords and scales, to synthetic chords and scales.
The Jazz Language is to the jazz improvisor and writer as the dictionary is to the novelist: one would not allege that Steinbeck learned to write or was inspired to write by a thorough reading of Noah Webster.
But as a jazz theory text, The Jazz Language is as complete a resource as will be found for the modern jazz musician.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but... Feb. 15 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book covers everything you ever wanted to know(and probably a lot you didn't)about Jazz theory in a mere 50 pages. Intervals, chord structure, modes, substitutions, pentatonic and blues scales, polychords, 5-part harmony: it's all in there. This book is not meant to be a text on improvisation or arranging but merely a reference book. And on that front it succeeds. If Regis called and your friend needed to know how a 13th chord was constructed, you could probably look it up before your 30 seconds ran out. But is it interesting, good, or fun reading? Will it inspire you to pick up your instrument and practice? I don't think so.
I give the book four stars because it does what it sets out to do. It's arranged in an orderly fashion, the chapters cover one thing at a time before moving on, there are quizzes at the end of each chapter to make sure you are getting it. But... I bought the book hoping it would inspire me to delve into some areas I'm weak on and I just can't see it doing that. Plus, it seems a common misconception that all you have to do is learn everything in this book or others like it and you will be the next Charlie Parker. Wrong! Jazz is and always was an imitative art. The theory is used to explain the art but the art didn't come out of the theory. Many of the innovators of jazz did not know half of what's in this book. They learned by listening, assimilating and building upon what came before them. I know 5 times as much about the theory of jazz than my father, yet he can improvise beautiful solos and I run up and down scales.
If you need this book as a reference, fine... plop your money down. I bet it stays on your shelf unless you really need it. But, if you want to improvise , go instead and buy Milt Jackson's CD "Opus De Jazz." You'll learn more from the first song than you can from this or any other book. Plus you'll enjoy it a whole lot more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book ! Oct. 6 2000
Format:Paperback
First of all, who's Dun Hurley ? Its Dan Haerle, an incredible Jazz educator.
Up until recently, this was the GREATEST and practically only Jazz Theory book of its type. Concise... written in plain and simple English. Overwhelmed by that college music theory course..? this book was the tool to get you through. Its still just as great, though Mark Levine now has his flashy (and much bulkier) Jazz Theory Book.
What still makes this book stand out is the fact that it covers all the basics, upfront and in plain English. It doesn't delve into stylistics and performance like Mark Levine's book, but will give you a bird's a view of "Jazz Improv and Music Theory 101". If you need a crash course, this book still reigns supreme, and even alongside The Jazz Theory Book, I'd have to say, its a great starting point, and a must have for teachers.
Other recomended readings would be Jimmy Amadea's Harmonic Foundations for Jazz and Pop Music and definitely those Aebersold tapes and play-a-longs !
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for ALL Musicians Aug. 18 2000
Format:Paperback
This book is written by Dan Haerle of the University of North Texas. If you have yet to hear of the great jazz program there then perhaps you have been asleep the past several years. Haerle sets forth a comprehensive music theory and musicianship program for musicians of all levels. The first chapter begins with a basic presentation about intervals and by the time you are done with this tome you will have a good grasp of the many harmonic and scalar concepts that drive jazz. These are fundamentals, as the title suggests, that need to be in place if you wish to compose or improvise in the jazz idiom. There are study questions and excerises at the end of each chapter that are an invaluable aid for both the teacher and the student alike. If you consider yourself a 'serious' musician in any sense of that word then you ought to be ashamed if you don't own this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book ! Oct. 6 2000
By Eddie Landsberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
First of all, who's Dun Hurley ? Its Dan Haerle, an incredible Jazz educator.
Up until recently, this was the GREATEST and practically only Jazz Theory book of its type. Concise... written in plain and simple English. Overwhelmed by that college music theory course..? this book was the tool to get you through. Its still just as great, though Mark Levine now has his flashy (and much bulkier) Jazz Theory Book.
What still makes this book stand out is the fact that it covers all the basics, upfront and in plain English. It doesn't delve into stylistics and performance like Mark Levine's book, but will give you a bird's a view of "Jazz Improv and Music Theory 101". If you need a crash course, this book still reigns supreme, and even alongside The Jazz Theory Book, I'd have to say, its a great starting point, and a must have for teachers.
Other recomended readings would be Jimmy Amadea's Harmonic Foundations for Jazz and Pop Music and definitely those Aebersold tapes and play-a-longs !
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best teacher I've ever had. May 8 2006
By laurieann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dan Haerle was one of my teachers at the University of North Texas and I can say from personal experience that this man is BRILLIANT!! I make a living as a jazz pianist and I owe much of my success to what he taught me in those classes. This book was our textbook for Jazz101. You will find this book easy to use if you have a strong musical foundation. If you are one of those people who completely plays by ear and can't read music--this book is not for you.

If you are mainly a classical pianist/musician looking to expand your abilities--BUY THIS BOOK. This book is NOT a collection of transcribed jazz arrangements--it's a book that explains, in detail, the basic concepts of jazz theory. All instrumentalists will find this book helpful.

It has in depth discussions and examples of chord voicings, jazz/blues scales, and improvisation. It also contains and explains the many terms that we musicians use to communicate quickly and efficiently in the studio or rehearsal.

If you want to learn to play jazz this book is indespensible!

BUY IT!!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for ALL Musicians Aug. 18 2000
By James Lovell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is written by Dan Haerle of the University of North Texas. If you have yet to hear of the great jazz program there then perhaps you have been asleep the past several years. Haerle sets forth a comprehensive music theory and musicianship program for musicians of all levels. The first chapter begins with a basic presentation about intervals and by the time you are done with this tome you will have a good grasp of the many harmonic and scalar concepts that drive jazz. These are fundamentals, as the title suggests, that need to be in place if you wish to compose or improvise in the jazz idiom. There are study questions and excerises at the end of each chapter that are an invaluable aid for both the teacher and the student alike. If you consider yourself a 'serious' musician in any sense of that word then you ought to be ashamed if you don't own this book.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vital resource Nov. 26 2004
By Andrew Pfaff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A reviewer here complained that this book wasn't inspiring. Inspiration is not the point. Having already been inspired elsewhere, your next step is to clearly understand the information in order to create easily and effectively. For this purpose, Haerle's text is absolutely great.

I always recommend this book to anyone seriously interested in learning and mastering the information. I have even bought and given away a couple of copies.

Do the review exercises and take the quizzes. They are there for a reason.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive resource for the jazz theorist Aug. 11 2002
By Joe Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Jazz Language is, quite simply, a theory resource for the jazz improvisor and writer. The book effectively functions as an index of chord change nomenclature & corresponding chords and scales, running the gambit from basic chords and modes to polychords, pentatonic chords and scales, to synthetic chords and scales.
The Jazz Language is to the jazz improvisor and writer as the dictionary is to the novelist: one would not allege that Steinbeck learned to write or was inspired to write by a thorough reading of Noah Webster.
But as a jazz theory text, The Jazz Language is as complete a resource as will be found for the modern jazz musician.
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