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The Jazz Language: A Theory Text for Jazz Composition and Improvisation Paperback – Sep 1 1982

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 60 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred Publishing Co; 1982 edition (Sept. 1 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760400148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760400142
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 0.5 x 29.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #18,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on Feb. 15 2002
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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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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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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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: HASH(0xa78b378c) out of 5 stars 29 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6ebf15c) 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 !
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6ebf618) 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!!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8d6e8a8) out of 5 stars An excellent way to learn about jazz Feb. 2 2010
By Eric Sedensky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was used as the textbook for a college jazz theory course that I took recently. Although previous experience with Mr. Haerle's books, such as Scales for Jazz Improvisation: A Practice Method for All Instruments made me think this would be nothing but dry theory, I was surprised at how really informative it was. The whole book is densely packed with information vital to any jazz musician. Although I had a pretty good grounding in the fundamentals of jazz before taking the course, by working through the chapters in this book, I was really able to build up my understanding of some jazz elements that I wasn't so knowledgeable about, such as 13th chords, altered chords, synthetic scales, harmonic and melodic minor scales, and many other topics. The main strength of this book is that everything is explained with an eye toward improving the overall ability of the jazz performer. Once a topic is studied, there are writing, listening, and playing exercises that can be tackled to reinforce the individual lesson, building on previous lessons, and of course, improving one's jazz musicality. Ultimately, that is what any musician should be striving for, and this book certainly accomplishes that goal. I will point out that I feel I could have gotten a lot more out of this book if I'd had any formal music theory instruction prior to using this book, so I would especially recommend this book to music students who have had some theory and are looking to broaden their understanding and appreciation of jazz. There is enough explanation included, however, that any serious student will still be able to effectively use this book to become a better jazz musician.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8d6e890) 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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa70e2de0) out of 5 stars A MUST BUY! April 1 2012
By S. Steele - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I studied with Dan Haerle while at UNT. My first day as an arrogant freshmen, I went to his office and asked how I could place out of his Jazz Theory course. He handed me a copy of "The Jazz Language" and said, "Come back after lunch and take the exam based on this book." I was just out of high school and thought I was a theory wiz kid. So I examined each chapter, came back after lunch, took the test and, yes, I placed out of the class. Dumbest thing I ever did. Later that day it had occurred to me how great a book this was for beginning jazz musicians, thought he must be a great teacher, and took the class anyway because I wanted to hear him lecture. In fact I took every class he taught that I could get in. A wise choice indeed for a naive kid.

I've seen many books on theory and jazz theory (I was a theory major), and I'm hear to tell you, this is, IMHO the best book of it's kind.

It's strength lies in Haerle's approach. Most chapters are only four or five pages long in which he generally presents the the same information from several different perspectives. If you didn't understand something after the first explanation, you were sure to understand it after the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th attempt. A classic example of how ingenious this approach is the chapter "Modes of the Major Scale" - only three pages long, but you'll get it, and you won't forget it. In some sense a good theory book has to remember that not everyone plays the same instrument, and that perhaps different people perceive patterns better in certain contexts. And the title, "The Jazz Language", is apt. Haerle doesn't always tell you how to use this information (although the appendixes at the end of the book are very detailed in explaining "How to Practice", "What to practice", "How to transcribe solos" - all very detailed in an old school, woodshedding mentality which I love), but he does introduce to the beginning jazz player most of the basic concepts he will learn in greater detail as he goes along.

"The Jazz Language" goes a long way in a very short amount of space. This is a very concise, straight to the point, down to earth, easily absorbed beginning introduction on everything you'll ever need to know about jazz theory. His chapters on "Voicing and Connecting Chords" and "Basic Substitution and Function" for example, get right to the point, are easily understood, and stay with you throughout your musical life.

Haerle accomplishes more in 56 pages than most books do in several volumes. If you're smart you really don't need much past this book (as far as the overall knowledge is concerned), because everything beyond this book is just an extension of something you will now have a basic grasp on. The book also has an intimate quality to it. It's as if he made the book for a friend, or as if he was keep summery notes for himself. It's like an organized summery of the way Dan Haerle learned jazz. It feels like he's sitting right there next to you, explaining the material. Rarely have I encountered a book that manages that. This book makes everything look so easy.

And for these reasons, it's my opinion that every beginning jazz musician should start with this book. I've generally always liked text books over "bookstore music books", because the information (if done right) is presented for quick learning, and is structured in an way that makes sense for the serious musician. And in that sense, "The Jazz Language" is a little masterpiece of jazz pedagogy. It does start almost insultingly simple with a chapter on "Intervals", and I can see where that might turn some people away, but it quickly moves forward at an astoundingly fast and graceful pace. Again, if you're smart enough, you could read this book in a day and pretty much know the basics of everything you're about to learn in more detail in the years to follow. The only other knock on this book is that because Haerle is a pianist, it's obvious presented from a pianist point of view. That never bothered me (at the time piano was my secondary instrument), but if you're a bassist let's say, you'll need to transpose not only the examples, but some of the approaches to your plied interment. But the book is for the brain mainly, and even examples voiced for piano can be re-thought on the guitar, or used for purposes of arranging.

I own several copies of this book. Sometimes I just buy them and give them away to friends. I also make my students start with this book. It's the best $10 you'll ever spend.

"The Jazz Language" is for the beginner or the intermediate student who my have some holes in their knowledge, and it functions as an outline for everything you'll be studying the rest of your life. I give this book my highest recommendation. This book needs to be in your library.

I apologize for the wordy review but this book holds a special place in my early years of development, and my rather large library.

Enjoy!


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