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Thread: Jazz Harmony Book

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2015

    Jazz Harmony Book

    Hi, allow me to give a little background into where I am now: I have been playing guitar for many years and did learn some theory independently. I know intervals very well, how scales and chords are made and the overlap between the two. I know the underlying principles of chord functions and what cadences/turnarounds are. I know about chord substitutionet al. So I'm not a complete novic. I also can read music and I know the fretboard notes and octave boundaries for a few tunings. That said I never really got into harmony. It just didn't click with me very much. Quite often I could understand the principles but it never really got to the application phase. I think the biggest problem for me is that I am a visual learner, and the harmony books I used - no disrespect to them, they were and are outstanding - were of the traditional type where four part writing for piano was the point of focus. I never could find a book that could give a guitar perspective, if you know what I mean. So, is there a harmony book that will teach you whilst illustrating these teachings on the fretboard. I know most people are not as slow as I am when it comes to theory, so I'm not holding my breath but I really woukd like to give this another shot. As the title suggests I am interested in learning from a Jazz perspective, as I've more recently developed a taste for it. Thanks for your time, any help greatly appreciated.


  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    I think I found what I'm looking for: "Complete Jazz Guitar Method - Mastering Chord Melody". Does anyone have experience with this text? I sure would like to hear some opinions about it. I'm not sure how expansive the text may be on the theory side, anything that can help me put together progressions and give me a good start into Harmony will be very much appreciated.

  3. #3
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Twickenham, UK
    As you're not getting much response here - and I don't know that book myself - I suggest you try asking on these sites (if you haven't already):

  4. #4
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Deep East Texas Piney Woods
    Dirt simple harmony. When the treble clef, lets call this the melody line, and the bass clef, lets call this the harmony line, share some of the same notes you get harmony, i.e. the two "lines" sound good with each other.

    So if your melody is moving around the C, E, and G notes a C major chord will harmonize that part of the melody line. When the melody moves into something besides those C, E and G notes, you have to find another chord to harmonize this "new melody".

    Harmony happens when the treble and bass clef lines share some of the same notes. One like note per measure gets harmonization, two like notes are normally better, however, three are probable not necessary as one got harmonization.

    OK Great how can I use that? If you want to write a melody use the notes of the chord in your melody. Or better still - your chord's pentatonic scale will give you three chord notes and two safe passing notes for color and or flavor. Build your melody from the chord's pentatonic scale. And from here we move into how to make a melody. Long story.

    If you already have a melody and you want to augment that melody; if you trust the songwriter, playing notes of the active chord - in a melodic way will also bring chord harmony.

    As to what books, I'm a bass player and my books deal with that. The one already mentioned I'm sure would get you started. Jazz harmony is playing some of the notes of the active chord over the melody the active chord is harmonizing.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 10-14-2015 at 06:25 PM.

  5. #5
    Registered User ragasaraswati's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    The bread and butter of jazz harmony is tritone substitution. The idea is that a 7 chord shares the same tritone as a 7 chord with its root a tritone away. Classical harmony would have you go G7 - C, while Jazz harmony Db7 - Cmaj7. You have a semitone down movement in the bass that way that sounds cool and Jazzy.

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