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Jazz Composition and Arranging in the Digital Age Paperback – February 13, 2012

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Jazz Composition and Arranging in the Digital Age is a must have for any musician who plans to be a jazz musician. As composition and arranging are integral parts of developing a sound and style as a jazz artist, this book covers the basic considerations that will provide the skills to allow this to happen. Richard and Mike have left no stone unturned in laying out the fundamentals of composition and orchestration. This is a great book compiled by two fantastic musicians. I've already learned several things on the first read-through, and am looking forward to going back for more." --Bob Mintzer

"Richard Sussman and Michael Abene have created an all encompassing look into the techniques and methods for realizing a musical arrangement in the 21st century. However, what really sets this book apart is the great care the authors take to emphasize that the only true guide for any musician is one's inner ear and creative instincts, thus constantly encouraging the reader to assume ultimate responsibility and ownership of the creative process." --Gil Goldstein

"Unique and cutting edge. Just when it seemed the subject had no new approaches to uncover come Sussman and Abene. Grounded with solid basics and served up in the language of today's computer-enhanced music world. An extraordinary, must-have reference for all arrangers from the beginner to the seasoned pro." --Gary Anderson, Arranger / Orchestrator for TV & Film

"This is one of the most comprehensive books ever written on the subject and the detailed helpful hints on using Finale or Sibelius make it THE book to use in this new century. This textbook is invaluable for college teachers and their students." --Richard DeRosa, Professor of Jazz Composition and Arranging, University of North Texas

"A comprehensive book--both musically and technologically--for the 21st-century jazz composer-arranger, written by two masters of the art." --Bill Kirchner, jazz musician/producer/historian/educator, and editor of The Oxford Companion To Jazz

"Richard Sussman is a great arranger - I wish I had met him 10 years earlier." --Hank Jones

"Written by a couple of seasoned professionals, this book is chock full of useful information. In addition, it gives the reader access to a website which is another great source for information. Well done!" --Jim McNeely

"Jazz Composition & Arranging In the Digital Age by Richard Sussman & Michael Abene is quite amazing! I'm sure it will set a new standard in jazz education." --Randy Brecker, Grammy award-winning trumpeter

"An important instructional text for aspiring arrangers...It hopefully encourages the creative reader, as Abene says in his foreword, to inquire into all aspects of making music." --Jazzinstitut.de

"Rarely do composition and arranging books bridge the gap between technique and creativity. But in Jazz Composition and Arranging in the Digital Age, authors Richard Sussman and Michael Abene do so in a dynamic way, helping students and teachers use Sibelius and Finale to engage in composition. What distinguishes this book is that the material is presented with the idea of doing much of the creative work using notation software." --School Band & Orchestra

"A landmark resource." --JazzTimes

About the Author

An accomplished jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, Richard Sussman has also achieved widespread acclaim as a jazz educator, clinician, and music technologist. He has been a member of the Jazz Composition faculty at Manhattan School of Music for over 25 years and is also recipient of the prestigious ASCAP award for Jazz Composition.

Michael Abene is widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest living jazz composer/arrangers. In addition to teaching jazz composition and arranging at the Manhattan School of Music, Abene co-directed the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop for many years.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195381009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195381009
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As an historian of American music, editor of classic big band compositions and arrangements and a composer/arranger myself, I've read almost every arranging book ever written, from Arthur Lange to Ray Wright, Nestico, Mancini, Sebesky and Garcia (I edited Nelson Riddle's book). Each one had good things and they are well worth having. But this book is on another plane entirely. Not only is it the best composing/arranging book I've ever read, but it is geared toward today's student who will most likely be writing and studying using Finale or Sibelius.

Abene is well known as a composer/arranger, but Sussman is no slouch either, thoroughly experienced as a composer for television, big band and symphony orchestra. In addition, Sussman has long been right in the middle of the latest developments in computer music resources. Both have taught for years at the Manhattan School of Music, so this material is road-tested.

Every concept that a student will need to begin writing for jazz ensembles large and small is clearly stated, supplemented with many examples, and illustrated on a companion website. Many suggestions are provided for input, editing and part preparation for the student using either Finale or Sibelius.

Because it is so comprehensive and easily readable, it is the perfect text for self-teaching. However, I cannot imagine that once a composition teacher sees this book (whether he/she teaches in high school or college), he/she will not immediately switch to this text, it is that good.

I have the pleasure of knowing both men. I am not surprised that they have prepared such an excellent volume.
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I like this book for its coverage and specificity. (I just skimmed over the software discussions about Sibelius and Finale and focused on the text about arranging.) What’s important is that this book lays out specific suggestions about what to do and how to go about arranging brass and woodwinds in jazz bands. To me, it is a reference book that can be reached for to help find your way if you stumble or become blocked or just to get your bearings in the “mysterious” art of arranging for jazz bands. It will be one of those books that over time will become marked with annotations – a trusted resource. Clearly, the book took some time to write and the authors strived to write in a clear, understandable manner for both those with formal musical education and those with a more informal music education. They also provide popular song lists that illustrate what they discuss as well as illustrative examples on the book's website. Take a look at the Table of Contents and you see the detail the authors strive for in this almost 500 page book!
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I've read over forty books on jazz arranging over the past four decades, and this book is one of the finest explanations of how to arrange for jazz groups I have ever read. It is very up-to-date (although it does not cover Sibelius 7), and it frames arranging in the context of the use of music notation software as an integral part of the writing process. Sussman and Abene are world-class arrangers and composers, and they also have had the teaching experience necessary to explain the techniques used today by professional composers and arrangers. The book was written to be used as a college textbook, but it would be just as useful a tool for the arranger studying alone. The companion web site provides a large number of professionally-recorded musical examples. It also provides updated information as updated versions of Sibelius and Finale are released. I consider this book to be in the top five arranging books I've ever read - along with Dick Grove's "Arranging Concepts," Don Sebesky's "The Contemporary Arranger," Ray Wright's "Inside the Score," and Sammy Nestico's "The Complete Arranger." This book is by far the most recent publication of the group. I recommend it most highly.
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Written by experienced arrangers, this book sources classic texts in the genre, adds contemporary concepts, and the digital component by using a companion website, and explaining the basics of the 2 most common score layout programs available. This has become the new text for my college level arranging students.
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