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Jazz Composition and Arranging in the Digital Age

Richard Sussman and Michael Abene

Publication Date - February 2012

ISBN: 9780195381009

544 pages
8-1/2 x 11 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $62.00

A comprehensive instructional text and reference guidebook on the art and craft of jazz composition and arranging for small and large ensembles


Jazz Composition and Arranging In the Digital Age is a comprehensive and practical instructional book and reference guide on the art and craft of jazz composition and arranging for small and large ensembles. In this book, veteran composers and arrangers Richard Sussman and Michael Abene combine their extensive years of experience as musicians and instructors to demonstrate how advances in music technology and software may be integrated with traditional compositional concepts to form a new and more efficient paradigm for the creative process.

This book builds on material and issues treated in traditional jazz composition and arranging courses, including all the fundamental musical techniques and information associated with jazz arranging and composition instruction. In addition, each chapter of the book also contains specific examples demonstrating the effective utilization of music software as applied to the realization of these techniques. Software is employed both as both a learning tool in the form of examples and exercises, and as a practical tool illustrating how many modern day composer/arrangers are utilizing these techniques successfully in the real world. The book also offers several chapters devoted exclusively to the creative use of music technology and software. The extensive companion website provides listening examples for each chapter as well as enhanced software tips, expanded and additional music examples, and appendices of , basic principles and an expanded recommended listening list for further study.


  • Presents traditional jazz arranging concepts alongside contemporary music technology and notation software
  • Features real world applications of the technology as actually used by the contemporary composer/arranger
  • Examples of fundamental principles are based on familiar tunes
  • Covers techniques of arranging for both small and large jazz ensembles
  • Emphasizes the creative, artistic, and aesthetic aspects of the process
  • Perfect for undergraduate and graduate jazz composition and arranging courses
  • Includes a comprehensive and up-to-date companion website, now with software updates available
  • Includes helpful listening lists for further study

About the Author(s)

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.


"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

Table of Contents

    -What This Book Covers
    -How to Use This Book and Companion Website
    Section I - Overview and Basic Information
    Chapter 1 - Introduction
    Chapter 2 - A Brief Overview of MIDI and Music Software
    Chapter 3 - Basic Information
    Chapter 4 - Fundamental Musical Considerations
    Chapter 5 - Introduction to Music Notation Software
    Section II - Arranging For Small Jazz Ensemble
    Chapter 6 - Overview of Small Ensemble Writing/Rhythm and Rhythmic Notation
    Chapter 7 -Melody & Melodic Development (3-4 Horns)
    Chapter 8 - Basic Harmonic Concepts (3-4 Horns)
    Chapter 9 - Reharmonization of Approach Tones (3-4 Horns)
    Chapter 10 - Melodic Reharmonization and Counterpoint (3-4 Horns)
    Chapter 11 - Form and Planning the Arrangement/Instrumentation
    Chapter 12 - Dynamics & Articulations
    Chapter 13 - The Rhythm Section
    Chapter 14 - Completing the 3-4 Horn Arrangement
    Chapter 15 - Notation Software: Generating Parts, Page Layout, & Printing
    Chapter 16 - Arranging For 5-6 Horns - Harmony and Chord Voicings
    Chapter 17 - Form and Planning the Arrangement (5-6 Horns)
    Chapter 18 - The Soli and Shout Chorus
    Chapter 19 - Completing the 5-6 Horn Arrangement
    Section III - Arranging For Large Jazz Ensemble
    Chapter 20 - Overview of Large Ensemble Considerations
    Chapter 21 - Unison & Octave Writing/Monophonic Texture
    Chapter 22 - Concerted Writing For Brass
    Chapter 23 - Concerted Writing For Saxes
    Chapter 24 - Big Band Instrumental Subdivisions
    Chapter 25 - Form and Planning the Arrangement
    Chapter 26 - Modern Harmonic Concepts & Voicing Techniques
    Chapter 27 - More on Modern Harmony, Melodic Reharmonization, & Counterpoint
    Chapter 28 - Woodwind and Brass Doubles and Mutes
    Chapter 29 - Line Writing and Polyphony
    Chapter 30 - The Soli Section (Big Band)
    Chapter 31 - The Shout Chorus (Big Band)
    Chapter 32 - Arranging For Vocalists and Instrumental Soloists
    Chapter 33 - Completing The Big Band Arrangement
    Chapter 34 - Review of Music Notation Software Techniques
    Appendices (On the Companion Website)
    A. Summary of Basic Arranging and Voicing Principles
    B. List of Recommended Scores and Recordings for Study
    C. Bibliography