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Harmony and Composition: Basics to Intermediate [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Deborah Jamini
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Trafford Publishing; illustrated edition edition (1 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1412033330
  • ISBN-13: 978-1412033336
  • Product Dimensions: 27.2 x 20.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,580,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Harmony and Composition is a beginner-to-intermediate level music textbook for readers as early as the ninth grade and through college and beyond. This book provides a solid background in musicianship by maintaining the highest standards while combining traditions of the past with a reflection of contemporary trends in music. Music theory is taught entirely from the keyboard, enabling the readers to learn the elements of harmony while reading, playing, and hearing all that they study. Samples and solutions to exercises include excerpts by renowned composers alongside high quality student examples, inviting the reader into the study of musical composition on a personal level by demonstrating numerous possibilities when following rules and guidelines of others for centuries before them and to this day in varying contexts. Features that make this approach different include: An extensive coverage of keyboard skills, enabling students to play and hear the music they study and compose at all stages of learning. An easy-to-understand breakdown of basic elements, which other music theory texts often do not include and which aid significantly with the learning of advanced material. All concepts are taught with easy-to-follow illustrations. Exercises occur as elements are explained, rather than grouped at the end of chapters. In-class drills are separate from homework exercises, ensuring that concepts are practiced with an instructor before the students take home their work. Weeklong review chapters interspersed throughout the text continuously reinforce previously learned material. Music from diverse styles is used to demonstrate musical elements. Well-written student examples demonstrate possible solutions to selected drills and exercises alongside mainstream composers, encouraging readers through examples of the best of what students can aspire to at every level. Finally, this is a contemporary harmony and composition textbook and workbook. Not only will it give you a solid background in classical music, but it also pertains to the more contemporary sounds of jazz-pop. In this book, you will see diverse styles become one world.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK 12 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is so solid
The dvd included is structured very well and the whole thing is easy to follow
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent foundation 13 Oct 2006
By David Estalote - Published on Amazon.com
If you're looking for a book for beginning piano, theory, or composition studies, look no further. This book is the total package for building a solid foundation of musical skills and understanding.

The explanations of harmony are very clear and easy to understand. I have a degree in organ performance and was just a couple courses shy of a theory degree, and I have never seen the principles of harmony and voice leading explained so well. Now, I can write and play good music with proper voice leading the first time through without spending hours troubleshooting problems of parallel 5ths and 8ves and doublings. And the great thing is that the concepts aren't just explained abstractly, but practical application at the keyboard is taught at every step of the curriculum. I am using this book to learn to improvise at the keyboard in a classical idiom, and I am extremely pleased with my progress. In about two months of practicing in my free time after my 9-5 job, I am able to improvise the equivalent of basic-intermediate children's pieces in every key.

The book also lays a very solid foundation for general music techniques such as sight reading, rhythmic training, and getting around the keyboard. Personally, I've always struggled with sight reading, but this book has helped fill in the gaps where my abilities were lacking before. My sight reading has improved significantly, and I'm very pleased with that. I am also able to better understand what is going on harmonically in the pieces I am reading, which helps my reading even more, just like how in English you can read more quickly when you understand where the author is going with his thought processes.

Another great thing about the book is the writing style. It is very easy to follow and isn't pretentious at all. That is the mark of a truly intelligent and gifted teacher, to be able to make things sound simple and easy, rather than trying to sound impressive with an obtuse writing style.

The book and DVD also lay a great foundation for the physical technique of playing the piano. Knowing how to play won't do you much good if your hands are crippled by tendonitis from years of improper technique. The DVD has clear examples and explanations of everything from proper posture to finger and wrist movement.

The pedagogical approach is also excellent. You can really tell that the author is an experienced teacher, and the book does a good job of helping you avoid the pitfalls that tend to trip students up. Having a good foundation is extremely crucial if you want to progress to higher levels of music making. Otherwise it is like trying to play hockey when you don't know how to ice skate very well.

The only shortcoming of the book that I have found is that it could use a few more exercises at times. There are enough exercises to learn the material, but sometimes I wish there were more to help me learn the concepts so cold turkey that I don't even have to think about it. Perhaps a computer program to randomly generate drills would be a good addition in the future. (In all fairness, I know the author also has a curriculum that is broken down into multiple books and goes at a slower pace, so perhaps that version would have more drills.)

Highly recommended.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Bang For Your Buck 6 Dec 2010
By Chris Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Simply put, this book is amazing. It is amazing for those musicians who have a background in music, but for some reason, were never able to put everything together. I think my situation is similar to most:

I started music at age 6 on the violin. I had gotten good enough at it that by age 12 I decided to learn both the violin and the french horn simultaneously. By high school, I was good enough that I was receiving awards from various prestigious organizations like Lincoln Center, Juilliard Pre-College and the Inter School Orchestra (ISO). However, in college I realized that I had a passion for improvising and that I would like to try my hand at composing. I took what I had learned from all those years, at all the highly ranked schools, and you know what I found? That I couldn't even write a proper chord progression, let alone a cogent piece of music. There were just too many gaps in my education due to both poor instruction and lack of interest on my part. After all, most instrumentalists either don't care about the theory, or the sequence of courses they take aren't properly structured.

I decided that if I was going to make a go at this I should pay attention to those who came before me. It would be necessary to understand and compose in the classical idiom to understand where modern music was coming from.

I ended up taking a class at another big name institution. Towards the end of the semester the teacher was absent for some reason and we had a sub. It was Deborah Jamini. Where the teacher had failed to put the coursework together in an entire semester, she was able to sum up in the course of 45 minutes! So, I looked her up online and came across this book, which is pure gold.

Through the step-by-step, logically sequenced, cumulative instruction, I was able to learn the basic classical idiom in 6 months. And not only could I write a 4-part harmony, and a melody over a bass line, but I was even able to to take steps into impressionism, modal music and even jazz! Thanks to this book, I have an appreciation for the classical music of America. Something I never liked because I didn't really understand it. And it didn't stop there. Whenever I hear a piece of music on tv, I immediately recognize the devices, thanks to this book. It is amazing how much one learns in such little time.

I would laud her more, but I think you get the picture. If this is the first review you are reading, you should check out the first on the list. It details more of the nitty gritty and you should be able to check out some of the pages on the "Click to read more" as well. Although this book looks expensive, it clearly puts forth years of material that you would otherwise require several poorly written books to get the same education. Get this book now!!!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth every penny! 2 Mar 2009
By L. Wetzel - Published on Amazon.com
I was a little hesitant about purchasing this book due to its cost. But I did it anyways and "whoa!", what a find it was! I learned a ton from this book and can't wait for the advanced version to come out. The lessons are put together in a very logical order and makes you learn by doing. Each lesson has a few exercises to apply what you learn. I am very pleased with this book and will continue reviewing the material in it. It is a great book and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to learn how to compose music. For people who already compose, this book will make you sound even better!
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book I Wish I Had 20 Years Ago 28 Feb 2014
By Digital Jazz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is simply the most well-written and thorough treatment of music theory I have ever come across (and I have seen a few). When I was first learning theory and harmony in college 20 years ago, learning things like four-part voice leading were simply exercises in moving dots around the staff with no real sense of the sound of certain progressions and how the voices move. This book is different in that it forces you to play the examples on keyboard to really understand the concepts. In fact, before you learn any basic theory at all you spend a lot of time getting comfortable with the keyboard. If you're going to be writing music in any style, it's really almost a requirement to know some piano. Pretty much every notable composer in the classical and jazz idioms (and quite a few in popular music as well) have played at least some keyboard even if it wasn't their primary instrument.

Another excellent thing about this book is that it contains a lot of drills and exercises to really solidify the concepts in your head and under your fingers. Of course, to really master this material takes a lot of time doing it. Music is hard work. But Deborah Jamini gives you the foundations that you can build upon no matter what style(s) you want to pursue. You can tell she has a lot of experience teaching which is why this book really clarifies a lot of the more confusing parts of theory and harmony. One of the coolest things about this book that you won't find in most other theory books is that it touches on seventh chord harmonies in the ways they are employed by jazz as distinct from classical music.

If you've found other theory and harmony texts too dry and hard to learn from, you will likely find this text to be a breath of fresh air. Whether you want to teach yourself or are working with a teacher, do yourself a favor and get this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Best I've ever read 14 Feb 2013
By FULVIO TURRA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've read many theory books about the subject but have never found a text that guides you through the various aspects of music theory and harmony and the first elements of piano playing in a way that is simple to follow and fun. No subject is left aside or taken lightly. All exercise and drills are cleverly crafted and test all the things you have learnt at a certain point. Even though you don't want to become an accomplished piano player, Mrs Jamini encourages you to check every subject on a keyboard to watch the results (something many theorists don't take into account). The addition of a bonus DVD where the Author explains theory and piano technique makes this package a real must buy. I highly recommend this book.
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