The Jazz Harmony Book

by David Berkman

Very comprehensive and well-organized [...] The 'Tips for Composers' alone are worth the price of the book.”
— Fred Hersch

An instant classic! The definitive book on how to create beautiful jazz harmonies for any melody.

Starting from the most basic harmonic situations and progressing to contemporary jazz harmony, this book shows how to uncover the best choices for chords to accompany any melody. The Jazz Harmony Book is a serious study of the fundamentals of jazz harmony. A must for the serious jazz player, composer and arranger!

Topics Covered Include:

  • Basic functional harmony, diatonic substitutes, secondary dominants, passing chords, diminished harmony, tritone substitutes, non-functional approaches to harmonizing melodies including quartal harmony, color chords, harmonizing basslines, pedals, slash chords, unavailable tensions and MORE!
  • Not just a dry textbook, it is an engaging and witty guide to developing a more nuanced sense of harmonic color, drama and movement. The Jazz Harmony Book is a course in the process of adding chords to melodies, in understanding how a single melody can give rise to rich harmonic variations.
  • This book will help you learn to speak the language of harmony, to learn the changes of standard tunes, to better understand and create the 'right' chord progressions to these songs, to re-harmonize songs freely in the manner of great jazz artists like Hank Jones, Thelonious Monk, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau, Herbie Hancock, Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Thad Jones, Joe Pass, Jim Hall and John Scofield.
  • Includes free download of 2 CDs of the author playing many of the written examples in the book.
  • Spiral-bound, 206 pages!

Table of Contents

Download Tracks


A definitive study of harmony from someone who knows harmony. The Jazz Harmony Book is a great way for musicians to completely understand and implement harmony in their music. He makes a great point that jazz has evolved mostly rhythmically. And while he pays full tribute to rhythm and the excitement of this modern music, he makes the very true point that while rhythm has evolved, harmony in modern music seems to have devolved. Perhaps if up-and-coming jazz musicians follow David's insightful path to harmony, that might change!”
— Kenny Werner

Very comprehensive and well-organized — and one of the better books I have seen on this subject. The 'Tips for Composers' alone are worth the price of the book.”
— Fred Hersch

Since David Berkman was appointed to the Aaron Copland School at Queens College, the difference in the level of sophistication of our graduates in both performing and composing has been tremendous. Musicians get much more value from all of our courses because of the understanding they gain from the material contained in this book. When musicians understand harmony they hear more detail in the music and can participate at a much higher level. David has a gift for explaining complex ideas and guiding musicians along the path of learning jazz harmony. This book is invaluable!”
— Michael Philip Mossman

David Berkman's new book, The Jazz Harmony Book, starts where classical music leaves off, and provides the beginning and intermediate student a welcome transition to jazz harmony. David knows his stuff, and his book and mine compliment each other well.”
— Mark Levine

Well-respected teacher and jazz musician David Berkman has done it again; his new book is another 'must have.' Berkman presents a well thought-out, well-organized look at chords and harmonic structures used in jazz music. Berkman's instructional logic is sound and he thoroughly explains each new concept. He also keeps your attention with smart analogies and interesting anecdotes. This is a great book for novices, educators, or pros who want to have a clearer understanding of how harmony works. I highly recommend this book.”
— George Colligan

Dave Berkman's The Jazz Harmony Book is a comprehensive approach to harmonization that not only benefits jazz improvisers greatly, but also provides valuable concepts essential to a sophisticated refine- ment in the art of composing and arranging.”
— John Fedchock

Great concept and much needed. David Berkman has done it once again. I am a huge fan of Berkman's playing, composition, and educational direction. His new publication is right on the mark and I can't wait to use these concepts in my travels and at Temple University.”
— Dick Oatts

This book is of immense utility to jazz students, enthusiasts and teachers alike. It plucks jazz harmony from the precipice of sterile abstraction, and fully restores it to its true powerful, compelling and expressive purpose.”
— Enrico Pieranunzi

While other jazz and traditional harmony books give you a lot of information to digest, David Berkman's book is a digestive book. The 'concentric harmonization' setup for the basics of tonal-functional harmony is brilliant, its a perfect way to organize the material, and tracing it to one or a few songs (like Silent Night) makes it abundantly clear how it functions. The recorded examples are the perfect hand-holding. Even the deliberate way in which he has recorded them is a very generous way of easing us into the material, making it clear that he really wants us to understand this material from within, and how it's used in the 'real world.'
    Berkman's clear analysis of his reharmonization of certain standards are a unique peak over the should 'how do they even think of that?' when we hear a beautiful jazz reharmonization. And of course, there's David's voice: that's a gift. He is perhaps the most personable of theoreticians!”
— Pablo Aslan

David Berkman
David Berkman is one of the top pianists on the NY jazz scene today, with seven records released under his name, and having performed with countless major jazz figures, including: Sonny Stitt, Brian Blade, Chris Potter, Joe Lovano, Billy Hart, Eddie Henderson, Lenny White, Bill Stewart, Hank Crawford and Dave Douglas. David is also an in-demand jazz educator on three continents, the author of two previous Sher Music Co. music books, and associate professor of music at Queens College in New York.