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Jazz Theory
4th Revised edition

Stuart Smith

© Copyright 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 Stuart Smith


To Robert Dix Lincoln

Things should be made as simple as possible. But no simpler.
Remark attributed to Albert Einstein
Jazz theory is simple. It has to be.


Since the earliest days of my teaching career at UMass Lowell, I had thought about
writing a book on jazz theory. I had developed a detailed set of notes for such a book, but
the notes spent most of their time languishing in my file cabinet. Every now and then I
would take them out and add or change a few things. But then, for lack of a compelling
reason to begin writing, I would just put them away again. This project would probably
never have come to completion had it not been for my boss, William Moylan (professor
of Music and former Chairperson of the UMass Lowell Department of Music) and my
2003-2004 Jazz Lab ensemble students — especially Jaclyn Soep, Chad Gosselin, and M.
Xavier (“Maxxx”) Lewis. Dr. Moylan welcomed me back into the Music Department
after a 21-year stint in Computer Science. He assigned me to direct the Jazz Lab, which
made it possible for me to work with young jazz musicians again. Jaclyn, Chad, and
Maxxx encouraged me to create the jazz theory course for which this book was written. I
was so impressed by their desire to gain a deeper understanding of jazz that I simply
couldn't say no to their request to provide a course for them.
The task of actually writing the book was made much easier and more enjoyable by my
colleague, friend, and current boss, Paula Telesco, who served as both gadfly and
cheerleader on this project. She read several drafts of this book, providing innumerable
useful suggestions, pointing out errors and weaknesses in my presentation, and asking
many thought-provoking questions. The book is far better than it would have been
without her assistance.
I learned jazz by playing with some talented musicians in high school and college.
During those years, I was fortunate to fall in with two different groups of musicians who
were willing to jam for hours simply for the enjoyment of playing and learning. In the
first group were Bill Campbell, Lynn Eberhart, Bill Sprague, Vic Weinrich, and Bernie
Yaged. In the second were Joe Goodman, Pete Plonsky, and Bob Shechtman. I've often
wished we could all get together for a reunion jam session, but we've long since gone our
separate ways and, sadly, members of both groups have already passed on.
Jazz Theory
4th Revised edition
Stuart Smith
© Copyright 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 Stuart Smith
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