Jazz Piano Intros & Endings

Most jazz songs in your real book will not specify any intro or ending. As a jazz pianists you must know how to intro a song, and how to write an ending to a song.

In this article I’ll show you how to do both.

How to Intro A Jazz Song

It’s a good idea to add a 4 bar intro to every song you play. The intro section establishes the song’s tempo and key for your listeners - rather than going straight into the melody which can be confusing to your audience.

The most common intro technique is to start with the song’s turnaround. The ‘Turnaround’ is a series of 3 or 4 chords at the end of the song which are written in brackets - e.g. ‘ (Em7) (A7) (Dm7) G7) ’.

The turnaround chords are written in brackets because you only play them if you’re about to repeat the song. Whereas if you’re ending the song, you don’t play them.

The turnaround chords have been composed so that they lead back around to the start of the song (they’re usually a 6-2-5 that leads back to the I chord at the start of the song). This means that you can always play the turnaround as your intro and know that it’s going to sound good.

So for any song you want to play, look at the last 4 chords of the song that are written in brackets, and start your playing there.

If the song has a free tempo, I’ll usually slow down at the end of the intro and add a short pause before I begin the melody.

Here’s how I might intro the song ‘Misty’ - playing the turnaround, with a short pause before the melody begins:

IMAGE: sheet music - intro to Misty.

How to End A Jazz Song

Song endings are one of the most fun parts of playing jazz piano - they’re a time to break out of the song’s tempo, hold down the pedal, and run up through a series of colorful notes.

There are two types of song - major songs (which start and end on a major chord), and minor songs (which start and end on a minor chord).

For major song endings, I like to use notes from the lydian scale - played over a major 7 chord below (or major 6 chord).

The lydian scale is a major scale with a #4 :

IMAGE: sheet music - C lydian scale

So let’s say you’re playing a song that ends on C major 7 - here you would run up the notes of C lydian scale to create your ending:

IMAGE: sheet music - C lydian scale ending for C maj 7. Show pedal

A good principle is to start with the root and 5th at the bottom of your ending sequence. These two notes establish the chord type - that it’s a C chord. Then you can add your 3rds and 7ths higher up, as well as more colorful notes like the 9th , #4 , and 6th .

NOTE: You should only play from C lydian scale for the final chord ( C maj 7 ). For any preceding chords (which will probably be D min 7 and G7 ) you would play from different scales - C lydian scale would not fit over these chords.

A simple ending I’ll sometimes use for major songs is to play the major 7 chord using an open chord voicing - 1 5 3 7 - and then to repeat the 3rd and 7th up an octave, and then up another octave - like this:

IMAGE: sheet music - C maj 7 ending. C G E B E B E B

Major songs include Misty, Moon River, Ladybird, Afternoon in Paris, Satin Doll, Girl From Ipanema (and most jazz songs).

Minor Song Endings

For minor songs (which end on a minor chord), you can do the same thing - hold down the pedal and run up a series of notes.

But for minor songs, I like to use the melodic minor scale to create my ending sequence.

The melodic minor scale is a natural minor scale up to the 5th ( C D Eb F G ), but it has a major 6th ( A ) and major 7th ( B ):

IMAGE: sheet music - C melodic minor scale

Now for this to work, you’ll have to play either a C minor 6 chord ( C Eb G A ), or a C minor-major 7 chord ( C Eb G B ). You can’t end on a C minor 7 chord ( C Eb G Bb ) if you want to play from C melodic minor scale - because the minor 7th in the chord ( Bb ) will clash with the major 7th in the scale ( B ).

The melodic minor scale creates a classy ‘film noir’ sound which works beautifully for most minor song endings.

Here’s how you could end a minor song in C minor :

IMAGE: sheet music - C melodic minor ENDING

Again, I’m starting with the root and 5th at the bottom to establish the chord clearly - then I’ll add 3rds and 7ths (which tell you the chord type)

A simple ending I’ll sometimes use for minor songs is to play a minor 6 chord - 1 3 5 6 - and then to repeat this upwards over several octaves - like this:

IMAGE: sheet music - C min 6 ending. C Eb G A C Eb G A etc

Or you could play a slightly more fancy repeating pattern like this:

IMAGE: sheet music - C min 6 ending. C Eb G A D C - C Eb G A D C - C Eb G A D C.

Want more jazz piano ending ideas? I’ve notated my top jazz piano endings as sheet music which you can download for free.

Click here to download ‘5 sweet jazz piano endings’.

NOTE: You should only play from C melodic minor scale for the final chord ( C min ). For any preceding chords (which will probably be Dø and G7 ) you would play from different scales - C melodic minor scale would not fit over these chords.

Minor songs include Summertime, Blue Bossa, Song For My Father, Invitation.

Practice Tip

Compose intros and endings to every song in your repertoire.

For the intro, play the turnaround (the 4 chords at the end that are in brackets).

For major songs, end with the lydian scale played over a C major 7 chord.

For minor songs, end with the melodic minor scale played over a C min 6 chord.

Recommended songs: Misty, Summertime, Girl From Ipanema, Cry Me A River, Autumn Leaves, Blue Bossa, Invitation.

Jazz Piano Endings Sheet Music

I’ve notated some of my favorite jazz piano endings - both major and minor patterns - which you can download for free:

Free Jazz Piano Resources

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how to write a jazz intro

29 Jazz Piano Licks (sheet music)

The Jazz Piano Chord Voicing Guide (ebook)

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Jazz Chords Ultimate Guide

About the Author

Julian Bradley is a jazz pianist and music educator from the U.K. He has a masters degree in music from Bristol University, and has played with and composed for a variety of big bands. Julian runs the popular Jazz Tutorial YouTube channel and writes educational jazz lessons at JazzTutorial.com

how to write a jazz intro

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Related Lessons

Practice tips, common ways to create an intro.

In this “5-minute masterclass”, we’re going to talk about the different ways you can create a solo piano intro to a jazz standard. We can always play the last 4 or 8 bars of the tune as an intro, but during this masterclass, we will explore other ways to create introductions for any tune.

Keep It Simple!

It’s important to introduce the song in a way that it is clear to everyone when to come in. The first rule to follow is: The simpler the introduction the better. This makes it easier it is for others to come in, and it will create a comfortable mood for everyone who you are playing with.

And remember, that “simple” does not mean “uninteresting”, it just means that it is clear and logical.

The 1625 Progression

We will explore a few ways to derive an introduction from the basic 1625 harmonic progression. This is very commonly used as an intro. The intro can be as long as you want, but it’s good to decide how long it would be, it’s common to choose either 4 or 8 bars.

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how to write a jazz intro

1625 & 436251 Progressions

Intros can be useful to extend the length of your performance and also to establish the tonality or the key in which the tune is being played.

how to write a jazz intro

Block Chords Tutorial

Block chords are used for harmonising a melody line by moving the notes of the chord in parallel, following the same rhythm as the melody.

how to write a jazz intro

Slash Chords Tutorial

Slash chords contain 2 bits of info, the 1st letter indicates what chord should be played & the 2nd letter specifies the bass note of the chord.

The related lesson on "1625 & 436251 Progressions" gives accessible examples for beginner students. This is a good place to start if you are new to the 1625 progression.

Many tunes start on the 1 chords, and so the 1625 progression is perfect to lead smoothly into the start of the form.

You will come across tunes that start on other scale degrees. Use the examples in this lesson to create beautiful intros into any scale degree.

Check out the related lesson on "Block Chords" for information and guidance on this voicing technique.

Take these examples around all 12 keys to memorise and internalise these introduction formulas and variations.

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August 7, 2018 at 3:21 pm

I simply love these short video lessons, focused, clearly explained and oh so very useful. Keep going Hayden et al., congratulations. Ivan

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August 7, 2018 at 6:26 pm

Thanks Ivan… I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the lesson, if you have any questions let me know. More 5 minute masterclasses coming soon! -Tuomo

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How to Play an Intro to a Jazz Standard

  • Josiah Boornazian
  • January 3, 2018

What's the Best Way to Learn How to Improvise?

Sometimes in jazz, like in life, the hardest thing to do is to just get started with something. When it comes to starting an activity like a song, it’s occasionally a challenge to break the ice and get over that first obstacle between you and your goal (making music). Once you’ve gotten a tune started though, the music seems to take on a life of its own and move forward, organically drawing energy from itself.

So how do you start a tune? How do you get that initial motivation and inspiration to kickoff of a jazz standard and set it on its course without always just resorting to the standard format of counting off a tune and starting right on the head?

One way to help you break out of the rut and stay inspired as you start the same songs over and over again, is to occasionally create your own introductions to jazz standards.

Adding an introduction can help set up the atmosphere for a particular tune and prime the audience for the emotional world you want to capture and explore with a given jazz song. Intros also give you space to isolate and explore one particular aspect of a tune and give you a chance to extrapolate and extemporize using the song as a launching point in a different way than you might normally do while soloing over a tune’s harmonic progression.

Introductions help give flow and variety to gigs and jam sessions, and a well-constructed intro can revitalize a tune by introducing a small element of surprise and anticipation for audiences. A great introduction can capture or hint at the spirit of tune by referencing it directly or indirectly, and adding intros to your playing can help you to add new life to old songs.

And on a practical note, sometimes you need to play an intro to give a fellow band member time to fix their equipment, talk to the club manager, find a piece of sheet music, sort out the form of a tune with another musician without having silence/downtime on stage, etc.

So, to help you start adding more intros to your interpretations of jazz standards, here are 8 strategies to constructing an introduction:

1. Tag the last 4 or 8 bars of the tune

Vamp/repeat the chord changes for the last 4 measures of a tune either with the melody or while improvising over it. This works great with almost every jazz standard, because standards are composed so that they are cyclical. The end of jazz tunes almost always transitions smoothly back to the top!

2. Improvise a solo cadenza

This method is most effective if the cadenza quotes or references the melody of the tune. For example, you can take one of the main melodic motives from the song and develop it, morph it, change it, and play around with it. You can also hint at the tune’s chord changes, rhythmic content/feel, and overall mood or atmosphere. Just let your imagination take over!

3. Vamp the first 2 or 4 bars of a tune

Similar to #1 above, this works on most standards. This method usually works best if you don’t play the melody until you’re actually starting the full form of the tune. It often is a great strategy to loop the first 4 measures and have instruments layer in one at a time. For example, you could start with the drums to set up the groove, then add bass, piano/guitar, and melodic instruments one at a time and then move on to play the full tune when you’re ready.

BEFORE YOU CONTINUE...

If you struggle to learn jazz standards by ear, memorize them, and not get lost in the song form, then our free guide will completely change the way you learn tunes forever.

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4. Play the melody and/or chord changes rubato or out of time

This strategy works with many tunes but it is especially effective for ballads . You can play the whole tune or just half or part of it, but the idea is to play it unaccompanied and slow down/speed up at will. Also feel free to embellish the melody and insert an improvised cadenza or two. You can add or subtract notes and rhythms, and even play it or modulate it to different key(s). You can re-harmonize it if you play a chordal instrument as well. Don’t be afraid to dramatically change tempos throughout.

5. Improvise a full chorus or a half chorus first, before introducing the melody

Instead of always starting every tune by playing the head first, you can start off with a short improvised solo and then play the melody. This is a fun and simple way to add variety and surprise to your performance practices.

6. Pick an important chord or tonal center from the tune and use it set up a modal vamp

A simple version of this is to pick the first or last chord of a tune or the V7 chord that would create a V7-I movement to the first chord of the song. For example, if the first chord of a song is F-7, you could vamp on C7alt., C phrygian, C7sus4, etc. and the move on to the F-7 to launch the tune after you’ve built up sufficient energy/tension.

7. Create and repeat a riff based off the tune

You can either pick a notable melodic/rhythmic fragment from the tune itself or just invent your own idea that fits the spirit of the song. Riffs are most effective when they are short, catchy, and highly rhythmic.

8. Set up a I-VI-II-V or III-VI-II-V vamp in the key of the tune

This is a very common strategy, and with good reason: it works! Just vamp one of those iconic jazz chord progressions in the key of the tune. This especially works best when the tune starts with a I chord because I-VI-II-V and III-VI-II-V resolve smoothly to the I and allow you to transition easily from the intro into the tune proper.

I hope these strategies are helpful and inspiring. Try to come up with your own intro ideas as well! This list is just a starting point to help spark your musical imagination.

Finally, be sure to practice your intros just like you practice your solos! And there’s nothing wrong with having a few stock intros worked out beforehand that you can pull out on a moment’s notice and use when needed. Also practice cuing the band, because part of creating a good intro is knowing how to successfully transition to the main performance of the song.

TAKE YOUR JAZZ PLAYING TO THE NEXT LEVEL.

We help musicians of all instruments start improvising confidently over jazz standards in just 30 days without mind-numbing hours of practice or the overwhelm.

We help musicians of all instruments start improvising confidently over jazz standards in as little as 30 days without mind-numbing hours of practice or the overwhelm.

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  • Aug 1, 2023

Oscar Peterson Jazz Piano Intros Demystified: Creating Memorable Openings

In a jazz performance, it often falls upon the pianist to set the tone and create a memorable introduction to the tune. As such, you never want to be caught unprepared during these crucial moments. That's why understanding the art of creating jazz piano intros is essential. In this article, we will explore six jazz piano intros employed by the legendary Jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson, and analyze the techniques that he used in them. Get ready to elevate your performances and ensure you're always ready to make a lasting impression!

how to write a jazz intro

Table Of Content

The basics: how to create a jazz piano intro.

Check #1: Is The Tune In A Major or Minor key?

Check #2: What chord does the tune begin on?

Check #3: Does The Melody Begin In Bar 1, or Does It Begin With An Anacrusis?

Intro #1: All Of Me, A Jazz Portrait of Frank Sinatra (1959)

Intro #2: I Only Have Eyes For You, Oscar Peterson Plays Harry Warren (1954)

Intro #3: Take The 'A' Train, Solo (2002)

Intro #4: Summertime, Exclusively For My Friends (1992)

Intro #5: Dancing On The Ceiling, Tracks (1970)

Intro #6: In A Sentimental Mood, Oscar Peterson Plays Duke Ellington (1952)

A basic procedure in constructing a jazz piano intro is as follows:

Create a chord progression that ends with either a perfect cadence or imperfect cadence

Improvise a melodic line and an accompaniment part over that chord progression, being sure to end the the last note of improvised line a little earlier than the main melody of the tune itself, so there's some breathing space to time the entry of the tune's melody

An optional step is to play the V7 of the first chord of the tune at the end of the intro. This might help lead the intro into the main body of the tune itself a little more smoothly in some situations. This is elaborated on later in the article.

When creating a jazz piano intro, it is important to consider the following questions:

Is the tune in a major or minor key?

What chord does the tune begin on?

Does the melody begin in bar 1, or does it begin with an anacrusis?

Check #1 : Is The Tune In A Major or Minor key?

The first step in creating an intro is to ask if the tune is a major or minor key. This is important as intros for major key tunes are mostly likely not compatible with minor key tunes and vice versa. They are exceptions but more often than not, such is the case. Generally speaking, an intro for a major key tune would use more chords that are diatonic to the major key, and intros for minor key tunes would use more chords that are diatonic to the minor key. In creating chord progressions for jazz intros, you will want to keep this in mind.

In this article, we will introduce ideas that Oscar Peterson used for both major and minor key tunes, but to keep things simple for a start, let us assume that our tune is a major key tune for the next part of our discussion.

Check #2 : What chord does the tune begin on?

To create a jazz piano intro, you should plan for the intro to end in either a perfect cadence (ending on Chord I) or ending in an imperfect cadence (ending on Chord V7).

However, to further ensure that our jazz piano intro connects nicely into the main body of the tune (the main body of the tune is also referred to as the 'head'), one common method is to precede the first chord of the tune with its related dominant seventh chord, or in other words, the dominant seventh chord that is constructed from a root note that is a perfect fifth above the root note of the first chord of the tune. This is better explained with examples. Here are some examples:

If a tune begins on chord I, that means the last chord of our piano intro would be V7 of chord I. In a tune that is in the key of, say, D major, this would mean that the tune starts with a D chord, and the last chord of our piano intro would would be an A7 ('A' is the V of 'D') An example of a jazz standard that begins with a chord I is "All Of Me"

If a tune begins on some kind of chord II (typically, it will be a II-7 or II7), that means the last chord of our piano intro would be the V7 of chord II. In a tune that is in the key of, say, D major, this would mean that the tune starts with some kind of E chord - this can be Em7, E7, Em7(b5). For such a tune, our intro would end with a B7 chord ('B' is the V of 'E'). An example of a jazz standard that begins with a chord II is "Our Love Is Here To Stay"

If a tune begins on some kind of chord VI (typically, it will be a VI∆7, or VI7), that means the last chord of our piano intro would be the V7 of chord VI. In a tune that is in the key of, say, D major, this would mean that the tune starts with some kind of G chord - this can be G∆7 or G7). For such a tune, our intro would end with a D7 chord ('D' is the V of 'G'). An example of a jazz standard that begins with a chord II is "Just Friends"

Hence, depending on what chord the tune begins with, the last chord of our piano intro will differ. It is also important to note, however, that not all intros will end with the related V7 of the first chord of the tune, as we will see in some of Oscar Peterson's jazz piano intros below.

Check #3 : Does The Melody Begin In Bar 1, or Does It Begin With An Anacrusis ?

Depending on whether the melody of a tune features an anacrusis, your intro will have to be adjusted accordingly. An anacrusis is an incomplete measure of melodic material before the first complete measure of the tune. Examples of jazz standards that have an anacrusis in their melody would be like 'Autumn Leaves' or 'In A Sentimental Mood'. Examples of jazz standards that do not have an anacrusis in their melody would be like 'All Of Me' and 'All The Things You Are'.

To create a simple jazz piano intro, a common procedure would be to come up with some kind of chord progression and improvise the melodic material and accompaniment parts based on that chord progression. A typical jazz intro would be 8 or 4 bars in length or some kind of multiple of 4 bars (eg, 12 bars, 16 bars).

Let's take the 8-bar length for example. In an 8-bar intro, if the main melody features an anacrusis, it would mean that the anacrusis would occupy bar 8 of the intro, and therefore, the improvised melodic material on the intro has to stop some where in bar 7 of the intro. If you were to continue improvising melodic material during the intro into the 8th bar, it can potentially confuse your fellow musician who is playing the anacrusis on bar 8, because it would feel like the intro has not yet ended and it is not yet their time to start playing or singing their part.

Hence, it is important to determine whether a tune has an anacrusis, and on what beat does the anacrusis starts on, as it determines when the melodic improvisation stops in the intro.

Some of these concepts above sound more complicated than they really are, especially when explained in a purely writing format in a blog article. It might be helpful to get a jazz piano teacher to explain and demonstrate these concepts to you and help you in your jazz piano journey.

Now that we've gotten the basics out of the way, let's dive right into what we're here for: the six jazz piano intros played by the legendary Oscar Peterson.

Intro #1 : All Of Me, A Jazz Portrait of Frank Sinatra (1959)

When it comes to crafting unforgettable jazz piano intros, studying iconic examples like the opening of 'All of Me' from Oscar Peterson's album 'A Jazz Portrait of Frank Sinatra' (1959) becomes invaluable. Below is a transcription of the intro section

how to write a jazz intro

The chord progression used in this intro consists of IV7, #IVdim7 , Ic, VI7, II7, V7, I —an extremely common chord progression used in jazz piano introductions. For those who might be unfamiliar with this particular manner of indicating inversions in roman numerals, 'Ic' refers to a chord I in second inversion.

These are the things you should notice about the intro:

The intro ends in a perfect cadence. However, contrary to what we've discussed earlier in the blog article, this intro does not end with a V7 of the first chord of the tune.

The duration of the intro is 8 bars long, which is a typical length for jazz intros.

The intro leads into a tune that does not originally have an anacrusis; the melody of 'All Of Me' typically begins on beat 1 of the first bar. However, Oscar Peterson does add an ascending scale run leading up to the first note of the tune, which almost has the aural effect of having an anacrusis. For tunes which start their first note exactly on beat 1, you could also consider doing the same thing.

Other note-worthy points are that in terms of melodic material, Oscar Peterson uses mostly the Ab major pentatonic/major blues scale, which is also the same scale as the F minor pentatonic/minor blues scale if you're used to thinking in minor pentatonic or minor blues scales instead. There are also some Ab mixolydian notes mixed in as well.

The phrases that he uses are typical of blues piano, and it would of great benefit to practice these phrases in all twelve keys to get them into your improvisation vocabulary.

Intro #2 : I Only Have Eyes For You, Oscar Peterson Plays Harry Warren (1954)

Below is a transcription of Oscar Peterson's jazz piano intro to 'I Only Have Eyes For You'

how to write a jazz intro

Like the intro on 'All Of Me', the piano intro to 'I Only Have Eyes For You' also features the an almost-identical chord progression, that is, IV7, #IVdim7 , Ic, VI7, II7, V7.

The difference is that instead of being 8 bars long, this progression is only half that duration, that is, 4 bars long. The reduction in length by half the duration means that compared to the 8 bar version, all the chords (with the exception of the II7 and V7 chords) are reduced in duration by half - in the previous intro, each chord took the duration of one entire bar, whereas in this intro, each chord only takes the duration of half a bar.

However, you might have noticed that there is an exception to the reduction of each chord's duration by half - the chords II7 and V7 are not reduced in duration; they still occupy the duration of one entire bar. Also, compared to the intro of 'All Of Me', the chord I is removed entirely from the chord progression. This results in the second main difference between this intro and the one heard in 'All Of Me' - the intro of 'I Only Have Eyes For You' ends in an imperfect cadence as opposed to the ending in a perfect cadence in the 'All Of Me' piano intro.

Compared the first piano intro, you should note that this intro:

ends in an imperfect cadence (ending in V7)

leads into a tune that begins on chord II-7 from an intro ending in chord V7; once again, this goes against what we previously discussed earlier in this blog article, in which it is suggested to end the intro with the V7 of the first chord of the tune.

leads into a tune that begins with an anacrusis beginning on beat 3+ of last bar. Notice where does Oscar Peterson end his melodic improvisation in the intro - he ends it on beat 3 of the last bar of the intro. This is actually considered very late given that the first note of the main melody starts just a quaver's duration after the last note of Oscar Peterson's intro improvisation. By ending the last note of the intro improvisation this late, it not as intuitive to time the entry of the anacrusis immediately after. If you were playing with another lead player or singer who's taking the main melody of the head, it is very likely they will miss their entry if they are less experienced. A way around this would be to end the intro improvisation earlier, for example, the last note of the intro improvisation could have been placed on the first beat of the F7 chord instead of the third beat.

Intro #3 : Take The 'A' Train, Solo (2002)

This next intro is from Oscar Peterson's performance of 'Take The 'A' Train' in 1972, featured in the album 'Solo' that was only released in 2002. Below is a transcription of the intro.

how to write a jazz intro

This is an 8-bar intro that features a tonic pedal point. Typically, a pedal point refers to a technique in which a single note is sustained in the bass for an extended duration while the harmony changes from one chord to the next above that unchanging bass note. This means that the bass note may some times not be always be consonant (in a traditional sense of the word) with the chord tones of the chords that are moving above it. Most of the time, the pedal point note is the tonic note (first scale degree) of the key or the dominant note (fifth scale degree) of the key.

Another way to look at a pedal point technique is to sustain a single note in the bass for an extended duration, while the melody above improvises modally without a chord progression. This is more in line with what you hear Oscar Peterson doing in this recording. In this intro, Oscar Peterson uses a tonic pedal (meaning, a pedal point in which the sustained note is the tonic note of the key) in his left hand, but he also increases the 'heaviness' of the sound of the pedal by adding the perfect 5th interval above it. In his right hand, he improvises bluesy-sounding lines using a combination of C major blues scale and C mixolydian.

Intro #4 : Summertime, Exclusively For My Friends (1992)

The next jazz piano intro is from Oscar Peterson's recording of 'Summertime'. This intro is also based off a pedal point technique. The only difference being that this is a minor key tune, hence the note choice of the improvisation above the pedal point is based off a C minor blues scale instead of the C major blues scale in the intro of 'Take The 'A' Train', which is a major key tune. Below is a transcription of Oscar Peterson's intro to 'Summertime'

how to write a jazz intro

A few things to note about this intro:

It is 16 bars long in duration.

In the last bar of the intro, the tonic pedal point ends and the left hand plays a 'G' in the bass before the start of the main body of the tune. This can be interpreted as playing the V7 of the first chord of the tune before the tune begins proper, a technique mentioned earlier in this blog article to ensure that the piano intro flows naturally into the main body of the tune itself.

Intro #5 : Dancing On The Ceiling, Tracks (1970)

This next intro is an interesting one. In Oscar Peterson's 1970 recording of 'Dancing On The Ceiling', he plays a jazz piano intro in minor key to a tune that is in a major key. The key of the tune in this recording is D major; the intro that Oscar Peterson plays is in D minor. Below is a transcription of the piano intro to 'Dancing On The Ceiling'

how to write a jazz intro

This also marks a very different kind of intro as compared to the ones we've explored so far, because this is a ballad intro played in rubato tempo, which means the tempo is played freely rather than a strict tempo.

This intro starts with 3 bars of a D minor modal chord progression that revolves around an alternating Dm7 an Em7 chord played over a D tonic pedal. This is played by the left hand. The right hand improvises using the notes from the D natural minor scale on top of the left hand part.

Thereafter, Oscar Peterson plays two cadences:

A perfect cadence

Deceptive cadence

The perfect cadence is not a pure V7 to Im cadence; it features a tritone substitute chord before getting to the Im chord. Hence the Eb7 between the A7 and Dm7

Same with the deceptive cadence. Traditionally, a deceptive cadence is V7 that is expected to resolve to chord I but ends up somewhere else instead, hence the 'deception' in deceptive cadence. Here, Oscar Peterson has already stated a perfect cadence prior to the deceptive cadence, hence setting up a certain expectation of repetition of the same cadence. However, instead of V7 (A7) resolving to Im (Dm7), this time, Oscar Peterson resolves it to Ebmaj7 instead. (The reason why this particular resolution to bIImaj7 works is another whole discussion in itself, but that's a discussion for another time)

Additionally, Oscar Peterson also precedes this deceptive cadence of V7 to bIImaj7 with a IIm7(b5) chord as well. Once again the reason why this works is another discussion in itself, and outside the scope of this already lengthy blog article. However, it is generally suffice to say that in most situations, you could extend of V7 by preceding it with it's related II-7 to create more harmonic interest.

After these two cadences, he ends the entire intro with an imperfect cadence, which then leads nicely into the main body of the tune.

Intro #6 : In A Sentimental Mood, Oscar Peterson Plays Duke Ellington (1952)

For the last jazz piano intro of this article, we will explore Oscar Peterson's recording of 'In A Sentimental Mood'. Below is a transcription of the piano intro.

how to write a jazz intro

The key of the tune is D minor and the chord progression in this piano intro starts with a bass line that descends chromatically from the tonic note of the key. Take note of the chords that are used to harmonize this descending chromatic bass line as it is a fairly common chord progression.

After the descending bass line sequence, Oscar Peterson continues the chord progression with a chord IV- followed by a chord V7, although the chord V7 he uses has been tritone substituted, hence it is an Eb7 chord instead of an A7 chord.

The piano intro could have ended at this point given that it would have constituted an imperfect cadence on that Eb7. However, Oscar Peterson goes a step further and adds a C7 chord after, making it an imperfect cadence as well, but to the relative major key instead, that is, F major. Ending an intro with an imperfect cadence to the relative major key of a minor key tune can some times work given the correct conditions, and is a technique that you can consider using in your own piano intros.

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how to write a jazz intro

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how to write a jazz intro

How to Write a Jazz Melody or Song

“What makes jazz… jazz?” This was the first question I posed to my music teacher after he foolishly agreed to mentor my Eighth Grade Independent Study Project. I had chosen the topic of music composition. We had just entered his office. After a few minutes of back and forth about rhythm and dominant-seventh chords, he turned to his bookshelf and plopped four thick volumes down on his desk: A New History of Jazz , Jazz Anecdotes , The Jazz Book , and The New York Times Essential Library: Jazz .

Jazz is one of the most popular styles of music. If you are a classically-trained musician looking to expand your repertoire and skillset, learning to write jazz songs will add to your musicianship and provide you with new tools for creativity. Alternatively, if you are a complete beginner to music, learning how to compose and improvise in the jazz style is also rewarding introduction to music theory and practice. Jazz was the foundation of my music education. In fact, I never studied classical music theory before I started composing my first jazz song; since then, I have gone on to study music composition at Yale and in Paris.

Tip: if you are serious about building your skills as a jazz composer, you should meet with a dedicated jazz composition teacher online .

Here is my guide for learning to write jazz music.

Outline of Jazz History (Simplified)

  • 19th c: Gospel, African American spirituals
  • Late 19th c: Ragtime (Scott Joplin)
  • Early 20th c: New Orleans (Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton)
  • Early 20th c: Blues (Louis Armstrong, Ma Rainey)
  • 1920s: New Orleans in Chicago (King Oliver)
  • 1920s: Dixieland (ODJB)
  • 1930s: Swing (Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Glenn Miller)
  • Early 1940s: Bebop (Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk)
  • 1950s: Hard Bop (Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus)
  • 1950s: Cool Jazz (Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck)
  • 1960s: Free Jazz (Ornette Coleman)
  • 1970s: Funk, Fusion (Herbie Hancock)

Best Books for Learning to Write Jazz

  • Method Book —”Intro to Jazz Piano” (Mark Harrison):  https://www.amazon. com/Intro-Jazz-Piano-Leonard- Keyboard-ebook/dp/B00JZNNC6W
  • Reference/advanced —”Jazz Theory Book” (Mark Levine):  https://www.amazon. com/Jazz-Theory-Book-Mark- Levine/dp/1883217040/ref=sr_1_ 1
  • For practicing—” The Real Book”:  https://www.amazon.com/ Real-Book-Hal-Leonard- Corporation/dp/0634060384/ref= asc_df_0634060384/

Other Resources for Learning to Write Jazz

  • Helpful YouTube video:  https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=lCAdCneGK5A
  • Quick online introduction:  https://musictheory. pugetsound.edu/mt21c/ IntroductionToJazzTheory.html

Listening Suggestions for Learning to Write Jazz

Jazz is all about listening, repeating, and changing. Start by listening to these albums and artists:

  • “1923/24” (Jelly Roll Morton)
  • Anything by Fats Waller
  • Hot Fives & Sevens (Louis Armstrong)
  • Ella & Louis (Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong)
  • Live at Carnegie Hall, 1938 (Benny Goodman)
  • Some early Duke Ellington (pre-1945)
  • Zodiac Suite (Mary Lou Williams)
  • Kind of Blue (Miles Davis)
  • Duke Ellington & John Coltrane (full album)
  • Giant Steps (John Coltrane)
  • Genius of Modern Music: Vol. 1 (Thelonious Monk)
  • Solo Monk (Thelonious Monk)
  • Piano Starts Here (Art Tatum)
  • Mingus Ah Um (Charles Mingus)
  • Maiden Voyage (Herbie Hancock)
  • Time Out (Dave Brubeck Quartet)

How a Teacher Can Help

To properly learn how to write jazz music, it is important to get personalized feedback from an experienced music composition teacher . Jazz is essentially an oral tradition that cannot be fully learned through books without interacting with and receiving feedback from other musicians and composers . Luckily, online lessons are available. I am a composer trained at Yale University and in Paris. If you are looking for a dedicated teacher to improve your jazz composition skills, contact me now and I will respond as soon as possible!

If you have any questions about how jazz composition lessons would work for your particular situation, contact me online and I will get back to you right away.

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how to write a jazz intro

deBreved Jazz Part 1

  • Introduction

This is the first part in a series of articles where I will explain how to take a simple melody and turn it into a jazz tune, complete with appropriate harmony, voicing, bass part, and notation for a session or performance. I will explain and demonstrate the basic concepts of jazz. These are the cheat notes that even a drummer should be able to understand (I should know, I am one).

Part 1 deals with the melody, harmony, and piano voicing. Part 2 explains how to take the melody and voice it in a Thickened Line style for a big band saxophone section. Part 3 explains how to come up with simple and effective bass parts and how to notate your charts. Finally, Part 4 will introduce a new tune that requires some more techniques but will also serve as a complete example of everything covered in the previous sections.

I would like to thank Mike Barry for this idea and Cinesamples for funding the recording of the saxophones and rhythm section. Jeff Vaughn for recording and mixing. Chris Lennertz and everybody at Sonic Fuel for the studio. Noah Gladstone and Hollywood Scoring for contracting and AFM Local 47 for working with us to find a contract to make the recording possible.

Part 1 Melody, Chords, and Voicing

Here is a simple melody. Something that someone who is not a jazz musician might come up with if they were called upon to write some jazz!

Melody

Pretty straight-forward. Think of this as the first phrase of a longer tune. Now lets harmonize it in a traditional way using chords I, IV, and V.

A Piano

Apart from the swing rhythm, the other thing that will make this ‘jazz’ is that every chord will have an extra note. The default addition is the 7th. If we add a diatonic 7th to each of these chords we get-

B Piano

The ii – V – I Adding notes from the C major scale, the I chord becomes a major 7th, IV also a major 7th, and V a dominant 7th. While classical and pop harmony is often based around the I – IV – V progression, the basis of jazz and the most important progression to know about and use is the ii – V – I. So we substitute a ii for the IV. While our progression stays in the tonic key center, you can use a ii – V or just a V to modulate to any temporary tonic. It is the same concept as in four part chorale writing. The Coltrane tune Giant Steps took this concept to its extreme.

C Piano v2

Now we have ‘jazz’! All of the elements, melody, harmony and voicing, are ‘correct’ for the jazz genre.

We can, however, make things a little more interesting. The next thing would be to fill in another chord in the first measure. The default way to do this is to go a fifth above the next chord. The next chord is ii, so the fifth that leads there is vi. Now we have I, vi, ii, V (I). This is one of the most common progressions in jazz and is the foundation of ‘Rhythm Changes’ (the chords in Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” that have been used as the basis for 1000’s of other tunes).

F Piano v2

The 6th Chord There is an alternative for our I chord, and that is a 6th chord, in which an A replaces the B.

C6 Cm6

In any tonic chord, major or minor, you can substitute the 6th for the 7th. This gives a softer, some might say older, sound. There is no major 7 (or minor 2nd) in the voicing, so less of a ‘grind’ (jazz speak for good dissonance). This is also very common when the melody is the tonic (so a C in this case, see example K). This prevents the major 7th from rubbing against the tonic at the top of the voicing. In general, for a normal jazz sound, you avoid a minor 2nd at the top of a voicing. In more modern styles, this is not a problem. A major 2nd is OK if the melody is voiced in the low- to mid-range, but as you get higher, it is always best to have a 3rd or more as your top interval. For normal jazz sounds, I personally try to avoid all 2nds at the top. 2nds at the top of trumpet voicings often sound like someone ‘missed’!

I find the minor 6 chord underused these days. Check out Summertime, or the bridge to the Pink Panther for some classic uses.

G Piano v2

Look at bar 4 (Example H). There is now an Ab augmented 9th chord harmonizing the E. The E in this case is fine harmonized by the D minor chord, but by reharmonizing it with a passing chord (a chord that harmonizes a note that is passing between two chord tones) we create some nice movement.

Just as our new chord in bar 3 is based on the temporary dominant concept, so is this one. We could change the D minor on the downbeat to a D7 but that would be a bigger color change than I want here. Where the D7 can come in handy is to harmonize the E. The E is the 9th. This would work fine, but a quick V-I can be a little clunky, we need a way to smooth it out. Enter the tritone substitution.

Triton D7

In our case, the melody is an E, not a note in a standard Ab7 chord. It is actually the #5 in an Ab augmented 7th chord, and works just as well. You can see that apart from the melody that moves a step into the G7, every other note moves by half step.

A tritone substitution can replace a dominant chord completely or extend it. In our example we are extending.

Melodic Interest So far we have looked at making additions and improvements to the harmony. Now let’s take a look at the melody and see what can be done to make it a little more interesting.

I Piano v2

These new notes do not necessarily need any new harmony, as they resolve by half step and thus sound fine. But seeing as we are heading towards writing a saxophone voicing with a thickened line in Part II, let’s look at how we can harmonize them.

Side slip

Another common variation is to substitute a iii in the third measure in place of the I. From there, we can travel the circle of fifths to get back to I (E-A-D-G-C). We can also have some fun with bar two and use a series of tritone substitutions to get to the E minor chord. You will see in this one, I add a bar and resolve the cadence. Notice that I use the 6th in place of the 7th to avoid a minor 2nd at the top of the voicing.

K Piano

Here is a video that strings together all of the examples so you can hear and see the development of the harmony.

As you can see, there is no mystery to any of this. There are rules and formulas that get you from example A to example K. We have also now created voicings that would work really well for a string orchestra. You could give the melody to a singer or instrumentalist and the leftover parts would translate perfectly to a string section. The only changes I would make would be to move the top string part to the melody at the end of the phrases. There is a lot of information above, and I would not expect anyone new to jazz to get it all on the first reading, so please take your time and go through it a few times, playing the examples yourself. For further study I recommend The Jazz Piano Book by Mark Levine , this is the book that helped me first understand how it all works.

Stay tuned for Part 2 .

36 Comments

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Thank you for this. I would love to compose a Jazz music since I’ve been hooked to this kind of music which sound like an Angel and it is very relaxing. Although I am not a musician but I am willing to try

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Tim, It’s great that you recommended Mark Levine’s piano book. (Even totally horrible piano players) like me, can appreciate that book. Not only does it show pianists how to play chord voicing, it really is a clever way to understand arranging. If you do not play jazz or even understand it, you can get jump start understanding how things work (not only in jazz, but every most all present day arranging. thanks, Steve http://www.violin-strings.com

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Excellent article! Will follow these steps in future when writing jazz 🙂

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Marvelous article, Tim! I greatly appreciate your way of “unveiling” the mysteries of jazz! Thank you!!

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I am writing a Jazz Christmas album. How should I use this article to make the song “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”? sound jazzier? Do you have any more resources that you can recommend for me? I am just starting out writing jazz music. Thanks!

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oh my god, it seems what I’m missing in my music skillset, just fear my general musical ability is not enough to fully benefit from this, nor the amount of my free time…

great stuff though! I’ll get as much as possible from it!

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Hi Tim, just discovered your website, and its been like a lightbulb being turned on…thankyou. I have a question; what happens when you only have 3 front line ( trp, ten sax, trombone) how do I decide the most important chord tones to use? Especially when extensions are used ? Also when are parts 3&4 on jazz writing coming out? Can’t find them!!

Just love your approach to explaining the process, keep it coming please.

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Hi. Sorry for my delay. I find writing for 3 horns much harder than 13, especially in a jazz situation. A lot of unison is good! If you have a good pianist, you can have them cover parts, lower ones with the guide tones and have the 3 horns play the upper structures and keep their parts more melody. Bill Cunliffe is a pianist and arranger who does this very well. But don’t over think it. If all the lines are good and you have a good rhythms section outlining the harmony it will all sound fine.

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I find that doubling the top sax (or trumpet) line on guitar adds needed thickness. I also wish I’d discovered this article a year ago when I was muddling through trying to work this all out for myself!

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Wonderful job! Thank you! Did you write an article to transform a straight melody line to a swing melody line? and how to change the background chords to make a song sound swing/jazzy? (I only need rhythmic examples)

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OH thank! i’m 8th graders on a IB international school in china! my music teacher told everybody to compose a jazz song. I had no idea of what am I going to do before reading your article! Thank a lot!

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GREAT Great Great Great. Since I found you on the internet it has helped me so much.

Thank you very much for helping us green souls of Jazz. (smile)

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Excellent article! So much information presented in such an educational manner!

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Thanks Tim, excellent information to help me with my jazz writing. Many Thanks

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This is an awesome article on jazz harmony. It really helped me to start off composing some jazz! Thank you for that!!!

Thank you so very much for this easy way to write Jazz. I understand printed into a little better than a video only. I had the info about the chord progression but not how they were to be written. Please tell if what books I can purchase fo arrange for bass, strings, and the horn section for jazz. I am a singer/songwriter. Thank you again Tim.

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Hi Tim! I must say that I am very happy to have found your article as I feel that I have learnt more about jazz music and writing for it than I ever did in jazz band during high school. I got a problem though. I’ve been playing classical piano for the last 11 years so chord theory isn’t really my best area. I was confused from the diminished chords and after. What exactly is happening with the diminished chords? Also, I am currently in a duo with my jazz singing friend but am finding it difficult to learn jazz and make the transition from classical. I can’t exactly afford lessons right now so do you have any tips or methods that I could use to help me with my learning?

Hi. I like the jazz piano book by Mark Levine. It explains all of the chord types and how to use them. It is where I learnt how jazz harmony works.

Hi, I was in a similar situation, starting life as a drummer, I had no idea on how chords really worked. What opened my eyes and ears was the Jazz Piano Book by Mark Levine. Grab a copy and go through it, it will really help.

Yep, I checked it out as you last suggested. It really is helpful! Thanks!

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This was a really good refresher for someone already well versed, very well put together article. For me reading theory stuff, it’s all in how the author words things. This was one of the better explanations of jazz harmony I’ve seen. You ever considering writing an orchestration or jazz arranging book?

I had wanted to write a book, but would never have the time to cover everything I want to. Also, this format allows me to mix in audio and video, this post being a perfect example. Would be nowhere near as effective in a book.

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[…] Davies ¬?- jazz part 1, jazz melody and voicing part […]

[…] are using the same melody from Part 1, and will go through some of the same harmonic transformations, from simple to more complicated. […]

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Love this post – you are one of my heroes Tim.

One quick question about fonts — what’s the deal with the Ink Pen font? I’ve seen that forever in jazz scores. Is that some kind of tradition in jazz music? I have a good friend from New York, Richie Vitale, very talented jazz trumpet player. I asked him once but forgot what he said, I think he said yes it is.

There is a rich history of hand copying in jazz. I feel it just looks ‘right’ to use this look even with computer software. There are several fonts available. The first was the Golden Age font, it is good, but ‘thin’ looking. The next and most popular is Jazz font. I actually hate this one, the numbers are hard to read. The same guy that made that one, then came out with the Swing Font, which has better letters and numbers, that is what I use. But I use the note heads from the jazz font as the whole note in swing is too small. The other program came out with Ink Pen as it’s handwritten font. It is a little messy for my tastes. Finale has now come out with the Broadway font too.

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Tim, Great blog. Thanks for posting. I’d like to forward to some of my students with your permission. Looking forward to your next installment.

Thanks for the kind words, please forward to as many people as possible!

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Tim, this is Tim (no relation),

Absolutely fantastic, as a fan of Jazz and a composer (and a guitarist if you must know), I can always appreciate a knowledgeable breakdown of structure (or lack thereof depending on who you’re listening to[!]).

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Tim, this is one of the best music related articles I’ve read online. This blog is amazing and I hope you continue to break the magicians code as you put it.

Really looking forward to more!

Thanks for the kind words. Glad you like it.

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As always, solid bloody gold. Graham Lloyd

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Wonderful information! Subscribed to your website 🙂

Music theory is something I’m just starting to become more familiar with and while some of the more advanced stuff goes over my head, it’s really enlightening to watch the process in such an iterative form.

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This is a good start for anyone who knows nothing about playing or writing jazz but it should be mentioned that, as with any musical form, the EARS are the most important element and the way to train those are by hours of listening. Also note that the 8th notes, even in ex. A, are not played as written but like 8th note triplets with the first 2 tied and the emphasis on the last one. This is called (improperly) swing feel. Nevertheless, this is a very well written intro.

Yes, good points. I will explain the notation and my thoughts on it in part 3. The reason I laid it out like this is so people can play the examples, either themselves or the audio. I would love to think everyone is going to go away a transcribe a heap of classic tunes and solos, but it is not going to happen. The idea for this was put to me as a guide for a young film/game composer, not someone who wants to be the next Gil Evans. These are cheat notes. Jazz police will not like it, I am breaking the magicians code!

Gotcha Tim. And I’m not exactly the JP but one of the magicians. My only code is take what you are doing seriously. You’re doing a great job and I really appreciate you orchestral advice. One of the better blogs!

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Bill Holman, Whose Arrangements Shaped West Coast Jazz, Dies at 96

His economical, linear writing helped define the sound of Stan Kenton’s band. He also led his own 16-piece ensemble for many decades.

A black-and-white photo of a man with a dark, bushy mustache, wearing a cardigan and holding a small cup in his left hand. His right hand sits on his hip. He and another man with lighter hair appear to pore over sheet music.

By Clay Risen

Bill Holman, an arranger and composer whose work with Stan Kenton, Gerry Mulligan and other jazz greats established him as a transformative figure in the cool jazz sound associated with 1950s California, died on Monday at his home in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles. He was 96.

Kathryn King, his stepdaughter, announced the death.

Mr. Holman’s longtime collaboration with Mr. Kenton, first as a saxophonist in his band and later as an arranger, provided the foundation of his reputation, but he also went on to arrange for Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé and many others, and to lead his own 16-piece ensemble.

He won three Grammy Awards — for his arrangements of “Take the A Train” (1988) for Doc Severinsen’s band and “Straight, No Chaser” (1998) for his own, and for his original composition “A View From the Side” (1996) — and contributed compositions and arrangements to seven other Grammy-winning records, including Natalie Cole’s “Unforgettable” (1991). He received a total of 16 Grammy nominations.

Mr. Holman was known for his economical, linear arrangements, which used elegant counterpoint and dissonance to enliven both old standards and his own works. Reared on the big bands of the 1930s and ’40s, he helped Mr. Kenton and others from that era make the transition to a more energetic sound in the postwar years.

He was already an innovative arranger when he was in his 20s, creating new avenues that jazz would pursue over the following decades. And yet, while he was often imitated, his unique style remained easily recognizable, even on pieces that he ghostwrote for other arrangers.

“When people refer to him as a genius, that’s not hyperbole,” Ken Poston, the founder and director of the Los Angeles Jazz Institute, said in a phone interview. “That’s how many of us feel.”

He also injected a good bit of classical influence. Bela Bartok was a frequent inspiration, as was Arnold Schoenberg, in particular his avant-garde 12-tone system.

It was with a Schoenberg-inspired piece that Mr. Holman, then just out of music school, caught the attention of Mr. Kenton, a constant experimenter who was looking for a new direction as the jazz world was moving away from conventional big-band sounds.

Mr. Kenton hired him as a tenor saxophonist and asked him to write arrangements on the side. Although he eventually fired him as a musician following what Mr. Holman called a “lusty discussion” of the band’s direction, Mr. Kenton kept him as lead arranger, and for much of the 1950s he was turning out as many as two pieces a week.

He arranged six of the seven tracks on the 1955 album “Contemporary Concepts,” widely considered to be among Mr. Kenton’s best. He wrote and arranged “Invention for Guitar and Trumpet,” a track on the 1953 album “New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm,” which became one of the best-known pieces in the Kenton repertoire and was heard in the 1955 movie “Blackboard Jungle.”

Although Mr. Holman’s arrangements were thoughtful and methodical, his sound was far from sanitized or academic. And he took a laid-back, almost haphazard approach to his writing, which would often begin with tinkling aimlessly on a piano.

“If I hear something that I like, I’ll make note of it and fiddle around with it for a while to see what I can develop,” he said in a 2008 interview with the website JazzWax . “Or sometimes I’ll just start writing foolishness, and somehow the connection between my hand and my head kicks in, and I start thinking of things.”

Willis Leonard Holman was born on May 21, 1927, in Olive, Calif., a town in Orange County, and grew up in nearby Santa Ana. His father, Leonard, was an accountant, and his mother, Ida May (Beard) Holman, managed the home.

He did not come from a musical family, but he fell in love with the big-band sounds he heard on the radio. He played clarinet in junior high, then switched to saxophone in high school.

To please his parents, he pursued a career in mechanical engineering — first while in the Navy, at the University of Colorado, and then for a year at the University of California, Los Angeles. But engineering didn’t move him, and a few years after leaving school he enrolled at the Westlake College of Music in Los Angeles, where he learned the fundamentals of arranging and composition. He played saxophone with a number of bands around the city and was with the Charlie Barnet orchestra when he first caught Mr. Kenton’s attention.

Mr. Holman was married three times, to Jocelyn Hansen, the singer Jeri Southern and Gaye Holly Day; all three marriages ended in divorce. Along with his stepdaughter, from his second marriage, he is survived by two sons from his first marriage, Jeff and Roger; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Mr. Holman formed his own band in 1975. It toured regularly and practiced every week until 2020, when the pandemic brought travel and in-person gatherings to a halt.

In 2010 the National Endowment for the Arts named Mr. Holman a Jazz Master, considered the highest honor in the field.

More than anything, Mr. Poston said, it was his band that kept him fresh, giving him a laboratory to try out new arrangements and ideas.

“Most writers don’t have a band like that at your fingertips,” he added. “It was a constant living and breathing institution.”

Clay Risen is a Times reporter on the Obituaries desk. More about Clay Risen

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    Let's recap the steps involved in writing or creating some jazz music: Start with a 2-5-1 chord progression, a solid foundation to build on. Add jazzy 7th, 9th, 11th or 13th chords. Configure chords so they fit nicely among your fingers. Use chord notes to improvise a simple melody. Add rhythmic variety to the chords.

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  21. Jazz Theory in 20 Minutes

    Learn the basics of jazz theory in 20 minutes with this concise and engaging video lesson. You'll discover scales, chords, modes, and more.

  22. Bill Holman, Whose Arrangements Shaped West Coast Jazz, Dies at 96

    His economical, linear writing helped define the sound of Stan Kenton's band. He also led his own 16-piece ensemble for many decades. By Clay Risen Bill Holman, an arranger and composer whose ...

  23. How to Write Big Band Jazz

    How To Write Big Band Jazz! Explained in 5 minutes & made in FL Studio. By ear.This should be very useful if you want to write Electro-Swing too, or tracks i...