150 Jazz Canons - for 4 Instruments


This collection of 150 jazz canons is for 4 middle bass instruments. More specifically said, this book functions best for an ensemble of 4 instruments capable of the range E2 to Bb4. Instruments included would be tenor and bass trombone, baritone horn, euphonium, french horn, baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, bassoon, electric guitar, cello and piano. There is however no reason not to try utilising this material for instruments slightly outside of this range such as tenor saxophone and tuba. Copies of this book are available in bass clef, treble clef, Bb, Eb and F transposition.

Although they work best with 4 voices, most of these canons function well even if only 3 voices are available.


When confronted by a book titled ‘150 jazz canons’, one might be inclined to ask ‘Why would anyone write such a book and who would play it?’ The first and most obvious answer to this is, ‘for fun!’ Not only is canonic writing within the realms of jazz thrilling for the composer, canons are thoroughly entertaining to perform with other musicians.

However, these canons also have a much more practical application. Often when an ensemble meets for a rehearsal, the members of the ensemble need a certain degree of time before they truly begin phrasing together and working in unity. It almost seems as though the human mind must first acclimatise to its new rehearsal environment before it can begin working affectively within it. One of the goals of this book is to help reduce this acclimatisation period within a rehearsal – as a form of ensemble warm-up activity. Because each canon within this book is a single melody and because harmony is achieved when the melody overlaps itself, global melodic and harmonic coherency can only be achieved when the ensemble performs, phrases and feels the music in unity. The material is also looped so that it can be repeated as often as the ensemble requires to achieve performance consistency. After playing two or three canons through quickly, hopefully the ensemble will then be better prepared to work together on their other material.

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