The Jazz Chord/Scale Handbook

The Jazz Chord/Scale Handbook, new and expanded third edition
Note: The Jazz Chord/Scale handbook, originally published by Advance Music, is now self published by the author. The book is no longer part of the Advance Music catalog. You can order the new third edition directly form Gary Keller Music at Price is $25 plus shipping and can be paid through PayPal or Venmo. Please enter JCSH or “scale book” in the subject heading of your email. 

The Jazz Chord/Scale Handbook is a systematized guide to understanding virtually all the common (and many uncommon) scales and chord relationships used in jazz improvisation and composition. Based on the principle of harmonic systems, the handbook organizes the various modes of major, melodic and harmonic minor, harmonic major, as well as nine different symmetric scales, pentatonic scales, blues scales, and more. Most importantly, each scale is presented with the appropriate modal and functional chord voicings, information about common usage, and examples from the recorded literature. The new third edition includes more scales, more examples, and new information regrading chord and scale relationships. The 127 page book is in a compact, easy to carry size. It is a unique reference work and a great value!

Some questions answered and topics covered:

  • Properties of asymmetric vs. symmetric scale systems
  • Modality and modal color explained
  • The all important tritone interval and how it defines modal quality
  • Mode names and mode alterations clarified (there is a system)
  • Examples from classic and current jazz literature
  • Chord voicings in various styles and textures
  • How upper structures or “grips” are used to voice chords and represent scales
  • Modal symmetry and inverse symmetry
  • “Bright/Dark” modal contours
  •  Blues scales, pentatonic scales, “altered” pentatonic scales
  • Symmetric scales including whole tone, diminished, augmented, and more. Systematic methods of creating symmetric scale chord voicings
  • Modal substitutions
  • and more…


The Jazz Chord/Scale Handbook is packed with useful information on chord and scale theory. This book gives a comprehensive look at how scales generate harmony, and the voicings and examples put everything into a tangible perspective. An excellent primer to my texts on jazz composition.”
Ron Miller, Professor of Jazz Composition, University of Miami

“Gary Keller’s book is a clean and clear reference on jazz harmony. From the simplest functional chords to the hippest modal colors, the book is organized to be useful to musicians at any level. I highly recommend it to all my students.”
David Pope, Professor of Saxophone, James Madison University

“The Jazz Chord Scale Handbook is a great resource for traditional and contemporary music. Gary covers just about every chord from the basic parent scales and symmetrical scales. I use this book as a springboard to teach contemporary improvisation and composition.”
Ed Tomassi, Professor, Berklee College of Music