Welcome to Harmonyville
By: Jon Damian - Yo! Publications, $20.00
Description: Harmonyville is a generally good natured town whose residents are chord symbols, infused with life from Jon Damian’s illustrations and narrative.
Gino and Dee seem like a perfect couple. But as the story unfolds, they have their ups and downs.
Their lives are intertwined with a bevy of entertaining characters who bring humor, drama, romance, and intrigue into the scenes of this comedic play.
Verdict: In his new book, Berklee Professor Emeritus Jon Damian of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA) — who has always blended his love of music with art — creates an illustrative guide to expand our understanding of harmony.
It won’t come as a surprise that a G7 and D Minor 7 chord make beautiful music, but what would it look like? In Welcome to Harmonyville 01625, we meet a reporter and cartoonist for the Harmonyville Times as he takes the reader on a journey with the Dominante family, friends, and neighbors in a town built around a G Clef roundabout.
Take E Street to the B Natural Bookstore, then up to D and Fifth streets to the psychordiatrist and finally, the reader reaches the Glossarium. A chord progression comes to life on the page as Damian follows the characters through good times, some discord, but ultimately a revelation—and education — in perfect harmony. [Theresa Litz at International Musician Magazine September 2021].
I couldn’t have put it better myself, and inclusive of a foreword by Bill Frisell of Local 802 (New York City), once you know what you are in for and open the book, you are instantly transported to a parallel universe where our earthly physics are replaced by the forces of harmonic enchantment.
You are then taken on what can only be described as an incredibly thought out, designed and constructed, and eloquently jigsawed together journey (one without end) in search of, well, harmony!
From start to finish, the originality of Welcome to Harmonyville seeps through within its pages full of deeply informative, and yet always explanatory, creatively whimsical and at all times highly, and almost tantalizingly readable.
Inclusive of some wondrous graphics, a multitude of well-timed puns, and seemingly never ending insights, Jon directs the guitarist (and any musician, really) towards achieving the harmony that makes music soulful and emotional.
Along the way we get to meet main characters such as Gino Dominante, a portly G7 chord symbol, and his subdominant other, Dee Mineur Septième, a petite D Minor 7 chord symbol.
For in the world of music, a chord symbol is a form of notation that uses letters and numbers to indicate a particular chord. Each chord symbol has a unique personality, so to speak. Some sound beautiful, some are mild-mannered, some are aggressive, and some are just middle-of-the-road kinds of characters.
Like homo sapiens, chord symbols live in families and so, just for fun, Jon thinks of these chord symbols as Harmono Sapiens! The inter-relationships between chord symbols, as between humans, can be harmonious or not harmonious for harmony consists of a series of notes, piled vertifcally (think of it like the vertebrae of a human skeleton).
His language, love for his subject matter and sheer creative personality shine throughout the prose and the parable like lessons. Hand-drawn graphics add to the relaxed feel and give the book a warmth that draws the reader into the universe of chords and the ways they mingle, conjoin and enhance one another. Truly great stuff.
Oh, and on one final note (all pun intended), for fun, Jon made Harmonyville’s zip code 01625, since it indicates the roots or bottom notes of the chords of an oft-used progression of chords; a 1 6 2 5 progression. Hundreds of popular tunes use it as a harmonic foundation to build their melodies on, for example, Blue Moon.
About the Author - JON DAMIAN is an active international performer, composer, lecturer, clinician and author. Jon spent 45 years as a professor at The Berklee College of Music. His varied performances have ranged from Luciano Pavarotti to Bill Frisell and from the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa to Johnny Cash with the Boston Pops under John Williams.
Jon Damian has recorded in a wide range of settings including The Boston Modern Orchestra Project, The Boston Pops Orchestra under Keith Lock- hart and John Williams, Bill Frisell, Bob Nieske’s Wolf Soup, The Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, Collage, and for NOVA.
He is also the author of The Guitarists Guide to Composing and Improvising and The Chord Factory: Build Your Own Guitar Chord Dictionary available through Berklee Press and Hal Leonard Publications and Fresh Music: Explorations with the Creative Workshop Ensemble for Musicians, Artists, and Teachers, published by YO! Publications.
Official Book Purchase Link