Richard Sussman, Educator/Author

Richard Sussman has been an integral member of the Jazz Composition Faculty at the highly esteemed Manhattan School of Music in New York City since 1986.  His responsibilities at MSM have included private composition lessons, teaching and developing curriculum for Jazz Arranging classes, and managing all aspects of the Electronic Music Technology Recording Studios for the Jazz Department.  While at MSM Sussman developed a curriculum for a 2-year masters degree program in Music Technology and Contemporary Media for which he received the College Music Society Fund Technology Award in 2013. The program is currently under review by the school’s administration. Richard is an established and effective clinician both in the areas of jazz improvisation and composition, as well as music technology and scoring for film and television.

MSM Class copy

Richard's Book: Jazz Composition and Arranging in the Digital Age

Book Cover copy

Jazz Composition and Arranging in the Digital Age, co-authored by Richard Sussman and Michael Abene (Oxford University Press, 2012) is a critically acclaimed comprehensive and practical instructional book and reference guide on the art and craft of jazz composition and arranging for small and large ensembles. Composers and arrangers Sussman and Abene combine their extensive experience as musicians and instructors to demonstrate how advances in music technology and notation software may be integrated with compositional concepts to form a new and more efficient paradigm for the creative process. An extensive companion website provides over 80 minutes of listening examples as well as enhanced software tips, appendices of basic principles, and an expanded recommended listening list for further study. A “Teacher’s Guide” with detailed lesson plans for a 2-semester college-level course is now available through J. W. Pepper.

  • Presents traditional jazz arranging concepts alongside contemporary music technology and notation software
  • Features real world applications of the technology as actually used by the contemporary composer/arranger
  • Illustrates principles using familiar tunes
  • Covers both small and large jazz ensembles
  • Emphasizes the creative, artistic, and aesthetic aspects of the process
  • Includes comprehensive and up-to-date companion website as well as helpful listening lists for further study

For Educators - To receive a free examination copy CLICK HERE.

"Jazz Composition & Arranging In the Digital Age by Richard Sussman & Michael Abene is quite amazing! I'm sure it will set a new standard in jazz education."


What Other People Are Saying...

“Jazz Composition and Arranging in the Digital Age is a must have for any musician who plans to be a jazz musician. As composition and arranging are integral parts of developing a sound and style as a jazz artist, this book covers the basic considerations that will provide the skills to allow this to happen. Richard and Mike have left no stone unturned in laying out the fundamentals of composition and orchestration. This is a great book compiled by two fantastic musicians. I've already learned several things on the first read-through, and am looking forward to going back for more.”


"Unique and cutting edge. Just when it seemed the subject had no new approaches to uncover along comes Sussman and Abene. Grounded with solid basics and served up in the language of today's computer-enhanced music world. An extraordinary, must-have reference for all arrangers from the beginner to the seasoned pro."

GARY ANDERSON, Arranger/Orchestrator for TV & Film

"A comprehensive book--both musically and technologically--for the 21st-century jazz composer-arranger, written by two masters of the art."

BILL KIRCHNER, Editor for The Oxford Companion to Jazz

"Richard Sussman and Michael Abene have created an all encompassing look into the techniques and methods for realizing a musical arrangement in the 21st century. However, what really sets this book apart is the great care the authors take to emphasize that the only true guide for any musician is one's inner ear and creative instincts, thus constantly encouraging the reader to assume ultimate responsibility and ownership of the creative process."


"This is one of the most comprehensive books ever written on the subject and the detailed helpful hints on using Finale or Sibelius make it THE book to use in this new century. This textbook is invaluable for college teachers and their students."

RICHARD DEROSA, Professor of Jazz Composition and Arranging, University of North Texas

Jazz Times Review

"This 505-page tome is a landmark resource. Composer-arrangers Richard Sussman and Michael Abene (the latter’s work is in your record collection whether you know it or not) provide a guidebook for their craft that is beyond comprehensive. The instruction, with lucid notes and notation, starts simple and snowballs, with sections on small and large ensembles and topics like unison and octave writing, reharms, where to start your solos, classic shout choruses, adding texture via mutes – the list goes on (and could fill this page). Along the way, the authors seamlessly incorporate teaching on using today’s composing/arranging software. Purchase of the book includes access to its companion website, featuring audio examples by name players performing real tunes. Teachers and directors: Buy this one for the most ambitious young musician in your lab band!"

Jazz Pianist, Composer, Clinician

  • Available as a guest soloist, or in various small group settings from duos to sextet
  • Available for performances with larger ensembles, including jazz big band and symphony orchestra
  • Available as composer/arranger for small and large ensembles
  • Available for jazz improv, theory, and composition clinics
Shanghai Class copy

Music Technology Workshops/Clinics

Richard Sussman offers a wide variety of clinics, workshops, and master classes in many areas of Music Technology including the following:

  • Basic to Advanced Sequencing and Audio Recording Techniques
  • Music Notation Software
  • Basic Principles of Electronic Sound Synthesis
  • Scoring to Picture for Film and TV
  • Developing a Music Technology Curriculum
  • Add a Music Technology component to your summer jazz camp!

All Jazz and Music Technology Clinics can be tailored to the specific needs of your institution, and can range from a 2-3 hr master class or 1 day intensive workshop, to a 1-2 week comprehensive course. All Technology Clinics will be adjusted to accommodate the technical resources available at your location.

DP + Reaktor 3

"Technology plays a vital role in the creation of music in the 21st century. We have a responsibility as educators to ensure that these powerful tools are used in the most musical, dynamic, and expressive ways possible."


"Jazz Theory and Improvisation" in Chinese!

Chinese Book Cover

Richard participated as a performer/clinician in the First China Jazz Education Festival in Shanghai in 2012, and has since toured China on a regular basis, promoting cultural exchange by teaching master classes, private students, coaching ensembles at major conservatories, and performing at top jazz venues in Shanghai, Beijing, Guongzhou, Chengdu, and Hong Kong.  For his trip to China in May, 2014, he authored the book "Jazz Theory and Improvisation", translated to Mandarin and dedicated specifically to the Chinese students and educators.

The book is scheduled for publication by Shanghai Music Publishing House in Spring 2019.