Music Theory

Music theory

  • Drop 2 & 4 Chords - Advanced Guitar Voicings

    Drop 2 and 4 voicingsWhat Are Drop 2-4 Chords?

    Drop 2 and 4 chords are created by dropping down an octave the second and fourth note of a seventh chord in close position. They can be very important tools for composition and arrangement. This lesson with diagrams provide useful explanations on how to build and play drop 2 & 4 chords on guitar.

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  • What's a Tetrad Chord - Music Theory

    What are tetrad chordsWhat's a Tetrad ?

    A basic chord is built with three notes this is what we call "triad chords" or "triads". Tetrad chords aka "four note-chords" are simply chords containing four notes, “tetra“ is a Greek root meaning four. This means that tetrads have an additional note, a major seventh or a minor seventh. In other words , a tetrad is a triad with a supplementary note. This article will enlighten you on how these tetrad chords are built and how they can be classified.

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  • Connections of Musical Notes, Guitar Frets and Piano Keys

    When it comes to learning guitar or piano, we all have to start from the pitch first. It is to learn what are musical note names on the sheet music and their corresponding positions on the fretboard or the keyboard.

    At the first glance, the pitch seems easy to learn. It’s just 7 letters in the alphabet: A B C D E F G. But where exactly these notes on the fretboard or the keyboard? Many often have no idea about it.

    That’s why today, our guest blogger – Neil from sublimelody.com brings us a visual guide about the connections of musical notes, guitar frets, and piano keys.

    Before moving forward, make sure you’re already know how to read the pitch name of a musical note.

    Now, let’s get started!

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  • List and Comparison of Music Scales - Formula Charts

    List of music scalesHere is a list of the main musical scales and modes.

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  • Drop 3 Chords - Guitar Diagrams And Music Theory

    Drop 3 chordsDrop voicings are open chords which span more than an octave. They are very useful tools in music composition and arrangement and are greatly appreciated by guitarists for comping and soloing. The name drop 3 comes from the fact that you dropped the third highest note of a close voicing. If the drop 2 and 3 drop voicings are the most used and surely the first players learn when exploring jazz guitar, you have to know that there are drop 2-3, drop 3-4, drop 2 and 4 voicings and drop 2-3-4 voicings. However, these are not commonly played on the guitar because of their complexity, that's why this lesson focuses on drop 3 voicings only. You will see how they are built and how to play them on guitar by using the chord shapes and tablatures provided on this page.

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  • 25 Altered Dominant Guitar Chords

    Altered dominant chordsAltered dominant chords are used to bring tension and an outside flavor to jazz chord progressions. They generally resolved to an inside chord as the I or a substitute as iii or vi. They have one or more notes lowered or raised by a half-step, in other words they contain one or more alterations. These alterations can be b9,#9, b5 (#11) and b13 (#5). Jazz musicians, composers and arrangers used them as substitutions for diatonic chords for adding more dissonance and spice up the harmony. This tutorial provides 25 altered guitar chord shapes to understand how they are constructed and how to play them on guitar.

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  • What Is a Backdoor Progression And How To Play Over It

    The backdoor progression jazz lessonIn jazz, there are many types of turnarounds and progressions that eventually we all must encounter. A key part of how you practice should be in preparing yourself for these progressions and turnarounds. Whether that is by learning a shed-full of Parker’s II V I licks, by practicing exercises over progressions or even by learning a new standard. The end result is that you are better equipped to deal with what is in front of you in the moment on the bandstand.
    To this end, I’m going to talk to you today about a progression known as the backdoor progression.

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  • The 14 Most Important Jazz Chord Progressions

    Minor ii valt i chord progression 1 114 essential jazz chord progressions

    A chord progression is a succession of musical chords (with at least two notes) played one after another. Chord progression can be named harmonic progression and represent the foundation of western and traditional music. Many jazz standards use similar chord progressions, in different keys it is very important to recognize them by ear and visually. Working and practicing basic chord sequences will make you feel more comfortable when you will need to learn jazz standards,  it will more evident and easy to comp and solo.

    In this lesson you will learn to recognize the 14 most important jazz chord progressions as minor and major II-V-I, the turnarounds and their variations, how to use passing diminished chords. You will find charts with roman numerals to easily transpose these harmonic progressions in different keys and some examples of comping with audio files, tabs and standard notation.

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  • How to Play Major Triads on Guitar - Close and Open Voicings

    Drop 2 major chord bass on string 5 3A major chord is built with three notes namely root (1), major third (3) and fifth (5). These three tones represent the structure of the major chord. The same holds true for minor, diminished and augmented chords. In this guitar lesson you will learn how to develop a major chord in closed and open triad voicings (also known as spread voicings). 

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  • 8 Ways to Play The Minor Pentatonic Scale Over a Dominant Chord

    minor pentatonic scales over dominant chordsThe minor pentatonic scale is by far the most used scale in the world all styles taken together (jazz, blues, rock, reggae, pop, country). One of the explanation is given by the structure. Indeed, there are no semi-tones in it. It is easy to play on the guitar and it can be used in a whole lot of very different contexts. This lesson will show you eight ways to use the minor pentatonic scale over a dominant seventh chord. The principle is easy to understand, this consists in playing the minor pentatonic scale starting on each tone of the Mixolydian scale (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7). This method helps to highlight certain notes and brings interesting colors to your jazz guitar lines depending on you want to play outside or inside.

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  • Triad Arpeggios - Guitar Lesson For Beginners

    Triad arpeggios - Guitar lessonArpeggios are surely the most important devices to master when you want to start improvising. Every jazz players use arpeggios in their improvisations. Great guitarists, all kinds of styles use arpeggios : John Scofield, Kurt Rosewinkel, Birelli Lagrene, Django Reinhardt, and many more. Arpeggios are played extensively because they use only the notes found in a single chord. Therefore,  they create a more harmonized sound when played with their corresponding chord. Arpeggios are very helpful to easily outline the chord changes. This lesson is focused on the most basic form of arpeggios made out of three notes called "triad arpeggios". 

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  • How To Use A Tritone Substitution

    Tritone chord substitutionOne of the most popular jazz chord substitution is the tritone substitution sometimes referred to as the dominant chord substitution. The most used is to replace the V with a dominant 7th chord whose root is a tritone below. Example with G7 (V), which can be replaced by Db7 a tritone (Three whole-steps) away. Thus giving two chords that have two notes in common. The 7th of G7 (F) is the third of Db7 and the third of G7 (B) is the seventh of Db7. The inversion of the 3rds and the 7ths between the original dominant chord (V) and the substituted dominant chord (bII7) is the main feature of the tritone substitution. 

    Tritone substitution

     

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  • What's a Half-Diminished Chord (m7b5)

    What is a half diminished chordYou surely know what are major chords, minor chords, seventh chords and diminished 7th chords ? But you may be wondering what half-diminished chords are ? In music, the most encountered chords are major and minor chords. These are the basis of the Harmony. Seventh chords (m7, Maj7 and dom7) are also widely used, particularly in jazz and blues music. When a guitar student start to take an interest in jazz, he can sometimes find chords with a little barbaric names such as diminished 7th chords, augmented or even half-diminished chords (m7b5). This article will explain you what are m7b5 chords, how to play them on the guitar and how to apply them in common harmonic contexts as major and minor II-V-I progressions.

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  • List of Intervals - Music Theory

    Intervals

    What's an Interval ?

    An interval is the distance between two notes, each one is represented by a number (1,2,3,4,5,6,7...) and a prefix related to its quality ("M" for major, m for minor, "P" for perfect, "d" for diminished and "A" for augmented). There are five different qualities. An interval can be melodic, when the tones are successive (played one after the other) and harmonic, if the notes are stacked (played simultaneously). Knowing the name of each interval is very important for any musician, they are essential elements of music theory. Intervals are very useful to understand how chords and scales are built. This article shows you how to make the difference between them.

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  • Chords in Fourths - Quartal Harmony

    Quartal harmony - Chords in fourthsTo enrich and modernize the harmonization of a piece it is common to use fourth chords. They can replace some original chords to bring more melodic freedom into improvisation and more tension in harmony. Since the late 1950s, harmony in fourths has played a very important role in the development of modern jazz. Musicians and composers have used a lot the quartal harmony. Among them, the great American pianist McCoy Tyner, who, is a master in the art of playing quartal chords. Mike Stern, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Bill Evans and Kurt Rosewinkel have also used this technique. In this lesson we will see how to build chords in fourths, how to harmonize the major scale with and how to use them in comping. 

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  • What's a II-V-I Chord Progression

    What's a II-V-I chord progressionThe II-V-I sequence is the most common chord progression used in jazz music but also in a whole number of styles of music as pop, rock, blues, country. This theoretical element is a must know for any guitarist who wants to learn the jazz language because. It is present in many jazz standards (Summertime, Autumn leaves, Blue bossa, All the things you are and many more). The mastery of this harmonic cadence will open up many perspectives in your guitar practice, whether in composition, in improvisation or more in the practical and theoretical learning of your instrument. Notice that this post is focused on major II-V-I cadence. 

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