Music theory

Chords in fourths - Quartal harmony - So what chord

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 a large number of 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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How to harmonize the major scale in thirds

How to harmonize the major scaleOne of the fundamental theoretical elements to understand music is the harmonization of the major scale. Harmonizing scale is building chords with notes. For this, you have to stack thirds (It is also possible to harmonize the major scale in fourths). If you are wondering why thirds and not seconds or sixths for example, the reason is mainly historical: our music today is based on harmony in thirds. Once you have read this lesson, you will be able to find the tonality of a song simply by looking at its chords, you will know which scale to play on which chord progressions.

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What are guide tones and how to use them

What are guide tonesWhat are guide tones ? They are the notes in a chord which lead or give harmonic pull toward the next chord, these are an excellent way to study and absorb the sound of any chord progression. Guide tones are used to outline chord progressions in an improvisation. They are most of the time the 3rd and the 7th because this is what determines whether a chord is major, minor, or dominant. 

By working on guide tones you’ll learn how to target important notes in each chord. This jazz guitar lesson explains how to solo over common jazz progressions using and connecting the guide tones.

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How to play drop 2 chords on the guitar - Lesson with diagrams & voicing charts

How to play drop 2 chords


Drop 2 voicings are very commonly used in jazz. They've been used by great jazz guitar players of all time, as Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Joe Pass, Kurt Rosenwinkel, John Scofield and many more. Voicing is the practice of regarding the individual notes of a chord as voices. There are several voicing techniques that can be used to rearrange the notes of a chord (drop 3 or drop 2-4 voicings). This blog page is dedicated to the understanding of the drop 2 voicing technique only. Knowing how to play them across the guitar neck is very important, so in this lesson you will find minor seventh, major seventh, dominant seventh, diminished 7th and half-diminished voicings with diagrams to play them on the guitar.

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Chord formulas chart - Building chords - Music theory

Chord formulasWhat are chord formulas ? Chord formulas show all the notes which constitute a chord. They reveal the structure of chords. Knowing them will make your guitar playing more interesting. It allows you to make the link between scales, arpeggios and chords. You will be able to build your own chords, to find any chord position on the guitar when you only have the name of a chord, to make the difference between major, minor or diminished chords, to turn quickly a chord into any variation. Learning chord formulas is necessary for anyone who wants to expand its musical knowledge. Here is a chart that lists the main chord formulas.

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