Music theory

Music theory

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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. Because many jazz standards use similar chord progressions, in different keys it is very important to recognize them by ear and visually. By working and practicing basic chord sequences you will 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 the 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 - Inside and outside playing

    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 8 ways to use the minor pentatonic scale over a dominant 7 chord. The principle is easy to understand, this consists to play 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 beguinners

    Major triad sequence 1 5 3Arpeggios 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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  • Tritone chord substitution - Jazz guitar lesson

    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

    If the most common tritone substitution involves two dominant chords, there are other chords that can be substituted as the vi chord, the ii chord, and the iii chord. You can substitute any chord which has its roots the flat fifth of the original chord. The type of chord used depends on the melody and the desired harmony. The tritone substitution can also change qualities from the chord it is substituting. Provided that the melody indicates no strong preferences for chord type. For example, dom7 chords can be played in place of minors. This could be subject of another lesson. Meanwhile this article is focused on dominant seventh tritone substitutions.

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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


    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 5 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 - 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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