Music Theory

Music theory

  • 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 1

    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 play 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 guitar lesson is focused on the most basic form of arpeggios made out of three notes called "triad arpeggios". 

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  • The Tritone Substitution - Guitar Lesson With Theory and Tabs

    One of the most popular jazz chord substitution is the tritone substitution sometimes referred to as dominant chord substitution.

    It consists in replacing a dom7 chord by another dominant 7th chord whose root is a tritone away from this initial chord. Example with G7 (V), which can be replaced by Db7 which is a tritone (three whole-steps) away from G7

    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.

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

    This guitar lesson explains what is m7b5 chord, how to play it on guitar and how to apply it in common harmonic contexts as major and minor II-V-I progressions.

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  • List of Musical Intervals - Music Theory

    What is 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 on guitar and on any other instrument is very important.

    Intervals 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 fourthsWhat is Quartal Harmony?

    To 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 with tabs and shapes, 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 the Major II-V-I Chord Progression - Guitar Lesson with Shapes , Tabs and Licks

    What's a II-V-I chord progression

    The major 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. 

    The 2-5-1 progression is present in many jazz standards (Summertime, Autumn leaves, Blue bossa, All the things you are and many more), this is why it is very important to master it.

     

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  • Harmonized Major Scale - Guitar Lesson With Shapes and Charts

    One of the fundamental theoretical elements to understand music is the harmonization of the major scale. Harmonizing scale is building chords with notes. This lesson explains how to create triads and seventh chords from each note of the major scale.

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  • What Are Guide Tones and How to Use Them

    What are guide tonesWhat Are Guide Tones?

    Guide tones are the notes in a chord which leads or gives 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. 

    This jazz guitar lesson explains how to solo over common jazz progressions using and connecting the guide tones.

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  • What Are Drop 2 Voicings - How To Play Them On Guitar

    How to play drop 2 chords on guitarWhat Are Drop 2 Chords?

    Drop 2 chords are formed by dropping the second highest note of a four-note chord in close position down an octave.

    What Does Voicing Means?

    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 as drop 3 or drop 2-4 voicings.

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  • The Seven Modes of The Major Scale

    Modes of the major scale guitar lessonWhat Are Ecclesiastical Modes?

    Ecclesiastical modes, also named "Greek modes"or "church modes" or "Gregorian modes" formed in the Middle Ages a set of scales whose use has weakened because of the appearance of the major / minor tonal system. 

    Several centuries later these modes have reappeared. They are very used in jazz improvisation as scale of chords and modal playing.

    This lesson explains how are built modes and how to play them on guitar.

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