~ 'Art ... makes us think :)

~ turning imagination into reality ~

~ the creative process ~

~ art topics A to Z ~

~ the balance ~

"And that's really what art is about.

Art is about making you think."

Art in a nutshell. Imagine that, art in a nutshell. Pretty big nut I'd imagine :) This page is like a topical table of contents, an alphabetical index of sorts and hopefully a way for you to begin to find a way into our music theory story (with a bit of history), to find and create your pathway and storyline right on through life.

Art, and our own pursuits of it, we'll often find a thing or two that really turns on us on. Since we're drawn to this thing, to a varied degree our art is initially shaped by this single component. This is our own rock to build upon. And while we'll evolve over the decades of our career, each new 'rock' that comes along as we evolve brings new creative and art energies.

When we look at recognized greatness in art, and compare multiple pieces of the same artist, we'll find these common threads. Often termed a 'period' of an artist's career / portfolio, they become our own natural trademarks, that started out as something that just really, caught our fancy, turned us right on, that we stuck with and developed and wove into our own art DNA. Stick with your art and these will come along. Develop your own way of shaping them and they'll become manifest in the works you create.

Discovery generates excitement, the curiosity to explore, energizes our creative process that produces works of art that capture our spirit and the intent of our statement. 'All our journeys, short, long, medium, all need a first step.' Please take one, or two, or three now, thanks :)

So what does art do for you ... ?

wiki ~ Modern Art
"I get a kick out of insisting that people look deeper. If that's a hard time for you ... then fix it."
wiki ~ Shirely MacLaine
3 tritones
evo of style
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
wiki ~ Einstein

In a nutshell, again. The topics and discussions on this 'art' page are really just an expanded glossary at heart. The difference is that instead of just defining and linking one word or idea, the entries are usually a weave of two or more ideas into a brief musical arts discussion. Art discussions will energize art expression, and that my friend, is a very good thing. For any idea, even by its very own nature, must come from somewhere.

Writing about art. The style of writing in these discussions is more about the 'art' of things than the theory. Or, putting the theory into practice. So no real limits defined by the theory of the topic, wherever the discussion needs or wants to go ... it goes :)

"I am an artist that is totally irrational."
wiki ~ Christo

So what is the energy of art? Capturing a thought we conjure up expressed in a tangible and transferable form? Musical art? A way to express the soul of our thoughts on its journey from beginning to end, expressed aurally through pitch, timbre and vibrations, all woven together and motored along through metered time?

In theory, creating the music we each love most can become a three dimensional model of elements; rhythm (s) in time, variability of pitch and their tuning schemes and sequencing, that totally human thing we all tend to do second nature, to find a balance.

Conjure up, create and express something new. Is art simply the capture in a tangible form of a thought we conjure up? Ranging from the doodles in the sand to stick figure twisty animals in ancient caves, to flat, one dimensional representations to full on 3d sculptures, to rocket ships into space that helps us travel to beyond the beyond? All of this wide spectrum contains the same simple application; that our creative thinking brings forth something new, either from existing work or right out of the blue.

What is music? Music is something which lives outside the realm of the tangible arts yet conjures its own unique physical presence in the human motivating energies it creates. People hear a beat and begin to dance. That no human feeling is outside music's expressive bounds shows us the universal expressive strengths it holds.

By our own physical actions we get to transfer our thoughts and ideas to recreate our ideas in sensations of sounds and rhythm. That we can synch up our thoughts with others in our band in real time and share with all who listen, is surely a human bonding that goes way back in our communal histories.

What is our own music? Music is the expression of our thoughts in a medium which lives outside the realm of the tangible, yet energizes 'to set in motion' what it conjures up. That in our curiosities in learning about music we look to strengthen our abilities to fine tune and express our ideas and experiences, making our music our own, as unique as each one of us truly are. We all share a common DNA yet we each are unique in our own ways, so the same with our own unique emotional, artistic and musical expressions, for we all get the same pitches to start with.

wiki ~ DNA

Artistic concepts. The following topics are simply ideas about the musical arts. They range from intellectual theories about learning and how we learn to aspects of the musical arts that probably deserve whole chapters, and do get whole chapters, in other books. They are included together on this page to facilitate the writing in other sections of this work while also providing additional food for thought for the browsing, emerging modern artist, guitarist, theorist and musician.


These topical discussions are all about conceptual ideas to consider as we hone our craft throughout our careers. Many entries suggest ways of viewing the musical resources we have, shaping a possible perspective of our music. Choose what works for you, consider the rest perhaps, for we never know where the next good idea might come from.

"There was no one near to confuse me, so I was forced to become original."

wiki ~ Joseph Haydn

Art ~ A modern artist. In this work, a modern artist / modern guitarist is idealized as one who wants to potentially 'modernize' their own work by having an ability to draw new ideas from all through our spectrum of the Americana styles. Remember the old timey phrase to 'jazz it up' a bit?' If we can jazz it up, why not rock it up, or folk it up, or bluesify or bossify our ideas, if it seems to create the right groove ? Like finding a great song from another era and style, and create a way to bring it up to date, in a modern way.

“I never considered giving up on my dreams. You could say I had an invincible optimism.”

wiki ~ Tina Turner

The reader here wants to know what musical elements make any style become that style. The basics are all involved; melody, chords, rhythms and forms, but how do they differ across our spectrum of styles? We here as 'modernizers' look at each of these components and identify and label their properties, often using just the basic numbers, all in relation to the style and historical era we find them.

Once we're numerically empowered, morphing between styles becomes a simple matter of adding in or taking out select pitches, to shape the core components of any style or genre within. And while there's no limits to the mix and match of the 12 pitches, there are longtime true and super solid historical relationships between numbers and style, just think triads :) ... now everlong the basis of our harmonies in each succeeding generation of our Americana artists and their musics. Once we can sense that time and rhythm core a style, learning the basics of the elements is a snap, or two.

For example, it is beyond 'hen's teeth rare' for a lullaby melody to have nine different pitches. A lullaby, songs for children, are mostly created four or five pitches. Thus, these melodies are ...

Easy to join right in, and sing right along.

Easy to rote learn and remember forevermore.

Melodies created with nine different pitches are usually in the jazz realm. Yet, the jazz artist will find a lullaby melody and jazz it up with colortones. Likewise, a lullaby artist will hear and learn of a 'major 9th' chord, which usually belongs more toward the bossa and jazz side of our styles spectrum. And this chord might become the perfect 'closing' chordal color for one of their lullaby arrangements, the perfect 'close' for their special story shared.

So for the modern artist / guitarist, there's a potential for a fluid back and forth through our spectrum of styles. We can fully explore the way the same 12 core pitches are grouped and recombined in special ways to create this linear spectrum of styles. Once grasped, we develop the knowledge base to explore ever more, the music that we choose to hear with an 'ear' towards this 'borrowing' of pitches between styles.

We each then evolve our own ways by developing the ability to 'borrow' ideas we hear from other styles and shape them into what we dig to do with our music. Through understanding music, we want the artistic skill to let other musics 'influence' our own thing. Folk players might hear a jazz chord and say 'wow, I need that chord right in this spot.' Jazz players will find a folk melody and use its core to remake it into something more urban, while retaining its folk roots. Rockers hear something classical and say, 'I need that sort of eight bars to set the mood.' On and on really. Just looking to 'modernize' what we're already working on, using an understanding of music theory to get there.

Once this entry process is initiated, based on a learner's existing knowledge, this start point quickly gives each reader a way into the progressions and evolutions of each of the topical discussions in this text. Along this pathway of learning we can gradually become better at recognizing common elements and their patterns in any art we might encounter, which can further generate ideas for our own explorations and evolutions.

That we intuitively recognize the sounds we each dig as we find them is the basis of this study method. And while there's a ton of influence coming into our ears, when we hear something we dig, we know it. Wanting to know 'what' that sound is why you're probably reading this here now. Total coolness for the curious, for near everything we hear that we dig and can identify in the theory, ties right into the historical evolutions in music.

As a modernizing artist / guitarist, as you work through the text, please remember that as you begin to skip links already taken because the term is now familiar, you're learning the vocabulary of the theory. This vocabulary represents real musical sounds you dig. We modernize by expanding our vocabularies.

That we have theory 'pioneers' to follow makes our work here so much easier. Dismantling the theory is truly the academic process, after the art is created. Along the way we get to explore what has come before, helping to shape our own ideas and evolve the new. Nearly everyone has borrowed and learned from those whom have come before us. Talent only goes so far, we still have to shed and study, study and shed.

If there's any one thing I've learned about life and art, that helping to making art happen in whatever way I can becomes a pathway to enrich each and every day by working collaboratively in community. So if nothing else and if we want, all through our lifetimes in the arts, we can always find a positive something to do and fun folks to do it with :)

A cool part of 'modern artist' theory is that eventually it can give us a way into really any music we ever might hear. While listening, once we recognize a pattern or two, we've found a way into the music. It builds from there as newly discovered pieces fall in place. Each new piece a potential 'modernization' of the program. Motion to Four is the same in all styles, yet how we get there becomes the 'art' within each style. The ideas we hear and emulate as we go along collect into a catalogue of phrases, becoming the basis of our own approach to making music and musical conversations.

Tops in this modernizing process? Probably correlating letter name pitches with appropriate numerical positions within a chosen key. For in these numerical equivalents we can then easily discuss ideas such as scale degrees, arpeggio degrees, color tones, blue notes, altered color tones, chord degrees, chord progressions and chord substitution in any of our 12 major or 12 minor keys. Imagine that ... and of course mucho more :)

Other modernizations. An important modernization for many is starting to think and play 'more through the changes than over them.' Here the linear parent scales give way to the vertical arpeggios. Which when added to improvised lines can quickly modernize our sound.

Finding a gallop rhythm for each of our main styles to deepen the swing is a modernization for many. Simply being able to find and lock in on 2 and 4 and groove is for many a solid step up that opens news doors.

Learning musical forms is a way to modernize. Understanding the relationship of balance between melodic ideas in songs of different lengths of forms opens a vast vast vista of potentials for own own melodic phrasing.

Developing our ability to count measures in various ways within form is another one of our numerical understanding evolutions. For combining form and melodic shapes is probably the whole ball of theory wax. Strengthening our sense of form also enables cats to 'stretch out', creating longer improvisations on the themes of their music in performance. Strengthening our sense of form is a true modernizer gift for all.

More profound, intuitively energized self understandings of one's own art will organically evolve as the theory takes hold. Especially if encouraged in a collaborative environment. For as ideas are shared, new questions often arise. Teaching is another way to come to a better understanding of what we know too.

So strive to know enough of the theory so as to allow an initial way into any of our Americana styles of music. For we then get to go on down the road as an unlimited resource for new ideas, thus ever evolve our own music, if we so choose. So depending on where we are artistically today and look to get to over time, a theory grounded foundation generates pathways of exploration for understanding all of the various arts we dig.

Start in with a music lessons for guitar / bass. Included in this book is a blues guitar lesson for the modernizing, advancing guitarist.

"The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary."
wiki ~ Vincent Lombardi

Art ~ Accelerate the learning. In the educational theory of writing textbooks, this work is designed so that each reader uses what they already know to navigate through the linked discussions. Choosing where to go explore based on what they know. Links on the right of many paragraph entries are designed to do a couple of things. Vocabulary for sure, to related components that can advance the topic at hand.

Written in this text is ability to accelerate one's own learning by clicking through the hyper links of vocabulary words they already know. For there are pathways created by links in regards to the discussions we find them that connect to deeper insights of the topic's thread.

Origin of topic links go to the glossary ( start page ). Glossary links often to the art page where the word is usually placed into performance or historical context. From here, if there's a whole page for the idea / word, that will generally be the next link forward. Most pathways end up at V7 and its tritone within as adding a 7th to the triad can be a game changer.

From there we go to chord substitutions, improvisation, composing and points beyond; polytonality and #15. This forward motion of thinking is thanks to the looping nature of our musical architectures, we know that all roads eventually lead to the same few Americana musical complexity centers, that stylistically are mostly on the jazz end of our style spectrum. Discussions such as finding the blue notes and the moving towards chromaticism in diatonic musics, the near endless V7 substitutions etc., of blues and jazz, the #15 of the symmetrical arpeggios, are common EMG endpoints to these hyperlinked pathways.

Way forward links. When a reader already knows the topic under discussion and needs a new way forward in the theory. These 'forward' links are often written just that way; 'a way forward' or 'building on this idea', 'imagine that' are a few. Keep in mind that the progression of the theory is most often directed by simply adding new pitches to existing groups. As we expand the pitch resource, we've more combinations. These new combinations often translate into expanding across a spectrum of musical style.

So simply more pitches in our chords or melody? Towards jazz. Less pitches on down to our core five? Then towards our Americana blues and folk. Numerically more clicks in our tempos? Deeper rhythm subdivisions into the measures? Ideas like 4/4 into 12/8 and beyond? Eighth notes? Towards jazz. Less clicks, subdivisions and towards half and whole notes? Towards the folk end of the spectrum, generally speaking :)

Art ~ Adding the 7th. Adding a 7th to a triad is probably at or near the top of the 'super theory game changer' list of theory ideas that are paradigm shifters for the evolving Americana artist and guitarist. Examine the following evolution as we add a 7th to a major and minor triad.

For in this one additional pitch to our triads we advance our first move along our musical styles spectrum. Think of musical styles where there simply are no 7th's added to the triads. Children's songs and a wide swath of the folk musics. And this would include anything globally that is 'roots' music; here theory defined as music whose are harmonies created solely from triads.

For once the 7th comes into play, our tonal center and its gravity begins q softening process and we open up 'suggestions' for the music to go beyond its diatonic borders as we create our art. We have the flip side of this of course; music whose diatonic center holds true regardless. Lest we forget the power of a V7 chord to return us to our original tonic pitch of any song.

Once the 7th is added to our triads we energize the blues to jazz Americana qualities that easily mix anywhere into the Americana fabric of musics. To 'jazz it up' as folks used to say. The ideas and theory principles of chord type, chord function and the entire topic of chord substitution manifests with adding a 7th to a triad, and really for most player / theorists, stop right there that's plenty. For not only does our root motion thus story lines evolve, we open up the other color tones.

Once comfortable through the full arpeggio we can symmetricalize our intervals and blast off to #15 and then beyond, to create the evolved tritone pairing of the Lydian / Dorian weave, that when presented at a 432 Hz. tuning pitch level basis, should turn our whole thing around to a more loving, caring and sharing universe. All with just adding a 7th to a triad? Well, that's a beginning yes.

Art ~ 'Add 2.' ( 'add 2' might be something else in other systems, here it is about being a sentient, music theory empowered being :) Into the waybac we go to find the author at a theory seminar with a jazz piano player at our local college. A young Lass wants to know what a particular chord is called. The Lady plays the chord, the piano player finds the pitches, and goes into this beyond long winded explanation. Finally ends.

The Lady says' ... will I just call it my 'add 2' chord. Piano player; no such thing in the theory. The Lady; well it's my favorite chord. Piano player. Sorry, but no such chord as an 'add 2.' ... so it's a what ____ ?

So call it whatever you want please, for in any of this labeling process there's usually going to be another way to 'correctly' identify the puzzle pieces we come up with. While some 'theory labels' have to be exact to get the idea across, such as major or minor, in other areas of identifying the colors, just let it all ride.

So 'add 2' turns out to be some sort of open 'D' major chord with the middle finger left off. Imagine that :)

Art ~ advanced readers. For those that are reading here that already have the basics of understanding their music rote learned; know of the 12 relative keys and the diatonic realm, can arpeggiate and spell any chord in any key, know of the blue notes, their tuning and the rub they create over V7 harmony, who understands about finding parent scales, can hear the 'top' of our common musical forms, and knows their way through a diatonic Two / Five / One cadential motion, there's a couple of discussions linked here that are deemed 'advanced' in relation to these combined basics, a next rung up or next valence of the energy. 'Advanced' is determined by tonal gravity and the aural predictability of the music. For as the advanced techniques come into play, both gravity and its strengths are swept away, enabling the artist with a wider latitude of what happens when and where.

Still advancing to advanced status? Here are the above topics for review. Clicks to the right journey us to the land of evolutions and advancements.

Art ~ Advance the challenge. This seems to be a way of artists throughout all of the styles through all of history. The 'what if' questions that require a new way forward, bringing a greater challenge to the artist to complete the piece. Age old and hopefully something that will never go away.

So ... 'bored with your own playing?' Need something new to explore? U b not alone amigo, we all struggle to advance. In any style, learn a new song

With folk styles explore an open tuning.

With the blues try an open 'G' tuning with a slide. Or add in a new chord or two to the 12 bar blues with chord substitutions.

With country add in the 6th to your chords and swing rhythms.

In pop music, work through the 'diatonic 3 and 3' theory, the blues elevator and start on the 'butter' scale shape.

In jazz guitar, go through the five diatonic scale shapes in 12 keys in localized position. For chords, run the Two / Five / One chords through 12 keys in localized positions.

Have all this under your fingers ? Cool. Consider exploring the #15 arpeggio, working through chord substitutions and adding more chromaticism into your single note lines and learn new songs or compose some of your own.

Explore the additional links / vocabulary included from those points forward i.e., read the next entry too.

R O !

Art ~ Advance the learning. 'Advance the learning' is an 'e text' feature whereby an author can project directions where the theory can and will go, then provide the links to these next topics in the spirit of the evolution of the style / pitch intellectual dynamic. So on many pages within, there's a suggestion or two for advancing the discussion on that page. The links included here are a few 'advance the learning' starters.

So if you're already hip to the topic, there's 'advance the learning' suggestions for ways forward to related topics, advancing the current discussions. Format wise, the links to the right in any paragraph are these 'advances.' So cats can click ahead in a discussion to new learning challenges of that topic. The oft included quip used of 'those in the know will know', is a sort of hidden hint of text that something is afoot nearby in the theory evolution, and its click is probably right at hand.

So I've been doin' this for a while now and over the decades I've heard players who are true serious about their thing say stuff like ... ; 'man I need something new', 'even just one new idea a week', 'really bored with my playing', 'man I sound like doo doo today.'

Regardless of how we phrase it, creating art everyday and the boredom with the effort just seem to go together sometimes and is a very natural cycle. Artists of all stripes can shed their boredom away. One solution is to simply create ways to up our own game. Endless possibilities for those so inclined. The theory itself becomes a ring of keys to unlock doors to explore.

And the cool thing is once we choose a thing to 'advance' on any given day, once engaged the boredom often will soon vanish, poof, gone ... Stick with the 'advance' process and over time we can get better and better at what we want to do. Performing your music these days? Have a warm up routine yet? Here's one.

Totally advance the learning ~ shedding the whole tamale. Ready to 'advance' for the foreseeable future your listing of things to practice? Jazz tenor saxophonist John Coltrane throws down the gauntlet here for us as career minded, mostly leaning jazz cats or anyone else smart enough I guess, to think about what it takes to not only exhaust, develop and evolve their own musical resources, but to compose and create representatively meaningful and lasting musical art.

And while there are so many additional great players who have done this, Coltrane is historically recognized as the artist that completed the Americana musical journey from totally inside diatonic to totally outside 12 tone art, while never losing the blues / gopel anywhere along this array of musics and thus becomes the model of musical evolution for this e-book. By having today the songs that Mr. Coltrane's wrote, with a ballpark historical order created by their recording and release on audio records, we have a pathway for the evolution of Americana tonality from tonal to atonal, diatonic and blues based art on through to 12 tone abstract. For jazz artists, the 'anything from anywhere' through the 12 relative major and minor keys really becomes the shedding that creates the whole tamale. For once the basic theory is in place, it comes down to shedding to get the resource under our fingers. Then there's the putting the theory into motion in musical time considerations, so ... around and around it'll go.

R O !)

"Blues is the roots, everything else is the fruits."
wiki ~ Howlin' Wolf

Art ~ All musics. There's a couple of 'alls' that help get our arms completely around our resources.

One 'all' is that the perfect octave interval is the basis for all musics. For the octave interval, two pitches an octave apart, sound the best (purest) of all the pitch combinations we might imagine. For while there's various tunings created by various cultures throughout history and spanning all of Earth, we can usually locate the octave interval as their bedrock basis of organization of musical pitches in all cultures.

What we Americana Westerners often term as the 'Eastern musics', the musics of the Asia and India areas, is built upon the same octave interval rock as our own 'Western' Americana sounds.

Yet, East and West each sound unique in their ways of pitches and rhythms yes? Sure do. The difference? Simply that in our Western musics, we divide the octave into 12 equal parts through equal temper tuning. In doing so we enable nicely tuned up stacks of pitches we know as the harmony, triads and chords.

In the Eastern musics, the division of the octave goes well beyond 12 pitches, up to 24 or perhaps even more depending on the locale and the cats who live and make the music there. So are chords possible with 24 pitches? Probably, but that's a lot of pitches to tune up consistently and organize. Their solutions? Everyone plays the melody all the time :) Like our Americana dixieland? Exactly. While each of the melodies use their own chosen pitches from the 24, they all consistently portray the same storyline as defined by the song they've chosen to play.

Knowing this, we here in the West easily move beyond just our 12 equal temper tuned 'set in stone' pitches of the octave interval with our 'blue' notes. Ah ... yes the blue notes. For ... 7 + 5 = 12 yes?

So even in natural, ancient and rock solid theory, East meets West, all within Mother nature's own perfection of the octave interval :)

All music was once new. This is just a true statement that can mean mucho to cats who compose. That wherever we venture through historical time and geographical location, whatever music we might ever hear, it all was at one time the 'new' riff, ditty, song, composition, style, trend or tunes with poetry defining a historical events and epochs. So be bold and confident in expression all sisters and brothers, just go on and ...

'tell it like it is ... ' :)

wiki ~ Western musics
wiki ~ Eastern musics
wiki ~ Mother Nature
wiki ~ Karl Haas
wiki ~ "Tell It Like It Is" song

Art ~ All V7 and beyond in two parts. Thiee next two ideas are a total kaboom if your jazz leaning working through bebop and into 'sheets of sound.' In moving in this 'all V7' direction improvisationally, it's always good to remember that Americana musics has always had a genre whose harmony and chord progressions are exclusively comprised by the V7 type chords, meaning there's a unique two pitch tritone interval in each chord (tritone is what makes a V7 ... V7 :) We've the blues of course, which even today continues to represent this unique harmonic style of composition.

The gist of it, part one. In evolving our Americana harmony, especially in the jazz realm of the 30's or so, cats began to jazz it up by judiciously placing a V7 chord before every written chord, in any song they might perform.

So, a '2 5 1' chord progression in 'C' ...

~ D -7 / G7 / C maj 7 ~ becomes ...

~ Eb 7 / D -7 / Ab7 / G7 / Db7 / C maj 7 ... or ...

~ Db 7 / D -7 / F#7 / G7 / B7 / C maj 7 ... cool ?

A glorified half step lead in extravaganza ... ? Absolutely. Ramp up our improv through the changes challenges ... ? Yep, it might be a bit 'vertical up' for a spell, sure quick fix to the same old same old :) Still bored ... just up the clicks !

Super simple concept that just trainwrecks a lot in a hurry for now everything is a half step away from where it's 'supposed' to be and we're conquering tonal gravity, so as to extend our thoughts further into the beyond.

'by half step = chromatic = obscure a tonal center'

~ ~ ~

Art ~ All V7 ... the gist of it, part two. Our Americana jazz harmony of today has evolved to where players will make every chord in a song or progression a V7 chord type. Just cycling dominant chords ... ? Yea pretty much.

So, a '2 5 1' chord progression in 'C' ...

~ D -7 / G7 / C maj 7 ~ becomes ...

~ Eb 7 / D 7 / Ab7 / G7 / Db7 / C maj 7 ... or ...

~ Db 7 / D 7 / F#7 / G7 / B7 / C maj 7 ... cool ?

This creates a sort of seamless, often bluesy and as tempos brighten or quicken their pace, add a chromatic flavor to the music.

For when there's a few voices involved; say guitar, bass, piano, drums, a horn or two and everyone's wailing away thinking along these lines, all the pitches combine to create this seamless 'chromatic blur' that rides along on the groove and shaped to hold together by the son's musical form. Here's Pythagoras, and from his look, probably thinking from the root of the chord to keep track of things, while the chromatic sounding pitches scoot on by ... :) Note his 'matched' grip on the sticks.

Art ~ Alternating bass. One / Five / One. This usually describes a guitar technique that finds us using one chord shape, whose root pitch is on the 5th string. Coolness through tuning built right in as its fifth is located right below, same fret, on the 6th string. There's a solid handful of these voicings and they form a nice harmonic vocabulary for performing in the folk, blues and bossa nova styles. Here's a lovely pairing.

wiki ~ bossa nova

Art ~ Americana. As broad a topical heading we might ever find for our musics, in theory our Americana musics are created quite simple really. Two sets of the same letter pitches, where one set is precisely tuned and another is loosely tuned. For as soon as we pair equal tempered tuned pitches to create chords with 'just' tuned blue notes from say a slide guitar, we bring the core Americana spice. From this slight variance of tuning pitches, and then rubbing them together to make the 'blue hue', all else Americana flows and follows.

Art ~ An idea. So just how much of what we do as people starts with an idea? Just about everything right? Any different for creating art? Nope. Often through the simple necessity to express ourselves, the artist captures an idea in such a way so that it can be understood, shared and enjoyed by those who choose to experience it. If there's a universality to the idea, a special quality to it that helps all of us identify and unify with it, then all the better.

wiki ~ creativity

As musicians, what makes up this 'captured idea' is really limitless. One pitch and a rhythm loop will do it. Two pitches, an interval and a rhythm can be enough. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony surely. Maybe a word or two? "The Truth Is." Or even just a vision, perception or feeling we get from without that vibrates within.

wiki ~ Beethoven's Fifth

Of something from our everyday lives to inspire us to create; of love, beauty, joy, a sadness or a true story of our doings. All continually generate those true universal sparks to explore and develop.

So just a real good chance that some of these works were sparked to life by just one idea, that came to these artists to initiate the process of creating and composing. Then the work begins. And this is where the theory looms large. For in developing an idea into a full work, there's those 'tricks of the trade' composers have to help form up an idea to its completion. Tricks are often disguised as music theory. Imagine that :)


In UYM / EMG, there's really just two theory tricks. One is that composing, which includes both writing it out and improvisation, becomes a puzzle. The second is that our music theory and its silent architecture systems are created by a series of filters and layered together within a perfectly closed loop of pitches.

The concept of a puzzle is pretty straightforward. A full on Beethoven symphony puzzle probably has a 1000 pieces or so. A 12 bar blues puzzle maybe just two or three. Each can be inspired by just two or three pitches, and each present their own unique challenges of form and balance. When starting out in composing music, learning of phrases and forms is our start point. Learning to count measures, feeling the 'top' of a form, are keystones to building arches and cycles for each song.

The idea of the architectural systems and 'filtering' is simply about the hierarchy of the theory created by the number of different pitches in our own style of music. For to learn and understand our musics, its organic architecture basis encourages us to correlate musical style with number of pitches.

Each of the core components of a song: its story, melody, chords, rhythms and form, each in themselves also can have this sort of numerical build process. Each additional piece along their evolutions added creating a new filter of sorts. A wider set of elements to create with. We simply try our original idea through the filters and see how it shapes the puzzle piece we are searching for. Career long development along these lines is why many dig the theory providing the 'search / what if.'

wiki ~ cubism

Sound academic? Cool, it's supposed to be because theory is academic. As long as we stay true to the original idea we have. For our collective histories remind us that even musical puzzles of a 1000 plus pieces lovingly crafted together, shows there's no bounds to the evolutions of our own craftsmanship.

Art ~ Anatomy, architectural elements. We've such a solid start point, in our silent architecture, that it's a shame to not simply list its elements. For while our core structure is Mother Nature's, our present day number of building materials kinda goes beyond measure. Architectural elements can include everything right? So, time, pitches, groups, loops, sequences, chords, rhythms, and every conceivable gadget magic, and in this era, electronic gadget magic, ever invented that when sounded and heard by someone, encourages their participation and chiming in with their vision of what that sound (s) mean to them.

Art ~ Arms around the resource. This is just an intellectual idea that in theory we've only 12 pitches to work with. Once they are rote learned we've got our 'arms around them', they form a closed loop and we begin to fill things in with a more organized manner for memory and later recall.

Art ~ Arranger. As the word implies, an arranger 'arranges' the music to be performed with the musicians involved in the production. So depending on lots of factors, arrangers need all sorts of knowledge many of us musicians don't really ever get to deep into. Such as, what's the range of the viola? What's a 'drop D' tuning? Can a timpani drum be tuned to the pitches of a triad? Many composers arrange also, just a natural fit for their degree of curiosity and finding the right puzzle pieces to bring their music to life.

Art ~ Arpeggio studies. We initially get away with the smallest of entries here for potentially the largest and most potent of our powers in creating our musical resources. For the arpeggio is the 'middle lick' between pitches in a scale and these pitches stacked as a chord. The idea of outlining the chords of a song with their arpeggios, to create beautiful improvised (?) melody in jazz, was first recorded by Coleman Hawkins in 1939. Passed to Charlie Parker's bebop styled gospel of the 40's and John Coltrane, who's arpeggiating approach culminates in 'sheets of sound' in the 50's. And since ? Who are the modern arpeggio kings ?

So ... any chord at anytime, can be presented anywhere, in any style, by correctly sounding out the pitches of its arpeggio? Yep. :)

Art ~

"Art is visual history."

wiki ~ Agnes Hsu-Tang

Art ~ Artistic balance. This idea of artistic balance is like 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Artistic balance in a song, or music in general, might be depicted by a hanging mobile, where seemingly disparate sized pieces make a whole piece of art that floats in the air. And while in theory, most everything is built up from the balance of a four bar musical poetic phrase ... not always, as the saying go'ed :)

Art ~ Artistic filters; melodic, harmonic and rhythmic. This idea is an intellectual idea that becomes a musical exercise. We simply take one idea and 'filter' it through a pattern to create new combinations. For example, we can filter major triads through a whole tone scale. Or filter a rhythm sequence through the chords and form of the 12 bar blues. Lyricists will filter their idea through word combinations. Jazz players will permutate one melodic idea through various filters. The chord progression of a song is very common filter. Its structural form also.

Art ~ Artistic signature ...'it all comes out on a ballad.' Know anybody else who laughs like U, or writes and signs their name like you do? Know anyone else who speaks and sings like you? Plays the same melodic turns and twists? No? So each of us is a one of a kind, and unique in so many personal and positive ways yes. To sing with our own voices a joyous phrase and play that line and speak that joy through our chosen instrument. That's cool and surely satisfies the expressive nature of our need to make art with our own signature.

For emerging improvising musicians, the concept of artistic signature is to a certain degree initially founded in the exciting ability to sing the line, play the line. This basis of sing the line / play the line is contingent on having something to say I guess and as with verbal language, is partially based on one's internalized vocabulary of words. Same principles apply to the music? Yep. So how do we build up our musical vocabulary to have something to say?

Well, potentially lots of ways. In all of the art forms, the study of the recognized masters and their careers is potentially a large part of the development process of the emerging talent.

This knowledge of the historical development of a musical style and its creators, coupled with the new ideas from our own searching and experiences, helps to gradually shape our own artistic voice.

The great artists we love studied the work of the great artists they loved, and those artists studied with those before them, and back and back and back in history all to go forward, forward, forward in time.

Listening to music is often the essential part of this process, while knowledge of music theory can help organize and internalize the sounds we hear. That we can sing along to any music to internalize its magic is a pillar of developing an artistic signature.

Sing along with bands that swing and learn to swing in your own rhythms. Internalize the swing by singing.

Combining this simple idea of 'sing and play' with a gradually expanding understanding of the theoretical structure of our music system, we set in motion a proven program of study to initiate the development our own artistic signatures.

Make a record of originals at some point. Adding our signature to the ledger of the music history includes us in the collective energy to bring forth and share the joy, sorrows and challenges of the world we live in, past, present and the future. Do join in :)

If while listening to music, we can identify our musical hero's by simply hearing a few notes of their music, this identification of the artist by their sound is our aural recognition of a player's artistic signature.

The idea to consider here is how you can use your strengths and develop your own unique signature. This is hopefully an ever evolving process of searching, whereby our artistic statement and signature, evolves and matures as we ourselves evolve and mature, as artists and sentient beings, as we channel the universal energy and share our discoveries in music with those who join around us. 

So, is the concept of artistic signature important for everyone? Sure is. Solidifying one's artistic identity can be a healthy endeavor, and building the chops to make the music a total plus for getting smarter. Just knowing of the concept oftentimes helps to validate an artistic direction we might choose to go.

And although we might not know what may develop from our labors, perhaps it is the 'lessons learned through the searching' that shape our being.

Artistic signature, and the search for each of us to capture our own, becomes an integral part in the continuing collective growth and development of all the various styles of Americana music. Weaving our signatures together. Seek and ye shall find eh?

Is the need to express ourselves simply part of our natural core sentient beings DNA ? And if so why? To convey the shared joy and compassion of our hearts and bring all peoples together in peace and harmony.

Will aspiring to solve for ourselves these understandings and goals shape our own unique artistic signatures? Do you have a favorite musical artist? Can you recognize their sound wherever or whenever you hear it? Yes? Well, that's their artistic signature :)

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that you can change your circumstances by changing your attitudes of mind."
wiki ~ William James

Art ~ ASAP ~ rote learn some essentials. Part pun, as if there is an need for anything 'asap' in understanding our music / music theory :) But let's say the phone rings and you got the music gig you wanted, whatever it is. And now are feeling a bit unprepared to hang in this gig in regards to understand your own music and music in general. Ya want to do a quick study to prepare.

So these topics are true rote essential ideas, components and evolutions of our musics. 'I wish I knew'd that back when I first started.' We each probably have a few of those I'd imagine :) I know I did, would have simplified a few matters. So the few topics in this entry are just those sort of things; theory ideas and components that help create theory skills right now; asap, fill in the rest as you go along. Rote learning wins the day, every day.

Art ~ As your time permits. A Y T P

a y t p

Art ~ Aural predictability and the zero wiggle.

This idea is about playing with a listeners expectations as we create our musics. We can sound like we are going to go there (resolve) and go there, or hint that we might go there and then not go there, or even go somewhere else, then go back there later and resolve, usually ... :)

Or the flip side of zero wiggle, as when we're the bass player, and there's this big build up to one pitch. A build up of predictability that tells everyone within listening distance ... that the music is going to arrive to this and only this 'one note destination station', and if all the stars align, it'll be on time = total predictability :)

Our most predictable Americana lick to a resolution that everyone knows is coming is by far and away is the 'Muddy walkdown.'

So children's songs usually go right on to where it sounds like it is going, thus clearly predictable for all. The 12 bar blues is totally predictable, thanks to its turnaround, yet with endless variation of time, tone and timbre, to get us there.

In the pop through country styles, with clear hooks and repeated vocal lines, when folks can join in and sing along on a first hearing, its predictable and a gem.

So in jazz? Jazz by its very nature sounds very less predictable. We jazzers tend to fill in the spaces between the principle points in songs, or find unique ways to get there. "Between' implies chromatic, which quickly blurs tonality and thus, a too predictable outcome.

As music becomes more chromatic, as in today's modern jazzy styles, its predictability can virtually vanish, to all but the most astute listeners. Time, form, phrasing, a melody, all combine to knit and keep chromatic flavored musics together. Takes strong players to make it go. Add bright tempos and off ya go to where nobody knows !

And yet, always best to keep in mind showbiz advice from the 'Boss', about putting on a really memorable show for customers ... 'To make folks feel welcome and surprise them somehow.'

Art ~ Back / middle / front of the beat. Simply a realization that in our phrasing of musical ideas, we can find different spots on even just one beat, each of which has a way with the melodic line. 'Out in front' finds the rhythm section playing a sort of catch up, call and response with the lead line and can be a great way to tell a story. Ray Charles' essential "Georgia On My Mind" uses this 'out front' styling.

Rolling right down the middle or 'on top' of the beat include American arpeggio kings Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. And Dexter Gordon might be the king of 'behind the beat' in telling his tales.

An easy way to feel these spots in time is to work with a metronome. Getting the clicks on 2 and 4 and singing along with the clicks, finding the various 'spots' of where the pitches and rhythms lay into as time goes by.

wiki ~ Ray Charles
wiki ~ Charlie Parker
wiki ~ John Coltrane
wiki ~ Dexter Gordon

Art ~ Backing a soloist / poet. This is a performance consideration and really comes down to one thing. To not distract them from what they are doing while they are doing it. If this means not playing at all (tacit) so be it. Getting 'under' the soloist's volume is not always easy. And stepping all over the soloist is an easy way to lose the gig. Luckily rehearsal will win these days.

Remember, even a great soloist needs a nudge from time to time. As 'call and response' and 'theme and variations' core the Americana dialogue, it only takes one idea to begin the process among hip players.

Backing a poet.

At the turnaround of the form is oftentimes where the backing part can get dicey. Do we lay off and give the soloist the room to decide ... or as backing cats, help to drive right through the turnaround ? Even talking through arrangements helps.

Remember that in improvised musics, when we get under the stage lights things often change from what was discussed. That getting under the soloist, again in terms of volume, is usually makes for a good start. We call this volume loud / soft spectrum 'dynamics.'

Art ~ Banish the boredom. Creating art everyday, and the boredom with the effort, just seem to roll together sometimes. Cats shed their boredom away. One solution is to simply create ways to up the challenge of our own game. Endless possibilities for those so inclined. And the cool thing is, once we choose a thing to 'advance' on any given day, once engaged, the boredom often will vanish, pouf, gone ... Stick with the 'advance' process and over time we get better and better at what we want to do.

"To have an inexhaustible freshness to my music. I'm stale right now."

Art ~ Bass line stories / root notes / chord progressions. This concept comes to us here directly from our AmerAfroLatinEuro master maestro Mr. Clarke Terry, during a trumpet workshop I attended. Terry shares the idea that each song's bass line clearly carries and conveys the story's own message. Just like with the lyrics / words and pitches and rhythms of the melody line. So songs with similar 'messages' also will have similar bass lines. Cool ? No brainer right ? Cool :) Here's one by letter names, try it slowly as a love ballad, repeat many times :)

C ... E ... F ... G ... :)

Any feelings come to mind ? Maybe sing the pitches, loop it and hum along, find a few words to express your love for (... ?) This bass story line is then yours forever more, when ya need to tell a love story by song.

And since we've a solid half dozen or so 'categories' of stories for writing songs, then we've a half dozen or so bass line stories to master. Can that be? Yep, let it be. Just makes the learning that much easier. Of course we each get to jazz it up our own way. These half dozen lines form a good basis.

A benefit? Mostly in the 'merging' together of cool events from one similar song to another. Why not borrow ideas from one song and place them another ?

A second benefit? Is in chord substitution. For in each of the bass line stories we get a few pitches sequenced a set way, such as the One, Four, Five chord progression of the 12 bar blues. These become the 'events' of the story. And in its retelling? Bluesy jazz leaners provide variety to these basics through their chord substitution.

And for starters, triads are a great way to tell the story, and any story in any style really. Always root to root to start, and in this next idea running major triads. Ex. mp.

Sound and sing ... :)

Easy enough huh? This line could be the 'basis' of a lot of different melodies. And it is a melody in itself too. Crazy how the three notes of the One, For and Five triads get us a long way on down the road.

Need some brooding passion today? Find something with the 'tonic minor 9' color motorized in a Latin One / Five bass motion beat to get it rolling. Humorous? Easy, the jaunty pentatonic major color is all over this. Add a style to this mix, and try a few tempos too, and historically speaking, the core bass line stories of each of our Americana genres evolve.

We can easily readily place any bass line 'story' into a couple of 'categories.' The blues is surely one such category. Others? Jazz ballads, rhythm changes and both 32 bar song forms often have a similar storyline.

That composers enjoy and study the works of other writers is also a part of this bass line story learning process. Classic Americana songs such as "Summertime" by the Gershwin Brothers, is a song / bass story line, that has been loved by so many, has probably spawned many a new song from admiring artists. Included in this work is my own inspiration that probably has some roots in "Summertime." Titled "Voices From The River", there's just a commonality of essence from one to the other.

Knowing of this might help us group similar songs to facilitate their learning and encourage the cross pollination between similar storylines. That most guitarists play some bass and vice versa, becomes a possible way to cross pollinate this process. Play melodies on both instruments.

So thanks in part to the uniqueness of each of us and peeps and artists, there's endless variations to the basic forms and ideas of a bass line story. The gist of this I think is to simply recognize that bass line stories do indeed exist and that in that recognition, we get a solid way into a song that might be unfamiliar, as say at a jam session etc. Thus a better chance of making sense of new music through its bass story line. R.O. !

From the Stones in 'E.' Be the beast, of sorts :)

wiki ~ Rolling Stones

Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower." An ancient story and rhythm :)

wiki ~ Bob Dylan

Changing strings and adding in the dominant to close / cadential the loop a new way, ancient too.

Miscellaneous bass line stories. Tune up to standard pitch, the letter names for each example work just fine, just find the rhythm and groove and push these letter name buttons.

classic country
pop rock
drop one
walkin' along
pure country

1 4 6 5

Art ~ Become an expert. No reason in the world not to become an expert at something. If we figure out what we love to do and become an expert at it, our chosen work becomes a pleasure and we show up every day ready and raring' to go :) That the 'more I know, the more I realize how much more there is to know', can be a beautiful thing. So over the decades of doing, we become more of an expert in what we love, through curiosity and study, sharing knowledge and collaborating to create a musical life.

"I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious."

Art ~ Be the motor. In that when we play music with others, we want to help propel the thing along, keep it moving, lively, danceable and more ...'Tough when we gots to pull others along, which if ya gotta do, you gotta do.' By doing so, hopefully there'll be someone to pull us along when that time arises. Other wise we strive to pull our own weight, be the motor. As Jerry Garcia once quipped in song ...

"I don't know who's back's that strong ... maybe find out before too long ... " :)

In all the styles in our Americana music history there's cats on all the instruments that love to be motor; drive the groove till the dancers shout and jump for joy, round and round. Drums is the thunder. Bass brings in the voodoo and storyline. Together they create the swing of the thing. Lead players 'bring it', sing it, tell the stories. All combine to create the music, which can bring all folks together to create community, of sharing together something we all can dig and be a part of together.

wiki ~ Jerry Garcia
wiki ~ Robert Hunter

Art ~ Big four. This term comes here via the Ken Burns 'Jazz' series and is spoken by maestro Wynton Marsalis in episode one. It might originally come from the marching band drummers that created the beat for the parades in New Orleans. The even 'boom boom boom boom' of the bass drums keeps everyone marching right along. The booms create the quarter note pulse of one measure of 4/4 time. While any of the four beats will find their accents, popping on 2 and 4 is most common (snare drum) throughout the spectrum of Americana musics. This pop on 2 and 4, is what can quickly bring the swing thing for most artists in any style really. Paired with the snare pops, almost any sort of a 'walking' bass line is also an example of the 'big four' but with pitches.

wiki ~ Ken Burns 'Jazz'
wiki ~ Wynton Marsalis

Art ~ Bingo (a). Like all over the globe, a 'bingo' is a bingo, meaning we're playing at something and we win. This idea in AK here, applies workwise too, where 'fixing stuff to fix stuff' is the norm. So, when something that was wrong, then fixed, gives us a 'bingo' moment. It's got it's own song too, that everyone knows and can sing together. Pals and I have had some good laughs over this one, hope you do too... and ... 'Bingo was the name ...'

"B I N G O"

Art ~ (reading) biographies. Those into music love to hear about other musical artists. Just a natural thing. Serious cats here will also dig the educational aspects of reading about the artists they dig. Everything from the historical life and times of an era to the #1 hits of the day, to the gear to get those sounds to the story behind the hooks, of how they got there and hopefully back, or not as the case may be ... and still out on the road :)

By far and away for this Jose, the Ken Burns "Jazz" documentary is a must, it connects all of the early dots, must be 500 bio's included in the series, and shows the ways we've moved forward ever since.

wiki ~ Americana musics
wiki ~ Ken Burns 'Jazz'
wiki ~ American music composers
wiki ~ European music composers

Art ~ Blues' hue / blue notes for 'C' major. Vibrato and some bend. Since we only get 12 pitches, this first bit of the theory goes pretty quick if you gots some coolness and chops already under your fingers. I learned this idea about the blue notes from Tony James, one of Alaska's own titans of blues and jazz; simply that each pitch in a melody can 'got it's own', with applying vibrato, and which is quickly 'bluesified' by extending beyond vibrato to its bending.

Classical artists might term this to ... 'warm up' a note with a heartfelt vibrato. So through vibrato and bend, our pitches will naturally start to lean towards becoming a blue note bringing this 'blues hue' to our palettes, especially so if the harmony at that moment is leaning towards V7.

Adding in some of the 'blues hue' color is simply about adding in a pinch of a non-diatonic blue note into diatonic lines. For in every nook and cranny of possible genres of Americana music, there's usually a way to tastefully wiggle in some blues hue.

That so much of our Americana music over the last century or so is generated diatonically from the relative major / minor scale group of pitches, surely the Euro harmony, yet there's always room for the blues hue, created by placing the blue notes, within diatonic harmony of the seven pitches of the relative major / minor group. For even the stingiest of efforts in any sort of song we can look to might find a spot to spark a bit of on a blue note or two :) In theory ...

Thinking in 'C' major.

7 diatonic pitches / C D E F G A B C / white keys

5 blue hue notes / Db Eb Gb Ab Bb / black keys

Art ~ Blues guitar. Americana music includes these next melody ideas. They create pathways of notes that have shaped the 4 bar phrase / 12 bar blues form since the beginning. Get these snippets of melody under your fingers by ear. Three essential licks for the emerging blues artist in 'C.'

"Muddy Waters walkdown."

"Elmore James intro."

"Socking beat one in the 10th bar of the turnaround." Heard too many great recordings of blues soloists not to to mention this lick. Simply that by totally stinging the root pitch right on the top of the beat of the key on the first beat of the 10th bar of the 12 bar blues form, whatever happens after, or not as the lick might be, the rest of the band should know exactly where to go with it to find the downbeat on one of the next chorus. Here's a 12 bar 'A' blues, stinging the pitch 'A' on beat one, bar 10. I use the muddy walkdown to close the form and get into the next chorus.

Find the top in the 12 bar blues form.

Art ~ Blues' in A. This is a common way that players 'call' a tune when performing, especially in jam sessions or cats sitting in with the band etc., so common in unrehearsed situations. And while it sounds simple enough, there's quite a bit of musicality involved, much of which is just 'understood' by the musicians involved. Of course the root pitch is A, it's in a blues styled major key, the three principle chords are A7, D7 and E7 and it's probably a 12 bar blues form. The rest you'll just have to hear and find your way in. A 'muddy' lick of sorts will often kick it off and could be part of the turnaround too. The time, tempo and feel of it is often described in terms such as; a shuffle, swing, rockin', swampy etc. How the leader counts it off is often the best clue; 1234 with accents on 2 and 4 for any kind of swing feel, 123 - 456 spoken as triplets for the 12/8 of a shuffle etc. Listening to the records is most often the preparation for strengthening these combined skills that maybe included in a 'blues in A.'

Art ~ Blues Societies / Americana. Join up with like minded blues artists globally with ...


Art ~ Blues rub. The core idea of a blues rub is mostly about how a blue minor third melody note sits on top of the major third, that lives within the major triad and forms the basis of V7, the basic blues chordal color we use to support our blues lines, and form up the harmony for a 12 bar blues. Thus: minor 3rd in melody + major third in chord = blues 'rub.'

Other pitch rubs ? The tritone of course. There's the #9 colortone. Push the tonic way out of tune, that'll get the hair standing up. Or, push b7 into the tonic, plus double stops for guitar featuring these blue notes and more, so lots of variations in this rub, as each instrument gets a few tonics to explore with. And then there's the beautiful non-rub of Six :)

"Blues is based on the common ground shared by all people, black and white, young and old. Blues is the story of the human life, of its loves and struggles. All rock and roll, all jazz, all American music finds its roots in gospel music and the blues.

wiki ~ Howlin' Wolf

Art ~ Body dance. My slang term that describes ANY signs that the rhythm joy of the music is having a physical effect on folks hearing the music being created. Wide range here; from full on jump for joy dancing to the age old toe tapping to finger taps to the gentlest of cerebral nods ... a body must and will somehow find the dance :) Is this why so many love the blues? That it is so easy to follow along with the story and its form? Could very well be. And surely the magic of the swing motor is insatiable. Resistance is futile :)

wiki ~ dance

Art ~ Borrowing pitches. For the music theorist to sort things out, ideally all a song's pitches lives within a diatonic world, meaning that everything we need to create our music comes from the pitches of a key center. And while this is often true in children's songs and folk music, even the first mention of a blue note in the music usually means we're borrowing a pitch from outside our diatonic key center. Problem with this? No, not at all. We as theorists just generally want to know where it's coming from, i.e., its organic or diatonic source :) Once known, we can recreate the coolness when needed.

What does the borrowed pitch do for us? Back in the day there was an expression to 'jazz it up' to give a thing a bit of something new, something exciting, something different. From a dash of salt for a stew, to a new color for a different cut of cloth for a coat, to a new dance step, to using a C# in the key of C major to find V7 of ii, we often look to 'jazz a thing up a bit' to freshen up what might have become the mundane.

We all look to do it in our lives, as musical artists and now music theorists, we simply look to understand the why of the 'jazzing up' so to speak. In knowing the theory of it, , creative new ideas for how to jazz up something else down the road are energized too, and can begin a whole creative process for new works.

In theory. Once we realize that a pitch we come across is not diatonic to the song we're working on, we can investigate what it is adding to the music we are making. Is it just one non diatonic pitch in a melody line? Then probably a blue note or passing tone. Is it a non diatonic pitch in a chord and progression? What key is that chord diatonic too? Can we look at that key for ideas or resources to better understand and create solutions for voicings, find a parent scale for soloing over or through the chord? Chances are it'll be a V7 of something.

These sorts of investigative tools are what the theory cats use to find new ways to solve the same old same old. Is part of an artist always looking for something new, a new combination of elements to better express their ideas and emotional statement? Could be.

The evolution of our Americana musics over the last 100 years find many of our legends also as the exploratory visionaries of their day, that looked to push the existing boundaries of the art worlds they inherited. Does this happen in just music? No. All the fine arts have their visionaries and an evolution to the theory of the principles of their artform. It's just a natural process as new generations of folks come along, learn the existing body of knowledge in their times and create anew. For example, can you visualize when painted pictures were two dimensional?

Art ~ Bowl of gumption. Not sure where this comes from as it been around for so long now. But at some point some boss somewhere said to a crew member 'better get a bigger bowl of gumption in the AM if you want to keep work with this crew.' Cool. Gumption. Good. I thought oh ... like oats for the horses. Gumption is our inner voice that says 'I got this.' Gumption is also very sticky stuff, makes us stick to it, see it all through and finish strong.

"The lesson being that in life, you control what you can."
wiki ~ Michelle Obama

Art ~ Break the rules. Established rules in music tend to create a particular sound and style of music, often of a distinct historical period. For example, if we follow the part writing rules of 17th century counterpoint we'll probably sound a bit baroque and hopefully a bit like Bach. 'Learn the rules first then break them' as your music demands. Rules also create real templates or forms for creating songs, which when performing gets us all collectively on the same page, right now. So things just go along quicker, and when the 'breaks' do occur in the art being created, it's really no big deal. It's more of an evolution from an existing form or style than something out of the blue, although that happens too. Is there really anything out of the blue in music anymore?

wiki ~ J.S.Bach

Art ~ Bring it (slang). Just really a slang term to capture the extra energy juice we each can bring to what's at hand and needing to be done. In blues mostly but all of our Americana styles too. As today we can find the blues pert near everywhere in Americana musics, that when performing our stories for an audience of folks, there's an extra energy possible to be channeled, theirs, back to the musicians, to really make a memorable moment for all. We can make and store up extra juice for later by being more confident and competent in what we're doing.

An awful lot like playing sports, similar licks to 'bring it.' "Just do it!" Yep. "Time to testify brother." Amen. 'Home run time.' "Giddyap!" Yep. '3 2 1 GO !" :) "Yo, tell it like it is." We each have our own way. That the juice in the blue notes carry is generally easier to squeeze out is pretty common knowledge. Know a blue note or two?

wiki ~ "Tell It Like It Is" song

Art ~ Bring some voodoo. More stage slang about grooves, the voodoo brings a nice sweaty dance groove to any firelight, under the lights and stars sorts of setting. Some singers often call this the 'big beat.' Jim Morrison did. Here's four pitches in the lower harmonic structure that, with the right drum hits and ambience, conjures up a sweaty voodoo mojo workin' medium slow fat back under the lights.

In the right settings, playing this beat can get everyone's attention and keep it. Boom boom boom boom b ... :)

wiki ~ The Doors

Art ~ Build a solo. This is the challenge that many of us as Americana improvising musicians face on a regular basis. Too many variables to consider here, but the core of it is to tell a version of the story being played, all based on the theme of the song. Our own 'version' of the tale so to speak. Beginners should find the melody of the song. In days now past the 'rule' was that if I didn't have the melody of the song under my fingers, I didn't really qualify to get to take a solo on that number.

In some of the bluesier styles, climaxing the ride is the essential pure joy of the process. The whole band, audience and especially the dancers, join to build it all up together, insuring all get to join in at the moment to release the tension that builds up to the climax ... then kaboom as they often said :) 'Sing the line play the line' is probably the first mantra in this building process.

Here's this idea from the old EMG print book in a graph featuring time and intensity ... so sort of the math of the process that make our hand stand up :)

Just a rumor. That when the younger, then emerging tenor saxophone jazz star Wayne Shorter got into the Miles Davis quintet, and when performing in concert, the idea of 'needing' to climax a ride in the traditional excitement of jazz performance evolved; in that it need not happen every time. So a new 'reflective' approach to improvisation in straight ahead jazz began anew.

wiki ~ Wayne Shorter
“I once heard Ben Webster playing his heart out on a ballad,” he said. “All of a sudden he stopped. I asked him, ‘Why did you stop, Ben?’ He said, ‘I forgot the lyrics.’
wiki ~ Ahmad Jahmal

And from way back when. According to New Orlean's legend, the original blues becomes the processional music for the internment ceremonies of a beloved who has passed. The Ying / Yang balance of the blues; of sadness when going the memorial service and the joyful to return to life and memorial banquet, both creating the walking tempos of the family's procession.

In building a blues solo of a couple of choruses long, this pairing of the 'sad / joy' ~ Ying / Yang and rhythms often life centers on a few combinations of pitches; the 3rd above a root pitch 1; and both a minor 3rd for sad, major 3rd for joy; ' A C A' and 'A C# A .' Next could be the '1 6 5 1 6 5' note magics of the gospel in major, from the kid's song of old "Shortnin' Bread." The pure driven snow mountain song "Old Joe Clarke" gets us moving around '5 6 b7 6 5 ~ 5 6 b7 6 5', which sounded over a major triad brings some rockin' rhythms to both 'billy and roll.'

Then there's the pure blue's minor of '#4 4 b3 1 #4 4 b3 1' that brings us a sorrow, which along with both the 'b3 1 b7 1 ~ b3 1 b7 1' 'b3 4 1' and three note '5 b3 1 ~ 5 b3 1', a descending minor triad to build up the passions of love and loss for the redemption magic usually in octaves of the "Saints", '1 3 4 5' pure major sounding uplifting joy and redemption of our lives to continue onward.

To set this in motion I call "All Blues" by Miles Davis, for a written groove, rhythm and bass line that the band will know. Then play through these motifs over the course of a dozen times through the 12 bar blues form to build my solo. Along the way the groove will change, the bass line rhythm will go to walking quarter notes, 'Bird blues" changes will come along, and eventually the solo will climax with one note; a tonic 'G' with various accents, bends articulations.

call a tune
wiki ~ "All Blues"
wiki ~ "Miles Davis"

Here's a few melodies of these melodies, actually just a riff or motif, a theme and variations of the melody, woven together to build this up a blues solo.

All these riffs are in theory a 'suspension' of some sort, to stretch and suspend the gravity 'pull' between these combinations of notes and their relationships to one another, for creating the Americana blues art songs in the 12 bar form.

Art ~ Build any triad / chord. That we only get to build up chords on a couple of instruments, the string harps, the various keyboards and the fretted string instruments, the in 'theory' way to build any chord is quite easy and rather straightforward. We ask; I need a ______ chord, in a ______ musical style, whose letter name pitches are __ __ __ __ __ . Then locate these pitches on a chord playing instrument and voila !

Even find it on a stringed harp on a Greek vase ... ?

Art ~ By ear. This is generally the way most of us learn Americana music and is a natural way to learn any instrument. Vocally sing, hum or scat the line you want to play and find it on your ax. As there's only 12 pitches, we've already narrowed down our search considerably. Learning melodies by ear will help lock in the pitches and intervals. The melodies we learned way back as kids might be the perfect music to start this whole 'by ear' process off. Listening to our favorite players, we learn of the magic, and a source for new ideas. Sing along with the recordings, then find the pitches you sing as best you can on your ax. 'Hearts to hands' is the connection we often seek to be the storyteller. This living and sharing connection strengthens the more we do it. Got something to say? It'll come, just keep on keep on.'

Also, there are those natural artists that play by ear. I think those that do, know it. They play the music they dig by ear, sound great and blend right in. Learn what they can when they can, but don't really worry to much about it. These artists too seek to become masterful on their instrument, and have their own artistic signature. Not 100% sure here but I think this level of natural talent still has to practice. Rehearsals too helps :)

Art ~ By the numbers. There's two basic sets of numbers that we use to represent the letter name pitches within any chosen key center. One through eight creates a stepwise sequence of the pitches which become scales. One through fifteen, and moving by leap, needs just the odd numbers to make arpeggios, triads and chords.


scales melody 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

arpeggios for chords 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15


Author's note. In my college classes, a lot of the music theory discussions was by numbers. So there's a lot of that throughout this book. And formal studies of the modern masters of today, and studies of theory in general, will all have a fair share of this same numerical dimensioning, of 'measuring' the 'interval' or distance between two notes and assigning it a numerical value; generally ' tonic 1 through 8' for melody notes and the 'root 1 through 15' for harmony. So along with music vocabulary, the rote learning these numerical basics will help in most if not all college classes.

The bandstand. In working with blues hue'd dance bands, using letter names to identify the necessary chords and root pitches more often is the way it goes. "This next song is in 'G', so the chords are going to be 'G, C and D', works nice getting folks on the same page. The numbers lingo; "tune's in 'G', 1 4 5." Rest by ear.

In a 12 bar blues song in 'G', thinking by numbers is common. So the 'G, C, D' becomes, the One, Four and Five. Easily combined, just rote the best of both through a couple keys you sing in, call it good. Just saying.

At some point in understanding your own music and learning the theory a cat might begin to think of things in terms of understanding their musings by simply replacing a letter name pitch with the number that represents it, as determined by it place within a key center and its key signature. For example, the letter pitches of a one octave 'C' major scale become 1 through 8.


Advancing into this one perspective of the pitches can truly rocket accelerate ones learning. I just don't think there's really any real sustainable loopholes in this; anything in musical letter names can be represented in numbers when viewed from within a key centered on one, tonic pitch. What we gain is the ability to project our 'numerical theory' into any key, on to any musical color, emotional setting or pitch combinations, that we might ever conjure up in any of our relative 12 major and 12 minor key centers. Blues too? Yep, blues too. Blues by the numbers :) So the whole tamale? Yep, numbers can cook up the whole tamale too.

For example, a letter named pitch such as 'C' is numerically represented as '1' in the key centers of 'C' major and C minor. So in a song written in the key of 'C' minor, a chord whose root pitch is 'C', numerically can be represented as a '1' / I / One chord. So in any key major or minor, the chord built on key's root pitch is One. So whatever happens with a One chord can be the same for each of our other key center's Ones. Handy !

145 / 251 / 3625 ... Another quite common application of these numerical equivalents is with describing the root pitches of chord progression. A song written with 'three chords and the truth', for instance a 'G, C, D' er', is also in numbers a One / Four / Five chord progression in G major. This numerical designation we can extend into any chord progression, both diatonic and non diatonic, on through to the pitches of their parent scales, arpeggios and all the color tones and their alterations.

One pitch / two pitch, three ... Here's a short list of what we can, will or might do with various quantities or numbers of pitches. History, theory, style, composition and form, all mesh together here. The trick is to 'keep it between the lines.' Meaning diatonic with numbers. For if I only have three pitches, I only have three to work with. Which three ? Well U decide that, ( we'll follow along the overtone series to get us started upon this pathway ).

More '3 of ... ?' Three chords? Or 3/4 time. Or three part harmony. Each of these become ways into the theory. And each number, one through eight, each have their own coolness and place within our music / math

Art ~ Cadential motion in America :) Cadential motion is what we use to direct where our music is going and create stopping points. They most often end our musical phrases, and the songs we place them in. They come in lots of different varieties and each has its own sense and degree of ending or closure.

A 'perfect authentic cadence' creates a perfect sense of a complete closure to a phrase of music within a chosen key center of music. All comes to rest. In rhythms and time, emotionally, spiritually and in the story being told, all 'perfectly' resolve to a perfect closure. It does this by loading up on the tonic pitches of a song's key and the bass motion of V to I. Here's cadential perfection of closure in 'C major then A minor', root position Five to One chords.

End of phrase, end of story ... ? Perfectly authentic :) Next tune :) Break time already ? Another take? OK.

So in a folk song in 'G', a 'G' chord often is followed by 'C.' This is diatonic motion of One to Four so no real chord cadencing or cadential aspects. We'll use a 'D' chord to set up the return to 'G.' In a blues styled tune, this same 'G' chord often becomes 'G7' before the 'C7' chord is sounded. Again V7 or 'D7' becomes the Five chord to One / 'G7.' In our theory system, Five to One motion can become the core of it all for our cadences. Really just depends on style and the endless mix of ethnicity of the folks making musics worldwide.

In pop to varying degrees, not uncommon to use the full or more complete F / G 7 to C, ( IV / V7 / I ) whereby complete means that we use the full weight and potential of the gospel Four, then to the tritone bearing V7 to solidly resolve itself to One. This cadential motion creates a true Americana sense that we've arrived at a resting point. Also, this cadential motion is often used to modulate to a new key center with a song. This One / Four / Five motion is the core of the 'diatonic 3 and 3.'

Jazz very often uses a full or complete cadence (V7 / I) between any and all chords within a song. Crazy sounding for sure but it seems as if any opportunity to use a chord or two to set up the direction of the music it will. Jazz evolves the gospel / pop chord progression of IV / V7 / I cadential motion by often subbing one chord for another, in this case a Two ( ii -7 ) for Four. That the Two / Five / One is a 'sleeker' motion, and as such, can move everything along at a faster clip. This encourages and even allows jazz tempos to accelerate. We can see this 'Two chord acceleration' emerge in the music in the 1930's and forward.

For in the 1940's, empowered with the sleekness of the Two / Five cadential motions, Charlie Parker's bebop generation continues this acceleration of the music, that demands both accurate tonal direction and super sleek and super fast cadential motions. For in his compositions we'll find the divvying up of the diatonic pie into ever thinner slices for his arpeggiated, bluesy explorations. Parker's ability to fully arpeggiate and bluesify the cadential motions through a tonal center, at blazing speeds, opened up new cadential and modulation options in the jazz language. A decade later, through the arpeggiation of chords and new substitution principles, John Coltrane will create a 'sheets of sound' approach to soloing through the changes that take Mr. Parker's ideas to yet another pinnacle of development, to the edge of chromaticism, where cadential motion's are rare and often used only to finalize a performance to a closing.

wiki ~ Charlie Parker
wiki ~ sheets of sound

In today's chromaticism, cadential motions are a slippery thing, as chromatic motion in and of itself is a slippery thing, and coupled with all of the chords in a song's progression as tritone bearing, V7 type chords, its a blur of colors. Tempos blaze of course and melodic lines, coupled with modern styled 1/8th notes, take on a sort of swinging chromatic blur with no traditional sense of cadential closure. Think of an express train passing many stops, becoming a rocket ship that somehow stops at them all, safely and on time. Modern jazzers will do this and keep the blues hue to boot !

Art ~ Call and response / improvisation and rhythm. This age old back and forth is perhaps the original way it all goes down. Still as valid today as ever, the back and forth dynamic runs deep in our sense of creating community and togetherness in performances. We can bring this dynamic to any musical style, the blues and gospel are mainstays of this interplay.

Great for kids too, for example, a common call and response event with kids is "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" ... E I E I O :)

And if there's a more natural entry way to develop our musical phrasing, and our own signature ways of saying it, beyond the ancient ways of call and response and mixing in some rote learning, please share with the world. Add some clicks to lean any 'call' into and measure up any phrase of any length you can conjure, then just give your Muse a chance to 'suggest' an idea. Sound it out and then wait the same amount of time in the 'silence of space' as the click go by. 'Call again.'

Know now the secret that our musical imaginations flourish in silence too ... especially while moving through time:) Over the longterm and with the addition of the principles of forward motion, new improvisation is just a 'call ... and response' away.

Art ~ Call and response / rhythm / four bar phrase.

"Space has its own groove and swing."

wiki ~ Wayne Shorter

Art ~ Capture emotions ~ set the mood. Can we understand our musics by looking at our most precious states of emotional being? Of course we can. Can 'joy' be consistently captured with a set group of pitches? Or is their magic only brought to life in combination with the motion of time, like a frisky, toe tappin' rhythm?

Is the longing that often awaits love's arrival easily found and sounded in a minor chord, pulsed to life by a heartbeat, thump thump thump rhythm? Easy, and absolutely. Are our sorrows and regrets balanceable with the renewal of life into light as with Yin / Yang in our stories through musical tones? Balance is tricky yes? And does our now ancient relative minor / major weave provide the necessary pitches for our new age emotions?

There's room for a debate here. And what about the blues? And the stories there? From folk legend to the modern urban of today, the blues run deep in Americana.

Simply by listening to the music we each love and letting ourselves go with it, we know this 'emotional capture' exists yes? Of course it does, its one reason why music is so cool and reaches out to everyone. So how do we each learn to do this? Develop a palette of musical sounds and rhythms that express our range of emotions in our stories?

A start? Find a song and melody that brings you joy. Sing it till you thrill at your own power to bring your joy to this song. Then find another. Or a sorrowful song that when captured by your voice the tears swell, then you'll own the pitches and understand their pathways of expression forever. Find an instrument and tune it to find the pitches. And once you're this far ... there's no turning back :)

From Chinese Healing Secrets book we gain new insights into our music' physical and spiritual effects on our seven emotions and some music color suggestions.

pentatonic and major / major triads / major 3rds and 6ths / allegro tempo
worry / longing
slower tempos, leaning minor / minor 9 / passing 7th
slow tempos / minor / minor triad / natural minor 6th
angular rhythms of chromatic motions between long held notes of V7
quicker tempos / repetitive rhythms / all things minor / symmetrical colors
startling rhythms / wide range of dynamics
loud, banging rhythms / minor colors / any tempo
loud, banging rhythms / minor colors / any tempo
loud, banging rhythms / minor colors / any tempo

"I made up stories showing love, hate, passion, envy, jealousy, etc. I tried a scene as a street walker. I was a mother who had lost a son in the war. Before I was through, I had taken off my hat, my shoes and even my jacket. In my intensity I was all over these people, roughing them up. But I walked out with the contract."

wiki ~ Linda Cristal

Art ~ Capture the historical times in music. Thanks to nearly a century's worth of Hollywood film scores, we've today a rather vast library to explore for clues to what musics will capture any given time in our history. For from cave to castle to space travel, it's covered. The epic scores for epic historical stories depicted in the movies must be imagined and written. For while today's 'sampling' is cool, and especially potent in our modern today, capturing the historical times of the storyline of a movie in memorable musics is an art like no other (at least for us musicians). Everyone should get a try at this 'scoring music for a movie' somewhere along the way. Its fun, challenging and a fascinating process.

And even us writers and composers of 'new' music also sample too, perhaps in just a different way. We should always remember that 'all music was once new.' In doing so we carry on the tradition of ever modernizing our culture. Say I need music for George Washington crossing the Delaware River in the winter, I can find paintings of the event to visualize and cue up a song from their day; "Yankee Doodle." Find its groove to set the mood, look at the heroic paintings and conjure up something that will capture the spirit of the scene and times in music. The new "Hamilton" show's music modernizes the whole story through its music.

And once we've the idea, the rest is just the work process of composing the new music. Ideas often play out into duds, but in the process of trying, I've learned and probably have a new way forward or two. So we begin again and again.

wiki ~ sampling
wiki ~ "Hamilton" show

Art ~ Chord function / quality / type. Rhythm and time considerations aside for the moment, does the pitch, arpeggio or chord we hear, as the music goes by in real time, give us the sense of being at rest or in motion to a future resting point? We hear this 'at rest' all the time at the endings of songs in every style.

This basic dual sensation, in motion or at rest, becomes the initial basis of defining the function of really any pitch, scale, arpeggio, chord or even rhythm, in all of our styles our music. We as theory scientists can then examine most any chord for its pitch qualities of intervals and further evolve the concepts to create our three unique chord 'types.'

Chord type in a way allows us to measure just how much forward motion or sense of rest any combination of pitches might contain. Of course, what chord we find and where we find it in the music ... is the whole tamale in this. This search is also the curiosity juice of our own evolutions, as a modern guitarist.

So in a formula of sorts;

chord function / quality ~ evolves to chord type

Since there are only so many pitches and combinations, in creating chord type we find the same intervals between their pitches and thus understand to define and shape the sense of forward motion of really any musical element, create the artistic idea of how any component might function and understand its quality in relation to the other parts of a song.

That all music basically works in this fashion, this 'either ~ or' (at rest / in motion towards being at rest) is a perfect way to initially define function, to get a sense of the 'musical function' of any component. Simply, does it create tension or release in our musics ...

So how we understand our resource and design our music is often shaped by this one component; a sense of being in motion (on the road) to a place where we come to rest (landing home). Read further for insights and further evolutions into this essential property of music.

Art ~ Chord quality. The idea of chord quality is mostly a jazz concept and is based on the type of 3rd and 7th in any given chord. No 7th? Then its probably some sort of triad. So is a chord a major or minor? And is its 7th degree a major or dominant 7th? For these two intervals define our chord type. Once in this realm, any chord can be defined by type, opening up new possibilities for viewing harmony and function in composition.

Art ~ Chord type / pitch, arpeggio, chord. Mostly a jazz concept, chord type is simply a way to catalogue chords together that will function the same way in similar musical settings. There are three categories of chord types here in Essentials; One, Two and Five.

Art ~ Click and read. Click and read is the mantra for interacting with this book. Click of course is the magic with the computer mouse that clicks and through the hyperlinked word which takes us to another spot in the story. Read is what we do when we get there. From an educational standpoint, this work is organized for self directed learners, so for libraries, home school and 'e' curriculums shared over the internet.

And it is among my sincerest intent that school age students learn to read English too, one among the many dialects to be explored.

English is the main language that has been historically spoken here in North America that creates the working vocabulary of musical terms we today can use to describe the art and theory components of the tones we dig. Endless local slang makes the translations ever evolving of course, but the basics of academia now span globally and truth be known, a 'secondary dominant' is pretty much the same stack of pitches here in Alaska as in Seattle, S.F., L.A., N.Y., London, Berlin, Moscow, Beijing and Tokyo and points in between.

So in the 'global affairs' ways of today, getting folks on the same page with the same terms and ideas is a great facilitator in getting things accomplished. And that just feels good for there's always another song to write, learn and explore and mixing ideas from far away lands has always lent a touch of the 'exotic' to the same old same old Americana weave. That music can become for some an endless pathway of artistic discovery and expression within a community of sentient beings. The Americana experience has its uniqueness in its philosophical strive to be all inclusive, gathering all peoples together into the weave of community who share the joys of music together.

And for posterity. In putting this work forth I attempt to capture and expound upon the whole tamale of the Americana music scene from a nuts and bolts theory view of the vast array of styles in our musical arts. The main reasoning here is that if later generations ever need to recreate the magics we love today, if they understand math and numbers the way we do, they'll have a 'theory way' written out to recreate our unique sets of pitches, their two distinct tunings for creating melodies and chords, which we combine for our songs, coupled with how our musical time is altered to create the wide ranging magics of the swing rhythms, putting Americana musics into motion.

So with this in mind ... see a word you do not know of yet or an idea you're curious about ... ? Click the link and go explore. Click and read on :)

Art ~ Closure ( perfect ). The idea of a perfect closure is really in three parts. One is that any loop of pitches in any interval configuration will always close back to its starting point if extended far enough along its interval structure. This phenomina also works with rhythms and beat patterns. This helps us to prove up our theory machinations and re-create the loops of nature.

The second 'closure' has to do with the more modern application of equal temper tuning to our 12 pitches. This way of tuning creates a perfect closure for these super precision tuned tones embodied in the chromatic scale; equal sized half step intervals in both ascending and descending directions ( at least on a piano :)

Thus empowered, these 12 equal tones enable to bring about the scale / arpeggio / chord evolutions that will further empower the ideas of 'anything from anywhere', a sort of end goal (lifelong) concept, describing the range of musical colors and style skills a modern guitarist brings to the Americana songbook today.

Loop three. That our original natural pitches include the pentatonic group, both major and minor, we can trace its universally accepted pitches from our earliest shows on through to pure, early Americana standards, melodies and songs that captured America's own unique grooves as its histories unfolded through the centuries, songs and their melodies that were then parodied into new songs as the Americana styles evolved.

With these same pitches we can loop back to their starting hues and colors, but now into a whole new 'pentatonic vista', with a new approach to Americana's challenges of improvising through fast moving chord changes as discovered by John Coltrane, closing the loop back to its pentatonic origins after a journey harmony evolutions of 100 years or so.

Art ~ Colors / palette. This representation is simply a way to organize our musical colors in a one dimensional picture, that lays out our musical components as the way a painter might with their colors.

Art ~ Cool with the numbers. Becoming cool with the numbers is all about swapping letter names for their representative numbers within a designated key center. This simple process can become a giant facilitator in our music. Here's a chart spelling out the diatonic triads in 'A' major. From the chart we become cool with the numbers by thinking that; Our root pitch A is #1 of our scale, arpeggio and triad, Two is B, Three is C# etc.

scale numerical degrees
A major scale pitches
arpeggio numerical degrees
A major arpeggio pitches
chord number / quality
vii - b5

triad pitches


add the seventh


Surely there's more to the relationships between the pitches, in a key center, and the numerical ways we can identify them. Click 'music and math' to explore.

Art ~ Common tones. A common tone is simply a pitch that is shared by two or more successive components in the music. We find them in all of the styles and they really can help glue things together as well as create excitement when placed in repetitive situations.

Art ~ Composers. So just how important is music theory to those of us who compose our own music? Here in UYM / EMG Essentials, a part of composing process is viewed as solving puzzles and that the theory can help generate possible pieces. The discussion titled 'anything from anywhere' is the jazz end while the 'diatonic 3 and 3' towards the folks side of our theory basis.

Art ~ Composing in real time. This is really just the art of improvisation. That we compose music in real time, as we go along, is part of the core Americans magic. That we can create musical settings to do this is what many cats strive for throughout their careers. Finding the right players to get with that allow for this cerebral process to take place is often the trick for each of us brings our own uniqueness to the process.

Art ~ Concentration. This is the game changer that not only changes our music performances but is also the elevator of consciousness that raises us up to who we are as critters on this big rock as it flies through space. First developing, and then longterm strengthening of our own ability to concentrate and focus, becomes the key to a successful musical process. As we get better and our parts become more difficult, we match and master the whole process through our minds; mind over matter through focusing & concentrating :)

"It's one of those Zen things, you have rhythm, and it somehow centers your life."

Bridget Eukers ~ from NYTimes

Art ~ Core five elements of music. Time, melody, harmony, form and a story to tell ... plus some improv, to make our Americana magics.

Art ~ Core groups of pitches. Our three core groups of pitches for creating Americana musics have 5, 6 and 7 pitches respectively. So we've five in the core pentatonic scale, then add one to make six for the blues, then add one more making seven in the natural, relative major / minor group of pitches.

Art ~ Count it off. Ever see a conductor start off a band? Creating a picture of the beats of the rhythm of the song to come in time, by 'drawing' it out in thin air ? That's what we do, but not by waving arm motion that draws out the beats, but by speaking the beat numbers in the tempo, the 'how fast', that we want the song to go.

How we count off a tune is the way we get everyone in the band on the same page in a couple of important ways. Timewise and tempo of course, we get to try and start together, and we can convey the style, groove and energy we're hoping to capture of the chosen song, all by how we emphasize the numbers as we count it off. Click the git for an example, and imagine what music might follow such a counting off :)

To count off a song means to set a tempo and give bandmates a verbal 'countdown' to begin playing. Usually some sort of verbal spoken 1 2 3 4 etc., each style has its own ways of getting the band to start together. In the blues, rock and jazz styles, counting off the band usually starts with finding the 2 and 4 clicks of the tempo / time. In counting off a song, we'll snap our fingers on these beats and speak the numbers on top of the finger snaps.

This one skill is a potential game changer in understanding how our Americana music motors on along. For it combines a couple of our skills and gets us to visualize the music that is about to happen. So, looking into the future a bit? Exactly. Termed to 'kick it off', or 'count it off', 'count us on in brother / sister', however you want to term it, begin to learn to do it here and now if need be, and evolve forevermore on 2 and 4 :)

Art ~ counting rhythms. For many players of the Americana styles, reading the music while performing is generally not the way it is done. We rote memorize our parts. That said, developing the ability to count out rhythms is a solid skill to have for learning new music from notation. Invaluable really, as there is so much written music in standard notation. Pitches might be the easier to learn that the rhythm, so knowing the basic 'math' of counting the numbers goes a long way in deciphering notation, rhythms and learning new music from say a lead sheet.

Art ~ Two easy ways into curiosity. One is to be curious and encourage its magic by exploring with positivity of one's attitude the topic at hand. For when we are curious ... nothing's a hassle to do or look into. Were positive. That we are physically wired to get excited, and love this physical feeling of being excited, our self powered naturally built in curiosity 'motivator.'

Second. That over time, an interest in a topic strengthens into curiosity. And when curiosity bumps into passion, which in music easily translates into beholding a performance by a passionate musician (s), our own curiosity often becomes our own passion. And truth be known, the deeper the passion we behold, ours will too. For some, myself included, this happened at concerts attended in my teens and then at college, where art was passion and passion was art. Once smitten we're good to go; an interest generates curious to discover passion.

And it's the most natural thing in the world to seek out knowledgeable folks in what we're curious about. For we're hard wired to be fascinated by beholding things we're drawn to and curious about. In our studies here, it's music; whose magics we sense can physically and intellectually, so a balance of Yin / Yang energies.

"Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results."

wiki ~ Willie Nelson

Art ~ Damping the strings. A term used to describe how we can start and stop the vibration of the strings, thus their sound. These techniques give us greater control over things in general and especially in matching up chords and rhythms. This becomes key when getting it all to swing. We do this by simply keeping our fretboard fingers in their places and reducing their pressure of each note, 'damping' their vibration. Click the pic to hear the damping of chords, four beats to the bar in 'G' major.

"We should consider everyday lost on which we have not danced at least once."

wiki ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Art ~ The dancers. Dancers are probably the original reason why we started to make music in the first place. Get folks up dancing is always a good thing. Amazing but most of us smile when we dance, and that's gotta be good :) Probably getting some of our first fancy steps from the critters in the vale, for those so inclined there's just such a built in fascination with the dancing process and what it brings to our human psych, that no wonder that even a couple of steps often brings a smile, while committed artists of dance create works, both with and sans music, that mesmerize all that behold :)

Super health ~ mind ~ body ~ spirit. When we meet and see folks who are serious about their art in dance, we realize the wholistic discipline it takes to get their complete being into focus to create the magic of the dance and the stories they tell through their physical motions. Diet, exercise, mental preparedness and personal will combine to create some of the most beautiful beings and magical art ever known.

wiki ~ health
"When you dance, I can really love."

wiki ~ Neil Young

Form. In a more predictable musical form such as the 12 bar blues, dancers often follow right along with this measured, recognizable form of the song, expressing their mind and body thoughts through their movement in dance. This idea of form within a song, how it cycles through its story, is probably the most important info this book can impart to all dancers. That by simply learning of musical form, developing the ability to count measures, and find the 'top' of a song's form, these combine to super strengthen the intellectual. So 'go with the flow' is now paired with 'in know where I'm going' ... watch how I get there, so best of both ? Yep.

"In the continuing evolution of music, it must be remembered that events that appear as departure almost always have roots in the past."

wiki ~ Ramon Ricker

For 'set' pieces, where all the steps and moves are worked out exactly to the music, there's that exactness of 'what happens when.' And timing, as the comedians might quip, is EVERYTHING :) And in improvising dance steps along with the music going down means timing, in a completely 'measurable' ways. Figure skaters on the ice do this 'every step' super rote memorize their routine too.

"The only way to do it, is to do it."

wiki ~ Merce Cunnigham ~

As a workout. Dance is an incredible celebration of what our human bodies are capable of. Set to music, wow ... look out :) Know it is a lifelong way for an intense degree of self care, staying healthy and having fun, often at the same time. That's gotta be magic, as pure and natural as the Mother ever provided for us.

Study dance. Dance academia is super woven into all of our histories and cultures. All around the world folks dance, and have danced like forever now. If your passion is dance, and you are in training to become a pro, the curriculum here for you is basically in three discussions, time, listening and form in music.

"Ever since I can remember, I have danced for the sheer joy of moving."

NYTimes ~ Rena Gluck

Author's note. As a bassist on blues gigs, once the song is started and depending on the whole vibe, I'll watch the dancers to lock in with their time. Very cool things happen once they feel that they are the setting the pulse and wow do they ever love join the band in this way.

Author's recommendation. So if you're an emerging dancer consider learning the 12 bar blues form. And in its rather clear direction / predictability of form and musical direction, choreograph your own 'set pieces' to a song you choose. Work within the confines of the form. Hopefully, by mastering this one musical form the other longer and often more complex forms for creating songs are better understood for creating your routines.

And in making the less predictable sounds of jazz music, there's a free flow of energy that is released dancing that just shakes off the dust of everyday life. Expression, being creative and physical motion all combine together to soothe the soul and body after a day's work is done.

Animal sounds. The original jamm loops? As musicians, we probably first got our musical sounds from the earth critters too. When we emulate their sounds on our instruments, it nearly always will bring a smile to those involved. Search around and find a full orchestra going through their instruments, each finding the critter's natural sounds. Even better, find some aural documentation of the critter's mating calls, then find some of these licks on your blues guitar, they're surely there somewhere, slide or no slide, and may come in handy sometime :)

For dancers and choreographers. So what's in a music theory book for dancers? And anything for for choreographers? Surely musical forms can be helpful. The way the structures of harmony come together, in triads, chords and understanding color tones to shade harmony to fit the mood of the dance story to be told. How do dancers tell their stories? Through the interpretation of the music? Or can a complete dance routine be set to music?

Then there's rhythm and its subdivision. And swing, and the joy it brings. What does it feel like to swing on the dance floor? Apart from the momentum is there that 'pulling' of musical time that creates the tension of swing? And modern styled music that is through composed, with no loops or repeated cycles, how might this way of composing spark new ways of thinking about putting dance and music together?

More questions than answers here, oh well. But alas .. 'we think, therefore we are.' :)

"When you dance, all the stars and the planet and the endless universes dances around that still point. The heavens respond and the invisible kingdoms join the dance."

wiki ~ Sufi dervishes

Art ~ Denis DeBlasio discussion. Luckily a few years back now I got to hang out for a 1/2 hour or so with world traveling jazz artist / wizard Dennis DeBlasio after his music seminar presentation at the Alaska Jazz Workshop summer camp for kids. The conversation went along these lines, and I paraphrase and summarize our talk here, a few years later.

"Hi Mr. DeBlasio time for one more question? Sure man, call me Denis please. Right on thank you. Denis, what's the hardest tune in The Real Book Volume One, without hesitation, why Coltrane's "Moment's Notice." I smiled broadly, asked why? Well Dennis responded, because you have to come up with an idea and then modulate it halfway through to get to its conclusion. In that era it was among the 'new' challenges some cats were hungry for. Remember the tempo is near 270 or so, so it's scooting right along and the tune is chock full of nice changes to spell through." Thanks Denis !

Jacmuse takeaway. Turns out that "Moment's Notice" was to be among the first of true harmonic evolutions after Parker's bebop, which thoroughly exhausting the diatonic pie and recodified the Americana jazz language in the 1940's. With its writing and recording 'Moment's Notice', Coltrane in the 50's starts his own diatonic based, harmonic evolution that will ascend through the V7b9 substitution possibilities and 'sheets of sound.' Next is "Giant Steps", a song released in 1960, which again provided jazzers with new ground to explore and conquer before Coltrane's closing musics that lean towards the chromatic blur over pedal tones; 12 tone.

Super thanks Mr. DeBlasio, for sparking our curiosity :)

wiki ~ Denis DeBlasio
Alaska Jazz Workshop
wiki ~ Real Book Volume One
wiki ~ "Moments Notice"
wiki ~ 'sheets of sound'
wiki ~ "Giant Steps"

Art ~ Diatonic ~ non diatonic. So are the pitches of a song within its key signature or not? Chances are if they are in a key we term them to be 'diatonic.' If the pitch is not in the key center of the music we are examining ? We simply term that 'non-diatonic.'

As the vast majority of American music is centered in one key and its pitches, we use this distinction to keep track of any additional pitches that come along. Seven diatonic pitches, plus the five blue notes, combine to make the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale. No more no less :) And read on :)

Art ~ Diatonic core. 7 + 5 = 12. In most songs, seven pitches of the key center provide the diatonic core pitches to generate the groups of pitches or scales, which become arpeggios, which are segmented or stacked into chords. The the 'other' five pitches, become the blue notes or altered chord tones. Added all back up make twelve / 12, the number of pitches in the chromatic scale. Understand these relationships and you're climbing on the Steps to Parnassus. Read on :)

wiki ~ Steps to Parnassum

Art / the diatonic pie / getting all the clan 'relatives' together. The 'diatonic pie' is my slang term for describing what we usually cook up the seven pitches of the relative major / minor group of pitches. For in visualizing this pie, we then get our heads, and belly's, completely around the resource, which we can carve up any old way into all sorts of songs of any old musical style we imagine.

The main ingredients for baking an Americana pie? Easy; the big 4, relative major / minor group of pitches and the blue notes and the diatonic 3 and 3 for the chords. Personal spices? To each their own as the saying goes. Of and of course it always helps to have a tale to tell, with a hook even, to kick it all off. And read on :)

Art ~ (pure) Diatonic theory. In our musical world today, where our melodies are nearly always supported by chords, pure diatonic theory dictates that only the pitches of the parent scale of the melody can be used to create the chords. Thus, melody and chords are in perfect alignment to one another. When pitches vary between melody and supporting harmony, we call them non-diatonic tones. In our Americana musical sounds, with its blues hue, we rarely ever get to this level of diatonic purity. We, as theorists, use it more as a benchmark to build up and understand where the pitches are coming from to create the magic. Read on :)

~ stgc / super theory game changers 'there's only a couple of places it'll go' ~

~ One Four Five ~

Art ~ (The) Diatonic three and three. If we spin the radio dial, and listen to music that starts and stays in the same key, chances are that with a song's chords and progression, 'there's only a couple of places it'll go' holds true true true. So with knowing super rote solid, just a handful of chords by ear and theory, rest is way easier.

The diatonic 'three and three' is just a quip of a term to remind us that in each of our key centers, we've the six triads ( 3 + 3 ) that are used to create the majority of our Americana songs.

Each of the two groups of three of root position chords creates the essential One / Four / Five progression.

One full set of major, one for minor.


C F G ~ A D E

In song writing. Is this 'three and three' someway somehow associated with 'three chords and the truth' of composing songs? Yea, the same. Songs like "Blue Eyes Crying In Rain ?" And Brown Eyed Girl ?" Yea same changes, same key too as these two are in 'G.'

In the blues and rock and roll. These the essential chords for tons of 12 blues songs, which includes near all of the original rock and roll songs of the 50's ? Yep, they sure are. "Louie Louie", "Johnny B. Goode." Rockin' 12 bar blues created with the major side of the diatonic three and three.' This is good theory to know.

And of course read on :)

Art ~ Diatonic triads. The vast majority of Americana music is diatonic, and the diatonic triads are the basis of the chords or harmony of a song. We choose a key center, created by a set of 7 pitches, which forms up the pitches for creating the triads. In building chords, adding a 7th to the triad becomes the evolutions.

Art ~ Diminished colors / half or fully diminished ? As these colors are so close to one another in sound, this is a common spot in understanding our music that can be a bit knotty for emerging scholars. The key bit of theory here is that they share the same triad. a diminished triad, so two minor 3rd intervals stacked. It's the 7th of the chord that evolves the color a wee bit. Half diminished ? Minor 7th. Full diminished ? Diminished 7th.

'The 1/2 diminished color, 'min 7b5', is diatonically built on Seven of the major scale and is on the Two in natural minor.' And its diatonic mode is the Locrian mode.

Fully diminished is the rocket ship of a pure symmetrical color of minor 3rd intervals, diatonic to the now ancient harmonic minor group. There's also a fully diminished 7th scale / group of pitches. The fully diminished 7th chord lives within V7b9, that 'jazz portal' harmony that logically takes us to new tonic points beyond the diatonic realm :)

Both of these colors work a couple of usual ways, mostly through the blues, pop and jazz styles. Just sort them out as needed to create the music you dig, as their unique theory can each be diatonically traced back to a solid, organic source. Here's a chart of pitch letter names and numbers that traces their lineage.

~ half diminished 7

full diminished 7 ~

C major
C harmonic minor

half diminished


fully diminished

Half diminished 7th is a diatonic chord created from the relative major / minor scale. Built on Seven, it plays a portal role between major and minor moods within a center. In construction, the triad is diminished; a minor triad with a diminished 5th. Its 7th is a minor 7th or blue 7th interval.

Fully diminished 7th is diatonic to the harmonic minor group. Its triad is diminished also, so minor 3rd under a diminished 5th. Uniquely, its 7th is also diminished, from a minor 7th reduced by half step to diminished, noted by the 'bb7' in the chart above.

B D F to A / major 3rd
B D F to Ab / minor 3rd

parent scale = diatonic relative groups of the 'C major / A' minor

'B D F A ' is a diatonic vii chord

parent scale = 'C' harmonic minor /

'B, D, F, Ab ' symmetrical diminished scales, arpeggios and chords


'B-7b5' / half diminished 7th chord



'B dim 7' / fully diminished 7th chord

Art ~ The dots. Ooops, in this picture the dots on a Tele are the rectangles on a 335, (the dots are along the edge of its neck). Well, in this Essentials text, while theory discussions center on the diatonic 'C' major / 'A' natural minor pairing, the method for learning to apply the scales, arpeggios and chords on the fingerboard, is almost always the 'G' major / 'E' minor pairing.

For in theory, the most common of dot patterns on most guitars locate the modal groupings of the E Dorian and the G Lydian loop of pitches. Of course, for the rockers, there's the pentatonic groups of and within both, major and minor, also located by the dot placement :) U know what they used to say ... ?

"I know it's only rock and roll but I like it ..."

And that how well the core five scale shapes, that cover the first octave on guitars, so open strings up to the 12th fret, fit into this overall scheme totally seals the deal.

Built right in pitch / interval markers. From the open low 'E' string there's a minor 3rd followed by four whole dot marked steps and then another minor 3rd interval dot to close the octave. These pitches outline the Dorian modal color. From the perspective of 'G' as the root, we get most of the Lydian group. And even going back to the open 5 sting banjo, the markers follows along these lines too, especially when finding the blue notes in 'G.'

So just a bit of food for thought and a prompt to explore to find the origins of the fret markers placements. And though just musing here, these are the facts and can't help to think that there's more to it than meets the eye :)

The dots lay out the Dorian / Lydian modes. Turns out that the layout of the dots or fretmarkers we find on most guitars points us to a Dorian / Lydian physical organization of the pitches. Know that Dorian, Lydian pairing of pitches, loops etc., go all the way back in our most trusted written records.

Examine the pitches of the root pitches 'E' and 'G' pairing and then the picture just above of the fingerboard markers. Example 1.

scale degrees
Dorian mode pitches
Lydian mode pitches

Are you going to "Scarborough Fair?" Also turns out that this now near ancient melody's pitches can be found on our traditionally fret markered guitar. We need to do some octave transposition of a pitch or two, but they're all under the dots. There must be others. Get this melody coolness under your fingers here if need be. A big hit when written back in the late 16th century, it went to #11 on the charts near 400 years or so later.

wiki ~ "Scarborough Fair"

Art ~ Double tritones. We get a two pairs of tritone intervals in the fully diminished 7th chord. This sets off an avalanche of theories and opens up multiple pathways for exploration and discovery.

Often found as a stand alone, diminished 7th chord, or as the upper chord above the root pitch of V7b9, there's a wide variety of ways to use this coolness as each of the four pitches in this chord can become leading tone pitches to 4 major / minor key centers.

We've also ways to soften the diminished 'bristle' a bit, smoothing the way for both close and distant modulations in both major and minor key centers.

Art ~ Double Two / Five. As the name implies, the double Two / Five is simply a Two / Five cadential motion doubled up. So two, Two / Five motions linked together. Diatonically we can create a Three / Six / Two / Five of course, which also qualifies. But is this double Two / Five, the 'cells' are a half step apart.

So a chromatic motion that encourages the improvisor to create an idea and have to modulate the idea up or down by half step in mid flight so to speak. This in most settings, will quickly ramp up our improv challenge quite nicely :) This harmonic motion has a special place here in UYM / EMG. For it is the first of the harmony evolutions that we find in the written, original music of John Coltrane.

Art ~ Dynamics. Is simply about the soft to loud range of sounds we apply to crafting our music. Most common perhaps is to 'bring it down' at the top of a new pairing of choruses in a 12 bar blues. In the improvisational world, getting our own volume underneath the soloist is the key, to be supportive and not interfere with their process.

'Piano' meaning soft and 'forte' which is loud, perhaps to simply think of our musical dynamics as with our speaking voices, to avoid the monotone so often dreaded that sets us to a snoozin' ... we change the volume of our voices to help carry our message :)

With performing music that is written, the dynamic markings are usually written in the score under the staff and correspond to the wishes of the composer. For it's a solid aspect to build climaxes in the story. With the Americana sounds, where most performances are with players not reading the music, we count on someone in the group 'conducting' things and 'reminding' folks in the band to indeed on occasion ... to bring it down.

Sometimes being this cat has its problems. I guess we just have to choose between the band being LOUD all the time which kind of ____ or being the boss in the group and motioning bandmates to bring it down on agreed upon points in the music, thus incurring the risk being the ____.

An easy way to fix this is watch the dance floor and see the way the dancers react to the soft / loud dynamics of the band. Usually that's proof enough for craftily employing the magic of dynamics, to convince even the most stubborn of the loudsters to bring it down.

Art ~ 'E' book magic. The HTML language protocol that I used to put this book together is the magic to make one word link to another, empowers the written musical examples play back via an mp3 file with basic computer hardware. Thus blessed, we true 'non-reading notation' artists now have a way into the theory through the ancient aural tradition, 'by ear.'

This basic 'trick' of an 'e' book happens because of the internet browser that we use to 'open' this book, that runs the whole show. And there's a sort of hidden trick too. For in this browser environment, we can right mouse click to highlight any words we are curious about. Any can be highlighted. And if the hardware running the software is on-line, then all the words, and what they represent within, can be explored beyond this work on the world wide web. Try it with the google chrome link. Right click and search. Amazing huh ?

google chrome


Art ~ Easy do / easy fix. These are proba-billy the two most important words in show biz. If you're working your way up and helping someone create art, and they ask you to do something, these two words are the one's they want to hear. Hopefully they won't ask you if it is outside your present abilities etc. Saying this as a helper helps build up some good karma for when we're the leader and producing art, and ask a help ourselves.

Art ~ Emotional environment. This is totally my term, and for the artists reading here, please forgive me for creating such a psychological description and concept to describe the combined elements of any song ...

... this pair of 'e' words is used throughout the text to describe the mood of a song, its 'emotional environment.' An 'environment' can include all; major / minor, modal, atonal and then into forms, genres and styles; folk, pop, punk, blues, rock and of course jazz :)

Folks who write the songs often are looking to capture their emotional idea for a song in sounds that become musical. If there's words and a melody, that usually sums it up and directs the supporting chords and a bass line, which create the 'environment' of the song.

"To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."
wiki ~ Elbert Hubbard

Art ~ encircling the theory. This idea is simply about understanding the looping qualities and perfect closure properties of our 12 pitches as early as possible in our studies. Having the full picture defines the whole group, making the understanding of any individual set within it defined by the entire group's dynamic of closure.

One expression of this would be understanding how the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale become an unbreakable loop of pitches, simply repeatable through additional octaves to create our spectrum of pitches. A piano keyboard can quickly encircle this property of the pitches, sing the pitches to fine tune our ear.

Art ~ Essential understands ~ review and forward.

For some reading here, these suggestions will be a review. Please take the few minutes and read them through as their presentation here cores the learning and performing philosophies of this UYM / EMG book.

Root pitch to root pitch. If we thing from root to root, chances are we'll be golden. As we evolve we might not plat root to root every time, .

12 bar blues form. Everything with an Americana flavor can fit in the blues. Get hip and super solid with this song form as quick as ya can. For it's an easy way to learn to play any style of music, for in all of our styles we can find songs in this 12 bar form.

For through our whole spectrum of styles there's 12 bar blues songs to learn. Folk, blues, jazz rock, pop and hip hop and jazz all love the blues. So once hip to the basics of its form and phrasing, there's 100's, and counting, songs to learn that bolt right up into this 12 bar form. If your looking to gig and find more pro work, study up and master this 12 bar form, for an awful lot can fall right into place when under the lights.

Time and rhythm. Find the 'big 4', then 2 and 4 and count a four bar phrase. Count and number the measures of a 12 bar blues in 4/4 time. Find the 'pull' of the swing from 2 and 4. This is a core Americana pulse.

The math. And if ever needed to recreate our Americana music making capacity from scratch, the following guidelines will help. The mathematics to build up a tuned guitar, equal temper tune pitches for harmony, find the blue notes with a slide, and motor them along with a 2 and 4 pocket is in this method narrative.

And is space silent? While there's a few ways to define space in our musics depending, the main focus in UYM / EMG is about how we phrase our ideas in musical time. Space becomes the measured silence between the clicks of a metronome, creating some 'space to think', to let a few beats go by and in that quiet space, we think of the next idea and how we'd like to phrase This is the essence of the super advanced idea of 'forward motion.'

The turnaround and closure. In performing songs, 11 out of 10 times there's a cycle to its form. Near the end of the form is the turnaround. Master this point in the form and behold your artistic visions go kaboom.

That 'diatonic' sets and defines the group of pitches for melody and chords in a song. Most likely these pitches are what is termed the diatonic scale, which in theory today is the relative major / minor pairing. This defines the closed loop of the melody pitches of song / style.

Numerical addition of pitches ... One by one from the pentatonic core group of five pitches. Add a one pitch tritone to minor create a six pitch blues scale. A perfect fourth to major to create a six pitch 'hybrid Americana' gospel group, with no need for a leading tone. Add a two pitch tritone to the pentatonic five and create the seven pitch diatonic realm of the natural relative major and minor. Filter the modes by simply shifting the start points of this group, thus the intervals, of the natural diatonic scale.

How scales become arpeggios. And how arpeggios become chords. Spell out the diatonic triads. Explore to understand why chords happen in 12 keys thanks to equal temper tuning. That all of the pitches needed to build up the diatonic chords are the exact ones to build up the diatonic relative major and natural minor scale. This theory is the basis for determining a chord's parent scale and helps find nice sounding pitches for creating improvised melodic line.

Numerical evolution of chords and their color tones through musical style. Their gradual lessening of tonal predictability as their colors expand above the triad, up through the 7th into the additional color tone pitches and alterations and on into polytonality.

Discussion of the blues rub, the combining together of tuned chords and variably tuned melody pitches. This combination of the pitches becomes one of the true roots of the various Americana musics and is the theory basis of the 'blue hue', the original Americana spice where Euro meets Afro motored by Amer.

Art ~ 'even' 1/8th's ~ Often heard of this style of 1/8th notes termed as 'Latin' 1/8th's. Eighth notes form the basis of the rhythm in our jazz lines. In the old days there were 'swing' 1/8th's and 'even 1/8th's, and today there's 'swing 1/8th's and even 1/8th's too, same all along now. For whatever style of rhythms swing hardest in the grooves U B digging, all are in play with 1/8th notes. These super even eighth's lines created by George Benson, with Dexter Gordon on "Gotham City."

Imagination and listening to music builds and brings in new ideas. Sing along to find the nuances vocally, then discover those sounds on your instruments. Work with your metronome and compare the two basic styles in your studies. Even 1/8th's probably harder to master through changes, but some would say swing harder.

wiki ~ George Benson
wiki ~ "Gotham City" album
Euro even 1/8th's

Once comfortable, a first level advancement of even eights is to accent the off beat eight note. This approach can be viewed as a direct evolution from the traditional swing eights as based on the looping feel of the dotted 8th / 16th pattern. Compare the possibilities. Example.

"In the continuing evolution of music, it must be remembered that events that appear as departure almost always have roots in the past."
wiki ~ Ramon Ricker

Art ~ evolutions of our understanding our music ~

And the various ways we 'morph' the resources. Just a 'bus' stop here, to choose new destinations to explore.

Impassioned scholars of music, reading here today, please read through these 'mini' super encapsulated descriptions of these 'evolutionary' topics. For they form the basis to create your 'view' of your musical artistry and interests in regards to the now 'way vast library of existing knowledge that we all share together'.

We never want to loose sight that each of us is unique, and thus hold our own unique view of the arts and worlds around us. From this 'ever evolving view', we create our own art throughout our lifetimes. Each new work sparked into life through the magics that come our way everyday, with our family, friends and community, and all the new folks we meet along the way. We never know where the next good idea will come from. And in the meantime? 'Hone our craft' as modern master John Stowell pledges.

Your 'view.' Once you've a beginning view of where you and your art is in regards to music theory needed to make your musics, the rest is easy. For now our own energies and curiosities kick in and off exploring we go. This 'e' book works on this principle. That your curiosity and the choices you make, guide your way through the discussions and links, creating your own learning pathway through this curriculum. And if you are also on line, by learning the 'trick mouse clicks' ... add in the Wiki-kaboom :)

Art ~ evolution of cliche. There's an evolution of sorts for our Americana musical ideas that are the 'cliche licks' of our language. Brand new super cool today becomes cool next year, then into a cliche a few years later, then if it sticks around a few more decades or so, it's parodied into the old timey licks home, and near always brings a smile or two when sounded.

These we can all hold in common and share together. And we each play these licks our own way, their 'clicheness' ties us into Americana. And our listeners, and especially the dancers, will know these licks too. Thus, cliche empowered together, our musical stories can take on a deeper meaning to all who hear.

As we each mature as artists, it just turns out that when we each 'discover' something new to us, its exciting. After we play it a few times, like a 100, we naturally grow weary as it becomes cliche for us. And into our bag of licks it goes.

Yet once cliche, this idea is now locked in. And chances are it will help generate new riff variations which will lead to new discoveries. If these are written into new songs, maybe one will hit, as listeners intuitively know the lineage of the riff and it vibrates their memories. We add these ideas into our mix and rote learn them in a couple of keys. Then, after we play them a couple of hundred times they become our own cliche, and our cycle of search for the next 'new' begins again.

So with cliche, we're always adding to our rote memory catalogue of ideas and searching for new discoveries. And in doing so we evolve as an artist. Stay at it, and don't quit, and we end up always having a way to be creative, share stories, make new friends and discoveries with art along our musical journey and the pathways of life that come along.

Art ~ Evolution of an artist. Once we begin to create, our own sphere of life becomes our creative muse, shaping our art as we go along through the decades. With our high degree of physical earthly animal, we've a unique mind that can be disciplined through practice to spiritually evolve to dimensions beyond 3d. And once on this track we never need look back :)

Our early life and art experiences help our evolutions all along the way through life. Mine were The Beatles music and seeing Michelangelo's 'Pieta." We each find the art that naturally turns us on, and once so energized, these original stimuli are the basis of our evolutions. One simply leads to the next and the 'what if' questions begin to percolate. That music can become a lifelong passion is a true magic, whose energies we can share to create our communities around the world.

wiki ~ Michelangelo's 'Pieta'

Art ~ Evolution (theory) of an jazz artist. The central philosophy here is based on two ideas. One, that we can all be jazz leaning artists if we 'jazz up' any song in any style. Same priciples apply; simply adding in additional letter name notes that bring about jazz cool. That's just an essence of jazz art. Second, for the jazz leaning players, how we each hear the tension in any V7 styled chord and its resolution is the discovery portal to for new potentials and directions in making jazz art.

What combinations of pitches and color tones, both diatonic and altered, we will accept as a functioning and acceptable for V7 chords in the songs we play. From, that's not a 'G'7 chord to, how is that a 'G'7 chord to, wow, very cool V7 chord, thanks ! So what the jazz artist accepts as V7 in a sense also figures into the historical era and / or style of jazz they dig to play.

So era and style all play into this evolution. For example, dixieland cats, wanting to work as dixie players, are going to play those sounds that make that music. Which today is nearing 100 years old. So a 100 year old V7 chord style, and musical forms of melodies, the group improvisation dynamic and so forth. Player's of today of say a modern jazz, 1950's or so, will have their V7's too. And while all V7's are theory / tritone based and function in similar manners, chances are the dixie V7's and the modern V7's will sound different. And if Ur cool with their sounds, U'll find a way to bring these modern colors into your music. Our collective dixieland style roots have blossomed to ... U decide :)

How might an artist evolve throughout a career playing 100 year old music ? Simply by adding in the new ideas that come along while they are making their art happen, i.e., playing music. Conjure up new ideas ? Can quickly come by learning new songs, and by continuing the age old process of puzzling together existing pieces in new ways, which then creates new songs.

Thus, with each new generation that loves the sounds and swing of this music, the dixie genre evo style cycle renews. The trick is really just to keep playing really, start young if you can, and always keep music in your life someway, so as to give our art a chance to grow.

Time. In terms of our own musical and artistic evolutions in jazz music, time is another pillar of our architecture. For along with our 'silent architecture' of the pitches, the theories of where they come from and how we generally organize them up, our understanding of time and how we work with, really has its own deeply evolutionary process too. And for some reading here, their 'timing' supersedes' 'pitches' in importance on their palettes.

So developing one's musical time and swing play an evolutionary part too. For many of us still love to play the 100 year old melodies that everyone in the room knows, and even to play them in new ways. just trying to get deeper into the emotional expression of the music. At music school we used a metronome to practice timing, and encourage our sense of time to evolve.

Learning tunes. For those so impassioned, thankfully there's just no end to the songs to be learned, and their range of styles provides us with a way to energize through songs the inclusiveness for all communities. Our music is something we can all share together. As musicians, we get to make these musics that makes folks dance which they do together to create their communities and round and round it goes :) And as jazz artists, we kind of got the whole tamale covered. R O !

Art ~ Evolution of harmony in jazz. The evolution of dominant harmony is to a certain extent based on what we'll accept (historically the listening public) as a functioning dominant chord. For V7 has, and continues to rule the day, in most Americana styles, for it is the basis of blues harmony and the blues is traditionally a central core of Americana. In jazz, V7 has evolved to now include all of the colortones and alterations. There's all of the 'b9' substitution properties explored through the 40's and into the 50's of the beboppers. This cores Coltrane's 'sheets of sound' of the late 50's and encourages his further explorations into the whole tone color and on into "Giant Steps."

Today's 'chromatic blur' among modern jazzers can be based on V7 preceding every chord of a song or even replacing every chord in a song. And as these V7 chords are altered and sounded in brighter tempos, the blur arrives :) Scroll to the bottom of this next graphic and follow the triangles up for a theory / history progression of the V7 harmonic theory as put forth in this text.

Describing the red triangle just above (please scroll up); starting at the bottom, a spark of an idea represented by a base point of a triangle that through study grows to become a body of knowledge that can plateau, level off. From this plateau we can see a new focus point to be achieved by discovery learning. Upon achieving the new point of understanding, we then weave this up, get the pitches under our fingers, and develop on to a new plateau of artistry.

That each new focus point of knowledge bases the next evolution towards another pinnacle, perhaps a new way of thinking, paradigm shifting of thought as we evolve and mature as sentient beings, creating musical art. These evolutions are labeled with theory vocabulary.

This chart bottom to top (red to red triangles closing a seven chakra loop) represents a 100 or so years of Americana harmonic evolutions. These evolutions become in theory, a pathway of the historical / theory evolutions that can define a pathway of shedding for the improvising artist. And tonally from 'inside to out?' Pretty much yea. Follow the arrows up to best understand the progression of the harmonic theory.

John Coltrane. From a pure theory sense, Coltrane's composition 'Giant Steps' is viewed here as the most organically evolved of our American harmonic song cycles to date (2020). For there was nothing quite like it before and even today, no such new, cyclic harmonic structures have emerged that goes that next step beyond while retaining an organic evolution.

So while players have subbed on top of subs, made every chord in a progression a dominant V7 type chord and created all sort of chromatics one still might ask; 'has any one musical composition provided us a similar 'new' evolution of harmonic elements while still retaining the potential of all of the essential Americana components; the big 4, 2 and 4, a melody line that will swing, have room for some gospel or blues hue, all in a closed cycle of harmony created new from traditional components ? That amigos is the one theory question we might ever seek to answer ... that perhaps there is a yet diatonic way into a new loops beyond.

Someday another such evolution will surely come along. Cats today are working every day just like Mr. Coltrane, sifting through the pitches looking for the new way forward in melody, harmony and swing. In a couple of instances in our historical development, the component between melody and chords, the arpeggios, have provided the stimulus for players to evolve and point a way towards a next level. Will arpeggios again point the new way forward harmonically?

Art ~ Evolution jazz harmony through V7. Tucked inside the last entry is the idea of a V7 chord type becoming every chord in song or a jazz improvisation format. Fairly simple to understand as in a 12 bar blues, yet beyond the bear to play at advanced levels, its evolutions sort of goes like this.

Thinking along the lines of a Baroque cycle of chords, so a cycling of 4th's, presented in a modern day setting, examine the following evolution. Thinking 'C' major.

wiki ~ Baroque music
Now we add in a V7 chord before each of our chords.  

Wow what a tangle huh ! Now just make every chord V7.


That's better ! Almost a bit of vaudeville there, the old time carnival music show :) Now add in a few 'half step lead ins' via a tritone substitute chord.

While sloppy, yet still discernable, here at the end, hopefully you get the sense by ear of how making all of the chords in a song or progression a V7 chord type, coupled with an accelerated tempo, makes for some interesting and exciting modern musics. That all of the chords are vanilla V7's, imagine the thought process if more of the color tones were added along the way in just four bars.

Evolution of Americana harmony. In this UYM / EMG work, the evolution of Americana harmony revolves around the pairing up of musical styles and the number of different chords found in their harmonic progressions, triads and color tones. For increasing the number of chords, and use of additional color tones, generally trends an increasing complexity spectrum through the musical style and genres of Americana musics.

This same 'numerical perspective' is applied all through this study to a similar 'increasing complexity' in melody and rhythms; how many different notes in a melody and degree of subdivisions of the beat with rhythm.

Folk music's three note, triad basis, the diatonic One / Four / Five anchors one end of the style spectrum. Commonly termed within as the 'diatonic 3 and 3,' so six different chords, also 'three chords and the truth', becomes a 'stgc' thinking paradigm shift in itself, we've a point from which to create our perspectives.

Add Sev. We evolve this by adding the next pitch in our arpeggio. Our 1 3 5 triad becomes 1 3 5 7. The 7th is the first of our color tones and begins the stylistic move from folk into blues, rock and country and towards pop.

And in between the diatonic six. As we begin to find chords in between the diatonic positions, and add additional color tones we're now quite certainly beginning our jazzing it up. Build up our chords with 9's, 11's and a 13 colortones, and begin to substitute one chord for another, and we are stylistically advancing to the points for jazz of our style spectrum.

So it's a numerics thing mostly, 'the number of elements in a thing', becomes a way to measure (?) and locate ourselves along our musical spectrum of style, and then on through the evolution of our Americana harmony.

Why important? Well, thinking theory by the numbers makes it easy, checkable and define the limits of the pitches, in theory :) That our numbers are barely into double digit counting helps too. One through seven for scale degrees and diatonic chords, one through fifteen for chord and color tones. We also want to understand what we are listening too, by the numbers, and get a hold of cadential motions and modulations; along the lines of the 'movable One' structures. We can count measures and examine form in music; the four bar phrase, 12 bar blues, 32 bar sonata form.

Evolution of Americana improvisation. That there's some improv in all of our Americana styles, we can create a historical evolution for each one. For as the decades rolled by and players built upon their ancestors, we build up a repertoire of cliche licks and riffs in each of the styles. These are passed from one generation to the next, forming the basis of a language of improvisation.

In jazz, we can trace a few distinct evolutions that clearly changed the music which came along after. For there was a time, 1880's through the 1950's, when 'jazz was America's pop music.' Jazz was America's dance music. And as such, it influenced artists of all stripes.

Following our historical timeline, the first evolution of improvisation would be the adaptation of the musical lines in ragtime piano to a multi-instumental format. Centered in New Orleans, today we call this music 'dixieland.' In this style, there's whole group improv simultaneously, of multiple single line voices combining together over the 'big 4' rhythm. There's 'theme and variations', the age old basis of our improvisations. Just riffing on the line really. "Jazz it up' as the saying goes as everyone plays their version of the melody together.

In the late 1930's and onward, the chord changes of the song became a foundational basis for improvised, mostly single note lines. So now the melody notes, of a theme and their improvised variations becomes based on the chords of a song, and their pitches are sounded out through the arpeggios to create improvised melodies, the arpeggio pitches are further 'variated' through sequence and permutation.

And as the harmony and its complexities evolved in the succeeding decades, so did the improvised lines. Today, we have all of this combined. Theme and variations, group improvisation, harmony based improv, a soloist. In the blues we often add 'call and response', perhaps the original way we began wayback. And since the 'blue hue' is and can be everywhere in Americana musics, the oldest of our improv energies can be as valid today as when we first heard the echo in the cave :)

Evolution of a riff. Since we've had the same 12 pitches for quite a while now, and we want the best of both worlds; 'set in stone' melodies for reminding us all together of historical traditions and events, and yet also something 'new' to brighten our way, to jazz it up and capture today's new sounds, moods and vibes, all while using the same 12 pitches, just know that as we get better at our craft, the same basic elements that we get from written melodies guide us through as our chops, thus the riffs we find, all evolve.

So what starts out as say a major triad, the '1 3 5 3 1' of vocal lore, can further on up the road become many another riff, lick, hook an' ditty, melodies for new songs too :) And that's the way its always been done, or mostly. For in every knew generation of players there's always a genius or two who takes a couple of pitches, as say with the major triad, and shifts the paradigm a bit. That these pitches have to be motored in time, with rhythms, is a solid part of this equation. Thus the recommended 'workout' to hang with the clicks.

To illustrate, let's find the major triad in a couple of way classic Americana melodies and then jazz em' up along the way. Thinking from 'C' in the middle, mostly and evolving to points beyond as Muse conjures.

So as we get better at honing our craft over the years, the same old major triad, or whatever the pitches become in the theory, as chops evolve so do our riffs, just a natural part of getting better with the things we dig to do throughout our life.

Evolution of Americana melody in styles. The theory of the evolution of American melody in this text is based on correlating number of different pitches and musical style. That from our five pitch pentatonic groups to the twelve of the chromatic scale, we can see a rather clear and corresponding evolution of musical style. From children's songs and folk melodies to the atonal 12 tone lines of modern jazz. So, can a jazz melody have just five different pitches? Yes of course. Can a folk melody have 12 different pitches and still be a folk melody? Well I reckon' that depends on how we define 'folk' in regards to melody, but probably that's a no; no 12 pitch folk melodies in the book ... yet :)

Evolution of musical styles. Here in Essentials, an 'art' aspect of musical styles is simply that songs in a style are representative of telling stories from the different walks of life. And that a style's predominant musical features characterize the life lead from within its culture. Our common names for styles Americana; folk, country, blues, rock, pop and jazz, are fairly reflective of where the music is sourced from. So for composers, just looking to capture the essence of their story in a particular style, and even a particular era in history, knowing the theory of a style's core elements and some of its cliché licks is a serious step forward in the composing and performing process. The musical cats in Hollywood are masters at this way of crafting music; composing music that captures both a style and the historical era, creating a setting for their story.

For the evolving guitarist, understanding this 'numerical theory perspective' of musical style helps us reshape the elements in our own work as we look to expand our expressions. The most common cliche of wordplay here is to think along the lines of 'jazzing it up', often done by adding in new pitches to the ones we are using.

The theories here in UYM / EMG that track the evolution or morphing between our styles revolve around the number of diatonic pitches used to generally create that unique style or sound and its variously endless number of genres.

The melodies of children's songs are often four or five pitches from the pentatonic scale. We only get two diatonic triads from the five pitches, One and Six. If we add a sixth or seventh pitch to these five, both the simplistic character of the melody and supporting chords have a wider range of possibilities.

With each added pitch, our harmonic potential increases quite dramatically. Folk music chords are mostly triads, so the harmony of folk music is based on three pitches. If we begin to add a pitch or two to the the triads, our chords take on a new sound and character, and that character, while still folk based, also can now add some blues, country, rock, pop or jazz chord colors to the mix. Succeeding generations often pull one aspect of an existing art and recreate a new, somewhat simpler version of its parent's DNA, into a new genre for the younger, next generation which follows.

Art ~ Evolution of swing ~ evolution of the 1/8th note, notating swing rhythms ~ dotted quarter / eighth note ~ even eighths ~ even eighths with accent on offbeat.

In the early swing of the Dixieland style of the 1920's, Trumpeter Louis Armstrong and his music pals ('cats' as coined / attributed to Mr. Armstrong), first bring to life the essential magics of Americana 4 / 4 ~ swing rhythms / time by synchopating on the '2 and 4.'

Playing over a 4/4 time, the rhythm section 'chops' chords, '4 to the bar', into an endlessly streaming beam of quarter notes. With tempos scootin' right along to keep the dancers hoppin' and the 'joint jumpin', ( no ballads in those days :) placing an accent or push on 2 and 4 bring the swing. The dixieland mix of melody voices weaves through the harmony and finds some, or a lot, of written melody along the way. These lines are 1/8's, so '8 to the bar.'

In this mix of 'non- metrical and doesn't really line up' combinations of rhythms, created by the melody voices, leans right into the super metrical chop chop chop chop / repeat, of 4/4 of the rhythm section. The 'time rub' between these two creates the swing, that feeling of 'pull' between the beats. And dancers loved it bigtime.

History remembers how Louis Armstrong discovers this swing and brings its purely 'Americana joyous' forth to all, by being the loudest horn in the band. Folks within listening distance, now radio empowered, just went wild.

By the mid 1930's, arrangers tamed the dixie horns a bit more into vertical stacks of glorious harmony, all the while retaining dixie's original swing in the rhythms of their lines. Formed into instrumental choirs, the horns now use the 4/4 chop chop of the rhythm section to lean their collective pitches into ... and kaboom, the dancers just went wild :)

By the mid 1930's, Count Basie and brethren have just such choirs, probably working eight days a week. And for the next five decades bring this original swing to all. In doing so, next generations of players would know of this pure Americana rhythm magic, and the 4/4 basis and 1/8 note pull that propels it along.

wiki ~ Count Basie

Originally, the dotted 1/8 and 16th, or tied 1/8 note triplet figure creates the 'lope', puts a bit of a 'gallop' in the rhythms. This lope or gallop rhythm also becomes the basis of swing in all our Americana styles, at least those that look to get their music swinging. Still very very common today is this dotted 1/8 rhythm quality, and is the rhythmic figure that most up and coming artists begin their quest to master swing time.

From the early 1940's on, the addition of the pure Latin flavored vibe into jazz, originated by Dizzy Gillespie's ideas, the eighth note, swing's lingua franca, gradually evens up the 'lope / gallop of the 1/8th note triplet. This direction has continued up and to including today and ...

'even 1/8's' rule the day ...

For among some of the top blues, bluegrass, country, rock, pop and jazz artists, we hear this 'even' magic bring the swing. So while the 'chop chop chop chop' of the rhythm section is generally no longer the basis of the groove, though rockers have always loved it, the 1/8th note swing lines on top have in a sense become the 'even up'd 'chop', just in way longer beams of pitches often presented in brighter tempos.

wiki ~ Dizzy Gillespie

Today's modern. In the 1980's, the Latin qualities within Americana jazz and popular musics, enabled a way to make the bar lines in the music seem to disappear. A seamless groove evolved and folks just loved it. It became the new 'cool' jazz, a style so popular it had its very own radio stations.

Cadences are elided over the bar lines and over this magic, often in '2', the even 1/8's beam right along as the Latin styled 1/8 note. Mainstream swing players borrow these 1/8's and evolve them. For now we look to 'uneven' the 'even', now by accenting the 2nd eighth note of each pairing.

This can be a nice challenge. Just work with a metronome and sort it out SLOWLY. Play your best lines with these 'uneven 1/8's and see what happens. If you are working at this level with musical time, U will intuitively feel if this deepens your swing.

In seven bars. In these next seven bars we get 100 years or so of how the 1/8th notes has encouraged the bringing of the Americana swing. Starting with the boom boom boom boom repeated, of the bass drum in marching bands, we can sit atop various 1/8 note notations that create the sense of gallop, that magical motion of sorts that whisks us on through musical time we know as ... Americana 'swing.'

Art ~ evolution of tempos. As we look back on our Americana history of music, we have a central evo - lutionary thread that reaches a pinnacle in the blazing speeds of bebop of the 1940's. For now there's signs that appear in nightclubs that declaim, 'no dancing please.' Now free of this show biz requirement, to play danceable music and fill dance floors, artists can jazz things up also by accelerating tempos, to increase the velocity of their line moving through time.

This frees up the players to play faster, and work the 'through the changes' improvisational artform that Americana jazz has always enjoyed. And with those so inclined, even up to today, bebop performance a supreme personal and intellectual challenge, to musically excel through breathtaking pathways of intellectual discovery all at breakneck tempos.

Art ~ evolution / philosophy of the theory. In this e-book, there's two main threads of the music theory curriculum to help you invision, and physically realize, a better understanding of your own music, and the musics that you want to create with other musicians.

The first evolution is centered on how additional pitches added to the natural core pentatonic five pitches morph us between musical styles. By simple additive one by one, the melodies of AMERICANA songs evolve through the styles and genres.

Adding one special pitch to the minor pentatonic color brings the magic of the blues scale. A super theory kaboom. Adding one special pitch to the major pentatonic five brings us melodies that get us up on our feet, make our hair begin to stand up too, as the pure spiritual song becomes today's gospel songs. The exact 'theory knowing' of these special pitches within a key center is our educational goal here; both are bigtime kabooms to better understanding your music.

Adding another pitch to six makes seven, which brings us to the natural, relative major and minor pairing group of seven pitches. Now with seven pitches, it goes kaboom to a two foot stack of real book collections of songs written in leadsheet format with melody and chords / bass line, for starters anyway. And aren't there seven notes in the ancient modes that originated.

These all combined, five, six and seven pitch groupings, probably create nine out of 10 of our melodies. From these groups we get the pitches, but also their arpeggios, which can become chords. So single line melody notes, endless combinations of intervals, arpeggio line melodies and the more block like style of chord melody to name four possibilities. That these ways of sounding out a melody are also our initial core resources for Americana's love for improvisation, both over and through the changes, makes for the double cool for written out and improvising music.

The second learning evolution broadens the first by creating a historical perspective from the original pitches to the ones we have today; knowing our history / theory on how we tune the 12 pitches to help any instrument join in the musicmaking. Our 'zips right along narrative' quickly highlights how the older, naturally occurring pitches from Mother Nature go through their 40,000 years or so of tuning refinement to bring us our 12 pitches of today. Turns out it's a mathematical evolution too, of the 500 years or so evolutions in our various scientific abilities to measure the perfection of Nature, then to jazz it up the Americana ways.

What we gain by understanding this two part evolution is the music theory basis of all of our styles and genres within our Americana spectrum of musical arts; which today is mostly about the 'blue's hue' that's been woven through near all of our entire 'A to Z' catalogue of songs, and styles, over the past 200 years or so.

And while the blues is an aural tradition in many of its styles, to understand its historical role in developing the jazz arts, and especially the more complex chromaticism often employed to jazz it up, knowing the 'academia of tuning' and its historical role both in the initial creation and further evolution and development of jazz harmony, with its relationships to jazz melody, is part of the curriculum of BA university studies. Cool ?

More on this topic. For as our math capacities evolved during Europe's Middle to Renaissance Ages, we gain a new and improved version of the original 12 pitches. Exact same organizations, cycle of 5th's etc., each pitch just a wee bit 'tempered.'

This new math enables a greater refinement of tuning for the pitches, one that allows all 12 pitches to become an equal player as a tonic leader, to create their own local melodic and harmonic universes fully solvent and ready to rock. This, back then, in 1650 or so, is new.

And while there are serious sonic drawbacks to this fine tuning, yet for composers, some of whom demanded these twelve equal pitches, and maybe the musicians who filled the dance floors ever since too, none have really looked back. For now today we get both; through various means the original pitches and blue notes, and super tuned for making the chords, very colorful chords and their progressions to support the melody players (lotta work doing this).

Tuned piano / guitar ? Today, we can build and tune up instruments to 'sound out' all this 'equal note tuning.' And all of the chords too. Yes. It's kinda why they did it, just might be :) A piano ? Yep. There's a rumor now that there was ... a 'pianer on the Mayflower.' How it was tuned is anybody guess I guess.

So with the gradual trending over 100 years time, and then to full acceptance of the Euro equal temper tuning, of say from today back 300 years ago or so, we solidify to perfection, there's that word perfect again ... so nice to have some 'perfect' to lean our theories into. Perfect in music means like 'super solid', nothing better. And for art that flows through thin air ... that's prolly good enough huh ? The refinement of tuning encourages the development of chords, harmony and all its theories.

J.S. Bach creates the codex of these early harmony days in his two volume Well Tempered Clavier. This all plays large in our jazz musics all through our history. As Americana artists evolve through the decades, from blowing over the changes to blowing through the chord changes, each chord in a songs's progression providing a possible opportunity. And once this becomes an accepted basis for a theme and variations basis (by the early 1940's), its game on really as cats now will also use the chord changes, and their substitutions, to showcase their artistic and physical melodic prowess, on gradually accelerating tempos and increasing of the chromaticism that evolved through modernization of the musics of the last couple of decades.

Quick review / Yin / Yang. So that rather very, very precise and recreatable system of modern tuning is not without its own aural flaws too. An equal temper major 3rd is a full six '6' cents sharp from the Mother's preferred, which is perhaps Her finest pitch to raise our hearts. Six cents sharp is 'brittle' by some accountings. Less loving ? Then warm it up. You decide.

The blue, minor 3rd is as near flat, six cents, thus a wee dull as the true 'moaner' begging note. Just needs a bit of a push upward, so easy with voice, strings or horns. Otherwise, we're cool mostly with everything else. Luckily for we Americana's, we four more blue notes, plus mechanical detune whammy bars, pitch bend wheels on the keys etc., to tune our pitches up all together in myriad of genres :) What's yours?

In this work this theory evolution culminates with Coltrane's "Giant Steps", which advances the harmony out of the tritone / b9 / diminished / V7 based substitutions and on into the major 3rd's of the whole tone / augmented triad and thus beyond, which in this book becomes the '#15' portal. While retaining a gospel leaning, call and response melody, however abbreviated, and the essential Two / Five cadential cycle, Coltrane's "Giant Steps" of the early 60's ups the game for those so inclined, raising the bar thus the potential, for all of the arts of this era and forever forward. :)

Art ~ cycles of pitches ~ evolution to "Giant Steps." This next discussion is purely my own historical and theory musings. It is based on the idea that Coltrane exhausted the potential, at definable levels of improv / through the changes soloing and challenge, thus necessitating the devising of new and more difficult challenges in his own penned compositions.

The theory of this harmonic evolution comes about by knitting together pieces of Coltrane compositions as they were recorded and released in the years between 1957 and 1960 with Mr. Coltrane as the leader on the recording sessions. Mostly based on the multiple resolving qualities of the perfectly symmetrical fully diminished 7th chord, this evolution runs like this.

The evolutions. From the blues basis of One / Four / Five 12 bar form and cadential motion, Four evolves into a Two chord which creates the Two / Five cadential cell. Nothing Coltrane exclusive here, just a basic streamlining of the harmony for the brighter tempos that emerged in the the 1930's and 40's, when bebop arrives, with its bright new tempos.

wiki ~ "Moment's Notice"

Coltrane's first new 'advance my challenge' is to double up the Two / Five motion as found in his composition "Moment's Notice," recorded and released in 1957. Find a recording and check it out.

In this evolution the double Two / Five can easily come from the minor 3rd properties of the fully diminished 7th chord, as found in V7b9, allowing the Three / Six portion of Three / Six / Two / Five, to slide down a minor 3rd. In doing so, Coltrane shows us the basic double Two / Five chromatic cadential motion that in the day, 1957, super energizes the same old '3 6 2 5' in 'Eb.' Examine the letter name pitches in concert 'Eb', Coltrane is in 'F.' Example e1.

Eb major pitches
iii -7
G Bb D F
fully diminished 7th
VI 7b9
C E G Bb Db
E G Bb Db
ii -7
F Ab C Eb
V 7b9
Bb D F Ab Cb
bii -7
bV 7b9
A C# E G Bb
E G Bb C# (Db)

In a nutshell. The diatonic Three / Six, as a cadential cell, moves down a minor 3rd. And the minor 3rd is the interval we use to build up all of our fully diminished triads and 7th colors.

What this new motion creates is a wonderfully modified Two / Five cadential cell that creates a new and exciting energy and sense of forward motion while supporting a truly gospel cored Americana melody. Coltrane uses the classic 'common tone pitch between chords' compositional technique, to weave in this exciting new harmonic element.

So the harmony that helps to allow and support this song to sound 'seamless' and pure Americana in melody, in turn also becomes quite a 'harmonic tour de force improv extravaganza' for melodic improv through these changes when the soloing begins.

The new cool challenge. This new challenge requires the improvisor to create an idea then modulate this idea up a half step in mid flight. So an added written in, diatonic twist, organically evolved from the same old same old. That it is widely held that Coltrane had a rather robust practice regime, the 'double Two / Five' is part of Coltrane's 'ramping up the challenge' and to find something new to conquer. While along the way new pathways for creating are evolve.

The next phase of this evolution is again based upon the substitution properties associated with the V7b9 chord. As seen just above, the minor 3rd symmetry of the upper structure fully diminished 7th chord found within V7b9, can encourage us to move things in minor 3rd intervals, a three fret span on our guitars. Pairing this minor 3rd with the traditional cadential motion of moving a perfect 4th, we arrive at the basic root motion for the composition "Giant Steps." Often termed as 'Coltrane changes', or 'post bop' symmetry, it was the next structural evolution from the Two / Five / One extravaganzas of the boppers of the 40's and on into the early 50's. In C, here is the basic root motion of the minor 3rd / perfect 4th cycle. Example e2.

~ C maj 7 / Eb7 / Ab maj 7 / B7 / E maj 7 ~

wiki ~ Coltrane changes

Note that the descending tonal centers, 'maj 7's, are a major 3rd apart, whose combined root pitches create an augmented triad, thus whole tone scale potential. Also note the absence of a Two chord in the cadential motion to each tonic. Might have Coltrane exhausted the V7b9 diminished potentials and organically moved on to the whole tone / augmented colors? At least in regards to his harmonic structures for composition?

Find a recording and check it out.

Listening to the recordings, there's just not a lot of 'whole tone' qualities to Coltrane's improvised melodic lines. The whole tone color is aurally rather prominent, and it's just not in Coltrane's soloing. And in analysis of "Giant Steps', we can clearly hear and see in the notation a move toward the major pentatonic colors.

So a hearty thank you Sir for providing the pathway for this musical ascension !!! For now we've an organic pathway for our own self development through a wide and near 'end to end' swath of diatonic jazz harmony ... so there's evolutions beyond? Sure is :)

Also to note here, that this cycle of chord changes appears as the eight bar bridge of the 1937 show tune "Have You Met Miss Jones ?" Which became a standard song among jazz artist, a song Mr. Coltrane surely knew. Just imagine his own 'ah ha' moment when these dots connected up :)

So why important? Remember that back in the 1960's "Giant Steps" was the 'next', for it didn't matter what music ya played or danced to, when "Giant Steps" came over your airwaves your love of music probably made you curious. Just to stunning tour de force evolution in the music of the day, in theory and performance to pass by unnoticed. And if ya dig jazz, as so many do, its a true kaboom in the literature.

Find a recording and check it out.

For even the strongest players of these day, Coltrane's friends, this 'new' required a rethink, as its cycle of changes breaks with 50 years or so of deep deep bass line story and chord traditions, found in a 1000 tunes.

The two motive melody might be among the easiest to learn and rote memorize. For its 'mathematics' puzzle creates a numerical cycle too nice to miss out on. Motive one is a descending major 7th arpeggio to its root pitch. The second motive is a '3 2 5' cell that brings with each sounding, a new key center.

In a 16 bar form / cycle, "Giant Steps" is just as its title implies, big strides of a new organizational way forward, sounded in a glorious Americana gospel call.

For those who aspire to arrive at this understanding organically, by shedding through from a blues based start point, on through double Two / Five, advancing through the V7b9 chord substitutions to arrive, through the 'sheets of sound' principles, to "Giant Steps", know you follow a proven pathway to a better understanding of your music. For along the way discoveries are made, self discovery in art and spirit, thanks to Coltrane.

Review. In getting to "Giant Steps" there are two other quite remarkable Coltrane songs that use this minor 3rd / perfect 4th harmonic motion in their construction. The jazz artist here should consider reading through the exquisite ballad "Naima", as well as the exciting minor 3rd modulating Two / Five romp titled "Lazybird." Both contain the harmonic elements that Coltrane condensed into the harmonic cycling in "Giant Steps."

All three songs point to what would become the next two evolutions that get us to today's modern sounds. The use of the pentatonic colors in jazz improvisation. Placing an added V7 chord before every chord in a song and making every chord in a song V7 for the soloing sections in performance.

"Learning never exhausts the mind."

wiki ~ Leonardo DaVinci

Art ~ Evolution of the gear, evolves the artistic sounds, which can evolve the music theory. That for all of instruments, the evolution of the electronic gear has transformed the music for the last 40 years or so. For example, for guitar that full bar chords were once the staple for rockers gave way to the 5th's of metal, as the overdrive quality of the amps and pedals could no longer process all of the pitches in the full barre chords (shown here). Also the 5th's are just sleeker, less cumbersome, thus potentially a faster way to get there.

MIDI is revolutionary yes? And is possible thanks to equal temper tuning. What's next? A 24 pitch octave of microtonal yet perfectly in tune pitches and chords? I think I'm already hearing some of this in movie scores. Lend a bit of deeper _____ to whatever psycho babble drama needs a bit more blur in the score :)

wiki ~ microtonal music
"The measure of intelligence is the ability to change."
wiki ~ Albert Einstein

Art ~ "Excellence is a habit." Fast learners. Just riffing on Aristotle. But how true it is that the excellence we might inspire to in all things in life can become the results of a conscious, day to day habitual thought process of continuing self improvement, simply by making good choices as the myriad of life's events come our way each day. And in our own education, we're fast learners like a sponge, and always nunchi and empowered by the philosophy of Honest Abe ...

wiki ~ Aristotle

Art ~ Existing information. Is the term we educators use to describe what each reader already knows about a topic and brings to their studies today. This held knowledge becomes the key (s) to open new doors to explore, based on the curiosities of each learner. Often termed discovery learning, we each then can build up our own systems of though based on what we need at any given point throughout our careers. While most often based on the vocabulary of a subject, that ideas, both intellectual and hands-on of an artist, also become pathways to wander and explore for ...

wiki ~ discover learning
wiki ~ Tolkien

"Not all those who wander are lost."

wiki ~ Tolkien

Art ~ Fanning. Is a guitar technique whereby the strum hand rapidly and consecutively starts the strings in motion. Done with the fingers or a light, thin pick.

Art ~ Chops: fingerings and technique.

"You can teach technique." Margaret David

Seeing is believing."

These are a few quotes from over the decades describing how the hands move on over the instrument to conjure forth the magic. While there's no real right and wrong, specific styles often demand special approaches to get 'that' sound. For example, the classical guitar cats have a lot of the fingerings worked out, things go a certain way. Blues bending pitches. Jazz chromatics. Pick or fingers? Both ? Other than that, we've all seen the human spirit's need to conquer whatever challenges it encounters. So find your way, ask around, figure it out and just do it :)

Art ~ Faster tempos. As the tempos of the songs we play get faster, eventually we'll time out of most of the styles and move into the myriad of jazz stylings. So for us mere mortal guitar players faster tempos is a way physical thing. Which over the years and decades can take a physical toll on our fingers, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and back. So lots to consider, posture, posture and posture for we each are unique. Just a thought here to be conscious of the thing and sort it out, be amendable to change a needed as the years go by.

Speed with guitar generally translates into a lot of notes in succession. Pick players could visualizing the width of their chosen pick and the width of the string. Realizing that once the pick has sounded the note and is past the string, how far past and where it goes factors into the speed of it all.

The speedsters call this pick travel I think.

Getting faster is about pushing the buttons with a super intellectual focus on this motion, often with a metronome. To simply discipline the hands to minimize pick travel. As it all ramps up it'll become second nature as you find your own best way and prolly with a little help from our friends.

wiki ~ Olli Soikkeli
wiki ~ speed metal
wiki ~ bebop

Art ~ Fear not the melody or ... cliche.' This applies mostly to playing instrumental music, and sounding out a song's melody with horn, guitar, bass, piano or even just the rhythms with spoons works.

One time during a lesson, a friend mentioned about one of their college professors who would use this bit of a quip, 'fear not the melody', when students played the line half heartily. Sort of Shakespearian', and spoken with some dramatic theatrical flair perhaps, it brings the smiles, and the truth of this matter near every time :)

To conquer; find a melody you love and totally rote learn it. Work to get a total connect of heart, head, ears and hands. Do it with one line of even just a few pitches, and it can be super transformative. Add in some clicks to motorize the riff and double to conquer.

The best ones to start with are melodies we've known all along in our own lives. Think back and find one, or two :) The melodies included in UYM / EMG songs' section are selected with this intent in mind;

'... to overcome any fears by rote learning preparation, of the melody lines we've known all along ...'

Once we've mastered a few real melodies that we play from the heart and truly bring to life, we'll always have a way into whatever melody lines might ever come along.

wiki ~ rote learning

"We fear the most what we know the least about."

wiki ~ John Glenn

Art ~ 'Fellow musicians = our friends'

The coolest of the cool in being musical and having a love for music is we can always make new friends with this love of music and its making, wherever we may go around the world, and we happen to seek out or come across the magics of folks making their music.

"It's who you are when time's up that matters."

wiki ~ Anne Perry

Art ~ 'Find one tune.' Need to learn some reggae rhythms? Or revisit the blue notes found on any Strat? Maybe find your blue root in open 'G' with a slide? Find the swing of jazz chord comping? Or broaden your own understanding of your own words / lyrics and poetry with melody notes?

According to legend, so from the way it used to be done, if you want to play a style of Americana, find one song and a recording of it, that just lights it all up for ya. Then wear the record out and learn every bit of it, or as much as you can, of every part in the arrangement.

Once tuned up to the recording, there's a few things to look for the first few times through ...

the mood of the hook and storyline / major or minor

first pitch of the bass line / then the key center letter

rhythm pattern that sets the mood of the music's style

starting melody note, letter name pitch

if applicable, find 2 and 4 rhythm pulse in the mix

Art ~ 'First takes.' In the recording business there's times when artists get their parts right the first time through when recording; a 'first take.' Rare but truly magical, when these stars do align, the 'take' often becomes legendary.

Guitar Player.com / 'How I wrote'

Graham Parsons / August 2021

Art ~ 'Flip the bit.' This is a computer slang term I believe that we can apply to our own internal hardrive (our brain). That an idea can come along, a new or 'just found now' piece to our own unique puzzles of intellectual understandings, that makes the lights go on and creates a new vanishing point to a bigger picture of our vista horizon, as the puzzle piece slipped into place we 'flipped a bit' and wow ... just not in the same old same old anymore, we've a glimmer, insight or more for a new way forward. Surely a ... 'Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore' type of moment :)

Over the years of life in the arts, I've discovered another bit to flip; from 'I don't know' to 'I wonder why.' Flip the bit from a negative statement to one of curiosity, an a limitless universe of self and artistic discovery.

Art ~ 'Folks in the mix (folks in the room).' In the mix is a studio term as to who is in the band and how we each adjust our own musical parts to make it sound sweet. As guitarists, is there a bass player on the gig? Maybe layoff off the roots of chords. Have a keyboard player? Careful with chords, voicings and color tones, take turns on different sections etc.

This is the author's own slang to describe the actual performance of Americana musics, wherever and with whomever we might ever find it going on and the idea of inclusion; that everyone in the room is potentially a contributor to what is going on with the presentation of the music. From homes for learning to public schools and music class, concerts, clubs, from big stages to street corners, that everyone involved in the production of this music is heretofore be accounted for as the

'folks in the show biz mix.'

... who contribute their energy to make art happen.

Also, that we as artists often experience, that our 'next' good idea for a new work can come from out of the blue, and that 'anyone in the mix' can hold that spark to bring to life the next song, story, play etc. For everyone has a story, just one of the things we sentient beings have in common to share and create community.

Art ~ Four chords and the truth.' Well some songs need four chords to thell the truth :) Beyond essential really, master these changes in a couple of keys and ya might be able to call it good.

wiki ~ "I'd Rather Go Blind"

Basic forms. Crazy but it's the various combinations of four bar phrases that rule the day in the songs we play. So ... if we lean to believe that 'near everything' is a four bar phrase then ... 4 becomes 8, 3 / 4's is 12, 4 / 4's is 16 and double 16 makes 32. A purity of math to love.

Art ~ Form in music. For many learners, form in music is initially a bit of a mystery, as it is also a true 'silent' architecture, that we use to create our songs. Yet like the silent architecture of the pitches, by knowing which one is the tonic pitch, we can learn to hear the form of the song by finding the downbeat of the groove, then this downbeat at 'top' of a form. And from there we simply count measures.

For our Americana musics, the 12 bar blues is a perfect starting point for finding the top and getting our arms around a common form. In 4/4 time, simply count the measures while listening to a 12 bar blues.

1234 2234 3234 4234

5234 6234 7234 8234

9234 10 234 11 234 12 234 ...

top ... and new chorus ...

1234 2234 3234 4234 ... :)

If a song tells a story, in either words or melody, it probably has a form that cycles to a closing cadential point, to start again for the next verse etc. And the story being told usually defines the form of the music. This is not all that one sided really, for there's often a balance to the form that helps shape the story. So part of the challenge for composers is to balance story and form, that delicate balance in all art forms.

Art ~ Forward motion / phrasing to a future point in time. Forward motion is a term and concept that describes the way we create the sense of a musical line moving forward through musical time. Players talk about feeling a 'sense of forward motion in the line.' Common ways to start this sense of motion are to use an upbeat 8th note to start off a line. In advanced playing any beat can work and it's in the nature of the line that creates the sense of motion. All about mastering time? Yep, pretty much. Working with a metronome? We got clicks for you here if needed :)

Forward motion is also a key aspect of our thinking, being the animal that we are. We get to think 'ahead', thus plan, and work to those future points in time. The more we strengthen this ability, the more fun we just seem to be capable of in everything we might do. For now we energize 'anticipate', and in that thought magic alone, are the seeds to creating an artful, fruitful life of creative fulfillment. One must explore forward ... :)

Art ~ Found a bass player. In deciding what to play in various settings, when there's a bass player on the gig, as guitarists, our role in the mix evolves a bit. For while everything we know still works, we should probably stay off the root pitches, the lower pitches of chords, when they are on the 6th and 5th strings. These pitches, when sounded with another instrument and octave lower, can bring the 'mudd' in a hurry. There's also just the courtesy of staying out the way, giving everyone's voice in the group space to work in. Root position chord voicings are easy; just don't thump root not. Chord voicings that feature the 3rd or 7th as our lowest pitch, chord inversions, is a fair place to search for coolness here. Again, our root position chords are fine, we just need to lay off, lighten up on the bass side.

i e a f b p ?

Art ~ Four bar phrase / ~ 2 4 8 12 16 32 ~ So ... is like everything in our vast expanse of Americana groovy universe of musical sounds neatly wrapped up in a four bar / measure phrase of words, music, rhythms ... ?

'Is everything a four bar phrase ... ?'

Can it be ... and yet ... all through the radio dial on both bands too tons and tons of coolness hits with an accent on beat 1, after completing a four bar phrase ... of whatever time signature is in play. Leaning academic here; know that 4 bars is just way too common not to fully embrace and be able to clearly recognize; to perform, shape, emulate and for sure compose phrases of four bars. Learning to feel the phrase and sense what's coming is a big step forward for emerging artists. A step beyond is 'sensing' what measure we're hearing within a phrase withoutcounting. Easy to master, just start counting along; 1234 2234 3234 4234 ~ 1234 2234 3234 4234 ~ 1234 etc.

Gigging these days ? Do learn the essential triad based One / Four / Five dance floor filler of Bob Marley's "Stir It Up", super clear four bar phrasing with lots of great 'space' fills to create the forward motion directing us to beat one of the next four bar phrase.

For example, can't the original core indigenous beat and phrase be modern measured as a two or four bar loop or phrase ? Is the original blues form a single four bar phrase? A 'modal blues'... as often termed by the academic musical community? Tis' is. And tons of stories got written on this phrase. Iambic pentameter word rhythms bolts right up into four bars. For example;

'... The truth is, you just don't love me no more.'

And further, there's three, four bar phrases for one complete chorus of the 12 bar blues form yes? The form which bases most blues songs of the last 100 years or so and most of the early rock and roll songs of the 50's? That same 12 bar form? Yep, that's the 12 bar form ...just 'three ~ four bar phrases.' Read on !

Just once through ... So, ever counted a four bar phrase in 4/4 by the numbers like this ?

1234 / 2234 / 3234 / 4234 ... repeats ...

1234 / 2234 / 3234 / 4234 ... etc,

So we count measures by making the downbeat of each measure the number of the measure in our phrase? Yep. Hopefully easy to do for you and a big step for all of us, to create the absolute closure for this essential component of our resources.

When listening to the radio, cue up any station with music, find the beginning of a phrase and count along with the music in tempo with the above method; and when you get to the start of a new phrase don't be surprised if something changes in the music. Maybe new words, a new instrument in the mix, change of an accent with the beat, chord change, drum fill, just something to mark the end of one phrase and the beginning of the next, each four bars one after another after another ...

~ 2 4 8 12 16 32 ~ Of course four doubles to eight, the eight bar length of phrase also super strong and common and eight bars is the basis of the two of our main compositional song forms. There's a college class right there, the history and the evolutions of our song form, i.e., sonata allegro.

wiki ~ sonata allegro

And yet ... :) There's just too many examples in live recordings, performances where there's an extra bar here or extra bar there, thrown in for good measure. Makes for a nice way to 'unsettle to then resettle' back to four bar phrases.

In the blues, the storyteller has the responsibility to tell the tale. If one night there's an extra bar here, next night there ... who cares :) If you're backing a vocalist, just watch 'em like a hawk and adjust as needed. Follow the phrasing, there's plenty of ride time later :)

Quick review / four bar phrase. So depending on various factors, when a phrase is not four bars, we might sense something amiss, feels a bit off balance perhaps? Depending on where and how we find it, remember great art comes in all shapes and colors. Sometimes it is so well crafted we don't know it for decades anyway. As time permits check out the Grammy winning "Michelle" and second lovely ballad "Yesterday", by bassman Paul McCartney of the Beatles, ... and count the measures in their phrases.

wiki ~ Grammy Awards
wiki ~ "Michelle" song
wiki ~ "Yesterday" song
wiki ~ Paul McCartney

Art ~ Four four time ~ 4 / 4 ~ 'big 4.' At the core of it all in our Americana grooves is what we can term, measure and represent numerically as 4 / 4 time. As elementary as it might ever get, it IS the place to start. For there's just way way too much coolness in all of our Americana musics associated with 4 / 4 not be hip.

We theorists can define this ' four / four' time as the 'boom boom boom boom' of the bass drums in the marching parade. The walking bass line of quarter notes that tell the storyline of songs. That we get four beats to each measure and the quarter note gets the beat, 4/4 is most often the foundation that we all grow from as musicians, as many of early lullaby melodies we learned as kids are based in this time signature.

From this steady pulse we get the heartbeat of a million songs. And it is the same heartbeat, steady pulse for creating that sense of swing in our lines. And while swing is rightly associated with jazz, as in the 'swing era' of the 1930's, the joyful magic of swing can and does live in all of our styles. Swing is the essential game changer. Thus, any songs in 4/4 have the potential to bring the swing.

Art ~ Five pitches. Our musical architecture of pitches and the basis of perfect balance of major and minor :)

Art ~ Five songs. In knowing our music we've some basics to initiate our learning music with songs. Each of these five songs each have a theory gem that hints us towards an evolutionary 'jump', a super theory game changer paradigm thought shifter on to a better understanding of the textures and colors of our AmerAfroLatinEuro musics.

"Scarborough" reminds us of a time before equal temper tuning. When the modes we're all the rage. "Saints" brings the 'big 4', that will hold 2 and 4, each activated by accent to put the zing in our Americana swing. "Cherokee" is the classic jazz 1938 burner that fascinated arpeggio king Charlie Parker. And in his explorations of the "Cherokee chord changes" discovered the 'next best thing' in the AmerAfroLatinEuro music of his day.

"Dock" brings us a true Americana bassline story, with one chord color throughout. We use this 'one chord color idea' to 'theory leap' to more modern jazz musics of today created through chord substitution.

"Giant Steps" is a Coltrane pinnacle, a 'new' art after 25 years of the deepest shedding, how in theory Coltrane gets there is the story of this book :)

Art ~ Full theory analysis. The art of looking at a song and examining all of its component parts to discover the magic that glues it all together. This includes and is not limited to; musical style, key center and modulations, overall form, melodic form, pitch motions and motivic development, harmony, identify each chord in relation to melody, chord inversions and bass lines and rhythm patterns, plus whatever else shakes loose :)

This is college level work that I once did with a few of the Bach Chorales in theory classes. And I can teach you how to do it too. Here's an example.


Art ~ Future music. Or music of the future, who knows ... :) One way forward might be with the arpeggios created in a symmetrical format of intervals; major 3rd / minor 3rd and its reverse of minor 3rd / major 3rd. On up to #15 and beyond? Yep.

Art ~ Gear. In today's modern world of guitar wizardry, there's really no end to the ways we can process our electric signals and create all manner of sounds. With the evolution of MIDI in the 90's, a whole knew 'symphony' of sounds becomes part of a modern artist's and guitarist's resources.

The crux of this very brief discussion here is simply to make the reader aware that the actual sound we make on our guitars often effects how we physically play and phrase our musics.

Various devices, such as reverbs, compressors, delays, distortions and overdrives etc., all help our notes to sustain to varying degrees. This has a big influence on how we phrase our ideas. For example, up and coming electric instrument players initially working on acoustic guitars, might not have the sustain of pitch often associated with the electric styles they dig. So be realistic and just keep shedding with what ya got, eventually you'll find and get what you need to make the big roar happen.

wiki ~ MIDI

'You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.'

wiki ~ Mark Twain

Art ~ Genius of working with a metronome. In a word? 'Imagination.' Among the many 'genius' aspects of working with a metronome is that it strengthens our imaginations of musics we'd like to create, all while moving along in real musical beats of measured time.

This is the basic strength of the musical art that we develop. As we get stronger, we've a better hold on understanding and playing 'in time.' How we shape our phrases and mesh our ideas with the ideas of the musicians in our groups.

Pushing off the bar line. A second idea here, and completely my musing, is about how we can 'push off' the clicks, creating some space, giving us a momentary window for our minds to 'suggest' what to play next. While advanced, this 'pushing off' and 'taking a breath' is what improvisors do, to create some space to think about what's coming next.

And as we 'aim ahead' and phrase more to close our lines on a downbeat, our 'push off' is stronger to create some space between the clicks of a metronome. We can call this 'phrasing to 1', forward motion, after the title of the book by jazz pianist and educator Hal Garper. Advanced ? Yes surely, but learnable, don't quit.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

wiki ~ A. Einstein

Art ~ Global theory. Is it the same principles of music theory in this primer that is in most other Americana theory books? Sure is. Is this the same theory for Western European musics? Sure is. Is this the same theory and its vocabulary used by musicians of the combined AmerAfroEuroLatin traditions in Alaska, Seattle, San Francisco, LA, Dallas, Nashville, New York, New Orleans, London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Beijing and Hawaii? Plus any points in between? You betcha :)

Art ~ Great accelerators. Really? Yea, the great accelerators. There's a couple of musical devices that just have a way of making music, in a live performance setting, seem as if the cats laying it down are pushing on a musical accelerator pedal, ramping up the energy they're putting out. No science here really just what I hear and feel happening in the music.


The first is using the fully diminished 7th chord between diatonic chords. Seems to work best between One and Two, although between Two and Three is not uncommon. So, slipping a #i dim 7 between tonic One and Two or the #ii dim 7 between Two and Three.

We've a close rival accelerator in the blues, subbing a #iv dim 7 chord after Four, during the second four bar phrase in the 12 bar form. So, the 6th bar.

Heading towards the rhythm side of this, another of these accelerators is the very common technique often termed the half step lead in. A quick drop into our target chord from a half step away, accenting the swing. Then there's the gallop. A superimposing of three beats over two in various ways that get things up off the ground and scooting right along. Rockers should check out the longer live version of "Freebird" by Lynard Skynard. Their gallop kicks in around the 7th minute or so and onward to the close. Totally accelerates the magic.

Art ~ Hair stand up. Ever experience something that makes your hair stand up? I know I have, we all have. And not talking scary here but more about 'thrilling.' Bring the house down spectacle. It has surely been a while now but I can to this day recall a time or two ... and what I realized at that moment, when my hair felt that it was standing right up, was that what I was beholding was a universal truth for me, a pathway revealed, that all went to the core of my being. These hair stand up moments can be fun, super memorable and can just make life a lot easier to understand too :)

Art ~ Half step lead in. Of all of our techniques and treatments, this half step chromatic motion to a target point in the music is quite possibly the hands down king of making anything swing. How? Well, if we're a half step away from where we are going, there's going to be a bit of tension of these pitches. Combine that with time, and holding back the resolution to the last minute, makes for some potent, bring the swing medicine. Sounds like this with a jazzy Five chord.

We can use the half step to accent our rhythms. By being 'so close' to the next chord, we can time our rhythm to the last possible instant before resolving, maxing our swing potential ... if we can hear and feel it. So, working with a metronome ? Prolly so :)

For fingerstyle chord plucking, there may not be a tighter way to articulate our rhythmic ideas. The basic idea here is using a half step motion from above or below to get to our target chord. 99 times out of 100 it is the same chord shape. And surely thanks for this, as it would be some nifty hand moves to get it all to work. Like on the piano keys? Exactly. Different shapes so very very tricky.

Art ~ Hammer - on. An age old technique whereby the percussive sound is created and energized by the fingerboard hand finger hammering on the desired note. Very common in blues. With electronical gear, it's generally easier to create and also a way into the realm of electronic feedback.

"Live every second of every day to its maximum potential, but also to accept the inevitable.

Always look ahead, always assume you will live forever, and if you don’t, you don’t."

from NYT / 08/22/2018

wiki ~ Hilary Lister ( sailor )

Art ~ Hear the theory. "Take out pencil and paper and jot this down ..." Ever hear your teacher say that to your class? Surely at some point yes? Well, what if they then proceed to play a melody at the piano and ask you to write it down in standard notation ...

This is a common exercise in music schools often included in music theory termed ear training. When I got to go to college, my Monday and Wednesday theory classes were paired up with Tuesday and Thursday ear training classes, a part of which was sight singing, or 'sight screaming' for me, as my reading skills of standard notation with me voice were nine below zero.

In UYM ~ EMG, this translates into hearing the theory as we listen to music being performed. Live, and on recordings, as the music goes along we can identify in theory terms what is being laid down. And this aural challenge, like so many self taught American players, I totally loved. For me, the fascination initially centered on hearing the chord changes within a cycle of a song. So, 12 bar blues? Yep, 12 bar blues.

If you're just getting into this sort of exercise, start with trying to consistently hear between major and minor chords. Then the top or downbeat of a 12 bar blue form to strengthen your sense of musical forms. Chord progressions in any musical style are a good challenge too. Finding the melody notes caps off the process.

Art ~ Horn lines. Many of our most cherished voices in Americana musics come from artists who play the horns. Brass, woodwinds, trumpets, saxophones and all the rest get their magic from our wind. Big breath, big sound. Long notes, vibrato and phrasing built right in. Coolness is the artist coming through the horn, and vice versa, what the horns ability can do to shape an artist's creative, so tone, special effects, in combinations with all of the other instruments.

wiki ~ brass instruments
wiki ~ woodwinds music

Horn lines for string players. How to do? There's a school of thought for jazz guitar to sound like a horn, remembering that the traditional instrument for making jazz is an archtop guitar. So, a big acoustic drum with strings that can play all of the rhythms, notes, chords needed in one axe :) Historically, original jazz guitar 'horn line' melody artists played just like the horn players of their day, streams of 1/8 notes cruising through the changes and form of songs. Bright tempos, substitutions and swing often encouraged.

For starters, just be conscious of this 'horn like' quality and work to smooth out the sound of your pitches, however that may be. Listen to your favorite players and emulate how they play. Work with a metronome to find 'a downbeat, then 2 and 4' to bring the swing, help to sure up 'full value' of all the rhythm notes, especially the quarter notes for walking the bass.

And surely listen to the players you love, or perhaps some of those suggested here, and try to capture their legato and horn qualities. Do remember that good ideas for phrasing can come from any instrument, for it is the individual artist in each of us that creates the emotions that speak through our own chosen 'horns.' And more vibrato please !

Art ~ How it comes to you. So much of our learning as American musicians often comes from what we pick up along the way of our musical adventures, while getting around, making friends and performing with other players. So how the information first comes to you, tends to shape your eventual overall perspective of our entire theory system.

A big part of the learning method here is swapping letter names for numbers, learning a 'numerical theory.' If your way is by letters, keep it for sure. Add in the numbers thing, for it makes things easier in a few important ways. But if thinking letter names gets you to the right chords and bass notes etc., right on. Whatever works best is best in making our own way on through Americana musics, have fun be creative and bring to life the art in your heart.

Big picture. In this curriculum, an over arching goal is to create as complete a picture and initial understanding of our resource of 12 unique pitches. Their breakdown into loops and groups. This 'big picture' weaves right into our numerical based curriculum, a pitch by pitch understanding of style. So we combine both, double up.

Style wise depending, a cat might not ever get to need all 12 pitches, but the awareness of the perimeter created by these pitches is the goal. For in this way we've got our arms around all the pitches. And thus have a structure to understand anything that might ever come along in our musical travels and adventures. For until a greater division of the octave goes mainstream, the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale is all we really get and yet ... there's always the blues hue yes?

So however musical knowledge has come along to you, consider finding a way to catalogue it within this chromatic scheme of things. And how we extract a certain five pitches from the 12 to begin a build. Or lean to the 'anything from anywhere' concept, any component form any of the 12 pitches, the eventual goal for the jazz leaning artist.

Art ~ Improv challenges. As we gradually bore of our playing and look for the next new, the theory can spark new coolness. here's a listing of common sparks to ignite the next 'new' for U :)

Art ~ Improvising musicians, connecting up our heart, head and hands and jamm with the band. In so many circles of the Americana music scene, the players are not reading the music as they perform it. Folk players might have the words of their song with chord letters above written out. Blues and rock shows with horns their reading is common. And in today's hip hop and rap, the mix can be sequenced electronically for playback, so a lot of the prep already done pre-show. I saw a jazz group last eve that was reading the music they were performing. Most likely also reading through the chord changes for the solos. Not at all uncommon. And depending on locale, good readers get more work calls.

So in most cases, there's a fair amount of rote memorizing going on of Americana musics to be played. Within this 'play from memory' framework is a second 'improv' aspect to our Americana musics. That each of a style has it own 'breaks', sections of 2, 4, 8, 12, 16, 32 bars or more, where instrumentalists get to shine. All that practice and dedication to the art energizes personal testimony, to bring listeners into a song's performance through the 'magic of now', where a soloist has an opportunity to create a storyline of their own.

wiki ~ rote learning

'I'm always thinking about creating.

My future starts when I wake up every morning.

Every day I find something creative to do with my life.'

wiki ~ Miles Davis

Art ~ Improv tricks. Probably shouldn't include this in a theory book but we all artists have them so why not share em' eh? Improv tricks are 'shortcuts' to coolness. Try them out, keep what works and pass it along. And try to remember the golden rule of improvisation ...

'that if we think from the root of the chord, we'll never get lost.'

That in any situation really, that using just the five notes of the 'correctly rooted' pentatonic scale will give us a group of pitches to create a melodic idea from, with no bad pitches. ~ 'C pentatonic over C major, Db minor pentatonic over a Db minor chord, G over G' etc.

Theory trick. When soloing on any given major chord, play its relative minor, so think A minor over C major. ~

Cord trick. Move just one 'blues / butter' shape / voicing to cover the three chords of a basic 12 bar blues. ~

Style trick. Leave out the Two chord in Bebop. ( That said, play Dorian over V7, using 'D Dorian over G'7, so playing the Two chord instead of Five. )

Art ~ In time please ... :) Simply encourages you to do whatever is being discussed ... in musical time. So most times this means finding a tempo, finding the downbeat and or 2 and 4 in that tempo, count yourself into this groove and then just doing what is suggested. All we're doing is putting our idea, whatever it may be concerned with, into the magic of music's gravities. And that makes all the difference really, to not only strengthen our physical skills with our instruments but also to create space to give our creative, our muse, a chance to 'suggest' ... what to create next.

Art ~ Infusing blue. Infusing a bit of the blues sounds into any non blues settings is super common in our musics, often providing a bit of character Americana to the mix. The blue notes are the true all Americana spice that often changes the way music sounds and gets made. And while there's a whole style of the blues, in every nook and cranny of our musical style spectrum, we'll can find and dig a bit of the blue musical color sifted into the mix of what's going down.

In folk it'll often be a bit of a pitch slide or vibrato in the voice between the minor blue third and the major third. In any kind of rock and country rock, minor pentatonic with some bends will feed this blues hue bulldog. Jazz historically comes right out of the traditional blues from wayback, so it is in its DNA.

wiki ~ DNA

Art ~ Inside / outside. The idea of inside / outside is simply about creating melodies, written or improvised, and the relationship of the pitches to a chosen key center. 'Inside' means we are creating our ideas with the pitches of a key center. Outside implies that we are borrowing pitches from other key centers, to spice up our lines in relation to the original key.

For example, choosing from the other five pitches to mix into the seven that create the diatonic scale? Yes, and these 'other five' are blue notes too? Yes they are. In most of our styles, we just borrow a bit of 'outside' to jazz up or blur the tonal direction, create some surprises in the music.

There's also a jazz school of 'outside / 12 tone' leaning artists. Pioneered in the late 50's by Coltrane, artists began applying the five pitch pentatonic colors to soloing through rapidly moving chord progressions. By the late 60's this approach had evolved the jazz rock fusion style. At slower tempos, with a V7 blues rock / funk dance beat popular at the time, artist then applied these pentatonic colors over one, two or more chord vamps and grooves.

To expand their choices of pitches, they ventured further and further 'outside', the then conventional diatonic arpeggiated approaches, to finding groups of pitches to create their melodic ideas. And while chromatic, and chromatic enhancement ideas, will usually 'take it out', if overused, the music can become a muddle, while the one core pentatonic color formula, when projected from each of the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale, created an 'inside to outside' spectrum of 12 possible shadings, each with a unique degree of tension in relation to a chosen tonal center, all of which are foundationed on how many pitches of a chosen scale were included in the chords.

So with fewer pitches; five, and no Fourth or Seventh scale degree half steps in the group to confuse (?) a lines' tonal direction, the free and easy pentatonic colors opened a brand new palette for improvising artists to explore, and to create their own new art of their own generation along the way. This new art became commonly know as 'jazz fusion.'

The read up on this topic, explore 'Pentatonic Scales For Jazz Improvisation' by Ramon Ricker.

wiki ~ jazz fusion
wiki ~ Ramon Ricker

Inside / outside pentatonic homework. Through transposing, write out the 12 pentatonic scales and analyze each group's pitches in relation to the pitches of a 'C' 7 chord. Remember to include all the colortones, both diatonic and altered, in your examinations. When completed, sound each group out over a 'C' 7 chord and create your own color spectrum of 'inside to outside' for your own creative explorations and evolutions beyond the traditional diatonic realm of tonal organization.

In 'C', our core group of five pitches; 'C D E G A.'

Art ~ Interesting art. A rather subjective heading here but included as just food for thought. What makes interesting art to each of us? How does our own mood of the day influence our view of interesting art? How do we create interesting art? To whom ?

wiki ~ art
wiki ~ the creative process

'Imperfection is in the eye of the beholder.'


Art ~ Intro / head / solos / head / outro. This is the basic format for jazz artists in performance, especially when the group is working a 'casual' performance. A song is chosen. There's an intro, usually four or eight bars, the melody of the song is played once, often twice depending. Each member of the group improvises a chorus or two through on the song's form and harmony. Once completed the melody is fully restated and the 'outro' brings the performance of this song to its close. Pick a new song, repeat the process. Can't decide on a song, play a 12 bar blues. Don't want to play blues? Learn more songs :)

Art ~ In the know, a 'nutshell.' Can't speak for everyone of course but I don't ever recall anyone ever forgetting the theory once they really learned it by rote. So once 'in the know, always 'in the know?' Hopefully that is the case yes. And depending on one's own core intellectual structure of the theory, once in place, any new data that comes along, from any source throughout our careers, can be added to the same knowledge base for later recall.

In a nutshell once we know; the # of pitches in the chromatic scale, major / minor, diatonic scale formula, about intervals and loops, how scales become arpeggios, how arpeggios become chords, how to spell chords, understand diatonic chord motions and chord progressions, know the 'other' five pitches and the blue notes, have a sense of a four bar phrase and musical form, can find the downbeat top of the form and 2 and 4 across the band of our broad Americana styles of music, even from any radio station along the dial, know about the modes, chord inversions, altered scales, symmetrical scales, polytonality, polyrhythms and subdivisions of the beat, jazz syncopation and forward, we've a real basis to understand and explore. For now, 'we're in the know', know the theory basis of the key weaves of the Americana fabric of musics.

Art ~ Ionian mode. Skipping forward a few thousand years from the Divje cave bear flute into the near wayback to discover Ionian character melodies in the early vocal masters in France, preserved by the Benedictine Monks of Fontgombault Abbey in writing and recreated yet today in what is often termed plainchant.

Forward to the then newly evolving pianos and acceptance of equal temper tuning and the mastery of J.S. Bach and his "Well Tempered Clavier" collection of Ionian and Aeolian pairings.

And now nearing one hundred years old, the WTC's modern counterpart today could very well be jazz legend Charlie Parker's compositions, archived and collected in The Charlie Parker Omnibook created by Jamie Aebersold and Ken Slone. Written in standard notation as transcribed by and first published in 1973, of the 55 original Parker pieces in the work, 51 are written with the Ionian mode as its diatonic core group of pitches.

Ionian / Aeolian group of pitches goes all the way back in time, still writes most of our songs today and is the foundation for our pillars of theory architectures.


wiki ~ the piano
wiki ~ "Well Tempered Clavier"
wiki ~ Benedictine Monks of Fontgombault Abbey

Something new. By following George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept work first published in 1977, and my learning of the #15 colortone back in 1984, I then discovered a system where the #15 colortone above its root pitch becomes a portal into a new organization / dimension for our 12 pitches. This weaving of the pitches is Lydian and Dorian groups, so a bit 'off' our diatonic Ionian / Aeolian of today. Arpeggio based, my loop needs 24 pitches to perfectly close. Each of our 12 chromatic pitches occurs twice in the loop.

Where Russell and I part ways is more symmetrical than musical. I've simply employed the two possible tertian arpeggio cycles; major 3rd / minor 3rd and minor 3rd / major 3rd, and created a new system of organization. While polyphonic, all of the triads are available thank to equal temper tuning. So full on either way, in single line or chord melodies. From the root pitches 'C and A.'

C E G B D F# A C# E ... A C E G B D F# A C# E

wiki ~ Lydian Chromatic Concept / George Russell

Art ~ Jamming. As the term implies, we're having fun playing music with other cats, artists, sitting in, with jam tracks, with a band, a drummer, Franz and all his kin whatever, we be jammin' with something with a beat that we get to 'lean our own mojo into.' For that's what makes the 'jam' in jamming ... I think :)

The only real trick I know in this I learned from my drumming buddy the Dutchman and it involves quite a bit of ongoing concentration to work the magic. For oftentimes jamming goes on for many, many minutes without stopping, in a fairly repetitive manner. The beat goes on and on and on as the saying goes as the artists 'sift' through the weave looking for ideas.

The explanation of the trick to jamming, to paraphrase's quote ... "just keep playing the same thing till ya get to the end of the phrase (usually 4 bars), then alter it just a wee bit and add this 'new alteration' into the next four bar phrase, which at its end, gets altered again a wee bit which, carries over into the next 4 bar phrase ... and on and on and on :)

That the alterations for each new phrase come organically from the previous one glues it all together. And if 4 bars goes by with nothing new play, just keep jamming and sure enough something will come along. For that's just they way we are wired it seems.

Check out the 'off to the horizon jam focus' of intent of an original 6 string master.

So if u wanna give something more of Ur own thing ...

Art ~ Jazz it up. There's a lifetime of creative music in jazzing it up, no end to the magics it's said, we can think root to root, and no matter the loop, find a way back again.

'Same old same old ... ? Just jazz it up :)

In theory here ... to 'jazz it up' also includes ways to do it. First is probably just play the song in a faster tempo. Then we've a lot of songs in the key of 'C' with a 'C' chord. If there's a 'D' minor chord too, and we put a 'C#' diminished chord between them, we're jazzing up the chord progression. If we improvise a melody through this new progression, with some diminished color, we're just jazzing it up. So when we're making new art, we're often just jazzing up the elements we already have.

Jazz it up / human nature to / essential understands. This expression has been a part of our American lingo for probably a hundred years or so now. For what came first ... the jazzing it up or the jazz ? Either or and both ways, jazzing it up here implies the same ideas, just to 'do a something a bit different to whatever', to give it a bit of jass or jazz, or even pizazz, as folks used to say.

Mostly we 'jazz up' everything in our everyday lives. From a splash of cream in our coffee to wearing some funky shoes once in a while, to re-spicing up our foods and the ever evolving slang of conversations, many love to 'jazz up' their everyday doings, the creative spirit in each of us seeking something new, unique or have fun.

In our own musics, we jazz it up by the nature of the creative beings we organically are. It's just how we're wired. In our studies here, chances are we're just jazzing up what's already under our fingers. Most times this correlates to a new pitch or chord, rhythm or song. And as we add or subtract pitches from our music, we can see that change in musical style, and project this into a spectrum of styles, each one 'jazzing up' the one next to it, simply by virtue of a new pitch or two as we slide back and forth between one and twelve unique pitches.

Ways to ... So evolving any style, by adding in elements from another style, could be thought of as jazzing it up. We often hear this in the music a couple of easy ways. Add a new Latin rhythm to a song, or add in a blue note pitch or two to the melody, or play blues in an open tuning, or add in a bit more swing into the groove, by accenting 2 and 4 a wee bit more.

Jazz up by using the upper color tones to enhance a chord, or add in old timey cliche jazz ideas into other styles, use the half step lead in more frequently, and chromatically enhance whatever music we're working with. This line of reason could go on of course and bring in potentially endless new ways, as we as artists each choose how to 'jazz up' our own creative explorations and the unique reshaping of our art.

And deeper into to theory to 'jazz it up' ideas, take chances, add in some risk to the tonality and metrical time of the music being created to make all less predictable. Again, open and modal tunings can do this nicely for music from the folkier points of our style spectrum. Maybe change up the starting points in melodic phrases. Discover new ways to move from One to Four, maybe through different bass pitch motions, then work a new way back from Four to One. Evolve Four into Two and explore the Two / Five motions. Pepper in some chromatics to your melodies, use 'even 1/8 notes' to add some new styled swing sparkle to the lines. Down this road there might be more chromatics and faster tempos too of today's modern guitarist.

Jazzing up "When The Saints Go Marching In." Sounding out Americana's own 'pure six pitch gospel' melody strikes the chord to the freedom reminder melody for all walks of Americana life since our earliest times together. With it's 'three chords and the truth' harmony basis and today a century of history of its being performed, we have a few essential 'theory ideas' of pure Americana coolness to jazz up this popular song, coolness's that can jazz up any line we love.

Save the best idea for last ... ? Naa. Lifted straight from younger Louis himself, take the first melody note up an octave and stay there ... well mostly :) Thinking in 'G.'

Blues hue the melody pitches.

Chromaticise the melody.

Modulate the arrangement.

Sub in a #4 dim 7 chord.

Play the melody in octaves.

Embellish the melody.

Embellish the melody with a pick.

Cool ? 'Jazz it up' to your hearts content. Amazing that with only the 12 unique pitches of equal temper tuning how much art we can make. And as guitarists we have that 'string bending option' right at our fingertips :)

Art ~ a musical career ~ non-performing musicians ~ ~ jobs in music ~ working in showbiz ~ $$$ ~ making a living in music / showbiz. "There's huge loot to be made in music and show biz generally, and with its trickle down economical systems ... we 'just might get some too."Anonymous. So have a life in showbiz :)

Take the 'e' out of ego and GO :) So will understanding your music help in getting some work in showbizz? Absolutely ! Outside of academia circles, keep in mind not everyone is 'schooled.' So respect is all. Knowledge is power of course, and knowing about the nuts and bolts of music well, folks'll look up to you, and those curious will want to know too. So we theorists can add that component of structure of putting music together.

For art is for all, inclusive to a degree we each define and decide, or not, to be a part of and contribute. The 'live and let live' and just getting along with one another credo brings all together in harmony, music too :)

Otherwise, with a good attitude and art vibe, no limit to where knowledge of understanding the theories of your music can help a musical career along not only for yourself but other artists too. Also, theory thinkers often love to teach too, teaching folks songs, blues, how to jazz things up. Bump over to Garth Hudson's bio and marvel at one cat's magic with theory knowledge and love of music to bring communities of folks together.

$$$ ... "and on the road again." The global budget for showbizz is probably around a trillion bucks a year give or take a few dollars. Big green pie of loot for sure and some of it is local where we each be of for folks that love to travel. For, we all love to be entertained at some point right ?

There's a superwide spectrum of job opportunities in the making of music, creating its community and sharing it in showbizz. While most of the jobs are volunteer at first, based on your own natural enjoyment of your music, there's paying gigs down the road in all manner of showbiz, everything from creating the day to day life accommodations for touring artists to becoming a touring artist ourselves.

All the tech involved in shows and the capturing of a performance, the amount of this work which might have doubled from the 70's onward thanks to the addition of video, to the studio folks who arrange, edit and polish takes for the art folks to package up as the 'final' that becomes the merch that creates the 'memory of' for the new owner.

There's just a ton of wires in all of this and the bizz always needs folks that know where they go and can hang with the talent.

There's all the 'legal-eze' people and its systems of copyrights with intellectual property and ownership, all the trillion dollar monetary accounting for those risks associated with a bigger slice of the green pie, on into the promotion of the musical arts and all the executive that evolves with stewardship of the venues for all the stars that make the big loot, helped by the entourage of critics in the media, the starmakers. So yea, there's work and paydays all along the way in show bizz :)

wiki ~ Garth Hudson
wiki ~ "On The Road Again" song

Author's note. The term 'sheets of sound', to describe a Coltrane peak of evolutionary clarity, was coined by a music critic's life in the arts. For theorists here, this 'theory art capture' phrase, by a focused, passionate listener, sums the complex organization of the theory that was being sounded out by Coltrane in 1957 NYC. To this day, jazz players in the know send a prayer when the phrase comes up. Everyone can contribute in art so there's always friends and family, hopefully a show to do, and new friends to make along the way to help.

wiki ~ sheets of sound

Does it matter? Maybe but was does matter is that this music critic who wrote reviews for this publication that worked out of this building all were energized by the magic of 'a life in showbizz.' While surely not for everyone, music is life and life is music. When life is love with music too, all is groovy. And who knows, your theory knowledge in whatever capacity you're finding employment in, just might help to spark finding that next puzzle piece for yourself or someone else or even finding that 'lost chord', now wouldn't that be cool.

A career in music is a lifetime of making friends and together making art happen. For some, the performance of the music is not the focus. Know there's still a ton of work to be done. So there's a job for you and your skill set. And if you are a performer, then you know it and all the world is a stage to present your art.

wiki ~ "The Lost Chord"
"To keep the music alive, is the most important thing in my life."
wiki ~ Lorraine Gordon
just one time ... :)

Art ... 'just one time.' That working over a suggestion for practice, even 'just one time', gains us an insight into our own understanding of music in relation to established standards. Standards such as time, tuning and pitch, and thinking of these standards into the measures of music that is coming up, can see into the future, 'snyc -on - up' with everyone in the band :)

something even one his idea is about flipping bits, big paradigm shifts in our thinking and how we individually structure our knowledge of a topic in our own way. "Bits' refer to computer speak really, as an analogy of sorts, flip is more a slip, as when a keystone slips into place in our knowledge.

Often too wacky in a theory book to contemplate for the 'serious' artist, but all these suggestions are here because yes, I heard them from a serious artist.

Ya think even I could make all of this up? No way amigos. The crazy part is that even doing these suggestions once, just one time, let alone a few tries, the cognitive bits in the noodle get flipped a bit, and our arms may get a better hold of it to 'make art happen.'

play or count along with a metronome and compare your music timing with the timing of a metronome

Art ~ Just one note. Sometimes just one note is all that's need to work magic. It's everywhere in the literature, somewhere, for every people gathering event we might ever imagine.

Most of us want to overplay the heck out of everything, which means maybe a bit too many notes. Well worth it to practice this lick, for it'll work like a charm to unite a charge in any room for the folks that came along to hear some music, so usually the dancers :)

four fingers / four frets
wiki ~ "One Note Samba"

Art ~ Just one song. In one way, making music will always be an analogue venture to a degree; we've got to push some sort of buttons to bring it about. In starting out in music, having a favorite song is our way into the magic and we all get to have one. Find that song, that comes right from the heart for you. You and your new friend will travel on together, getting to know one another better as the years roll by.

Art ~ Kaboom. "If some art and music makes your hair stand straight up, its gotta be a true for you ... and that's what counts." 'Kaboom' is just a fun word that means the top of our heads are emanating, very bright colors. This happened because we just heard, read or learned, or figured something out, that we never experienced or knew before, something we never knew. So, another first and now we do.

'wow ... I never knew that ... = kaboom :)

And now that we know, our understanding and perspective of what we we're doing has evolved, possibly for evermore, an elevated awareness, understanding and perspective forward. There's big and little kabooms, all good.

'Kaboom' of course is also the name of several bands, probably lots of bands worldwide now, one of which, back in the 90's here in AK, had some dear friends. 'Kaboom's keyboard player Cody Titus loaned me a hook for a pop tune titled "When You Coming Back."

Art ~ The leading tone / major Seven. The leading tone pitch we number as Seven shines as a bright North Star and by half step takes us home to its tonic pitch, One. And historically, even before the harmony becomes truly codified through equal temper tuning , which fully involves the leading tone in V7 harmonies, the sense of direction and tension / resolution it creates shaped the melodic world for eons.

In Americana blues, we commonly find the leading tone within V7 paired with the major 3rd, to make the 'two pitch tritone tension within.' While 11 times out of 10 in the melody line, we love to honk b7, the blue note 7th. More of the blues rub we love ? Yep.

Art ~ Learning juice. Learning music theory gets our inner juices going to be curious for learning itself. For younger artists coming up, from later teen years through their 30's or so, there's a built in accelerator to our species that can empower us to supernova achieve whatever it is we are challenging ourselves with. I guess we'd call that a built in juicer :)

Regardless, it is this inner energizer that makes us want to figure it out, get to the bottom of it, and then get to the bottom of that, to conquer by thinking what our mind has imagined. No one can do the shedding for us. And if we gots the juice, there will be always more to discover, and do and yes, shed :)

Art ~ Learning tunes ( songs ) / melodies ... and how many tunes do you know ? :) In understanding music we keep in mind that when we play music for fun with friends wherever, we're going to play songs. So the best way to learn about your own music is to learn about the songs you'd like to play. All else flows from this age old way of having fun with music. Become the artist, develop a voice and play and share the songs dear to your heart. Create community through music with all whom may want to hear :)

In this music theory book, we foundation by getting a dozen or so Americana melodies under our fingers, all in the same key and in the same fret position on our instruments. There's a written chart for each of the melodies included, and once learned, committed to memory and played by rote. Do sound out and nuance your version vocally and by ear. By choosing 12 songs to learn, from the 25 included, they'll be variety of links forward to more theory. Rote from the heart :)

Some, if not all, of these now cliche melodies can be humourous quotes within other improvised melody lines, easy to run around in 12 keys and above all, in their simplicity we get a better chance to interpret / express our own way and make their rhythm swing.

For if I can get a three or four pitch lick to really swing I'm in. For once we each 'feel' the swing inside and can coax it forth, even with just a pitch or two, we got it. The rhythm that is. Swing will develop on its own, even if you leave it alone. But work at and conquer 2 and 4 ... off to the land of forward motion I'd imagine.

Forward Motion

That there is no easier way to do this, than with a simple melody we learned as kids, is probably the core tenet of this entire learning method.

Art ~ 'hey ... leave the root out ...' Sounds as if we've a bass player on the gig, right on. As guitarists we now gain the option of not worrying about the root of the chord. And even if all my chords are root position, and I always think from the root, I still have the option to muffle my sounding of the root pitch along the way. Leaving the root note of chords out opens a new window of giant harmonic solutions we theorists generally call 'inversions', create a whole new set of puzzles, thanks to the bassists of the world :)

Art ~ 'less is always more ...' Time and time again this becomes true yet again unless we're talkin' love then more is plenty enough :) And then there's tough love for those in need of more 'love of own self and respect', so as to have the tool to shape from within.

"Discipline is not a dirty word around here."

Art ~ Listening. Our listening to music is an active participation in the creation of musical art. And when hearing music makes us move, and even to 'true dance' a bit, we get some closure to one intent of the artform. And when we begin to sing along with the music we're listening to, in a sense we get to join the band. And everyone wants to be in the band yes ? Usually :)

Fooling aside, an easy way to join up is to listen and sing and dance along in some way with the music we are hearing. We've done this now near forever anyway, and when combined with listening, a relay of our whole human communication mechanism is lighting and connecting up an awful lot of our 'physio dots', to make this most natural of abilities a possibility. So ...

Those who have an interest, will in some manner listen over and over and over and over till the phrases of music are rote memorized. For that's when our music becomes our art. We know our parts by heart, so we can play from our heart. And when we do that, everyone, with an interest, wants to listen. And once they do, they begin to sing along, and voila, here we go again :)

A next step for musicians is to play what they sing on their chosen instrument. And, play it in the manner that they sing it. No easy task here, but surely it'll be somewhere right under our fingers. For there's a basis in near all Americana musics, to make up our part as the music moves along. While we usually call this jamming, artists that do this often, and with the same players, create that ultimate, live magic' for, you guessed it, folks to dance and sing along and join right on in with.

And then there's the dancers. Dancers are great listeners of music. We listen and sing and dance along, and sure enough, we've joined the band for those moments in time. And lest we forget that musical time, while measured up like clock time, is a transporting time too. For aural listening to musical colors energizes a body to motion, and to stay in motion, the motion of thought.

Art ~ Local universe. This is a lot of things really, the span of related topics pretty vast. Bottom line here simply becomes; developing the ability to adapt to what is available in your own 'local universe' to get your show on the road.

In theory, there's a five pitch local universe. There's a blue note universe. A seven pitch diatonic universe. The 12 pitches of the chromatic scale are a universe. From these origins the universe adds equal tuning for the chords and voila ... off to the stars :)

Art ~ Localized playing. Localized playing is about staying in one area of the fingerboard and running an idea through various filters. Usually this 'area' is four or five frets. Lots of example options here. Running a folk song's melody and chords in open position, using a capo to change keys keeps the chords local, running a turnaround through a cycle of keys in say 5th position, or play a jazz song chock full of mostly diatonic chords in a localized area using multiple voicings / shapes.

Musical lines developed across the strings within a few frets are localized, in comparison to a more linear shaped idea that all happens on one or two strings, created by moving up or down the neck as needed.

Jazz guitar players often dig localized playing as tempos accelerate and the changes start to whiz on by, localized playing helping to minimize the physical distances and motions, can ramp up the fun and success in playing through the changes.

Art ~ Loops of pitches. This idea is a core concept for our U Y M / E M G / TRC Americana music theory, that like a string of pearls, our musical elements in song and theory are possible loops of various components that begin and close back upon their start point. So in theory ... everything can loop.

The beat and rhythm of a groove is a loop yes ? The notes of a mode can loop, a song's chord progression, in performance especially, surely surely loops, keeps us all on the same page. In deeper theory, even to our key centers, and their physical scale fingerings for sounding their pitches, can form into loops of some sort or another. And knowing and believing in this 'loop' quality brings theory closure and through rote learning, helps win the day in understanding our music.

And knowing that if we carry any musical sequence out long enough, and maintain its interval integrity, it will always close back upon to its staring point. And when it does, we know we've got our theory 'correct.' For example, the major scale formula in 'C';

1 1 1/2 1 1 1 1/2


By correctly following the formula, we arrive back at our starting point. Do the pitches have to be equal temper tuned to form closed loops? No, any historical era of pitches and arpeggio loops were designed to close to their start point. The more modern precision of equal temper tuned pitches is needed for stacking pitches into chords when including all 12 pitches as fully functioning key centers on our palettes.

and R O ... !

Art ~ Loops of chords. With the chord changes and theory here, there's two main ways to explore. We've loops of chord shapes within a diatonic key center in the physical relation to the fingerboard. And we've the letter name / numerical chord progressions of diatonic songs that cycle back to their beginnings / creating forms for real songs and telling our stories. Thus, two cool views in the diatonic realm.

Probably just a fancy name as 'loops of chords' usually turn out to be chord progressions for songs created within a key center. For combined with the musical form of a song, most songs cycle through their form and the chords are the same each time through, forming a closed loop. Keep in mind that in most of our styles, it is motion from One to Four and back getting most of the attention for writing Americana songs.

For it is in these two diatonic points, One and Four, that we get a near perfect similarity of aural color that provides the two main arc points upon which we drape a song's storyline, to engage and perk the curiosities of our listeners. One and Four of both major or minor? Yep.

Folk loops. In one key center; One / Four / Five in major or minor, or a mixing of both together. In this work we term these chords the 'diatonic 3 and 3.'

Blues loops. In one key center; One / Four / Five in major with all chords being a V7 / Five chord type. In one key center; One / Four / Five in minor with all chords being a minor 7th or Two chord type. Endless variations mainly through chord substitution.

Country loops. In one key center; One / Four / Five in major or minor or a mixing of both.

Metal loops. Perfect 5th's moved in the diatonic pitches of a song's parent scale, which is most often the minor pentatonic group or one of the modes, plus various tritone excursions or stop offs.

Rock loops. In one key center; One / Four / Five in major or minor or a mixing of both. So, the 'diatonic 3 and 3.' Blues based loops are very common i.e., "Johnny B. Goode" and forward.

Pop loops. Mostly in one key center; One / Four / Five in major or minor or a mixing of both, some modulation and borrowing of chords.

Jazz loops. Multiple key centers; Two / Five as a cell or as a fully resolving cadential motion to any point within the seven diatonic major and minor pitches, a mixing of both the diatonic seven pitches and all five of the blue note, chromatic points in between or ... and endless variety of loops of chords that become vamps for whatever grooves we can conjure to capture a mood.

Art ~ Love songs. So an easy way to understand the art of the love song, in theory, and practice day to day is to simply quote some lyrics, these by Paul McCartney who states that ...

"Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs.'

And then a bit further on,

"What's wrong with that ... I need to know, 'cause here I go ... again ..."

Love makes the world go round they say, and I agree. There's so much magic in love for everyone there just doesn't have to be a reason to do it. For it is the reason that is always in season ... :)

wiki ~ "Silly Love Songs"

Art ~ Lyrics. The words of a song tell its story and how that story is told, often becomes the recognizable craftsmanship of the author. Not really sure there's a music theory for writing lyrics, except the age old mantra of ... work hard at your craft and good things will eventually happen.'

To this we add the idea that, after we write lyrics even a time or two, we develop that second sense of self confidence to know we've got them right, or are getting close to having them, and we just need to keep working at it and the puzzle will solve.

Surely some folks have a knack for lyrics. Like rhyming words and sharing ideas. Probably a combination of just living life, staying receptive to the ideas, and working hard at one's craft to get that wee bit of extra luck that comes from just plain old hard stickin' to it, work that energizes the magic of the next line or hook, and then of course to remember to write it down when ideas come along. And they will.

Along this line of thinking there's a true blue Americana song titled "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart ..."And, it happens to all of us at some point. So ya just gots to figure out your own ways to make sure not to lose your ideas as they come along. All of us who write lyrics and compose know this feeling of loss. But in the losing might be another song ! My fix to this has worked a time or two; learn to write basic notation.

Dig out this timeless, classic song by Duke Ellington, learn it through and through words and all, and know that when this hook 'happens to you', and it will, you're in some very good company :)

For instrumentalists. Simply reading through the lyrics of a melody and song a time or two to familiarize the song's overall intent can deepen the whole expressive process dramatically. And if there's any sort of love involved at any point in the process, kaboom again in emotional expression potential. For while we sound out a melody we've rote learned, and are able to imagine the words of poetry and love along with the pitches, nice things just seem to happen with the song's phrases as they unfold in performance of the song.

Listeners hear this and respond in kind, all depending on the setting of the music being performed. 'Make you want to jump and shout', 'shed a tear, murmur 'an amen' in acknowledgement of the tale they too know. My own best tune in this instrumental melody / thinking the words is "My Foolish Heart." And I honestly do not remember all the words each time or even try to really. Yet there a couple of phrases of words that get me every time :) That in this song all of the magic is already composed right in, a moving melody with words from the heart, that we all yearn to speak one day, assures success all around. Just have to push the buttons.

Takeaway? Find the words of your instrumentals and read them at least once, get a closer take on the composer's intent. It's just good karma too, knowing a composer's intent, and working to bring that with your interpretation of another's work. Boomerang karma too when folks play and interpret the songs we write :)

wiki ~ "It Could Happen To You"
wiki ~ "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart."
wiki "My Foolish Heart" song

Art ~ Discover the magics in our music. Through inspiration, intuition and the energy to bring it, it's our own discovered and developed magics that we each bring to the music, to energize its creation, its making and sharing, to create create our communities.

Into the wayback to find the times when there was no exacting science in the world and folks just thought that the coolness of the 'aligning of the stars' as the magical order of the universe. Turns out there was more to it; the beginnings of science being about the measuring, thus comparing, of elements, of whatever someone was curious about. How and why 'a something' worked, and did what is did, or does, the way it did or does it :)

In our musics, scientific though has centered on the tuning of our 12 pitches over the last few millennia. And of course to build these pitches into instruments to sound them out. That equal temper tuning science was already in place when electricity came back in the mix, there's been modern developments ever since of new music making devices. Today's MIDI magics having created a whole new realm for the creative, enabled by equal temper tuning and electricity.

"When wireless radio is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into one huge brain."
wiki ~ Nickola Tesla

Theorizing the magic. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain ... " 'Oh oh ... did we just reveal the source of the magic?' In doing so, is its 'magical powers' somehow diminished? Sometimes surely but as performing musicians ... ? Na, we're cool. Really? Sure, just ask any performer what they are thinking when they step on stage under the lights and say hi to the audience, tell them about the next song. If it's a romantic story that they wrote about a friend, as are 90 out of a 100 tunes are themed, believe you me they ain't thinking about music theory :)

So why know theory? Knowing the theory helps in preparing this song for its performance, especially if there's a few players in the mix. Their combined experience as players, articulated theoretically with common vocabularies, can just make things go way way quicker, saving precious time in building up a song.

And if the song to be played is written by someone not in your group, the theory simply helps to decipher and interpret their puzzle. For when the lights come up and there is an audience waiting to be entertained, the last thing we're thinking of is the theory of it all; from rote memory we're conjuring up pure magic and putting it out there for all to join in and enjoy.

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious."
wiki ~ Albert Einstein

Diatonic magic or not? As lovers of music, when we hear some music we dig, or some one thing in a song, as theorists we often want to know just what it was that perked our curiosities. Maybe special melody note, a cool single chord or progression of chord changes, The initial basis of our investigations of this magical sound is very often this; is the pitch or pitches in this bit of magic diatonic to the key of the song. And upon this basis of 'diatonic', or not, we explore.

Listen for the magic. A fairly recent magical discovery and trick that came along is about listening for the 'next' line when creating music. Just turns out that if I leave like almost every note out for a beat or two, even a full measure or so, take a breath etc., somehow magically a pitch or phrase comes up in my imagination that sparks my next line. I discovered this magic of 'creating space to imagine' in Hal Garper's work, "Forward Motion", thought to have originated with Dizzy Gillespie, through Mr. Garper to me, to you. Now that's some magic ! :)

wiki ~ Dizzy Gillespie

Color blue magic. Understanding the blue magic is a piece of cake really, for in theory, we're just rubbing two distinctly different pitched notes together. And as the guitar has strings, we bend pitches and rub them together too. So for example, in a blues in 'G', we rub a 'Bb' melody note up against a 'B' in the 'G'7 chord.

Those who hear and make this sound in a confident manner know the near instantaneous emotional, physical and aural electricity that results, the juice that prompts, and even demands, a true testimony of life from the artist. And we get a few of these magical blue pitch rubs, to knit together into melodies. We call them the blue notes.

So depending on who counts the thing off and on what bandstand, our blue colors just might enjoy the widest degree of inclusion, within the widest spectrum of all of our Americana styles and on through their genres, then on to their genres and on to the uniquely personal stories that we each get to tell.

"The noblest art is that of making others happy."

wiki ~ P.T. Barnum

Art ~ Major scales. Linked here as a hub of sorts, the diatonic major scale is the core group of pitches. Every theory text I have and know of except one, writes about our music theory with the major scale as its center point. Absolutely zero anything new here. From this basis of the 'diatonic major scale' and its relatives; natural minor and the modes, all manner of organic music and theories grow and flow and provide a perspective all the way back in music history.

Art ~ Make art happen :)



wiki ~ art
wiki ~ art music
wiki ~ dance

Art ~ Melodic treatments / filters. The idea of 'treatments' and 'filters' for our pitches is simply a way to discuss the theories of what we composers of Americana do with our 12 pitches. With any pitches or idea, we can 'filter' it as a loop, interval sequence, a motive sequence, permutate, arpeggiate, stack into chords, blusify, chromaticize, bossafy, whole tone and diminish, to any degree of our hearts content :)

For example, here in 'U Y M / EMG' there's often a nudge for the reader to 'run an idea' through a blues filter, or through an diatonic intervals, even arpeggios or chords to create a sequence of any sort.

Melodic treatments, i.e., filters, help us to 'e x p a n d' a musical motif into larger, fuller sections or musical forms when composing songs. All depending of course, even just a hook of a couple of pitches is for some cats all they need to initiate their creative process.

Mostly through a trial and error process sparked by the hook, we 'treat' the idea into a phrase, two or four bars? Can I slip this phrase into a blues form? Or is it better suited to an eight bar length and into a 16 or 32 bar form? Or is it filterable through a series of tonal centers for improvisational exploration and jamming, becoming its own motive for songs further on down the road?

This idea of treatment or filter is also a way into musical eras and styles. For how composers did certain things with the pitches, based on the resources they had at hand in any particular time in history, creates over arching eras of musical styles.

For example, Euro baroque era composers loved to sequence a melodic idea in a diatonic treatment of the pitches. That Euro classical composers had better tuned harmonies and instruments (piano), to modulate their ideas to any of the 12 key center colors, gave rise to more adventurous storytelling. Americana ragtime players did include both of these techniques and also cycled a lot of V7 chords, blues hued, all the time. Like Charlie Parker with the bebop? Yep, Bird, bebop and the blues and beyond.

wiki ~ Baroque music
wiki ~ Classical music
wiki ~ Ragtime music
wiki ~ Charlie Parker

Art ~ Memorize / rote learning. Surely among our most remarkable people attributes is our ability to remember all sorts of information in all sorts of forms for recall at all other points in time. No surprise then that it turns out that the easiest and quickest way into knowing the music theory is through rote memorization.

We just go over the material till we have it memorized. Then, when need some bit of info we just think of it, remember it and put it to use. We hopefully recreate this rote memory process with lots of cool and essential things in our lives.

wiki ~ rote

For most of our memorization with theory, once we learn it, it sticks around. There's just a dozen letter names, numbers counting up to 15 and a couple of numeric and symbol sequences. These formulas apply to really any of our music styles. This memorization can go very quickly for those so energized. And once in place, the ability to discuss music theories and follow right along with discussions, wherever they may be, exploring and finding new ideas ramps up dramatically.

Here's is a suggested first ordering of music theory ideas to be rote memorized. Try STGC for more pathways.

12 pitches in the chromatic scale

interval formula major scale 1 1/2 1 1 1 1/2

pitches of the C major scale CDEFGABC

natural relative minor pitches of the C major scale


these letter name pitches are the white keys on a piano

turn a C major scale into its C major arpeggio


spell seven diatonic triads from arpeggio


Divide rhythms in 4 / 4 time

1 whole note = 2 half notes = 4 quarter notes = 8 eighth notes = 16 sixteenth notes.

Measure number count a four bar phrase

1234 2234 3234 4234 and repeat

Off to a good start ? Rote them up !

Art ~ Minor. The dusty side of everyday life that we wash away with our music. The minor colors are a somber collection that reflects our more sorrowful leaning, heartfelt emotions. Yet while there's a sadness there's also passion, compassion, empathy and a longing for our evolutions, as sentient beings in a global community.

In the olden days New Orleans, the band played sad on the way to the final internment of the dearly departed into the hallowed ground, and on the way home, truck up the joy that bring the life back to life :)

Art ~ Mix and mastering. These are recording studio terms mostly, getting the 'mix' right so all the instruments are balanced in the full spectrum of sounds in the recording. For example, 'too much bass' is an easy fix. 'More vocals' is super common too. Each instrument gets a track, or two, and its parameters are adjustable; volume, tone, e.q., effects etc.

Mastering is the final pass on a song, or collection of songs on an album, so that EVERYTHING is as perfect as the folks involved in producing know how to do it. Times have changed the recording business and its way of doing things, just find a way in and keep going, learn what ya need along the way. Theory knowledge helps to find 'that' chord, or note or colortone. Shape a song's form, hear intonation issues etc. Yet, most of Americana musics is created 'by ear', as there's only a handful of pitches, tracking down the right one is often just a process of elimination, till the gold is struck :)

The recordings of country star Patsy Cline are as perfect in sound mixing, mastering, performance as can be. Once the Beatles moved into the studio exclusively, their recordings also have a recording perfection worth examining. Stevie Wonder's recordings are as perfect as ever made, when analogue gear ruled the day :)

wiki ~ sound recording and reproduction
wiki ~ Patsy Cline

'Imperfection is in the eye of the beholder.'


Art ~ Mix and match. Crazy idea but once the spectrum of pitches is understood in regards to musical style, and the harmonic substitutions start flowing, along with the sequencing of ideas, we begin the potentially endless process of mixing and matching what we find in music, and the musical sounds we dig. This is a process that contributes to build one's own artistic signature. For in mix and match, we'll find the nuanced ways we each dig to express the art in our hearts.

For guitar players, once the idea of 'chord type' and its related properties of 'chord function' are accepted, we can break down our learning of chord voicings into one of three categories; One, Two and Five. We then can rote up on a say a half dozen of each, then mix and match them as our creative intuits. Add in what note we need 'in the lead' of a chord and the diminished chord's property of inverting itself by minor 3rd intervals, and we've some potent ingredients to jazz our interpretations of the music and its improvisations. Toss in the 'half step lead in' ... and kaboom ! :)

Art ~ 'Modern guitar.' The idea of modern in the title of this work is about developing a theoretical perspective of how select groups of pitches have consistently created the broad categories of our musical styles over the last 100 years or so. Thus, as modern guitarists, we then might aspire to gain insights into how musical style can theoretically evolve, morph, transition or cross over from one style towards another, simply by the addition or subtraction of select pitches to a core grouping of pitches, that originates a style.

Art ~ Modulation. Modulation is the basic term we theorists often use to describe changing key centers in the music. We 'modulate' from say 'C' major to 'Eb' major. Any key combination is possible, thanks in part to our equal tempered pitches, which allows for the in tune harmony to fully support even the most distant of modulations. We can use the cycle of fifth's to begin to determine the distance between key centers.

So the key centers of 'C' and 'Gb' are furthest apart in the circle and in sound? That's the basic idea here yes. And minor keys? Exact same principle.


Art ~ Motion by perfect fourth. Crazy but true, if we were to do, get a bird's eye view of a million tunes, that in hearing their chords and progressions thru, and thinking from their root to root to root, that by perfect fourth is the leap that brings deep true, and blue ... and super on surely every time the pure of gospel too, R.O. !

In the blues. Knowing of this root / chord 'motion by 4th' is a 'whole tamale' stgc'er for understanding near all of our Americana blues music as we move through our spectrum of styles. It's just the way the chords in whatever style / degree of complexity of the 12 bar form want to go; by perfect fourth, 'C to F / G to C.'

Also, to end our solo, one either written out or improvised, we can on play through to the top of the form and end on the Four chord of bar five, giving us a couple of measures of room on both sides, to decide what to do next, as the new 'top of the form' for the next chorus comes up; for the next soloist, trade fours, play the melody again or make up a new one.

In bluegrass. Want to bring total joy for dancing to the room like right now ... :) Total 'eeeeeasy do' with some various acoustics, open chords and a steppin' rhythm and what else ... motion to Four :)

wiki ~ "American Beauty" album

Art ~ Motion to Four. In our learning here, 'motion to Four' is a central feature of each song.' And while each Americana song, and each style even, have their ways of getting there, of getting to Four and especially with the harmony, in every song we play we'll go to Four, the subdominant, at some point along the way ... and how we get there and why is just a basis of all the theory discussions.

'en theory.'

There's some much truth to this, that when we play an Americana song that doesn't go to Four, it will have a unique feeling, they'll be a 'something' that's different, almost something missing even. By believing that motion to Four is the basis of our Americana gospel, that essential rocking back and forth One to Four that carries us home, and works everytime ... ? How cool is that to know ... gotta love it :)

"... at the core of it all

is motion to Four ...

the journey to there and back ..."

For in near every song in every style, the destination is either from a One chord to Four, or from Four and back to One. And if there's no Four chord in a song? It tends to loose its gospel Americana. For as soon as we start a rolling on to Four, that special gospel light of joy and fulfillment, returns to stay :)

Blues hue with Four. Hint of theory; there's tonnes of the blues notes all through our Americana gospel songs yes? Deep weave. Thinking of the 5th bar of a 12 bar song, push on the blue 3rd and find yours :)

Starting off on Four. There's travelin' styled songs start on Four, then go to Five, then One. The Dylan classic "Mr. Tambourine Man" is one.

Here's some old time, very slow, gospel redemption as our oldest pitches move between one another to find some shade to rest :) In 'C' major.

Know this lick ?

Melody harmonic motion from the One chord moving to Four is at the core of our Americana / Amer Afro Euro Latin traditions. From the early 19th century gospel and popular songs, to the blues to today's pop and rock, if a tune starts on One, chances are it'll go to Four. If a song starts on the Four chord, chances are it'll be rolling its way back towards One.

In UYM / EMG, this 'rolling to and fro' is the aural pull of tonal gravity, which comes to rest upon arrival to One, or Four. Six in minor. How we get there, and how easily we can tell where we're going, is termed 'aural predictability.' We combine these two magics and watch for the myriad of evolutions of how it is done, as we morph between styles of our beloved Americana musics.

Coolness will forever prevail if we can hear and feel the change from One to Four, then if necessary, we just have to figure out how the music got us there. For with these two end points, we just need to figure what's between. Same really with endpoints One and Five, Six and One etc.

So similar yet ... Tried, true and tested over and over and over, all folks just love this gospel motion. That One and Four are so similar in construct, as their triads are a perfect match, in both major and minor, thus provide the destinations and resting points as we journey within the diatonic realm, with its perfectly equal balance of the relative major and minor tonal environments.

For storytelling, Four becomes the tale's journey away from home, which is most often One, in both the major and minor keys / tonalities. The chordal back and forth vamp motion between One to Four and Four to One covers everything from sitting in a rocker pickin' and grinnin' to rockin out' stadiums with the big noise and still really just a pickin' and a grinnin', in both major and minor keys or a mix of both.

Composing without Four. This is a total game changer really, as many if not all of the above descriptions are no longer found as solid ground s compared to musics where the motion confidently goes to Four.

Art ~ Motor hand. Is the hand that sets the strings in motion. Beginning guitar players here encouraged, actually I beg of you, to play and spend some time in open 'G' to get your strumming hand up and running strong and confidently ASAP. This is the fastest way to develop the motor hand, hands down :) I've seen it work time and time again.

"Art and science do not establish themselves despite failure but through it."
wiki ~ Simone de Beauvoir

Art ~ Of music, math and numbers. That we can mostly just use our fingers, and occasionally add in our toes, to count all of the necessary numbers involved with our music theory is surely by grander design. Crazy hard to believe but just having the counting skills, and understanding the numbers up to 15, and we're golden :)

For examples :)

Number 1 through 8 for scale degrees.

Number 1 through 12 for the chromatic scale.

Number 1 through 15 for the arpeggios.

Number 1 (I) through 7 (vii) for chord progressions.

# of pitches in a melody helps determine musical style.

Three chords and the truth.

For there's really no end to the relationship of these two disciplines of music and math. Even way back. That the common number symbols of math can so readily identify music's theoretical components just seems well, like by Mother Nature's design, the added bonus. And it just so happens that however we dice up the pitches and their corresponding numbers, there's always that element of 'perfect or correct closure' we also find in basic math equations etc., for example;

3 + 3 + 1 = 7 or 3 + 1 + 3 = 7 or 1 + 3 + 3 = 7

As theorists, we're totally not shy with correlating all manner of math, numbers and music relationships. For anytime we can 'mathematize' our theory, we do :) Even musical styles. And thanks to our modern equal temper tuned pitches, 'once the concept of a 'numerical equivalent' is in place, any and all theory formulas and machinations are equally projected from all of our 12 pitches.' This basic idea can be a super theory game changer, for those so inclined to follow the numerical theory pathway.

For a super easy way into the theory is to simply swap pitch letter names for numbers within a chosen key center. For example in a scale or group of pitches;

C D E F G A B C becomes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8,

for one full octave of the key of C major. That's the easy part. The tricky part to this 'easy way' is that each of our essential components such as time, scale groups, arpeggios, triads and colortones, various progressions and cycles, measuring the intervals between pitches, and the way deeper science / math of ratios and frequencies, each have a their own unique way of counting their components. That they're all related to one another, each forming a closed loop of their elements when combined form the basis for all our Americana styles and their endless genres within.

The organics of music and mathematical. So first there's the labeling mathematics of pitch associated with the breakdown of one note into its overtone series. Then there's the mathematics of tuning our pitches over the last two millennia. Beginning with our older tuning relationships based on simple ratios of whole numbers and later to the refinement of today's equal temper tuning. Which by the 'mathematics of the 12th root of 2', creates the 12 'equal tuned', fully stackable pitches into all chords, all keys within one perfect octave.

We also apply this pitch tuning math to building many of our modern instruments. For guitar, a big part of this becomes the fret layout or spacing on the neck. Termed an instrument's 'scale length', a physical measure of nut to bridge of a string' length, number crunching math helps us uniformly reduce the space between ascending frets, each next fret up in pitch a wee bit smaller than the one before and all in tune to one another across the number of strings on any fretted instrument.

In our pitch labeling systems, all throughout this book we can, and often do apply, or assign numerical symbols to most of the musical elements we use to create the American musical sounds we love. We can identify any pitch or chord by measuring the interval distance various ways, assigning a numerical value to this distance. We can physically count these interval distances between pitches even today, when written in near 1000 year old music notation symbols, where rhythms are also counted 1 2 3 4 ...

A numerical center. We can also create a numerical core for the entire system of our theory by choosing one pitch to be the center of our music. This becomes the number One. From this center we can numerically identify any other pitch or combination of pitches in relation to this core. And with the mathematically created equal temper tuning, we can project this numerical representation of center, One, equally from the 12 pitches available from within the chromatic scale. And include all the chords associated with all the melodies of all the key centers at any point along the way. Yes, a vast system of pitches and combinations.

A modern evolution. Another more modern component of music and math is in the digital and computer worlds of 'MIDI.' All of this is based on the mathematics of equal temper tuning at its core. Beyond this point there's surely further mathematical divisions of the octave, some of which are achieved through midi, some not, which can redefine our existing collection of pitches to include the 'notes between the notes.' And surely succeeding generations of players will continue this pathway of exploration, seeking new possibilities by correlating artistic music and numerical math :)

Numeralize the harmony. We can even numeralize all the chords through chord type and color tones. Defined by its quality of 3rd and 7th, there are just four possible solutions of chords, three of which become chord types; One, Two and Five as determined by a diatonic key center. Color tone numbers are generated from above the 1 3 5 of the triads in their arpeggios, both diatonic and altered. Thinking along these numerical lines streamlines learning and dramatically condenses the shedding. While mostly a jazz player's thing yet super handy for all musician / theorists in streamlining the learning of our entire harmonic resource.

Old as the hills. There's re-occurring two / three pattern of black keys while ascending on the piano. This 'builds' into all our keyboards the half step interval locations for creating the scale formula for the relative A'' minor and 'C' major groups of pitches.

Defining styles. By understanding the number of pitches in a style's melody, as varied as that might seem, we can see and quantify a numerical evolution in their group of pitches, as we add in additional pitches to our core five pitch pentatonic groups. Five to six then the seven pitch group. With five remaining as the blue notes and chord color tones.

"Insufficient facts always invite danger."
wiki ~ Spock

Art ~ 7 + 5 = 12. This simple math formula contains all of the theory we might ever really need. For when we realize that the diatonic realm is created with seven pitches, with five left over from out of a total of twelve, exploring what these five pitches can do to influence the diatonic seven is surely a way to understand the basic silent architecture of our American musics that builds 1000's of songs.

Art ~ Muse. Need a new melody for a new radio add you're working on ? Maybe your muse can help. Our muse is our own creative 'alter ego' or some such inspirational inner spirit, that historically has helped an artist to find their way to create and express. One trick to conjuring Muse to contribute to our work is to give Muse time to think, while the groove of whatever we're creating is moving along. Create a loop of whatever it is, and simply cycle it. Over the course of the repetitions, Muse will 'suggest' ideas that run along with what we already have, what we're conjuring.

"Take what ya need and leave the rest." Save some for the next time :) Creating some open spaces, in musical time as it is clicking along, is the trick to master here. For, "all we are saying, is give Muse a chance."

10 % inspiration, 90 % perspiration !

Art ~ Music creates community. Historically thinking, when we hear music we become curious and go over and see what's happening. From a parade to the concert hall, music brings folks together to share in a common coolness. This are the folks of a community. At these gatherings are a chance for folks to get to know one another by sharing something they dig in common; the music. And in doing so can begin new friendships and strengthen their community bonds and inclusiveness of all within the realm.

Help make art happen. When we can be a part of the music, we got us a spot into this building of community. And even without being a musician we can still help to make this art happen. For in any of these events folks are needed to create and organize, and assist in bringing these community happenings to life.

"Make art happen."

wiki ~ community

Art ~ Music mysteries. The topics of things we each do not yet know about music theory, that keep us hauling on to discover or create new answers to our questions. Some of which are profound and may alter the course of history. As the energy to keep searching is a core of our human spirit, it's all built right in, we just have to energize and sustain our quest through our own faith.

wiki ~ history

Art ~ Musical style spectrum. In this music theory text, our musical styles are in part determined by our numerical spectrum of pitches used to create melodies. Creating a linear spectrum view from left to right, we find the five notes of the pentatonic group expanding towards the 12 of the chromatic group on the right.

musical style
om ~ blues
kid's folk blues gospel
bluegrass rock country
adv. jazz
# of pitches

From children's song's of four and five pitch folk melodies into the six pitches of the blues and gospel, seven of our natural scale, the relative major minor group and forward, eight for the symmetrical diminished and pitch by pitch for the various chromatically altered groups up to the full 12 of the chromatic scale for jazz.

total # of pitches
1 ...
scale degree #'s

children's songs (5)


folk (6)


blues and rock (6)

pop (7)
jazz (12)

Part of the idea of 'modern' in the title of this work is about developing a theoretical perspective of how set, select groups of pitches have consistently created the broad categories of our musical styles over the last 100 years or so. Thus, as modern artists, we can aspire to gain insights into how musical styles will merge with one another, creating new genres, or sub-styles from the main groups. To try and understand the theory of which pitches nudges one style towards another, the blues hues, groove morphs, style transitions and segues or 'cross over' from one style towards another, simply by adding or subtracting 'key pitches at key moments' to our group of melody pitches.

And then there's musical styles and musical time. That more beats and faster tempos runs right along left to right of this style spectrum and also bolts right up with number of pitches. A couple of beats for youngster songs, then grouping into two for the eighth note, then the three note triplet for the blues and old time swing. Four beats per measure is the 'big 4' that cores all Americana. Groups of four become the 'even eighths' of Latin and its crossover into our modern swing eighths of today, the lingua franca of jazz improv from back then till now. On to the tighter 16th's of funk and fusion.

Art ~ New pathways / variety. Even the longest journeys will have a first step. And even after taking a seemingly endless number of steps, the advanced cat might still want to journey on. Luckily for us musicians, there's really no end to our musical universe, songs to write songs and learn, mentoring new players coming up, sharing what we've learned with those so inclined, why even new books to write, as one topic unfolds from another, in an endless cycle of learning and discovery. Here are a half dozen or so links to theory evolutions for possible new paths to explore for the advanced artist.

Art ~ jazz / fusion ~ No Four chord in composition. Surely this idea has colossal impact potential on those of us who compose. I've written a couple of dozen songs now and every one has some sort of motion to Four. Except one. And if we were to spin a few of these in succession, when the 'no Four chord' song came along, we hear a difference of this song's storyline and character. It might be almost as dramatic as having just one black and white photo within a group of pictures done in full color.

wiki ~ "I'll Remember April"

Since we can consistently associate motion to Four with a gospel quality to our Americana musics, without a Four chord, do we diminish the gospel potential in Americana? And a bit further along these lines, what about the three chords of a 12 bar blues / form? With its motion to the subdominant? Though very rare these days, in theory we've what is termed a 'modal' blues, a four bar phrase repeated that features a typical V7 chord type harmony, but no motion to Four, which in the blues can become truly epic, in proportion, emotion and personal testimony.

And when we look at the array of styles of songs within the Americana songbook of the last 100 years or so, nearly all the stories and music find their way to Four. As the true Americana weave and warp of gospel and the blues strengthen the Americana fabric of musics, it's just hard to not go to Four, and stay in Americana.

So it was in the 1960's when jazz ventured in two new and unique sounding directions, neither of which predominantly features motion to Four. First, we've see further exploration into the emotional essence of the 'church modes', mainly Dorian. And second, a venturing into the Euro originated 12 tone, 'serial' or chromatic leaning style of composition on the urban jazz scene.

The church modes are part of our original melodic groupings, created from our globally shared, now ancient pitches, all before they were Euro homogenized into the mathematical perfection of equal temper tuning. We know today that much of the original modal music was sung, in unison, as single line melodies, mostly in a minor key and yet, we can begin to hear motion to Four in these melodic lines. While in the serial 12 tone creative sphere, clearly hearing any sort of motion to Four is generally elusive, thus the 'Americana gospel quality' tough to find and really 'hair stand up' feel.

Similarly in the early 1960's, fully backed by equal temper tuned chordal instruments, piano and guitar, further modal color variety was created by building chords by the intervals of perfect 4th's, so 'quartile' as opposed to the more common tertian harmony, chords built up in major and minor thirds.

Chord motion became more linear, mainly by half step. And within a few years this began to evolve by enlarging the cycles and motions of harmony with modal flavored melodies. Rockers heard this and created their 'fusion' of rock and jazz. With guitar being a lead instrument in rock, and with its string organization by perfect 4th's, by the late 60's there was quite a 'jazz rock' fusion scene. Just explore :)

wiki ~ jazz fusion

That said, there are ways to compose that simply finds ways not to go to Four. And as you might Imagine, this way of crafting the art can sound very very different from 'Four chord' art. When the V7 dominant chord color begins to filter more predominantly into this 'no Four chord' style, the effect is potentially electric. And I'm sure there's a way to mix these, 'no Four to Four', and create fabulous new art, explore :)

Art ~ No bad notes. Back in the day we used to ay that there were no bad notes in the pentatonic five. That each pitch of the group sounded fine over its chord. So the jamm in all of us, a freedom to create our own melody stories, improvising and taking chances to discover through our own exploring the ancient melodies and bring them to the present in our own expressions, go modern without risk even, as Coltrane pioneered in the artistry of "Giant Steps."

Art ~ Note for note. As often quipped ... that 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' in first learning and developing our own art form ( we all do it :) ... learning your favorite music note for note from an audio recording shows a deep respect for the musical art that inspires you and you want to know how to sound them out. In working this way, personal improvement can accelerate in leaps and bounds.

Learning music note for note is the oldest way we have a generational artists to pass along our folk histories. Knowing the theory, and that any one note has to usually be of the 12 letter named notes, finding each pitch is often a 'process of elimination.' Each style has its cliches, common elements strung together to create their songs, which accelerates their learning. Then its down to learning an idea 'note by note' for the tricky spots in between.

Art ~ Numbers of pitches = style evolution. The theory basis of this work centers on the basic premise that as we add new 'anythings' to whatever we are working with, we increase the number of different possible combinations. This applies to all of our components so an 'anything' can be notes and pitches, how many chords in a song, numbers of measures in a phrase or form, number of beats in a rhythm of a style, how many artists in the band, the number of choruses we get when soloing. So in our discussions to build knowledge, very often we simply build pitch by pitch by pitch.

That we've a finite number of pitches, the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale, an idea that gets our arms fully around the resource. And as our components evolve by adding pitches, they become capable of different musical explorations and expressions.

Our most common additions include adding new pitches to groups of pitches, and adding colortones to three note triads, and by adding in more chords to our progressions for songs, expanding the bass line of root notes.

By creating a theory spectrum of musical styles based on the number of pitches we generally find in their creation, from children's songs and folk into blues, country, rock and pop to jazz, that by adding or subtracting pitches to their core groups, we evolve the group and its capabilities to venture into other stylistic realms. As there are only 12 pitches in total, this is just an easy way to begin to understand the process of morphing one style to another. Understanding this 'morph between styles' from the theory perspective of number of pitches, is the basis of this work's evolving of a 'modern' artist.

Art ~ Nutshells. Two parts to this really, nut and shell. One is the idea of the kernel of knowledge 'in a nutshell', which is the lead paragraph of near every page and topic in this work.

Second is the theory nutshell which goes like this; So how many eggs in a dozen? How many pitches in the chromatic scale? How many hours depicted on an old fashioned clock? How many pitches in the chromatic scale? Right, 12.

Is everything either major or minor in our music? Yes it is. Really? Exceptions? Always. In most popular music, there's our helix of two ancient musical colors created by a closed looping of their pitches with an octave span. This shapes our diatonic scale and bases our palette of musical colors.

Can we make any of the 12 pitches the diatonic center pitch of the loop ? Yep. Why ? Well for any chordal instrument, because we equal temper tune the pitches. That's a stretch, masters and PhD level studies, but for most of us, and for most of our instruments, true.

How many loops in a song usually? Well, near always one for sure, sometimes one or two or more. Any combination of major and minor cool? Yep. Is there a correlation between number of loops in a song and musical style? Yep, at least in this theory book. Are the arpeggios created with these loops? Yep. Triads and chords too? Yep, they come from the arpeggios. Even today's chords? Absolutely, again, once the pitches are equal temper tuned, then yes. All pitches arpeggiate and stack every which way we want.

Are there diatonic rhythm loops just like with the pitches? Yep. Do they define style also? Sure can.

Is there a numerical way to represent all of these elements of this diatonic looping of pitches into scales, arpeggios, chords and rhythms? Yep. Is time, feel and groove just as important in making music as the pitches? Yep. Making music with folks? Double yep so yep yep. Is sharing our music a source of love energy to bring our own art to life and encourage and create community? Absolutely, and giant YEP :)

Art ~ The octave. As the purest sounding of all our musical intervals when we sound two notes of different pitch together, the octave interval is the initial basis of our theory as all 12 of our core pitches live within the octave span. As its perfect purity of sound is bested by no other, no surprise we find the octave interval in so many cherished melodies, throughout our entire range of styles. Mathematically represented by our simplest of ratios; 2:1, we can historically trace the octave basis for our music theory to the ancient Greek Pythagoras, whose sharp hearing and keen mind began the weave process of music and math.

Art ~ Octave melodies. The purest sounding of all or musical intervals, the octave interval is often found in many of our memorable melodies. Here are a few suggestions to explore the octave magic within classic melodic lines in a wide range of styles. One or so #1's and a few 'top 10' hits on this list :)

wiki ~ "Sweet Dreams"
wiki ~ "Happy Birthday"
wiki ~ "Over The Rainbow"
wiki ~ "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart"
wiki ~ "Masquerade"

wiki ~ "Moonlight In Vermont"

wiki ~ "It's Only A Paper Moon"

wiki ~ "Lush Life"

wiki ~ Speak No Evil / "Fee Fi Fo Fum"

Art ~ One / Four / Five. These numbers represent the most common of our pitch / root motions / chord progression motions. We'll find it in every style. As chords they back a myriad of different blues styled 12 bar forms. Discovering that in each diatonic key center we get a One / Four and Five chord for both relative major and minor, is for some a super theory game changer. I know it was for me. Thanks Stu.

Art ~ One drop. As cool as it gets really, for in the reggae grooves and magic, we get to 'tacet' on beat one of the measure, creating a sort of 'breath in' hold which we release on beat two and forward. That we get to do this is of course, like everything else, thanks to the drummers, who supply us with the downbeat one, while the rest of the band 'drops' the first beat, and then finds two. Creates a sort of 'puff' in the groove.

Very cool all around, the dancers love it of course and done just a certain way, we can make the bar lines go away :) Which for some of us modernes becomes a nice hunk of the whole tamale.

In other styles. While we can readily source the 'tacet on one' from the reggae masters, turns out that applying one drop one to all the styles and genres creates the endless stream of coolness for all the artists that try.

Advanced idea. For those ready for 'forward motion' level thinking, imagine phrasing to beat one, which is a rest / tacet (silent), with 'one drop' rhythm.

Art ~ One hundred songs. Simply that if we eventually learn 100 songs, we'll have gotten acquainted with just about every twist of pitch and chord ever imagined.

Except probably the #15 interval / color tone ? Probably yea, as I've yet to see or hear it ( no surprise here ) in any music. Maybe in the scores for the "Hobbit" movies, but it's been a while now. Check #15 out here, for it just might take you to there, on beyond our traditional boundaries for the pitches, so it's a portal of sorts to a potential new dimension in Americana musics.

Art ~ One new idea per chorus. This is mostly a jazz performance concept for improvisation. While perhaps most common with the 12 bar blues, it works in any form. The idea is to develop one motif through the body of a song's form and harmonies. In each new chorus, have a new idea to work through the form. Build each one new idea upon the last one, each developed through a song's form.

First got hip to this idea from Frank Foster, NYC based tenor saxophonist back around '81' or so. I was chordal player in a jazz quintet named "Moment's Notice." This is the title of one of Coltrane's pivotal songs. Mr. Foster was in town to help instruct our college big band on the finer points of Count Bill Basie's fine swinging Kansas City art, so I booked a date for the quintet, hoping we could get Foster to sit in.

When I asked Mr. Foster if he'd like to sit in on our gig he asked what the name of our band was. Upon hearing our name he asked if we played that song. Thanks to Sam White, our tenor saxophonist, my bandmates told him it was our theme song and that we played it every performance. Luckily all the stars aligned, I got the gig and Foster came out to sit in. And we all got to work the magic together that evening.

wiki ~ Frank Foster
wiki ~ "Moment's Notice"
wiki ~ Count Basie

When Mr. Foster sat in and called "Moment's Notice" we played our arrangement down. When we got to Foster's solo, he easily blew for 20 minutes on the form of the song. Ya could of heard a pin drop in the club as he worked the magic of his melodic ideas, working through the early 'double Two / Five' evolutions of harmonies, of what would become in a few short years, forward, the 'Coltrane changes' of "Giant Steps."

On the next break I asked Mr. Foster how he could find so many things to say on these changes. "I really didn't have that many different ideas Joe, I simply took one idea and worked it through the harmony cycles of the song. Hmm so ... one idea per chorus.

'So ideas such as the rhythmic melody major 3rd repeated, adjusted to the changing harmony? Exactly. A next idea was to simply spelling out the chords with arpeggios, then a permutation of these arpeggios for a chorus or two, then add a blues hue to each new key center, then use a bit of the gospel of the last phrase of the melody. "I also quoted a couple of hooks from other songs and ran them through the cycle of the song. You get the idea; one idea per chorus developed through the body of a song." Got it? Yes Sir, thanks to you, I sure do thanks! "And oh yea, you cats swing big."

Art ~ A one pitch tritone. How possible? How can one pitch be a tritone? Needs some help yes? Sure does. We'll most commonly find a one pitch tritone at the perfect center of an enhanced one octave minor pentatonic scale. This added pitch to the five makes six, and we commonly call it the blues scale.

Another common spot for a one pitch tritone is as #11, easily found in a tonic major or dominant V7 arpeggio. By raising up the diatonic 11 by half step, we sidestep the problem of matching up the major 3rd and the diatonic 11, avoiding the b9 clash with the major 3rd.

Art ~ One shape to rule them all / blues. Well, maybe two or three depending on the color yes ?

Art ~ Open tunings for guitar / fretted stringed instruments. Mostly for guitars, any open tuning is simply tuning up the open strings to sound out the pitches of a triad, or chord, mode or pentatonic scale. Open 'G' tuning might be oldest in Americana, as it comes to us from the banjo, as played by the early rural Southern artists since the beginnings. There are many different open tunings today. Just explore a bit and they will be revealed. Or, make your own up as needed.

Open tuning pitches sound out triads on the open strings of a guitar.

Open tunings are a game changer for those so inclined. The strum / motor hand is way energized and the myriad of possibilities is probably limitless. Luckily, there's two or three that make a ton of sense right off, so good for beginners. Two major, and one for minor. Examples of these; open 'G', 'E' Dorian, and the Hawaiian 6 / 9.'

5 strings G D G B D
D A D F# B E

Exploring artists can also open tune their ax to our seven 'modal tunings.' Complex and tricky, exploring in these colors often finds us a new 'gem', a motif that we then bring into standard tuning and compose a song. This open approach is an additional way to learn the emotional qualities of the modes, or even a way to start off your own explorations of these now ancient colors.

An open tuning allows the overall desired mood of a song to be created simply by strumming the open strings of the instrument. Thus, each one initially needs just one or two chord shapes to get us moving up and down the fingerboard, and through basic chord progressions. Also, as the instrument is tuned to a sonorous chord using the open strings, using just a slide or barre finger gets us a ton of mileage.


Art ~ Open tunings ~ vocalist with guitar. An artist whose main instrument is their voice is encouraged to explore the open tunings to expand their range of intonations and nuance for their best pitches. Remember, most songs start in one key and end in the same key. So why not tune our instrument to that key center? We limit our ability to change keys, but unless you're jazzing it up, it doesn't matter mostly. Kids, folk, blues, country, rock and pop songs rarely modulate.

Explore the musics of the wiki monsters listed for open tuning coolness of voice and phrasing and pitch.

Also due to the nature of open tunings, the enhanced orchestral sounds and super powered rhythm exciters, all simply created by including more of the open strings to ring on, can re-energize and even way transform your motor hand, to help the artist speak true with new patterns for strumming. Try a thin pick at first and find yourself a gallop somewhere along the way and dig for yourself the power of an 'open motor.'

wiki ~ Joni Mitchell
wiki ~ David Crosby
wiki ~ Ani Defranco

Art ~ Over an 'E' pedal tone. In creating musical examples for this study, while 'C' major bases a lot of the letter / pitch discussions, aural examples are quite often based in 'E' major / minor, as I could then sound the low 'E' string to create a pedal tone bass note to support and focus the example pitches on the high 'E and B' strings.

Art ~ Over or through the changes. This idea is a basic pedological distinction and question in regards to our improvisations. For in most of our styles, artists are blowing over the changes with a parent scale, most often the key of the music. Creating ideas from the diatonic pitch of the key center of the song.

As the shedding deepens, players find themselves finding ideas for each new chord that comes along in the chord progression of the song. While way more of a jazz approach, lots of very hip cats in all of our styles will combine both; over and through the changes.

Art ~ Paradigm shift. Simply when one's perspective and understanding of a topic or idea evolves in a kind of big way after careful study and a lot of thought ... or not, as the case might be. As in 'voilà' ? Exactly. Man ... 'I never knew that ... wow !' And what if ? Etc.

Art ~ Plane-ing / parallel motion. This is a chordal technique whereby the same chord shape or voicing is moved up or down the frets. Stacked perfect 4th's of quartile harmony is common in this motion. While any and all intervals are available, root bass pitch patterns of the song or vamp often determines the intervals and sequence. The jazz and blues style of chromatic enhancement of the half step lead in with chords probably wins the day.

Art ~ Perfect closure. That in creating a work of art, the artists determines perfection. How we each define that becomes a balancing of the elements we choose to create with, and some come out better than others.

For composers. 'this song is finished, perfect.' Needs no further tweeking to function as a piece of art. Or, this song is done, but not perfect, yet. Just needs more work. For everyone, each of us, as artists, know this about our work, at whatever stage in our careers we're creating at.

We all look back at our pieces, and in doing so we can see the evolutions of our own searching for 'perfections.'

For being an music art creative is a pure sentient joy ... makes 'em dance too :)

and R. O. !

Art ~ Perfect closure of the theory. Simply means that no matter how we dice up, or sequence and order the pitches, if we run the pattern out long enough, our loop of pitches will always close back on its original starting point with a perfect mathematical precision.

Scales, modes, arpeggios, chords, progressions, and even with rhythms, whose four bar phrase often rules the day in Americana musics, all will perfectly close as a loop of element if we continue our idea long enough.

So when exploring and getting lost in whatever maze and puzzle of the pitches, if we just keep on going, just keep on keepin' on, the pitches, idea, the theory all will eventually come around, and we'll find a way forward.

Art ~ Permutation / modes and permutation. Permutation is simply the process by which we as artists will recombine our existing elements into new patterns. ABC becomes CBA, BAC, BCA, CAB ACB etc. Each of these can then be filtered sequenced various ways; chromatic motions, cycles of intervals, diatonically through scale degrees.

The modes and permutations. As we better understand how how the old modes come from the modern relative major / minor group, as we alter the diatonic seven through the other five pitches, ,

old modes
major / minor
other five pitches

~ art / phrasing ~

'become aware of the connection;

heart, head and hands ...'


Art ~ Phrasing. Think of how you laugh. Anyone else really laugh like you? Or talk like U ? Even walk the same way? And are there other characteristics of you that make you just you? Of course there are and we each as 'uniques', relish and cherish our uniqueness and the individuality of all sentient beings. And with our musical expressions, often the very same thing; unique.

How can it be the same with our music? That our own voice is as unique as unique can ever be? Singular, only one and surely one of a kind? That's a built in coolness of this Americana improvised art. That who we are, and how we've learned our music, shapes our own unique way to phrase our ideas in time.

How to do? Easiest way? Sing the line play the line. Sing a melodic idea, find the pitches, are there lyrics ... ? Then find the emotional nuance of your voice inflection in your instrument's pitches.

Sing the rhythmic swing, feel the pull of the swing. That's how most learn to swing, by singing the way swing physically feels to our body. Start with a melody you've known all your life. Phrase those pitches to capture your expression, make those pitches swing first. Create that inner mechanism and apply it to other melodies. Combine phrasing, time and tone together and we get the main elements of our artistic signature. Ya got one of these yet?

“I once heard Ben Webster playing his heart out on a ballad,” he said. “All of a sudden he stopped. I asked him, ‘Why did you stop, Ben?’ He said, ‘I forgot the lyrics.’
wiki ~ Ahmad Jahmal

Art ~ Piano theory. For many of us, the perfectly linear nature of the pitch layout of the piano will facilitate creating solid visualizations of the pitches, arpeggios, chords, root motions, that can open up new ways of understanding their theory, of much of what we do as guitarists. Plus there's that magical sustain pedal. For improvisation students with a piano, use this pedal to create chords to solo over. So what's not to like? Here's some free advice; any time spent theorizing at the piano is probably time well spent.

Art ~ Pick motion. Perhaps a better description here for this technical skill would be pick travel, just how far does the pick move to set a pitch into motion. There's a ton of ideas about how this all works, so explore your own faves in this. Minimizing 'pick travel' is often the topic of discussions, less is more :)

In Essentials, there's a focus on fingerstyle, starting the stings in motion without a pick. This includes a reverse sort of old fashioned lute motion, a 'claw' of sorts for making the chords, a sweep with the thumb for the octaves as well as a 'pluck' of thumb and index for the various intervals. So we can get single line ideas, super tight start and stop points for the chords, warm and swinging octaves, and any mashup of these together that we might conjure up. Cats do all this with a pick too, so there's options eh ? Where there's a will there's a way.

For the picksters reading here, simply picture the width of the pick and the width of the string. Once the pick is past the string the deed is done and any further 'travel' of the pick is wasted, extra motion, depending of course on what is next. Which most times is another picked note. So the trick to getting faster is simply to minimize pick travel and this is all about focus. Slow it all down and focus on how you do it, and just minimize pick travel to play faster. It is thought, and I've seen to believe that faster pick motion comes from a motion in the elbow, than the wrists or fingers.

All ways to set the strings in motion can be challenges. Something we each get to figure out for ourselves it seems, for there's lots of unique and individual approaches to working this magic. Just don't quit and it'll happen for you :)

Art ~ Play as much as you know. There are times when we're playing music where we get to the point where we don't know what to play, so we stop. Then, hopefully pick our way back in when we have something to play and add to the mix. This idea can be especially true for emerging artists now moving towards a more jazz approach to their music and specifically with chords.

For jazz chords add a new dimension of physical challenge. So when adding in new voicings during practice sessions or even gigging, stopping to get the shape ready in advance, then adding it at the correct time into where it belongs, as the music goes along, gives us a toehold into the process in real time, and we can build it up from there. For all of us were once beginners and jazz chords can often be tricky.

Art ~ Play it again. All to often when we're moving along improvising our musics, we can move to quickly from idea to idea to idea. Sometimes repeating an idea is just a good way to go. Coupled with the now age old approach of 'one idea per chorus' and the building solo's, repeating an idea again gives our creative a chance to suggest, catch up a bit, while stretching our chops and ideas when the well runs dry. We hear this all the time in the blues, and its near global unshakeable 12 bar form for getting this sort of creativity together.

Art ~ "Play primitive man!" Ever hear this lick from the leader of the band? Years ago a local blues monster cat from Spenard advised me to play primitive when on his bandstand, leave the 'jazz it up' stuff for downtown. So each of our styles has a sort of 'primitive' version. In the blues this can be just using an 'in the mud' rhythm, a one chord vamp, and a pitch or two to fill the dance floor. Play primitive.

And that's what this cat wanted to hear and have happen on his gig. Play primitive. He did it on every tune, played it primitive. Say's to me "ya know Joe, folks around here just want to come out and have a little fun in the mud, dance around and ..." 'Play primitive' works like a charm :)

Art ~ DON'T STOP ! :) Play your part, keep it going and just keep on keepin' on. Capitol letters yikes :) Once ya got a thing agoin', especially live and if you're into jamming with the band, and even if U get a wee bit lost, just find something to contribute to the art being imagined. Keep playing along. Work you're way back from being lost while moving through musical time.

Easy to find a rhythm, root notes work perfect too, the trick is to find and stay in the pocket and don't stop. Of course this applies to lots of things in life, and chances once we stop we'll want to start up the same activity pretty quick so it often seems :)

This is why lots and lots of players, now the world over, love the 12 bar blues. It's the Americana basis for getting everyone on the same page in a hurry, and with the 'Muddy' lick, never get lost so ... we don't have to stop playing 'cause we're lost. For once committed to our own rote memory-ville, play any 12 bar blues song and shazzam ... U'll never get lost :) Never ? Maybe, but easy to find our place if we do if we keep the beat rolling along through the form. Plus the bonus, there's a ton of cliche ideas to remind us, and ALL of them will also work to end the performance of any blues song. Actually bluesy codas can be crafted any song in any form for that matter.

So 'don't stop' in making your musics ! Younger players will need more encouragement, helps to learn songs from beginning to end. For any tune and doable tempo, just be the motor, or part of one.

Author's note: When sitting in and in a supportive roll, we know that a story can be told a lot of ways. Sometimes it changes from artists to artist, band to band, so we just have to pay attention all the time; to concentrate. Play the song the way the leader is presenting it. This is all a learned skill unless you start out in music as a kid. If you did then probably second nature. Concentrate, focus, relax and have fun, all come into this, once the shedding is done and the lights come up. When the band has fun, s