The origins of an e-book ... :) With a quote from professor Dr. Joyce Honeychurch, of the University of Alaska, Anchorage faculty, at dawn of a new era of creating computer e-curriculum circa 1987 ...

"A learner's existing knowledge, energized by curiosity through discovery learning, and now with computer energized curriculums, creates an opportunity for a new globally connected learning universe of limitless potential for all."

While we've come a long way since '87, during my formal collegiate public school teacher training here in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1984, professor Dr. Honeychurch encouraged us to think beyond a teacher centered classroom to continually develop new curriculums; whereby any learner's existing knowledge is the first key for entry, the starting point then developed within a curriculum of proven academic standards and measures.

About this e-book. This is my opus in taking up that challenge; that by powering up a laptop and opening this musical arts e-book, the magics of many learning styles; to play with and sift ideas to imagine new combinations, work through rote styled learning challenges to success, print and complete written measures of vocabulary and concepts, spark curiosity and pursue 'what if' questions, and to learn about music and its most complex theories by ear, these all become possible in an e-book web page format, energized by the curiosity a learner brings, with their existing knowledge sparking off a lifetime of discovery learning in the musical arts.

Spanning the basics; from first spelling out pitches of scales, triads and chord progressions of J.S. Bach, on through to the complexities of Americana improvisation through J. Coltrane's post bop symmetry and phrasing into the future through the principles of forward motion moving through musical time.

Mentor ~ student dialogue. Yet written always with the learner in mind, a dialogue between mentor and student, with one's own self expression of art through composition and collaboration. All of these discussions are organically hyperlinked, woven together by their various commonalities. There's 28,000 and counting ... internal links in this fully formed, stand alone e-book.

That an e-book can also be on the 'global' www platform, which this e-book is, exponentially expands our classroom learning dimensions of discovery, the fellow learners and new friends who share our own interests in art and music, and that learners will become the teachers to new learners as the successive generations pass. Thus, an "E-book on pad / laptop", individualized mentor guided learning with potential global resource additions.

What a story. Understand Your Music joins the first seven (7) letters of the alphabet and the numbers one (1) through fifteen (15). Empowered by written notes audio assisted, we begin with the ancient notes 'A through G' and quickly move on through to the organizational math of the Mediterranean Greeks roughly 3000 years ago.

Then after a brief Euro stop in 1725, our story moves true west to the melting pot Americana shores to discover our own collection of songs and their composers, their theoretical components and evolutions that bring together our many cultural attributes, woven together by the rhythms of Americana life into music.

For here in AmerAfroEuroLatin Americana, and from it's origins, the original seven pitches are tuned so to handily include the five notes that we find in between the seven, combining to create the 12 tones of our fully modern Americana palette that we still use everyday.

One by one. Each of the 12 pitches are examined in many ways; individually one by one, within closed loops and in groups with other pitches, in looping rhythm patterns, in arpeggios and harmony, in phrasing and forms for writing songs, and always with a view of the vast spectrum of style within the Americana songbook; from children's songs and folk and blues, rock and pop, and right on into the complexities of modern jazz, along the way learning to 'jazz up' any song and style we meet along the way.

The 'general relativity' of music theory. A complete melody comprised of three or four notes is probably a song for kids, a melody of five or six notes brings us clear to the blues, folk and gospel styles, genres and hues. A seven note 'pop' melody also brings the potential of the complete harmonic resource of the combined 12 tones. Melodies with eight unique notes surely lean us to the jazz side of our style spectrum. There's a jazz melody with 9 different notes included in this e-book. There's a jazz song with 23 different chords, imagine that :)

All of this 'academia mathematica' underlies the development of music theory topics throughout this work, providing a combined theory / style perspective of our the artistic resources we hold in common, for telling and understanding the theories of our Americana stories from our origins to today. For truth be told, we've all been using the same musical notes all along, with each successive generation jazzing them up in their own 'new' ways along the way, creating the Americana songbook.

With guided mentorship and the magical hyperlink text, our story takes on a more 'circular' nature, we've now a sphere of the knowledge where we can hyperlink to connect points of one topic to another. Each learner's existing knowledge, strengths and curiosities lights up their pathway as they choose which links to pursue.

These thousands (28k+) of hyperlinks within, are most often a vocabulary word, and become a 'mouse click' jump, can take a learner to a next level of challenge, or to explore a related idea, where more links forward await. And through the web browser capabilities that motor this e-book, can click them right back to continue in their mentor guided, measurable curriculum.

So when curiosity beckons and their own 'light goes on', these hyperlink 'accelerators' help vault a learner through the educational components within this e-book, which structures a range of ideas and theories commonly found in a BA college level degree which is focused on the AmerAfroEuroLatin musical arts, its performance and how it may help to relate them to a life in showbiz.


To the memory of my parents,

Peter and Mary Craig and all our ancestors.

A first music memory pour moi is of a 'casa Saturday night' with my folks, just enjoying the NJ summer shore cool breeze with the street sounds of Pacific Avenue coming up through the front room windows with the # 1 hit "Hound Dog" comin' in over the air waves.

And as we sang and danced along with the rockin' groove, my Aunt Emma showed me how to snap my fingers to the beat of the radio song, my folks joined in and before long 'we all are clickin' right along on 2 and 4' :) I owe everything, all of my energies for life, and passions for music and fine art, to my family.

Acknowledgements. Superheart felt thanks to my family and these artists and educators, whom contributed to my musical education over the last 50 years or so. Today enabled by the magical hyperlink of modern text, their collective 'words of wisdom' and the 'theory of whatever' is in their words, and thus can be woven all throughout this musical arts theory e-book.

Author's note. Near all of their quotes included are paraphrased, and most cases rewritten after decades of time, so presented here in my own words to best express the artistic idea and principles I learned from their words, here and now passed along through the magics of the now ancient aural tradition.


To Colin Nelson ( my nephew ), who created the magic of allowing the audio of each musical example to be sounded while still viewing its notation !"I know I can do this Uncle Joe, it will take a while, so be patient, but I'll figure it out, promise."


To Dr. James B. Miller

At music college, Dr. Miller majestically personified and readily passed along how a lifetime of learning about the master music maestros of all walks of life, foundations to energize our own lifelong learning evolutions, our spiritual and creative discoveries, through the practice of musical art.

music college
"A way to a better understanding of any topic is to try and teach it to another.
"Motion by fourth and then by half step, try those first"
"Take the 'E' out of 'EGO' and GO !"
"When comping changes for soloists, play quieter than the soloist's volume"



To Commodore Dr. Edwin Woodward ...

"Gather 'round and listen close ..."



To college professor Gould Hoyt

"Stay sharp ..."


To college professor Dr. Elizabeth Hayden

"This next piece has been around for oh (does calcs) ... 216 years now ... ? So if you don't know of it by now then just learn of it here and now and then it's yours forevermore."



To college professor Dr. Yenoin E. Guibbory

"As generations pass, there will always be a renewal of the 'avant garde."



Dr. Angelo LaMarianna

"You should know these things."



Herman Matlock

"Get the rhythms solid first, then straighten out the pitches."

"There's love and community in big band jazz."



Mike Lawshé

"Need a 'F# -7b5' voicing ... here's the latest."



Tim Paree

... "Yea J, I just feel like I'm swinging my tail off."



Dave Grippo

"Practiced my tail off and got first chair alto ..."



Sam White

"... I'm deep in 'Trane-ing ..."



Mary Kaufman

"Learn to let it go ..."



Jerry Lavene

"... any chord shape can spark off a riff ..."

"See ... like this, fits like a glove."



wiki ~ Clarke Terry

"Learn the bass line story of a song first."

"Pair 1/8th notes with vowels 'a e i o u' to swing

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and ... 1 and ...

'daadle deedle dydle doedle doodle ...

'try that lick fast as you can 50 times ... :)



wiki ~ Bill Watrous


“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


Big Joe Burrell

"Just love one another."

"U want a solo too ... ? Just chop the wood please !"



Tamzen Crocker

"Let me learn by my own mistakes."



Mrs. Favata was my third grade public school teacher

at Shubert School in Baldwin, NY., in 1964.

"A word to the wise is sufficient ..."




Jay Swartz / Bronx, N.Y.

"Stay hungry ..."



Dr. Robert Hanek


"Visualizing the musical intervals as different sized building blocks for creating of the aural colors can help to understand the spatial relationships between the pitches, tonal gravity and proximity of pitch, clear as day on any piano."



Paul Jacks

"How to better practice ... that's what I want to know."



Sandra Calvillo

"Muse and composer, a Gypsy rhythm motor."



Harry Ross

"Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can.

somebody say Amen :)



Bob Andrews

"Brother Scotsman ..."



Kenneth Blackwell

"Blues is my everything. "



Diane Hall Pendergrast

"Oh that ? That's a 'fast four' ..."

"Everybody can sing !"



John Damberg

"Leadership and creating community through music makes real and positive progress both in the individual and society."



Ken Bettisworth

"Whoa hold on man that's a cool lick, show me."



Mark Teckenbrock

"Just figure out the best possible fingering and practice it slowly first, over and over and over."



Brian Dickerson

"Rehearse the band by everyone singing their parts."



Kerry Maule

"Two good choruses of 12 bar blues ..."

"Keep the eyes moving when reading ... regardless of the results."



Shonti Elder




I'm an Alaskan dance fiddler and songwriter. I come from a musical family who loved many styles of music.  Beginning classical violin at twelve, some told me that I’d never really play be able to play well because I started so late. I proved them wrong. 

In college, a very critical violin teacher made me feel like quitting, but since I loved playing the violin, I just quit lessons instead. My musical community has been with friends who were drawn to folk music. Over the years I evolved from being a bluegrass fiddler to playing more Celtic music, and other styles.

Early on, I started going to jam sessions to learn more music. I hovered in the background, and played quietly until I was confident enough to join in. With some of those jam session friends, I came to Alaska for a vacation, and never moved back! 

Since 1978, I've produced a radio program, for Anchorage public radio KSKA, featuring an eclectic range of music that I love to hear and to play. You can hear Traveling Music on on Saturday nights at 8:00.  

I love to play music that inspires people, or makes them dance. I’ve recorded three albums, and play on a number of other Alaskan recordings. Music has led me to adventures touring the state, and beyond, rafting the Grand Canyon with fellow musicians, playing at a fiddle camp on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, and helping inmates to write lullabies for their children.

I love teaching children of all ages at several music camps year after year, including Alaska City Folk Arts camp. Feel free to get in touch with me any time. Welcome to my website!



Wendy Williamson

"Know this chord yet ?"

"Everything can become a 3 6 2 5 1 :)"



Karen Strid Chadwick

"Learn blues' heads."



Darl Sharf

"And that's really what art is about.

Art is about making you think."



Lindy Raines

"A 12 bar blues open 'G' ... ?

Start slidin' low open then get on up around the 12th fret ... and just fill in the rest."

Tracks from Raines' as a leader on the album and collection of original compositions,

"Good Things Coming My Way."

Raines with "Nitelife" 1979.

track 1
track 2
track 3
track 4
track 5
track 6
track 7
track 8
track 9
track 10
track 11

Included here by permission.



Tom Bargelski

"Alaska's jazz piano wizard, teacher and brother to all."

"That works."



Keith Juno

"Upside down and backwards ... ? Naa, I'm just a self taught Louisiana lefty."



Bob Parsons

A lifelong, special thanks to a friend and musician, and for creating graphics and numerical symbols to bring this education project to completion.



Stu Shulman

"Learn the song's original recorded version first."

I often talked with Stu about how he thought about and understood his music, and who he played with over the decades, where he traveled to etc., truly an amazing story of a life live in showbizz.

The theory idea written into this primer, as the 'diatonic 3 and 3', though in my wording, in theory comes directly from Stu, who quipped it on occasion when talking chord progressions and music theory that; "in the music I play Joe, there's really just a couple of places it'll usually go."

' ... the 'diatonic 3 and 3'



Darren 'Harpdaddy' Smith

"Gimme' the Muddy walkdown in 'G' please."



Dan Gilanti

"Comes right off the record and it goes like this ..."



Leo Ash

"Open tune ? Capo 3rd fret and find some slide licks ?

"Sure thing ..."



Eli Whitney

"We just gotta get along to make good music together."



Jeannie McCleod

For writing wonderful songs and also helping to edit.



Yngvil Vatn Guttu

"Follow me ... :)


Cooper B. White

"A true minstrel traveler of Americana musics."


Ben Heller

"Alaska's own to be "Raised By Elephants."


Ken B Burns

"Burns' 'Jazz' series documentary is must see t.v."


... influences through listening and books ...


Dreamweaver software ...

"brings to three dimensional life the educational philosophy of exploratory learning, energized by our curiosity."



Coda Music, Finale music software ...

Makes the music and its playback this e-book possible.


John Lennon. As teens growing up in NYC metro, my mates and I skipped once in a while and went into the City for the day. We'd usually end our day trip in Central Park, and up around the East 70's, hoping to bump into The Lennon's, who were known to often go for a family walk in the park across the street.

Lennon's song "Give Peace A Chance', is a central pillar of the philosophy that energizes this art music book. A simple song, a few chords and the truth, a 'call and response' energy of a true message to sing together, to create a better world for all.

wiki ~ John Lennon
wiki ~ Yoko Ono Lennon


John and Yoko Lennon


Used by universe permission from J. Lennon.

"You change the world by being yourself."

"Take the 'e' out of ego and go !"

Find a mentor / e-book / academia Alaska. Always good to have a mentor when learning about things new to us. And with music and its magics, nice to have a friend or two ask questions and collaborate with. Seek and ye shall find. Local high schools, libraries, friends and family, musicians in your home town ... just ask around, someone will know someone who knows someone about music and can help you with your studies in the musical arts.

go to a public library and ask the librarian

Always keep in mind that all along life's journey there will be folks to help us and also folks we can help ... for we are not in this endeavor alone :) The now ancient natural truth is that we each are responsible for our own education. Positive answer this always 'to live by' question; 'who is responsible for your education ... ?

Intensive tutoring. Luckily for musical artists like us, the learning dip of the 'covid years' can vanish quickly with intensive tutoring. For all disciplines; including all the sciences and the 'hands on' trade schools, that with tutoring, learning blossoms to 'catch us up.' In music ? The 'theory' of making musical art is built with just the 12 unique pitches, so easy to master with mentorship. And in 'practice ?' Luckily old school, the foundation that 'all responsibility for self betterment is ours alone.' Which in music, and same for all the arts, means to do what we really love to do ... to make music :)


"These books, and your capacity to understand them, are just the same in all places. Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing."

wiki ~ Abraham Lincoln

Academia references of Alaska. And when you need university level answers to your questions and musings, and especially if you are considering a career in music and looking to continue your formal studies, begin to e-reach out to the Alaska University Music Campus communities and begin a dialogue with some of Alaska's finest resident maestros !


~ comments or questions ... ? ~

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