~ glossary / A to L ~

~ vocabulary of musical terms to label the theory ~

'all of our ideas and sounds will have their names ...

and very often more than one ... :)

~ this book teaches you how to teach yourself about music ~

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

This glossary works to acquaint the reader to our musical words in both 'art and theory.' That our centuries long history of musical evolutionary studies allows that any one term can have various meanings, and that any one component can have a couple of different handles too, often depending on the historical era and geographical location from whence it comes to us here.

What we call 'a something' often depends on where we find it in the literature, or use the term when speaking about understanding the theories, styles of music etc. Flexibility is the key to enjoying and engaging with the dialect. Some say 'poe tay toe and some say pa taa toe' as the song goes. N'est-ce pas? For example, the term 'downbeat' has a few. Just click over to explore there.

Academically, near all of the core theory definitions below are paraphrased from the Harvard Brief Dictionary Of Music (HBDM). When definitions are derived from Wikipedia, they are semi-linked there for descriptions (wiki). Slang terms and artistic concepts are defined by the author and often have the symbol (S) to designate and differentiate these entries from the Harvard or Wiki. Anything left over I probably made up along the way :)

P.s. This e-book loves to run in 'google chrome.'

Imagination is more important than intellect.
wiki ~ Albert Einstein

a cappella

Italian meaning "in the chapel", for choral music without instrumental accompaniment, can apply to solo voice as well.

wiki ~ A cappella
early Amer spiritual music

a gem

Used as an adjective, as in 'wow ... that is a gem of a song ...', a gem of 'a something' can really be anything, or even many facets of a thing, each of which are oftentimes very very beautiful, so that each facet contributes to make the whole of it a 'real gem.' (S)

A to A on the piano keys

wiki ~ piano

a song

A song could be thought of as simply a musical story that tells the thoughts of the topic from composer's point of view. (S)v-4

a wee bit sharp

'A wee bit sharp' applies to how equal temper tuning corrals nature's tuning to create its own magic, for in nature, intervals within the octave can be as much as 6 cents sharp, or more in pitch.

So ... a 'wee bit sharp' = 6 cents sharp

While all of the 12 half steps in equal temper equal octave are 100 cents, there are intervals that 'suffer' more dramatically from this equal 'homogenization of pitch' more so than others. Luckily with this approach to the tuning, 'anything from anywhere' is now the rule of the day. Most instruments excepting the piano, can bend pitches and 'warm them with up' with vibrato.

Mathwise, equal temper is simply a 'finer' numerical divi-up of the octave than the older, natural tuning's total focus on pure melodies that sound a 'more natural.' Recreating the natural sweetness of each interval becomes a part of our own journey to understand how to portray our human emotions such as joy and sorrow, longing and fulfill, anger and reconciliation.

The bad news in all of this 'wee bit sharp' tuning is that in so many ways, the 3rd above the root pitch is nearly always a true cornerstone of a song, and unfortunately just due to the physics of it all, both the natural 3rd's fair rather poorly pitchwise after being filtered through the equal temper math. While the major 3rd is a 'wee bit sharp' thus losing some sweetness, the minor 3rd, our beloved Americana blue note, is a 'wee bit flat', and often needs a push up a bit to a more convincing pitch level, especially in slower tempos. So be it, as blue notes get pitch adjusted as a matter of course.

Thanks to the nature of our gits, and really every ax excepting the piano family of fixed tuned instruments, we've a way between it all to find where the essence of the these important notes often live. So, what can piano players do?

As an additional 'thanks' from this equality of tuning evolution, 300 years later, midi evolves. Imagine that. While MIDI has its fans and detractors, it can surely give so many more folks a way into expressing their themselves through music. And now those with keyboard skills can become the orchestral wizards they might not ever have imagined themselves to be. v-6

A World Lit Only By Fire

A wonderful read about ways of European life 500 or so years ago, when our 12 pitches were not quite equal tempered just yet ...

wiki ~ A World Lit Only By Fire
wiki ~ William Manchester


A gradual speeding up of the pulse, beat or tempo of the music. v-7


Accidental. A symbol used to alter a pitch, almost always by just half step, in notation, the most common accidentals including the sharp ( # ) and flat ( b ) and others. Here we see the sharps and flats of each key centers around the cycle of fifth's. Rote learn this chart by handwriting out a copy or two of your own. v-8

Note, the key center for 'C' major that sits at 12 o'clock in our 'keyclock', needs no accidentals for its pitches and that all of the the other 11 keys do, either a # or a 'b', but not both. Same for minor with 'A' at noon.


The science of sound, both measurable and relative or, by ear. v-9

wiki ~ acoustics

add one pitch

Adding one pitch or altering just one pitch at a time is a cool way to understand the theory. This is why near all of the theory discussions in this e-book are in 'C' major and 'A' minor. Once we know the letter names and what they represent, we can shed various common of their 'evolutions' simply by the adding or altering of one pitch. And when we shift letters to corresponding numbers, we start to cook the whole add one pitch tamale. Once in place, we run it through the other key centers, especially the ones we're mostly playing in. Jazz leaning artists will need all 12 major and 12 minor centers somewhere under their fingers. v-10


Altered. The idea of 'altered' is just any pitch changed, usually by half step, from its diatonic identity within a key center.

In chords, altered pitches are non-diatonic tones and usually part of a V7 chord and its extensions. Some theory cats go further and would say that altered chords combine augmented and diminished qualities in the same chord voicing, such as 'b9b5.' And nine times out of 10 the altered tone is one of the blue notes in relation to the tonic pitch / key center of the song etc., one of the 'other five pitches.'

There's also an 'altered' scale group of pitches, the seventh mode of melodic minor, which from the root 'C' becomes:

C D Eb F G A B C

B C D Eb F G A B

Thus a combo of diminished and whole tone in its interval construction :

1/2 1 1/2 1 1 1 1

Rare yet cool, it's a way to get outside pretty quickly while improvising, works well over altered chords, whose color tones are diminished and augmented intervals, and forms as spoke of the melodic minor substitution approach to melodic colors.


Musical atmosphere, environment.

amen effect
My term, describes moving from the One chord to the Four chord and back to One, generally associated with gospel music, or to bring some 'gospel' into any of our styles. (S)

Amer ~ Afro ~ Euro ~ Latin

My first idea of Amer ~ Afro ~ Euro, evolved during the writing of this book to, Amer ~ Afro ~ Euro ~ Latin. This attempts to inclusively describe, in a broad overview, the entire library of music that has been created over the last 500 years with an Americana influence.

Vast in its contents, it combines the 'Amer' of Native American, 'Afro' of African American and 'Euro' of European, for nearly all of this AmerAfroEuro musics are built with varying degrees of the same music theory principles, pitches, forms and basic elements of time.

Latin influences the Americana musics early on too of course, through all the theory components, but especially in rhythms and phrasing, and their influence on swing, improvisation and especially especially in dance, where all of the above come together in pure physical art set in motion.

Stronger from the 1940's onward in jazz, and then again in the later 1970's, the Latin rhythms of the samba dance found new ways into pop and jazz, as artists found grooves 'in 2' made the 'bar lines go away.' There's also a cool correlation between the Latin style 'even 1/8th's' and the evolution of swing to explore.

wiki ~ classical music composers by era
wiki ~ Native Americans
wiki ~ Monteverdi
wiki ~ 1940's jazz

Americana guitarist

Only because this is a theory text is this distinction really being made. In Americana guitar we get to combine the Euro evolved equal temper precision of tuning and, through bending pitches and using a slide, find the more naturally created, indigenous tuning of just intonation combine on one ax.

A key distinction between these two systems is that while just intonation gives us all the pitches and the Americana super essential blue notes, we must have the precision of equal temper tuning to create the entire spectrum of chords we enjoy on our modern guitars. At one point this was quipped the ability to think of and sound out 'anything from anywhere.'

Americana core
Our core musical Americana includes the basic musical elements that we can find somewhere in all of the myriad of different styles and genres of American music. These include 'just' intonated pitches and the blue notes, the 2 and 4 rhythmic pulse and the full range of pitches, harmonies and keys as created by the equal tempered tuning system.

Americana dream

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'

wiki ~ The Americas
wiki ~ life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

yet ... another first :)

This saying is more of a joke among friends here in AK than any music theory thing etc. As so much of what we often do or share, many times it is a 'first' for someone in the group. So if someone says ... 'wow I didn't know that', we quip ... 'yet another first ...' and are thankful for our ever renewing local universe and the continuous discovering of its endless mysteries. When a 'first' happens, it's a bingo moment. And with some work crews, we'd then sing Old McDonald Had A Farm and Bingo ... :)


A uniting song for peoples of all cultures and civilizations to sing together. That often tells a story of peace, and the commonalities we all share as sentient beings, that brings about a lasting global peace and the promise of a full life for all living things.

wiki ~ Anthem song


The first part of a call and response pairing. Usually two or four bars in length, the call or 'question' or first part of a musical phrase. Most often 'answered' by the consequent phrase. These two parts are really always the same measure length.


Italian 'to lean', one pitch leaning off another. Suspensions too.

~ arpeggios ~

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

Yep :)

arpeggiating the harmony

An easy way for melody line instruments to outline the chords in a song.

arpeggio  / arpeggio degrees

Arpeggios are the musical component that melody line instruments can employ to outline the chords in a song. Arpeggios are created by skipping every other note in a scale, stepwise scales are respelt in major and minor 3rd intervals of an arpeggio, both loops with perfect closure. Viola !

Thus ... scale #'s ... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

become arpeggio #'s ... 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15

R. O. !

scale pitches
arpeggio pitches
scale degree
root (1)
scale pitches
arpeggio degree
root (1)
arpeggio pitches

arpeggio saxophone kings

The importance of the arpeggio in the evolution of our musics is profound. In this entry here we choose three jazz artists who each 'revolutionized the music of their day' by featuring the more vertical arpeggio shaped ideas than horizontal stepwise lines in creating improvised melodic lines in a jazz style. And while there are surely other artists, these three; Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, create clear examples of the evolutionary power of the arpeggios in our improvised musics.

R. O. !

wiki ~ Coleman Hawkins
wiki ~ Charlie Parker
wiki ~ sheets of sound

arpeggio studies

Are a collection of exercises that strengthen and polish up our arpeggio chops. For guitar, and depending on stylistic attributes, scholars will run triads, then 7th chords, from each of the diatonic pitches as found within the five basic diatonic, relative major minor scale shapes. A tall order for sure, but a real challenge so fun too, with big rewards :)

S A ! and R. O. !

arpeggio stream of pitches

Just a chart format visualizing how the letter pitches of an arpeggio 'stream' along and always loop to perfect closure of its starting point, helping us rote learn how to spell triads and eventually all the chords and color tones within a key center.

Do rote memorize this series of letters. Thinking in 'C' major.

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

Now, pick any letter starting point and reading left to right, spell out the three letters of a triad, continue beyond to four letters and spell into its 7th, and beyond to all its colortones, and adventure upward towards the bluesy, jazzy Americana colors of all things harmony and chords :)

scale # degrees
C major scale
arpeggio # degrees
C major arpeggio
triads / I

? C E G B D F# A C# E G# B D# F# A# C# / Db F Ab C Eb G Bb D F A C E ... symmetrical :)


Arrangements / arranger. The format that the performance of a composition will follow, a 'map' of the tune, i.e., intro, head, solos, tag etc., that the band decides upon, and often recorded in sound, writing or notation, to be remembered for next time.

Intro / outro. In a hurry for an arrangement or not, lots of great songs start and end with the same music. Works like a charm, often termed 'repeat and fade', easier in the studio than live under the lights.

An 'arrangement' is simply a term we use to describe the format of how we're going to play a particular song and tons of theory can come into play; what key, what style, what form, intro, chords and substitutions, which instrument plays what, ending, on and on really. The more ya know of this the easier and successful U can be when out looking for work by sitting in with bands.

There's a whole group of artists / musicians that officially call themselves arrangers, many of whom are composers too. They specialize in taking the melody gems in their rawest of forms, just hooks even, and polish them into works of art. Like most, a crown jewel is to win a Grammy award.

Professional arrangers work with shaping music for whatever projects come along. From Hollywood film scores to shows on your own hometown's Broadway, and everything in between and even your own version of superhoot.

So if playing an instrument is not your thing, and the only time U want to get under the lights is to pick up a statue or two, start arranging and writing. For writing cool music for others to play is a cool way to work in music and showbiz and oftentimes becomes a nice payday too because if you write it, you can own it too :)

"It took a couple of weeks of listening when I was a kid before the light bulb went off. It wasn't about the songs. It was about how the band interpreted the song."

wiki ~ Johnny Mandel

A start / a method to arrange a song. Find a melody you dig. Learn it solid in a key that's good for you. Strip away everything else that goes into a song and build up your 'arrangement' of this melody.

 arrangements while you wait

Slang for working out the arrangement the band will play immediately preceding the performance of the tune, generally done by often rather quickly 'talking' it through while on the bandstand, seasoned players do this all the time, especially on 'casuals' or pick up gigs and jam sessions, where the music performed includes improvisation in the music, so all through the Americana styles.

array of chords

Thanks to precision of equal temper tuning, adopted in Europe in the later 1600's, we artist guitarists get an incredibly vast array of diatonic chords. Jazz it up altered colortones or Americana blue notes and kaboom. Here's the math on it.

7 diatonic chords

x 12 keys

x 4 basic inversions

x 5 altered colortones

x 2 polytonal builds

= 3,360 possibilities ...

wow that was quick :)



Art is ... representative expressions through the creative energies of the human intellect. Art makes us think. When we experience something we behold as art, it conjures us to think. In music we're extra cool in that our own memories are what we think about when we hear music. We each conjure our own imagery with musical sounds. As musicians, we use the notes and rhythms to aurally tell stories. Words too of course, for they really tell the tale :) R.O. !
wiki ~ art

 art / theory

Simply an idea of how things come about and evolve. Kind of like the "which came first ... the chicken or the egg." In our music studies, we theorists often come along after the art is created and discover the coolness within the music in theoretical terms. The flip side, when the "well is dry", we can use the theory to generate new ideas for creating new art. R.O. !

 artistic filters

To pass a motif through an existing structure, style or concept to develop the original idea. R.O. !

 artistic license

Artistically fitting round pegs in square holes, what an artist might want to have when their ideas are a bit ahead of their time etc., allows an artist to "stretch" conventional guidelines, norms and standards. R.O. !

 artistic signature

Making art from the heart. Aurally recognizable components of a particular players artistic statement, i.e., tone, articulation, phrasing etc. Often identified by artists who's fame is so great they can go by just one name and everyone knows who were thinking of for example; Wes, Bono, Madonna, Elvis, Jeter, MJ, Picasso, Warhol, Adele, Drake, Enya, Beyonce and Louis :)


Melodic lines where the pitches, or any music really, goes up in pitch. The opening line to the song "Greensleeves" is an ascending melody.
wiki ~ Greensleeves song


Music having no tonal center or sense of tonic as compared with our diatonic realm for composition of songs.
wiki ~ atonality

augment (ed) (+)

To enlarge or supplement, to '+' something, usually associated with musical intervals, melodically often associated with the whole tone scale, chordally we often find the augmented term associated with the three note triad, the 4th / #11 and 5th degrees of the tonic and dominant seventh chord type.

augmented 6th chords

More found in traditional or classical music, so named by the interval between the root and one of the upper voices, which forms the interval of an augmented 6th which most of us know as flat 7, blue 7th or dominant 7th.


The physical ability for us to be able to hear, thus become listeners. R. O. !

wiki ~ aural (hearing)

aural abilities

The intellectual ability for us to be able to hear and identify through vocabulary the structures of diatonic music, all music.

R.O. !

aural color

Just a way to describe different musical sounds or chords and is to describe them in a similar manner to how we talk about visual color. R. O. !

wiki ~ colors
wiki ~ light

aural evolutionary process

Big verbiage to describe how our ability to hear gradually evolves, even following along a similar numerical evolution as with the evolution of musical styles. Hearing the theory as the music moves along.

It can also simply be a matter of what we'll accept in regards to function tonal gravity, aural predictability etc.

Formal schooling in music theory includes ear training classes, where you listen to music and write down what's taking place with standard music notation symbols. This is paired with sight singing, a combination of singing and reading standard notation with the voice. R. O. !

aural perfection

(the) Aural perfection of purity of sound. Our system of music theory all comes from our Mother Nature and the natural acoustics she has provided us with. The most aurally pleasing sounds of our pitch combinations is the basis of it all.

This idea of aural perfection is measured when pitches are sounded together, we count how many 'beats' we can hear when sounded together. The beats are the oscillations of sound waves created by each of the pitches.

So, the less beats we hear between two pitches, the purer the sound, the more perfect their combined sound is said to be. As music theory scientists, we can and often do 'measure' all of this 'between the pitches' business and can label every one of the the near endless combinations as intervals; simply the length and width of space between the pitches.

Aural purity is still the basis of our own organizing of the pitches today, and in this book, becomes our 'silent architecture.' Aurally perfect? The octave interval is tops. Also considered perfect? The fifth and fourth intervals are titled as 'perfect' also, in comparison to all of our other diatonic combinations, i.e., major and minor seconds, thirds, sixths and seventh's, their further alterations and combos beyond. Upon this aural perfection the musical house is built. And if the house is rockin' ... don't bother knockin.' :) R. O. !

aural predictability

Aural predictability. Often aligned with the phenomena of 'tonal gravity' in this work, aural predictability is simply a way to describe how we hear and can intuitively sense where the music is going. This includes all of music's features; lyrics, melodies, chords, rhythms, cadences and form. All of this can be numerically laid out; low numbers of whatever elements usually creates a more predictable song from beginning to end. More elements and our numbers go up, we can begin to 'cat and mouse' our intent and as we do so, our style can morph from children's lullaby songs, to folk and country towards the blues, rock and pop to jazz, where all 12 tones are often in play.

With the larger number of 12 tones in the mix, we've a more chromatic potential in the music. And chromaticism is probably the easiest way to obscure the predictability in music, especially when included in both melody lines, the melody line on top and the one on the bottom, the bass line. Termed 'chromatic motion', we can obscure and accelerate our sense to a destination.

Add in brighter tempos and V7 chord types for all of the chords, and we arrive at style of modern jazz we enjoy today. While nearly aurally unpredictable in its directions to most listeners, there's often a high degree of fascination, curiosity and sense of 'beyond' in this music that can strongly captivate and enthrall all who experience its performance.


A type of chord cadencing using tonic, One ( I ) and dominant, Five chords ( V ) motion, which 'authenticates' One as the tonic pitch of our song, or for the moment anyway. Just a way to designate Five to One motion.


Slang term for your instrument. 47

Bach, J.S.

Johann Sebastion Bach (1685-1750), was the unheralded King Of The European Continent at the close of the Baroque era. As often quipped on this side of the Atlantic, in Bach's own day he was 'the greatest keyboard player that we in America never heard of.'

Arpeggio king beyond all rational measures, Bach joins to our Americana brethren, who evolutionized the way forward through skipping ever other step.

Here's JS, the master himself, working the Western Euro magic.

Bach chorales

Bach Chorales. A collection of songs for church in the early 1700's written by J.S Bach, one of the composer and keyboard player kings of European Baroque music. We analyzed these for music theory class.

~ like this ~

All written by this Cat. R.O. !


A backbeat is a term we use to describe the 2nd and 4th beats of a measure of 4/4 time, often accented, and sometimes sharply accented; a pop on 2 and 4 created by the snare drum, which becomes the heartbeat of a wide swath of grooves within the style spectrum of our Americana styles.

This accenting on the offbeats of 4/4 time is what creates the feeling of 'pull' between the unaccented 1 and 3 beats and accented beats of 2 and 4, this 'feeling of the pull' between the beats, creates Americana swing.


A word from riding a bicycle I'd imagine, motion by perfect fourths, so in a counter-clockwise direction on the cycle of fifths organization of our 12 pitches. In the chord progression '1 3 6 2 5 1', the root motion starts on 1 / C then jumps across a bit to 3 / E, then 'pedals back' back to C by passing by A / 6, D / 2, and G / 5, to get there.

In backpedaling, each of the pitches is the 'fifth of the one' it precedes, anywhere in or along this loop of our 12 pitches.


Slang for something easily done.

Like ... "I got this."


bad action

Strings to high for ease of playing.

bag of licks

A collection, a 'bag full of ... ', your own favorite musical phrases or chord changes. Once under the fingers, they'll often become parts of your original songs. Historically, best sources of licks have included lifting off ideas from the musical recording you love and learning melodies of the styles of music that U connect deep with.

baking bread

There's an old time fairy tale about this, who wants to help bake the bread then who wants to help eat the bread. Know some bakers. John Lennon and Paul McCartney baked bread.

wiki ~ bread

wiki ~ John Lennon

wiki ~ Paul McCartney


A style of song characterized by a slower, stately tempo with an emotional content usually centered on the topic of love.

wiki ~ ballad

Oldtime 4 string tenor banjo.

wiki ~ tenor banjo


A style or period of European music and architecture characterized by it's emphasis on ornamentation of line, with sequential, mostly diatonic sequences, historically spanning the years of 1600 to 1750.

J. S. Bach

Baroque ~ ornate and super well crafted

wiki ~ Baroque era

wiki ~ Baroque guitar

wiki ~ history of Europe

bar / measure

A word to describe a measure of length in our music, in both actual time depending on tempo and as a way to notate our music with written symbols. Three bars or measures of music with counted rests, quarter and eighth notes. The first measure is numbered 1.


A chord shape on stringed instruments whereby the index finger of the fretting hand perpendicularly covers all of the strings, in effect replacing the nut of the instrument creating movable chord forms.

Our index finger can become a movable capo in the blink of an eye, or one step further if necessary, just grab your slide :) Here's a textbook chops pic of this power barre chord bringing us the rhythm and harmony of 60's rockin' pop magic.


Lowest vocal register, lowest pitch of a chord, foundation of the music, a clef. Here are the bass clef letter names on the staff.

bass players

The cats who play instruments that play the bass notes, the lowest vocal register, lowest pitch of a chord, foundation of the music, a clef, plays the bass story line etc.

(a, the) beat

Common term for one pulse of time in the music. In some theory circles of thought, there's a 'front', 'middle' and 'back' of the beat. There's also a backbeat, downbeat and upbeat. All of this on one beat ? So it seems. And 'b.p.m', which is an anacronym for 'beats per minutes', our way to measure how fast a song will go.


Bebop. A remarkably virtuosic style of melodic line, so more for listening than a dance music style of American jazz, which historically evolved from the late 1930's through the 40's and beyond. Pioneered by Charlie Parker, pianist Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, guitarist Charlie Christian and others, bebop songs are characterized by bright tempos, super intricate melodies, chock full of modulating chord changes of mostly diatonic harmony, with the swing and polyrhythms of pure Americana with a renewed concept of forward motion in time, a profoundly exciting style of Americana jazz to both perform and listen to :)

A historically 'new' music in 1940, whose combined catalogue of songs simply exhausted every nook and cranny of the diatonic harmony potentials of a key center, at the fastest tempos ever heard.

So perhaps the greatest of our Americana musical and artistic challenges ever conceived by mere mortal and sentient beings ? Try out some bop licks for yourself and find out first hand :)

Beethoven String Quartets

Beethoven String Quartets.

wiki ~ Beethoven
wiki ~ Beethoven String Quartets


Bending pitches the fine art of changing pitch by physically altering the creation of the pitch, i.e., pushing or pulling a string, using a slide on the strings, tightening the embouchure for horn players, bending pitches is often essential in delivering the blues styles and the blue notes.

big beat / big four

The big beat or big four is for the most part just the successive sounding of four quarter notes in common four / four time. Most of the American sounds follows this beat, it creates the core 'pocket' for swing, makes for a very predictable groove for dancers and they love it.

big hits

Big hits are songs that chart well on the Billboard top 100, or top 40, or top 10 and then may even go on to win a Grammy award.

wiki ~ billboard


Usually associated with form in music, basically meaning two parts making up the whole, as in the number 25 is a binary number.

birds' eye

Slang for fermata, a symbol for suspending the forward motion / time of the music. Here's the symbol, just like a bird's eye :)

birds eye view

A bird's eye view gives us the big picture too :) This is a slang idea and it is a way to look at our pitches, which number just 12 in total, and how a bird's eye view, looking from way up there, we can see this resource built up pitch by pitch, along the way we pass through each 'color' of our creative palette.

That this 'bird's eye one by one' applies to both the numbers of pitches in our groups and number of beats in setting them in motion in time is cool too.

Start off with five. For example, add one select pitch to a five pitch, minor pentatonic core and the essential six note, tritone bearing blues scale arrives. Its pervasive influence everywhere in our Americana sounds simply cannot be denied.

Next, from a six pitch grouping to the seven pitches of the major and minor diatonic scales and modes, creating the pitch groups for not only the endlessly evolving crossover styles of all things Americana but most of the harmony as well.

Then a gradual peppering back in of the remaining five blue notes, to our seven pitch grouping, completing our 12 pitches of half step chromaticism, stylized in jazz and all that is beyond.

With the chords, these five notes within the 12 become the 'new 3rd' of each of our V7 of V chords. We build these 'V7 of ... s' on the diatonic positions to accelerate and blusify of musics. First written into songs from the 20's 'V7 of ... s' have been in near all of our Americana styles ever since.

blue notes
maj 3rd of
V of V
V of ii
V of vi
V of iii
D7 / G7

That there's a sense of a 'leading tone' in these pitch combinations, a leaning us towards a sense of predictable resolution, is our catalyst of the pitches. Catalyst as in the 'two pitch tritone within V7's ?' Yep.

And with the diatonic color tones of the arpeggios / harmony ? We can clearly follow a similar numerical evolution; from three note triads we add the 7th, one by one increasing the numbers of pitches in a chord Tonic colortones from the root pitch 'C.'


bird's eye view

Chord progressions. Bird's eye looking at the number of written chords between phrases, four or eight bars in any song really tells us some about it style. For example, in the three, four bar phrases of 12 bar blues, we 'sub in' changes between the changes. In the olden days they called it 'jazz it up.' Plus, more options on through as to where the lines might go.

Here we can 'historically 'build' a solo, using all of the above numericals, to help organize our development. What we do with whatever we can find might become a component in the art we're creating.


In jazz. For what we will 'accept' as V7, any chord really s in our songs, both of which will generally correspond to a gradual morphing between our musical styles of the AmerAfroEuroLatin weave of musics.

Bird Lives


A biography of Charlie Parker, who pioneered and ushered in a new style of music we generally term as 'bebop', and we now know so far that in theory, as well as practice, that 'bop' is the most challenging of the diatonic / blues based Americana music ever invented and a complete bear for guitarists.


wiki ~ Charlie Parker
wiki ~ bebop


Two distinctly different aural colors, from different key centers, used together.

block chords

Refers to voicing each melody note with it's own chord / harmony.


Jazz speak slang for soloing, from the horn players I'd imagine. 'You going to blow on this?' Meaning, will you solo on this tune ?


In this text it is used to describe basic harmonic formulas or key musical elements that are often associated with and even define a popular musical style. For example, a 'blueprinting' for a blues is a 12 bar form.


An indigenously organic, aural core of our Americana music styles in its pitches, rhythms, poetry, forms and improvisation.

R O !

blues form

Blues form / 12 bar blues. For up and coming artists, learning about a song's form is equal to knowing of it's style and rhythms, key center and pitches, chord progression and original mojo words and storyline. For in learning a song's form, we get our arms around it; we know its beginning and end points framing us up a picture to be painted as we tell our tales.

Today, the form of a blues styled song creates a classic Americana storytelling journey. Often standardized with 12 bars, in three / four bar phraes, the '12 bar blues' is a global song form. Used in a wide range of styles, mastering the form brings all sorts of benefits in both thought process and art.

For it gives us a form to 'make up a song' with new artists we meet. It's a quick way to get everyone who knows the form involved with the music making and dancing, in like 8 seconds. Super easy to teach too, as blues loves the 'big 4' beat, so just count up to 4 ~ 12 times ... and your in the loop :)

The 'blues form' in it's natural shape includes the magic to build climaxes of all descriptions; hair stand up physical, super vocal storytelling emotional, and primal dance steps all through the ages.

Having taught music and guitar now for a spell, up and coming players who get this form under their fingers often explode artistically right near there after. For while not every song is a 12 bar blues form, pretty near every Americana song has four bar phrases, so the blues not only helps us master the 4 bar phrase but it does so in a complete songwriting form, so it'll work in any of our Americana styles.

~ read on ... ! ~

blue notes (scale)

Blue notes. The ones that make us tear up and cry, makes our hair stand up and sets a body swaying, the pitches of the blues scale, also those pitches named in relation to the seven pitches of the diatonic major scale; the sharp one, minor third, augmented fourth, augmented fifth and minor seventh, i.e., the other five pitches.

The blue notes simply have a slightly to dramatic difference in pitch from the regular, tuned up pitch levels. We Americano's 'rub' these various tunings together, and create that blues hue weave of the Americana fabric of musics. R O !

blue 3rd (third)

Three half steps above any of our 12 notes lives a blue 3rd. On equal temper temper instruments such as our own guitars, it is 'built in tuned' a bit flat ... to the more natural 'just' tuning. So rub it up a bit to bring forth its genie magic.


Slang, the method of making something non-blues into something blues, or even just adding a dab of the blue color somewhere in the music we're creating.

wiki ~ Picasso blue period

blues anchor

A device for focusing a band in a hurry, like in one beat or measure, top of a form etc.

blues and beyond

blues chords

Blues chords. In common practice, all the chords in a major keyed blues song are dominant 7th chords, thus they contain a tritone interval within their four pitches; 1 major 3, 5, b7. This V7 sound creates half of what is termed here the 'blues rub', the other half being the sound of the blue notes rubbing up against the tritone in this chord.

Blues tunes written in a minor key are way simpler in theory with the chords. Minor triad based harmony supports minor pentatonic melody pitches that have been single pitched, and often tritone enhanced.

blues harmony

The unique non-diatonic harmonic scheme, based on the two pitch tritone within the V7 chord, traditionally used to support the American blues sounds.

blues 'rub'

In Americana musics, rubbing two pitches together that have a slightly different tuning. Also, while any two notes will blues rub, the core is how the blue minor third melody note sits on top of the major third of V7, the basic blues chordal color we use to support our blues lines, thus: minor 3rd in melody + major third in chord = a blues 'rub.'

blues scale

The minor pentatonic group of five with a one pitch tritone, the half way point to a perfect octave closure of the pitches. Thinking blues in 'A', an 'A' blues scale.

A C D - Eb - E G A

blues elevator

Gets us up and down the fingerboard using a 'cell' of a couple of notes, clustered together on the fingerboard.

A blues elevator. The blues and its character notes are built right into all our modern six string guitars, and have been since they came into the Americas from from its Euro roots looking like this. Example 2z.

Thinking in 'A', and starting at the the 5th fret, we find a 'built right in' super blue note geetar cluster. Example 2a.

Blues leaning ? Add this to your homework thinking root to root.

'add in' a blues lick

Placing a blues lick into a spot in the music where it artistically fits in. Doesn't have to be a blues tune. We hear this all the time in rock, jazz, pop and country tunes, surely everyone in the room should know this flavor :)


To obscure the clarity, here the tonal direction, tonal gravity of a musical phrase.

borrow (ing)

A term to help understand the concept of how we can bring in pitches from other key centers to spice up our diatonic realm. If you play songs that modulate key centers then you're already borrowing pitches. Blue notes are a way to neatly 'borrow' a new pitch or two right now !!!

bossa / jazz

new 2 5 1 chords

These two styles are so similar in theory that they're most often grouped together in discussions of their scales, arpeggios, chords, chord progressions, improvisation.

Guitars are built with 'G' as a root pitch and some learning methods base their pedagogy on the following perspective.

bossa jazz

bass line story

D C# C B Bb Eb E A D-

wiki ~ "How Insensitive" Jobim song


Term for turning any sort of music into a bossa nova style with a bossa beat.
wiki ~ Bossa Nova

Bowie, David

'Che che che changes' was just one of many wonderful hooks created by Mr. Bowie we sang as kids.
wiki ~ David Bowie

break tune

In the old days, bands had theme songs that they played during their shows. A break tune is a song between sets, that tells everyone in the room that there's a 'pause for the cause', introduce the band members, so stick around and we'll be right back for more music in about 15 minutes.

breaks (instrumental)

Pre-arranged spots in the music where the band stops on a dime and one of the members gets a couple of bars to solo unaccompanied. Usually one, two or four bars in length, once completed the band joins back in and off they go.

bridal chorus

Of course we Americans mostly know this as Here Comes The Bride", the lick is Richard Wagner's wedding march from his opera "Lohengrin", 1850.

wiki ~ bridal chorus _ Wagner


slang for the 'B' section of the A / A / B / A form, the bridge lives between A sections and most often is a different melodic idea, a contrasting theme. In pop and other styles of music it is also called the release, refrain even if there are repeated words, in verse / chorus pairings, the chorus (B) becomes the 'bridge' between verses (A) etc.

wiki ~ bridge music

bring it

Mostly for improvisors, that implies that when it's time for the artist to step up and testify and bring the house down, they muster the juice of whatever and do just that, they bring all their energies to capture the mood of the moment and tell their listeners their version of the story everybody owns a piece of.

'broken chord'
Sounding the notes of a chord in succession to one another as opposed to being vertical struck together, slang for arpeggio.

as in ... make the big roar :)

wiki ~ Marshal amps
wiki ~ Fender amps
wiki ~ analogue


59 Burst

wiki ~ Gibson Les Paul

64 Strat

wiki ~ Stratocaster
wiki ~ Fender


blurring / buzzing

My term for a style of modern jazz whereby dominant harmony substitutes for all the chords, the improvised line tends to become more chromatic and the tempo is blisteringly fast. Also, what horn players do with their mouthpiece to initiate their sound on brass instruments.

by ear

Identifying through hearing the musical events of music as the unfold.

C to A on the piano keys

( no #'s or b's )


Seemingly unrelated combinations of sounds, i.e., noise. In actual music often as an affection, created by using multiple tonal centers simultaneously of combined, random chromatic motion between instruments.


Usually two or more pitches or chords chords that bring a sense of closure or rest to musical tension. In melodies; 2 down to to 1 and 7 up to 8 are common cadences. With chords, V7 to I is the general basis of a chord cadence. See the next entry titled 'cadential motions' for various types of chord cadencing. R. O. !

cadential motions

Cadential motions.

"A progression of two or more chords used at the end of a composition, section or phrase, to convey a feeling of permanent or temporary repose."

Harvard Brief.

Cadences love to point music in a direction towards one pitch. In 'C' major, classic bass story line.

Oh ... back to Roman numeral times ?

Also, a musical term that describes the various ways of creating chordal solutions to support a melody's tension and release dynamic, i.e., its tonal gravity and aural predictability within a musical style. Common varieties include;

Authentic cadence. Basically any Five to One chord motion for both minor and major keys and songs. Want to set up C major as the center of the music?

Somebody say amen. Dig deeper on your own if needed for the terms of a 'perfect' authentic cadence.

Half cadence. Includes harmonic motions that end on the Five chord, thus halfway there or thought to be incomplete.

Plagel cadence. Usually will generally apply to any motions of the Four chord moving to One. Cadentially 'plagel' is super common in folk styled musics. So; V IV I in both major and minor, often brings us to a resolution in a more gentler, folksy way.

Deceptive cadence. Five or V7 going to the minor Six chord. Five to major Six is far less common but an essential touch in spots.

Modal cadences. Using the above three main cadential motions but thinking modally, i.e., creating loops within loops, both diatonic and altered. These might be substitute turnarounds, i.e., modal turnarounds, when placed into other diatonic or pitch environments.

Vamp ~ cadence. Probably not really a true cadence theorywise, but surely our vamps can cycle any conventional cadential motion or grouping. Even 'three times and out' probably qualifies.

Non resolving cadential motion. Cycles of changes both diatonic and enhanced. A chord progression such as; Three / Six / Two / Five, or half step double Two / Five are fairly common, essential and cool.

Giant Steps changes. A new evolution of motion combining our traditional cycle of fourth's cadential motion with motion of major 3rds. into a new harmonic cycle.

cadentially reinforced

To ramp up the sense of gravity or obscure the direction we're going to create unexpected twists and surprises in the music.


An open section where a player gets to play solo and unaccompanied, usually found at the end of a song.

Cadillac Jack

The main character of a book by the same title authored by Larry McMurtry. "Anything can be anywhere."

wiki ~ Larry McMurtry

call and response

Initially developed from community services, whereby the leader sings a phrase to which the people respond, surely among the most common forms of communication between sentient beings.

Sing yourself some personal blues :)

call: 'The truth is ...'

response: Ya just don't love me no more ...'


Slang for choosing a tune while on the bandstand. A callable tune (standard) is one usually familiar to most players in the group. Also, 'calling' tunes also includes suggesting forms of music to perform. Most common? A 12 bar blues. A three chord folksy bluegrass number; "G, C' D'er. A minor blues in 'A' minor. Rhythm changes in 'C.'

wiki ~ jazz standard

capitalized numbers

When a number is written out and capitalized, 'One', it represents that numerical scale or arpeggio degree or color tone. One through Eight are the usual scale degrees. Once above Eight we're into the colortones and beyond. Caps on a number just sets it into a diatonic basis, and we just figure the rest out from there.


A device used by guitar players that "clamps" all the strings across the fingerboard, allowing open position chords to create other keys.

p.s. note the now ancient chord shape :)

career musician

Career musician. Would be one who has decided that music will always be a part of their whole lives in whatever capacities become available; ranging from studying and playing an instrument for fun to researching a favorite style and its players, to becoming a scholar, teacher and professional performer et al. This idea also branches out to having a 'life in the arts.'

Pro leaning artists, generally have plenty of materials for practice for getting them to where they want to be in their musics. And they gots the juice to get there.


A musical / arts event where your presence is requested, details to be determined.

categories ~ styles

In putting this work together, I had to simplify things by assigning all of the popular styles of the American sounds into one of six categories; Metal, Folk, Country, Blues, Rock, Pop and Jazz. These are where the breakpoints in the theory are most easily visible, especially via the harmony. So broadly label your style as one of the six and you'll find lots of ways into understanding your music.

catalog guitars


Simply oldtime American slang for a musician, player, artist or friend. Credited to trumpeter, vocalist band leader maestro Louis Armstrong, inventor of Americana swing. R.O. !

wiki ~ Louis Armstrong

modern cave cats :)

Here's a pic of a 'modern' cave cat :)

This picture is used by 'unasked granted' permission, as Dee and I went to public school together, I was two grades behind, in Baldwin, N.Y. , in the 70's.

Thank you Sir 'en advance' for your artful depiction is my symbol of the essential component of learning; to stay hungry.

wiki ~ Dee Snider
stay hungry


A term that describes a musical idea, usually a snippet of melody or a combination of chords, that is used as a core idea for further expansion and development in musical composition / artistic work.


One of the ways we numerically measure and label our pitches. There are 100 cents in each of our half step intervals.

wiki ~ cent music

Ya hip to the ...

changes ?

"Che che che changes ... " ( the words, actually the hook, to a popular song :)


With jazz origins probably shortened from 'chord changes', ( da :) 'changes' is today surely a common slang term for the chords of a song

Now 'getting ... 'hip to the changes' ... that is a horse of a different color Brothers and Sisters. Often a question on the bandstand, slang for knowing the chords to the song, the one about to be played. Further on up the road, hipness includes learning about how our harmony works, its evolutions through styles, complexities and history. That we guitar players have had these 'changes' since the 1400's or so is cool.

The piano, as a musical instrument built to play the chords, super way and all the way 'hip to the changes' too.

wiki ~ "Changes" song David Bowie


An ancient and timeless form of spiritual mediation that centers all one's energies on their own cosmic pitches. In doing so, we center our beings while connecting up with our local universe and points beyond.

Water flow and wind chime melodies and we chant away the listening universe.


Slang for a written musical score or lead sheet. Need charts for your band? Once you want to find some sheet music to study, put the word out to you 'local universe' and it will provide; for there's a ton or more of it out there; from friends, teachers, libraries, schools, music stores, used book stores etc.


Chomp. Slang for a style of playing chords on banjo and guitar, popular from our earliest times through the 1940's styles of jazz, most often with a quarter note beat in 4/4 time, so the 'big 4' all along, providing a rich super pulse heartbeat 'motoring' of the harmony through solid '4 to the bar' rhythms, also called 'chopping wood', this core rhythm style lays down the basis of rhythm section swing from the big band era of the 20's through the later 30's and forward, on through to any style where a steady rhythm guitar drives the groove, so all the ''up chuckin' on the offbeats of bluegrass, reggae, bebop too ! And near any push on 2 and 4, in any of the above eras, styles and grooves, bring's on the potential for the 'pull of swing's magics.' In writing, these 'chomped' rhythm parts become the 'dashes.'

pull of swing
wiki ~ Freddie Green


Slang for a players ability to execute musical phrases. An accomplished musician is said to 'have some chops.' To get said chops we each have to learn how to push the buttons. No one else can push the buttons for us. Call it practicing or whatever, players with chops have paid some dues shedding in the woodshed. Which for many turns out to really be a very cool place to hang out ... :)

"I learned that you should think about the chords you're playing behind. Most of my solos come right out of those chords."
wiki ~ Leslie West


Different pitches, vertically stacked and struck, sounded together. R.O. !

chord degree

Numerical label for pitches within a chord or arpeggio, i.e., 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th etc. These would be the same numbers as found within an arpeggio. R. O. !

chord family

Viewing any chord or harmony in one of three families in relation to the major tonality, chords in each of the families provide one of three basic artistic elements, these are stability (tonic), passing chord (Two) and tension (Five). R. O. !

chord function

Any chord within a progression of chords can be assigned a 'function' with the progression. For example and thinking diatonically in 'C' major, that a 'C7' chord functions as a 'pivot' chord to change key centers / modulate etc. We've also passing chords, tonic and dominant function chords. R. O. !

chord melody

A style of guitar where melody notes and harmony are positioned to create complete musical arrangements, style of performance where melody pitch is the highest note of each chord. R. O. !

chord progression
Specific cycles of chords, the motion of one chord to another. The harmonic motions that help a song be a song :) R. O. !

~ chord 'coffee' ~ spelling chart

Coffee chord spelling chart. The following chart is a likeness of the one created by Larry Tutt over coffee one day at music school, hence its name here. This organization of the letter names and their corresponding numbers became the key to unlock Bach's whole tamale for me, as Bach's music was the basis of theory 101.

Here in 'C', run it through the other 11 keys, even once, and golden light illumination appears when it's time to spell any triad or chord with colortones of our local universe. For having done it once, you will know of the way to do it again.

How it works. Since our scale degrees are one through eight, so one full octave, and our arpeggio degrees are one through 15, we must have two full octaves of the scale to create the arpeggio.

~ C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C ~

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

Did we just skip every other note of a two octave scale to create a full arpeggio ? Yep.

~ chord 'coffee' ~ spelling chart

Thus, the 9th above the root is an octave + a major second, the 11th is an octave + a perfect fourth, 13th is an octave + us major 6th, and 15th is two octaves above our starting root pitch.

Spelling triads / chords. So spelling the letter names of the chords is simply about knowing what root pitch by scale degree to start, and find that note in the arpeggio. Reading the letters left to right, our 'root 3rd 5th 7th' and beyond all fall right into place.

Super 'rote up' this bit of theory and have every chord imaginable at your command, in theory that is, for still to be discovered is just where on the piano keys and guitar fingerboard, all this harmony magic lives.

scale # degrees
C major scale
arpeggio # degrees
C major arpeggio
7th chord quality
diatonic triads
diatonic 7th chords
analysis numbers
2 octave scale
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 1 5
C . E . G . B . D . F . A . C
scale # degrees
A minor scale
arpeggio # degrees
A minor arpeggio
7th chord quality
i min 7
III maj7
VI maj7
diatonic triads
diatonic 7th chords
analysis numbers
2 octave scale
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 1 5
A . C . E . G . B . D . F . A

chord quality

The various properties of a chord that help to define its role in a chord progression; major, minor, augmented and diminished are the common qualities of triads, added color tones will further define quality.

chord substitution

Simply replacing one chord with another, or slipping in additional chords between the written changes of a song, generally of the same chord type. Surely a mostly blues and jazz, especially jazz where the artist is looking to solo through chord changes.

By substituting chords for one another, we create variety and increase our melodic options.

Chord symbols are just the shorthand for designating the various chords most often found in a lead sheet presentation. Lots of variation in these through the decades. Here are some of the more common ones of today.

"We all know that symbols matter."

wiki ~ Paul Mitchell

chord tone(s)

Refers to a pitch used in the creation of a chord, the pitches used to create a particular chord, chord tones also create the arpeggios.

For a 'C' triad, the pitches 'C E G' are chord tones.

Pitches not part of the chord? Non-chord tones :)

chord type

Chord type. The theory of chord type allows us to streamline three unique interval combinations to create three unique families of chords. The idea is to be able to identify any chord by its 'type', placing it into a family which helps in organizing our practicing and understanding of where we will commonly find and use each of the three types in the music.

'1 3 5 7.' The two key elements of determining a chord's 'type' are the quality of the triad and its added 7th degree. Both our choices are one of two; either major or minor. Is our triad major or minor? And is our 7th a major or minor 7th interval above our root pitch. It's in the three basic combinations of these major / minor choices where the idea of chord type evolves from.

The three categories of chord type, i.e., tonic ( I ), Two ( ii ) or Five ( V ), viewed in relation to the major tonality, provide us three basic artistic elements for crafting music, stability ( I ), tension ( V ) and passing between these two points, ( ii ).

chord voicing

Chord voicings refer to the arrangement of the pitches or chord tones within a chord.

(a) chorus

A chorus. Generally, one complete cycle of the entire form of a piece of music. Most common are the 12 bar blues and 32 bar song forms. For example, one time through the complete 12 bar blues form is termed one chorus. Often applied when improvising, solo time is often determined by number of choruses. While song forms can be anything really, as a song's story dictates the length and form, common American forms include; a four bar phrase, an eight bar phrase for folk and children's songs, the 12 bar blues in every style, and the bit longer A B 16 and A A B A 32 bar song forms, all based in part also to the Euro 'sonata allegro' form.

Lifting. The song's form cycles though its progression and there's often subtle differences for tricky spots. So if one 'spot' is aurally obscured in one chorus, find the same spot in the next, and maybe the note sought is more clearly audible etc.

chromatic (motion) and 'blur' magics

Melodic or harmonic motion of consecutive half steps in either direction, creating a blurring effect of the key center and sense of tonal gravity as the music moves along.Chromatic motions creates the chromatic magic; simply a quick way to 'blur' our musical directions, to temporarily suspend our forward motions, and due to its half step nature, easily 'slip' right into any other pitch, arpeggio or chord. Is there chromatic magics with the rhythms and time? Yep, we call it to 'turn the beat around.' And do read on ...

"I don't know if Charlie Parker was the first to use chromatic ideas in his blues lines ... but he sure was the King of doing it!"

wiki ~ Herb Ellis


The idea of chromaticism falls along the lines of really anything chromatic in nature, i.e., using half steps within the diatonic realm of things. A bit further along these lines, chromaticism often reflects a more continual addition of half steps, giving the music an overall chromatic tone through an entire piece or section within. Do read on ...

wiki ~ chromaticism

chromatic blur

A way to attempt to describe in theory the blur of musicals colors scooting by on a wing. On altered chords, where the colortones are tightly voiced and often planed by half step, in blurring tempos.

Blend towards the chromatic with a corresponding loss of key center, aural predictability and tonal gravity. It is a fascinating and ethereal music that cooks right along and is a fascinating thought process. Do read on ...

chromatic enhancement

Discovering various ways to evolve a musical phrase by inserting half steps or the blue notes in a diatonic melodic line, to approach pitches of a musical idea by half step above or below.

Jazz players such as Charlie Parker perfected this bluesy nuanced style of melodic line back in the 40's, dramatically evolving the jazz vocabulary for creating melodic lines. Do read up ... or on ...

chromatic helmet

Safety device worn by musically adventurous folks. Note the solid, strength of the incoming center beam of mojo light to the receptive modern artist. I'd say Ms' right hand is on some sort of synth keyboard and she's looking at the drummer, sending thanks for motorizing their collective magics energizing Muse to beam them all aboard :)

chromatic scale

Twelve pitches, a group of pitches created exclusively with the interval of a half step, containing 12 pitches within one octave. Twelve pitches is, in theory, all we get. Need more? Start bending :) Got chromatic ?



When first arriving in my new homeland of Alaska there was this smokin' jazz trio named "Chromazone." Led by bassist Bob Sunda, with guitarist Rick Smith and Rubin Young on drums, they played everything and anything really, their focus was on finding the swing in any groove and style. Foot tapping entertaining for all folks and getting up to dance. And once they start dancing the room would just come alive :)

"I don't know if Charlie Parker was the first

to use chromatic ideas in his blues lines ...

but he sure was the King of doing it!"

wiki ~ Herb Ellis


Join historical order, to understand a series events in the historical sequence in which they occurred our group of pitches created exclusively with the interval of a half step, containing 12 pitches within one octave.

church modes

Called 'church' modes today mostly because that is where their historical records where preserved in their day for us future scholars to study, they are a medieval system of four scales;

~ Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian and Mixolydian ~

Each consisting of the tones of the basic diatonic scale of today's white keys of the piano, a system of pitches later enlarged in the 16th century with two additional scales; Ionian and Aeolian, all of which was incorporated into our present system of equal temper tuning. HBDM.

circle of fifths

A pictorial 'clocklike' representation and way to organize the 12 tonal or key centers of the equal temperament system, based on the root motion of perfect fifths, usually clockwise, or it's inverse, the perfect fourth (counterclockwise).


circle of fourths

A pictorial 'clocklike' representation and way to organize the 12 tonal or key centers of the equal temperament system, based on the root motion of perfect fourths, usually viewed clockwise.


classic sounds

In Essentials here, the idea of "classic sounds" nearly always implies that there's only one spot to generate a certain classic sound on our instruments. While there are other places on the neck where identical pitches by letter name live, most often there's only one way and one spot to get certain sounds. Any of the open string licks would qualify here as well as some of the character blues licks.

classical guitar / nylon string / Spanish guitar / Flamenco guitar / a nylon string classical guitar ... or ... a Bossa Nova ride :)

wiki ~ classical guitar
wiki ~ A. Segovia
wiki ~ Bossa Nova

classical theory

The theory of European classical music and our American music theory differs in really just one aspect; there's no real blues music or its influence in classical music. No blue notes, no big four, no 2 and 4. Call and response? Yes, that's in there. Using a dominant chord type as the One, Four and Five chords? No, just not in the mix.

Further, that we Americano's have used the slang term 'legit' to describe various aspects of the classical musical world, its players, musics and most importantly here, its approach to understanding the theories of the music. All good.

clave beat

The clave ... wanna dance ? Second line ... then we gots to march. Both rhythms bring us to the core of Americana motor magics. Rote this next one in claps, taps and a dance step or two and surely on your instrument too.

wiki ~ clave beat
wiki ~ 'Second line'

the claw

The claw is slang for the thumb, index, middle and ring finger of the motor hand. In this case having four, they become capable of a wide spectrum of combinations, and we each will find our own ways, based on how our own unique sense of motor and rhythms runs etc. For righties it looks like this from the front.

Look like a 'classical' guitar approach ? Cool, yea it is. And it ties into a few hundred years of 'doing it this way' pedagogy. In American musics? We weave our claw rhythms into the music that surrounds us; when jamming with the radio, records, friends and the band, prolly not realizing that our motor hand motions are more classical guitar in nature than :)

Jazz guitar players love the claw for playing changes. For in full, four fingers gives us four notes for a chord. Thus, the super magic rhythm ability to exactly start and stop the sounding of a chord, according to how we are hearing the swing in the groove we're on. This 'exactitude' in starting and stopping creates our rhythms, and the claw is the magic.

Once a four finger style is considered, there's three, two, one. Which can be the thumb, which powers idea in octaves and chord melody ideas, two techniques jazz players love to bring :)


Cliché. A 'cliche lick' is usually a couple of pitches in a special rhythm that ring a bell in our collective memories, so a lick that has been around for a good long while, one everyone knows. Turns out musicians need to have a few cliche licks under their fingers, often in a couple of keys, to fulfill their musical destinies.

These ideas held in 'common' help glue and form up our music. In the band and of course in the listening audience. A stereotypical musical phrase often spanning generations of players, cliche licks are a way into learning the Americana musical language, probably like learning any language for that matter. Like this couple of pitches we learned as kids. Thinking cliche in 'C.'

or ... 85565 ... 78

The memory of which is passed generation to next generation. Part of the trick here is to learn the cliches of an era and find ways to use them in creating humor, nostalgia, longing etc., in our musics of today.

Each style has their cliche licks, and as cliche they have that 'can appear anywhere / anytime magic. Best to learn as many as U can, they're fun too :)

There's quoting, which is playing the melody of one song in another, but cliche is a bit different. There's an 'evolution of sorts' in cliche. Like this bass line ending to a rockin' 12 bars ...

Super hip today becomes cool then 'oh I remember that lick ... and then towards shtick, which if it sticks around long enough, often becomes parodied in new songs, which in turn get reinvented till someone comes along and writes a great new tune on yesterdays cliche, and back we go to the super hip new to start off again.

~ cool ~ shtick ~ parody ~ cliche ~

Cliches go back to a historical source and then generationally into our collective memories. Remember those bell bottoms jeans ? New players are encouraged to learn them as it ties us right into the history of the genre and style we dig. Once firmly under the fingers, we naturally 'variate to survive the bore-doom.'

Each culture has their collection of cliche in music, colors, fashion, setting, theatre, on and on. We as Americano's get to freely melt them all together. And if they are old enough, there's no copyright and we can make something of our own that is new, that we can copyright :) Like an original melody and hook, maybe just a couple of major triads for a theme? Yep. Here's a joyous one for all our folks.

Another part of the cliche trick is to evolve the licks in our own unique and artistic ways, as we create new freshness from the ancient DNA, we carry its timeless and vital spirit forward from the beginnings, their historical origins become a pathway to our own journey, now coming round anew in a next generation or so.

The evolution of cliche. Turns out that after we find our spots to 'cliche' up our Americana and lock in a few common the riffs and forms of our songs, they can be 'abbreviated' yet still get the intent of the idea across in our melodies.

Power of suggestion. For example, after we sound out and fit in the 'Muddy walkdown' lick on through Americana styles, we realize we can also just 'imply' the lick, by sounding a note or two of it. For it has the power of cliche yes ? And once the cliche is hinted at and set in motion, the rest of its cliche notes now 'silently' fill in the rest of the measure and phrase.

What we gain. So as the time clicks on by, and we abbreviate and idea, we create space for a couple of beats, a sort of pause in the pitches, yet still fully counting along and together with the band, aiming for an important downbeat; the 'beat one of the next phrase, or a beat one of the 'bridge or new section', or in a 12 bar blues, where the top of the form' happens every 12 bars or so :) All while the band plays on, joining in with their version of your cliche. Round and round yea !

Cliche from melodies. While there's a dozen cliches in Americana, there's also a million songs that use the same pitches and rhythms, yet all unique somehow. Maybe 'cause of the lyrics, the poetry of the story. All considered, learning songs and playing their melodies opens the 'lick vault' wide open. And while ideas that pop out might not be common enough to be a cliche, its a nice combination of pitches to get under our fingers, another lick to knit into our lines. And who knows, maybe U'll make it a cliche for you.

click track

Recording studio term for a metronomical beat usually delivered via headphones to the recording players to help solidify the groove.


High point of solo, release of music tension.

close key centers

Close key centers is a term that reflects the the proximity of a letter name key center on the cycle of 5th's. For in either direction of travel, each click brings just one new pitch into the mix. In this graphic, thinking from the pitch C at the 12 o'clock position, the keys centers of 'G' and 'F' are said to be closely related to the key of 'C.'

C: C D E F G A B C

G: G A B C D E F# G

F: F G A Bb C D E F

close voicings

Pitches of a chord voicing that are within one octave.


To bring a sequential group of elements back to it's starting point creating a closed loop, also used pedagogically within the text to bring a theoretical concept of artistic skill to conclusion 'by doing' as part of the learning process.


Usually a group of 3 to 5 pitches or so that are sequenced into a cool idea, then rapidly articulated. oftentimes they are then pushed through a larger cycle, i.e., chromatic, fifths, fourths, minor third / fourths etc.

coda (da bug :)

Italian for "tail", a section of music added on to the end, thus the idea of a tail, of our common musical forms to provide perfect closure to the artistic idea of the piece. 'Meet ya at the coda' is a joke among improvising musicians when starting off on a song or jam that they are not quite sure of. The coda bug looks like this in notation, here's a blue one, and is used to direct the flow and form of a song. It gives composers a way to write a bit of a different ending, often a surprise etc.


Another super cool feature with music as art is that it is a collaborative process. That all the fun we can have making music can be multiplied by the number of musical artists involved in the project.


Usually a combination of somewhat disparate elements in creating a piece of a uniquely balanced art.

wiki ~ collage


My term for describing a musical sound, like using the color terms of the seven chakras to describe traveling in time spiral path of refracted light through a prism, Pink Floyd "Dark Side Of The Moon."

wiki ~ Pink Floyd

color tones

Any pitch used in a chord that is not part of the 3 note triad can be termed a color tone as it adds 'color' to any three note triad, color tone is also a common slang term for upper structure chord tones of diatonic harmony, i.e., 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th etc. and all their alterations. These color tone pitches are also know as chord tensions, extensions and such depending on which academia one ascribes to.


Coltrane, John

John Coltrane (1926-1967). American jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane's art evolutions in music forms the advancing theory and improvisation curriculum within this primer.

Recreated by a historical timeline of the recording and release of Coltrane's original compositions, we can create a guided study of the development and evolution of our own AmerAfroEuro tonality, and its evolutions and modernization of the last century or so.

Coltrane's harmonic evolution

Creating opportunity; John Coltrane's arpeggio based evolution sketch. This e-book's jazz improvisation / harmony studies is based on John Coltrane's continual search for new opportunities for improvising art, creating a startlingly clear pathway of music theory study of the advancing complexity of harmony in the Americana jazz language. For in seeking ever greater harmonic opportunity to support his improvisations, over the course of a decade's work of composing and performing, Coltrane evolves new components of our harmonic / melodic palette that opens up new windows of opportunity for all those who followed.

With triangles and colors to represent our seven chakras, we can overlay the basic theoretical evolution from our core jazz essential One / Five / One chord progression and cadential motion. With a historically correct writing sequence, we've the Coltrane compositions "Moments Notice" into "LazyBird" into "Naima" and on to "Giant Steps", all written, recorded and released within a 10 year period. Please scroll to bottom of this graphic to begin this ascending pathway of harmonic complexity.

(where the) coolness hangs

Pure slang to describe a unique property of our guitars. That while there's often a way or two to play the pitches of a lick, oftentimes there's just one way to capture 'it.'

Also that each of the common pitches, for example the pitch 'E' or 'G' when playing blues, each unique location on the neck create its own unique timbre, that the same lick in different spots produces somewhat different results. Thus the need to find one cool idea in other spots on the ax. These 'G' and 'E' notes provide the reference points for the 'blues elevator.'

Surely one's technique plays a decisive role in where and how the coolness hangs :)

common practice
As the term implies 'just what everybody does', oftentimes defined by an era of history whereby folks basically used the same artistic elements to create their sounds, thus creating and defining a style of music within a particular era of history. For we jazz it up Americanos; from the 1880's ragtime, dixieland, ragtime, swing, bebop, hard bop, post bop, jazz rock to 1980's fusion.
wiki ~ common practice period

common time

4 / 4 time; four beats per measure and the quarter note gets the beat.

common tone

Two musical components sharing a common pitch / pitches, extendable to any length of phrase, linked components etc. A most common event of the common tones is multiple chords sharing a same note.


Providing harmonic background for soloist, vocalist with appropriate rhythms and accents. To 'chomp' is to play a quarter note rhythm '4 to the bar.'


While the term usually implies one who writes music, in our American ways of music making, oftentimes we all get to make it up a bit as we go along, thus the idea that we all get to compose to a greater or lessor degree. And thinking in this way just might encourage us to write more and become composers, as in the more traditional sense and use of the word.

wiki ~ list of composers


In this text, just being inventive and creative, working the magic and finding Muse, compose songs, bass lines, stories, lyrics, chord progressions, a narrative, also in creating music, both spontaneous improv, improvising within musical time or composing written out music to be performed as written.

"The hardest thing in songwriting is to be simple yet profound."
wiki ~ Sting

compound intervals

intervals that exceed the span of one octave; one octave + _____ = compound.

# of half steps
# of whole steps
commonly called
C up octave to C# augmented octave 13 6.5 sharp octave?
C up octave to Db minor ninth 13 6.5 flat nine
C up octave to D major ninth 14 7 ninth
C up octave to D# augmented ninth 15 7.5 sharp nine
C up octave to Eb minor tenth 15 7.5 minor tenth
C up octave to E major tenth 16 8 tenth
C up octave to F perfect eleventh 17 8.5 eleventh
C up octave to F# augmented eleventh 18 9 sharp eleven
C up octave to Gb diminished twelfth 18 9 diminished twelfth
C up octave to G perfect twelfth 19 9.5 twelfth
C up octave to G# augmented twelfth 20 10 sharp twelve
C up octave to Ab minor thirteenth 20 10 flat thirteen
C up octave to A major thirteenth 21 10.5 thirteenth
C up octave to A# augmented thirteenth 22 11 sharp thirteen
C up octave to Bb minor fourteenth 22 11 flat seven
C up octave to B major fourteenth 23 11.5 leading tone
C up 2 octaves to C major fifteenth 24 12 octave
C up 2 octaves + 1/2 step to C# augmented fifteenth 25 12.5 sharp fifteen
C up 2 octaves + 1/2 step to Db minor sixteenth 25 12.5 flat nine
C up 2 octaves + whole step to D major seventeenth 26 13 ninth
C up 2 octaves + 3 1/2 steps to D# augmented seventeenth 27 13.5 sharp nine
C up 2 octaves + 3 1/2 steps to Eb minor eighteenth 27 13.5 minor third
C up 2 octaves + 2 whole steps to E major eighteenth 28 14 8 av. tenth?

concert tuning

Concert tuning has to do with the pitch A below middle C tuned to 440 hz.

Concert or standard tuning is also the common way we tune our gitfiddles;


Also, used in regards to transposing instruments such as the trumpet in Bb, and the saxophones family, Bb for tenor and bari and Eb for alto and soprano. For example an Eb concert note is F for say tenor sax and C for alto.

concord /


the idea that two pitches sound well together when their ratios of frequency are of small numbers; 2:1, 3:2 etc.


As the term implies, in joining all of the creative and emotional aspects of artistic performers and their audience and the exchange of energies on so many different levels that happens between them, i.e., the dynamics of a rewarding and fulfilling performance for all involved.


the "answer" to the question or first part of a musical phrase, see antecedent.


the opposite of dissonant, describes a harmonious relationship between pitches.

constant structure

Simply moving the same chord voicing or shape up or down in pitch. The half step lead in, the minor third of the diminished group and whole step with whole tone colors are common examples. Chromatic motion = by 1/2 step.


contrary motion

Implies when two voices, as say within a chord, move in opposite directions in regards to pitch, motion of chord voices in opposite directions, opposite of parallel motion, which implies voices moving directionally together either up or down.

contrasting theme

In a musical composition containing two themes, the most important theme is termed the principle theme, while the second theme is said to be in "contrast", thus the contrasting theme.

convergence (tonal)

To arrive at a destination or resolution, the morphing of one tonal color to another, the theory which creates labels of the colors often referred to in this text as "lines of tonal convergence."


Cool? That we learn more from our mistakes than successes is just the way it is. Luckily for us here, all our errors are 'in theory', so all the mess is between our own ears, usually easy to fix and continue moving right along.

And if we figure out something by our own powers, search and discover the missing piece, we near every time will get a deeper knowledge of what we are seeking, plus learn other stuff we hadn't considered.

And further, if we then can teach our new knowledge to another person, in a way and terms that they understand, based on their own existing information, our stars align a bit brighter, new will connections appear and we create closure for our own knowledge and ways of thinking.

Do all roads still lead to Rome like they did way back when? In theory, yes :)

So when ya see this question in the dialogue there's two simple answers. Yes ... I'm cool with knowing whatever we're talking about. Or, no I'm not ... but at least now I know that such a musical component does exist and needs to be explored further at some point when curiosity gets the better of me.

The 'when to explore' is based on our own artistic needs, directions and paydays. And while in theory, right now is a good time to explore an unknown, we might not be able to find an answer we can understand till further on up the road.

cool jazz

Style of American jazz that evolved in the 50's characterized by more relaxed tempos, sparser harmonies and more languid melodic lines, in part inspired from the Miles Davis recording "Kind of Blue", the emergence of "cool jazz", notably on the West Coast as pioneered by locals C. Baker, J. Mulligan, and many others, today, late 90's and onward, also used to define some contemporary and new age jazz.

wiki ~ cool jazz

common practice
As the term implies the idea of a 'common practice' initially applies to two aspects of our music; a defined historical era based on how composers and players wove and worked their magic and second, as a description of the way we generally do a thing i.e., such as using the index finger for our barre finger in creating barre chords.
wiki ~ common practice period

core chords

The chords designated as core are the shapes or voicings that come right out of the five scale shapes, that give us a key center over the entire range of the guitar. Forming a closed loop of shapes, the five scale shapes anchor the EMG guitar method.

core colors

My term to describe the pentatonic group of pitches and it's two added tritone brethren, the blues scale and the major / relative minor groups, that these are core colors of American melody.

core of it all

The core of the Americana sound is a couple of things really, 4 / 4 time while an accent on 2 and 4 creates the pull of swing. Chords support melodies with blue notes, creating the essential rubs we love. R.O. !

core scale formula

My term to describe the whole step (1) / half step (1/2) interval formula for the diatonic / major relative minor scale group of pitches.

1 ~ 1 ~ 1/2 ~ 1 ~ 1 ~ 1 ~ 1/2


R.O. !


core shape

One shape to 'rule them all' as the saying go'ed. Just seems that more melody plating cats get more miles out of this one shape of the pitches than any other in our local universe. All good notes thanks to the pentatonic major group of five notes.

~ 1 ~ 1 ~ '1 1/2' ~ 1 ~ 1 ~ 1 1/2' ~

~ C D E G A C ~


Whole step whole step ... step and a half .... whole step ... :) Rote the core pitches as big red dots, knowing that the spaces between where the blues hue resides. Holding the minor 10th range of the piano tuners. rote learn this shape if need be or not, as the case might be :) And of course, fully movable too. R. O !

core shapes combined

Dig the evo here as our formula of whole and half steps fills in spots of the pentatonic pitches to create the major scale :)

core scale shapes

Modern jazz guitar / the shedding. These five scale shapes give us the relative major / relative minor key centers over the full 12 fret octave interval of any regular old guitar. Forming a closed loop of shapes and spanning a full octave, like near everything else here, we can number them up one through five, easier then to rote learn. Each is unique and brings its own 'one of a kind' licks.

Seems there's always something new to discover too, especially in how they link to one another, often on up through the built right in arpeggio 'ladders.' Always remember that the shapes we play today go ALL the way back too. Five hundred years maybe ...

Jazz guitar. Run shape #1 up and down the neck, 'G', 'Ab', 'A', 'Bb.' Rote learn the shape in 1/8th note rhythm at 60 with a metronome. Then shape # 2, #3 #4 #5 rote learning up an down the neck.

Next, use these five shapes to play through all 12 keys in a localized key center. Now all the keys are under your fingers over the first octave, to the 12 fret.

Interval studies, then the diatonic triads and 7th chord arpeggios from each, along the way finding the Two / Five / One chords from each of the five shapes. That's it.

Thinking our modern guitar is built and tuned to play 'E' Dorian, illustrated here for the relative keys of 'G' major / 'E' minor.

could be

Really means that I personally think so, my opinion in favor of the idea postulated in the text, prompting the 'could be' or even a 'could very well be.' 200

Count Basie

Count Basie. Bandleader and pioneer jazz artist, who in the mid 30's showed all the world that the original quarter notes marching beat, '4 to the bar', swing the hardest. For Mr. Basie and band, their style of American jazz consistently features a quick tempo 'four to bar' big four quarter note swing. With various tempos, we today and luckily for us, we can hear this groove on nearly everything his bands recorded.

An all-time favorite song, for the players, listeners and dancers alike is the essential Basie Band's classic 'jump', appropriately titled "Jumpin' At The Woodside." A classic rhythm changes arrangement, 32 bars and an A A B A form, where not only does all sorts of coolness abound, but that the groovin' could roll on for a while.

Sound to you U like there's some 50's rockabilly swing in there somewhere ... ?

wiki ~ Count Basie
wiki ~ jump blues


Counterpoint. In the music world, counterpoint means literally point 'counter' point, where the points are pitches, for in the olden days written notes on the staff looked like and were referred to as a 'point.' Counterpoint is the theoretical study of how one pitch moves to the next in a melodic line, then between two or more melodic lines. etc. It is a style of composition once popular during the Baroque period, a century or so prior to the rise of the piano, equal temper tuning and the new style of composition homophony.

At its apex, composers would weave even four or more melodic lines together in their point vs point music. As the music gets busier, more notes end up lining up vertically and getting sounded together as chords. Once equal temper tuning became the norm during the early 18th century, we see dominance of homophonic composing; one main melody supported by chords. Here the counterpoint of old becomes the voice leaning of the new.

Voice leading is how each pitch of each chord resolves to each pitch of the next chord as the music moves along. And while there are the 'rules' of all this from the old days, we moderne's of today have a greater degree of freedom.

If we do chose to play by the rules of say 18th century counterpoint, then there's a chances that what we compose could sound 'dated' to that era. As the generations pass and the rules evolve, so does the sound of the music. When we consider European orchestral music and the symphony orchestra, often with 50, 60, 70 or more musicians, both counterpoint and voice leading loom large in a composer's process.

wiki ~ counterpoint

cover tunes

Slang term for popular songs, many of which are often top 40, often found in dance band repertoires in any of the American styles of music.


Indy slang, when one artist records and releases a song written by another.

creating melodies

Start by singing the melody you want to play i.e., "sing the line ... play the line."

creative juice

My term for the spark of intellect and energy that we each have as musicians that compel us to create the music we create, also known as "mojo" in the blues stylings.

Cristofori is known to be the artist / inventor who developed the mechanism whereby each key of the piano keyboard became dynamically sensitive to the touch of the player. This is the 'loud and soft' touch sensitive aspect of a key's mechanism. It was the last hurdle in the development of the keyboard instruments for composers and players alike back in the early 1700's. With this new ability to play soft and loud, determined by how hard a piano key was struck, the game as they say, was forever changed and still today 300 years later.

And while equal temper tuning was surely known of and in the process of winning its way with the players during Cristofori's day, with the emergence of his piano-forte, i.e., the soft and loud dynamic ability, it wasn't really to long after that the players wanted, some even demanding, that this new touch ability be paired with 'equal' pitches tuned as to allow players with complete access to all of the 12 key centers, major and minor, and of course all the harmonies too. This new combination of elements helped drive the music towards the homophonic style, a melody line supported by chords, that we've used nearly exclusively ever since.

wiki ~ Cristofori

crossover tune

A crossover tune, or song, is one that finds its way into distinctly different styles that its origins, as say when a traditional folk song gets a jazz treatment. Crossover also is cultural in that stories written in one demographic can be retold in others. We know that songs can be enjoyed by all sort of folks together, who gather to share and enjoy the music as one.

Among the most memorable crossovers in our history of Americana music is surely found in the Brother Ray Charles' master recordings of classic country songs in 1961 to huge success in so many, many ways.

And 40 years later, country artist Johnny Cash crosses over to find a gem in the Punk Library, to find and cover, in his style, what becomes a 'song of the year award' from Nashville. Just never know where the next gems' a comin' from.

Also, a 'crossover' is a way that speaker systems separate signals by frequency of pitch; low bass notes go to big speakers and the mids and higher treble notes to smaller speakers and horns.

wiki ~ Ray Charles
wiki ~ Johnny Cash


A cyberbook. A cyberbook is simply a new kind of three dimensional book in which the modern wizardry of today's 'cyber' world is built right into the dialogue of the text.

What we gain in this format is the ability to present the information so that any interested learner, with every imaginable background of experience, has an organic way into the topic based on what they already know. And thus can build up what they need to create their art. Leaving the rest of the 'theory' for later curiosities.

From there, it's all about one's own determination to succeed that fuels the direction and intensity of studies and the intellectual results.

Beginning theorists must only have a desire to learn to begin. Learners of intermediate levels of knowledge will have essential theory discussions that include links to accelerate their studies beyond the core nuts and bolts of our American theory.

Advanced learners will quickly gain an overview of our tonal resources and hopefully find and accept some new rather steep challenges to push their boundaries.

A cyberbook, as it is written in the html. internet language, allows me as the writer to create a three dimensional text by creating links to further up a pathway of learning, audio and out into the world wide web. The combined magic of this format, when used in an online web browser, also allows the learner to simply highlight anything within and search the web for additional information such as; the artists whose work we love and admire, our music history, the science of something, influences of such and such, double and triple check the enormous artistic and theoretical claims and boasts the author makes :) thus beyond the boundaries of what is included in this work.

The core of it is to create a book that individualizes instruction for every learner of every persuasion of every style and genre that lives within all of the history of our Americana music; past, present and future. And luckily for us theorists, the aural mechanics of the core theory and the pitches is all the same for all styles, in all eras for all of our recorded history of all global civilization. So how cool is that?


A set order of sequenced events or elements forming a closed loop.

Read On !

cycles of fifths

Cycle of 5th's / major keys. A way of thinking and viewing the 12 pitches in a ...

clockwise motion ... read to the right ...

of perfect fifth intervals. If we view each pitch as the tonic pitch of a key center, we can then sense the proximity of one key to another, each new letter key designation changing one pitch as we move around the cycle in a clockwise fashion.

Cycle of 5th's / minor keys. A way of thinking and viewing the 12 pitches in a ... clockwise fashion.

Read On !

cycles of fourths

Cycle of 4th's. A way of thinking and viewing the 12 pitches in a ...

counter clockwise motion ... read to the left ...

of perfect fourth intervals. If we view each pitch as a the tonic pitch of a key center, the sense the proximity of one key to another, each letter changing one pitch as we move around the cycle to the left. Counterclockwise motion = backpedaling.

Read On !

cycles per second

The frequency that a pitch vibrates at, for example, the tuning pitch A, a minor 3rd below middle C on the piano, vibrates at 440 cycles per second the world over, its a standard we can all share together.

Read On !

wiki ~ cycles per second

cycle of pitches

A pictorial 'clocklike' representation and way to organize the 12 tonal or key centers of the equal temperament system, based on the root motion of perfect fifths, usually clockwise, or it's inverse, the perfect fourth (counterclockwise). Cycles of pitches become a way to organize our music. The individual letter name pitches could be a key center, mode, scale or chord etc.

Read On !

cyclical harmonies

On this text, cyclical harmonies are just chord progressions for the most part, that follow along diatonic lines that are placed within a larger interval structure to form the cycle. In most musics we've the diatonic 3 and 3.' In jazz, all sorts of cyclical harmony and melody coolness, leading to an apex of the augmented major triad pitches of Colt ran e's "Giant Steps", as a basis of this cyclical harmony compositional technique.

dc / da capo

Italian for "head", denoting the start of the musical form or song.

deceptive cadence

Harmonic motion whereby the major triad Five chord resolves by moving 'deceptively' up a whole step to the diatonic minor Six, instead of to a 'not deceptive' resolution of Five, commonly to a tonic major One chord.


In computer lingo, the original settings of the software, in this text the 'default' becomes various mainstays in American music, it's performance and theories of organization.


The term degree in our music theory vocabulary is a 'helper' adjective that simply is about creating numerical labels for anything of interval, pitch, scale, arpeggio or chord-wise we may find.

Delta Blues

A style of American blues that developed along the southern Delta of the Mississippi River. Acoustic guitarist Robert Johnson is perhaps its most celebrated and emulated Delta artist, and we can credit Johnson with giving to us super clear and varied what is termed throughout as the 'muddy' lick, made famous a generation later by Muddy Waters and Company, in the electrified musics of the 1950's Chicago Blues style.


wiki ~ Delta Blues
wiki ~ Robert Johnson
open 'G' tuning
wiki ~ Muddy Waters

delta changes

Slang term for downright basic, simple in the mud blues chord changes, to 'play primitive' as I've heard it been described, all derived from the Delta style of the blues.


Describes musical motion of pitches moving downward. The second half of the song "Greenseelves" features a cool descending melody.


Diatonic, from the Greeks, while simply meaning 'through the tones', (HBDM p. 80) the concept of diatonic becomes the essential point of decoding the pitches in probably all Americana musics.

Each pitch used to create any piece of music is said to be either diatonic or not, so diatonic or non-diatonic. The pitches that are included in a song's key signature are the diatonic ones.

For example; in the key of C major, the diatonic pitches C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C. Thus; Db, Eb, Gb, Ab and Bb are not and are termed to be non-diatonic. Here they are on the piano keys.

This simple breakdown of our 12 pitches creates the formula 7 + 5 = 12. Seven diatonic pitches of a key center plus five blue notes, equals the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale; no more no less ... yet we can bend strings and notes too :)

And while this 'diatonic / non-diatonic rule' applies to the study of all musics globally, not all global musics have the Americana blues element at a similar aural, historical and cultural position in its core DNA. The theory rub in this lies in the relationship between the pitches of the melody and the pitches stacked up creating the chords that support the melody.

Really more a tuning issue than theory, a theoretically nondiatonic note here or there in the melody, as viewed from the pure diatonic pitches creating the chords, becomes just the 'right' note to jazz it up on on a Saturday night gig downtown, especially if lights are low and the dance floor is packed tight. R.O. !

diatonic harmony

Diatonic harmony and generally functional harmony also, describes the chords or harmony created to support a song's melody created ...

only from the pitches of the key signature associated with that piece of music.

Pitches outside the signature used in building the chords are said to be the 'non-diatonic' or 'altered' chord tones. R.O.!

diatonic scale

The seven pitch relative major / minor scale. Most often only pitches within a given key signature or scale grouping is termed diatonic, these become our diatonic pitches, the seven pitch major / relative minor scale is also historically known as the diatonic scale before equal temper tuning, so 1700's or so, by 1800's, the remaining five pitches of the chromatic scale now are termed to be non-diatonic, or in our Americana musical mix and theory, the blue notes. R.O. !

diatonic scale degree names

The legit theory names for our diatonic pitches of the major and minor scales.


Euro slang for a mathematical calculator?


To make intervals smaller, reducing an interval by half step. Minor intervals lowered by half step are called diminished intervals. And please R. O. !

diminished triad / 7th chord / fully diminished 7th chord

Stacking intervals of a minor third, i.e., C, Eb, Gb, A etc. The fully diminished 7th chord is the portal out from the diatonic realm and into the next level of colors. We can diatonic source this fully diminished 7th chord from the seventh degree of the harmonic minor scale.

dim triad
dim 7th chord

And R. O. !

diminished 7 one shape to rule them all

For guitar, there's one diminished shape for a scale pitches, and one for a chord that, knowing some theory, covers a lot of coolness, wherever and whenever the diminished color comes along.

A first trick. Is to know where each of the four roots live in this one scale shape when applied to the scale shape. Here are the pitches from the last entry.

dim 7th chord

Knowing this we can better locate the scale shape on the neck. See the diminished chord shape within the scale shape ?

Second trick, is to know we can move this chord shape in minor 3rd intervals, so three frets, perfectly inverting the diminished 7th pitches in its voicing. Here's the chord shape.

And while there are a few other chord shapes of course, and all move in similar ways, these two shapes, one for scale pitches and one chord voicing cover a lot of ground for us. Keeping track is the tricky part, so we always think from the root pitch of whatever comes along.

And R. O. !

diminished interval

Usually associated with reducing the size of the perfect intervals by half step, also reducing the size of minor intervals by half step. And R. O. !

diminished scale

Adding neighbor tones to the diminished arpeggio pitches to create a symmetrical eight pitch scale group, here from the root pitch 'C', by using the whole step / half step formula for a diminished scale.

C D Eb F Gb Ab A B C

# of pitches
scale formulas

diminished triads

Diminished triads; root -3 -3. With the diminished scale, with this one group of pitches, from each pitch we can spell a diminished triad.

C diminished scale
C D Eb F Gb Ab A B C
C diminished triad
C Eb Gb
D diminished triad
D F Ab
Eb diminished triad
Eb Gb A
F diminished triad
F Ab C
Gb diminished triad
Gb A C
Ab diminished triad
Ab B D
A diminished triad
A C Eb
B diminished triad

Jazz it up. Might we 'diatonically' add a 7th to each of this triads, from the same loop of pitches? So, make each of these pitches a root pitch and build up a full diminished 7th chord. Yep, like a charm.

C diminished scale
C D Eb F Gb Ab A B C
C diminished 7th
C Eb Gb A
D diminished 7th
D F Ab B
Eb diminished 7th
Eb Gb A C
F diminished 7th
F Ab B D
Gb diminished 7th
Gb A C Eb
Ab diminished 7th
Ab B D F
A diminished 7th
A C Eb Gb
B diminished 7th
B D F Ab

Kinda amazing huh ? And just plain old 'built right in nuts and bolts' music theory :)

a diminished scale application to 12 bar blues

Use all three diminished scales. Just turns out that the common diminished spots in basic 12 bar blues; #iv in bar 6, the #i in bar 8 heading into the turnaround, and in V7b9, each get us to one of the three possible diminished scales, from the 12 pitches. Add in common tone diminished for whatever key we're in, and think about getting fitted for a new chromatic helmet. For guitarists, we've one easy shape that solves lots of problems for locating the pitches.

Chromatic magic. Thinking in 'C' blues, when you get to Four in bar 5, use 'C' dim 7, and in bar six, in bar 8 use 'C#' diminished, and 'D' diminished over the 'b9' part of V7b9. With the one shape and big ears ...

It's tricky for sure but works, and up a half step from the V7 starts the cycle again, so we tie into the motion of minor 3rd's, 2 minor 3rd's = a tritone, and off we go. All part of the tritone substitution potentials, V7b9 magics and leaning towards the chromatic blur, as all chords become a V7 chord type.


To figure something out by inductive reasoning of the facts and information already at hand. Think things over and come up with solutions to problems using what you have to work with.


One use 'discipline' in Essentials implies an inner personal 'intellectual, lifelong study' that never really ends as long as we continue to pursue and be curious about. Essential's discipline is music theory, other disciplines in this definition light would surely include all of the additional fine arts; the painting, sculpt, design et all, numerical mathematics of anything; of music, astronomy, all the earth sciences, the legalese of it all. The discipline of one's career.


Disclosure. All Sales Are Final. No returns or refunds. As this is a small digital file that is downloaded, once the transaction is completed, it cannot be undone. And while we each can teach one another the knowledge we own by learning, illegal sharing of this copyrighted U Y M / Essentials book file is a breach of ownership and might very well realign one's musical karma in unknown ways.

wiki ~ Karma


To mask or obscure one's appearance or intent. In our music we can create surprises in the music that disguise our tonal intent and directions.


Combining aural sounds creating an unpleasant effect, opposite of consonant.

dittys and riff

Just a slang term used to describe a melodic or musical idea that comes along into our muse from out of the heavens above and stars beyond. Usually associated with country and the bluegrass genres.

dittys and riffs = licks for tunes

dixieland jazz

A polyphony of melody lines created by mostly marching band instruments over a steady four beat. Evolving out of piano ragtime, the weaving of four or five voices, in dixieland jazz each of these voices gets their own ax and becomes an individual melody line, each of which can carry the blues hue and stylistic cliche of swing in their own character voice; cornet, clarinet, trombone, saxophone et al.

wiki ~ "Maple Leaf Rag"
wiki ~ dixieland jazz
wiki ~ "Sweet Georgia Brown"


doe ray me ... :)

The first few pitch syllables of the Solfegio System developed for singers. We theorists combine these pneumonics with our numerical pitch designations, interlocking the systems to strengthen our own full spectrum of musical knowledge.

wiki ~ solfegio


A crazy way to describe this but our own DNA is just like our music theory DNA. Quite old, still original and capable of endless combinations for creating an endless uniqueness of expression of emotional character. As musical components, DNA means that no matter how we shape it or where we might find it, it really is the same pitches on the inside.


Dominant. The fifth scale degree, Five, term used to designate the pitch which is a perfect fifth interval above the fundamental root pitch of a key center, as say in our relative major / relative minor scales, also the chords built on this 5th scale degree are termed, the dominant, the Five chord, a dominant type chord etc.

R O !

dominant 7th harmony / V7

Dominant / V7. Diatonic seventh chords built on the 5th scale degree of the major / relative minor scales (and other scales that have a perfect 5th above the root). The essence of a dominant chord is in its tension of sound, as the chord contains a dissonant, two pitch tritone interval between its 3rd and 7th degrees. Dominant harmony is also used to describe the tonal environment generally associated with Americana blues music when written / performed in a major key.


R O !

"I don't know if Charlie Parker was the first to use chromatic ideas in his blues lines ... but he sure was the King of doing it!"

wiki ~ Herb Ellis

dominant seventh / V7 / V9 / V 13 etc.

A theory term to describe any chordal color that incorporates a two pitch tritone interval between the third and the seventh degrees of the chord. Also one of three chord types. The Roman numeral designation, 'V7' is upper case denoting its major triad basis.

dots (the)

The dot markers. Crazy but true that the 'dots' bring us to the beginnings of the way we know today a good chunk of the theory. For in according to legend there's a written record too of the truth that our Lydian mode of today was an original mode from the days of Pythagoras. For we know the pitches of 'G' Lydian are ...

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

And if we follow the dots we commonly find as fretboard markers ...

'G A B C# E G.' Nice :)

In doing research and examining the picture here, the following theory emerges; the dots or fret markers do line out the pitches of the now ancient Dorian mode built from the open root pitch 'E' or the Lydian mode from the root 'G.'

The pitches of the open E (12th fret), G, A, B and C# are square dotted.

Equal temper tuning. Of interest perhaps is that all of the pitches of the now near ancient melody of "Scarborough Fair", when written in 'A' minor, can all be found with a bit of octave transposition where these dots or position locations are commonly found on the guitar. So we probably should at some point compare these marker locations with the ones commonly found on lutes yes?

double (ing)

To 'double' refers to a quality within the harmony where one or more of the chord tones is present twice ( doubled ) or more in the same voicing. In melody playing, artists often us the octave doubling to bring out the line and the swing, a la Wes Montgomery.

octave doubling

wiki ~ Wes Montgomery

double helix

The idea of a double helix comes from biology and DNA, a scientific way of looking at a blueprint of who we are. In our Americana music, a double helix includes the combining of the rather strictly defined pitches of equal temper tuning with the more varied blue notes, whose actual pitch are determined by each performer that uses them. The pairing of major and minor, within one group of pitches, is another of our double helix weaves.

Yin / Yang balance too ?

double stop

A double stop is sounding or articulating two pitches simultaneously on any stringed instrument, on single line ax's, such as the horns, often termed a 'false fingering.' Blues double stops often bend both notes with some cats bending three, which is more a chord perhaps. Frets make this easier for the most part. Making these double stops and bending of the pitches figure right into the height of the frets, explore. 250


When the tempo of a song is increased to go twice as fast as the original pace, mostly a jazz thing, improvising musicians will sometimes do this in performance to liven things up a bit.


The first beat of a measure, nearly always found on beat one. Also a name of a published music magazine, and a slang term among pro players as to what time the gig / performance / show starts.

wiki ~ Down Beat


"To drag", slang for playing slower than the tempo being employed, i.e., "dragging", not keeping up with the tempo.


In music, often a sound of indeterminate or varying pitch that pulsates through the music, usually associated with primitive indigenous music, this drone has partly evolved into our well tuned, modern day pedal point and is either a low or high note sustained through a song.

wiki ~ drone pitch

drum, native

The drum is one of our original instruments, goes all the way back to the beginning. Be a drummer, and pull musical time and pulse right out of thin air ... and be the motor :)


wiki ~ drum

dual tonalities

The mixing of major and minor tonal elements as found in the blues styles, that different tonalities exist within the same grouping of pitches as is with the modes.


Refers to how soft 'piano' or loud 'forte' a note (s) is articulated, i.e., volume of sound.

earlier tuning systems

There's a dozen or so evolutions of tuning over the last few millennia that give us the pitches that we have today. We Americana moderne's get the best of both; all manner of ancient to modern melodic lines and the blues, plus all the glorious harmonies that can support and motor any line any time :)


Slang for the top of the tune, form etc.

1& 2 3& 4 ...

eighth note

Division of the quarter note into two equal parts. The eight note is the division that becomes the basis for single note lines in jazz, especially through the changes playing.

eighth note triplet

This is the rhythmic 'figure' that sets off the swing feel rhythm in our musical lines, phrases, melodies; in everything really. It's a bear to master for some, might take years to get, but every time we do we bring some swing and that's always a good thing :) Sing the rhythms and play them is the way to internalize this and any lick.

Improv / 8th notes and swing. Eighth notes are the cashola of so much of the Americana magic for the improvising musician. For classical players coming over to Americana, developing their eighth notes can become an essential component of their transition. The beginning of this process based on playing what is termed 'even eighths', an unaccented stream of pitches and rhythms subdividing the big four into eight. These can be one pitch repeated, groups of pitches, intervals or arpeggios etc., evenly shaped with the metronome. These super even eighth's lines created by George Benson, with Dexter Gordon on "Gotham City."

wiki ~ George Benson
wiki ~ "Gotham City" album

Even eighths are super hip in today's musics and improv. With a notable big step into jazz in the 40's, with Latin percussionist Chano Pozo joining with Dizzy Gillespie, the more 'even eighths' found a way into jazz and evolved the swing beautifully, and in some ways swing harder than the original dotted figure, when employed in straight ahead settings.

wiki ~ Chano Pozo
wiki ~ Dizzy Gillespie

Once comfortable, a first level advancement of even eighth's 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 5.

Mix and match? Use all of the feels to shape the expressive contour of your idea? Unless it's the style you totally dig or the one for your gig, might want to be careful of practicing and getting too deep into the older styled lope-ing eights, for when you want to even things up when performing Latin and bossa styled musics, it might be a challenge to shake it out of your chops. Muscle memory and all of that ya know :)

The eighty eight keys of a standard piano keyboard / manual. Please note the re-occurring pattern of the two / three placement with the black keys. These help locate the E to F and B to C, the natural half steps of the keys of C major and A natural minor.

electric tuner

Modern device that measures the sound waves of pitch.


To suppress or pass over in silence, in music to carry a musical sound across the bar line. In modern playing, a slang term for eliding sound 'is to make the bar lines go away.' A common feature of Latin styled musics with a '2' feel, tough lick to master but once achieved, bring this magic from there on.

emotional / musical environment

Just a 'scientific' way to describe the general emotional qualities created by the various musical elements within Americana musics.

For example, the idea of a 'minor tonal environment' comes up a lot in these pages. This would be a song in a minor key. We've lots of 'environments' to choose from, we also call them musical styles or even when 'theory labeling' the specific puzzle piece that holds an essential color. For example, the 'minor 9 chord' has a power to it.

Capturing emotions. For once we choose such a basis, we can often agree upon that certain theory components are in place. Rhythms play a big part of course, pitches too. Song in a minor key, blues in major, blues in minor, bossa's, open tunings even, especially 'Hawaiian 6/9', and its joyous sense of a life in paradise.

emotional nuance of our musical lines

Chasing the muse? So how to capture our muse? Just keep on chasing and it'll surely happen. Our whole being is constructed and wired to solve just such challenges and has been now for quite a while. Do you have a natural feel for the music? Then surely your interest is strong, now we just need to strengthen our ability to focus.


To copy something that one admires. And this is the way one can begin, who needs a very first step that first sparks their own creative. For know that near every master craftsman that comes to renown, since the Sun has risen in the East, started by emulating the world around them, and worked at it till the day their own creative took over. Combined is the best of both. Of endless ideas to spark our creative 'take.'



Closely surrounding a chosen object, in music it's the target pitch, often a chord tone, with other tones and using a rhythm pattern to accentuate the target pitch.


Enharmonic. Two labels for one pitch, i.e., "B#" or "C", "A#" or "Bb", which letter name is chosen is based theoretically on the key of the music we find them, always looking to think diatonically if we can.

The blue notes are often designated by whatever letter name is going to be easiest to read or defined by its relationship to the chord that supports it.

Other considerations in identifying a pitch or pitches are the intervals involved and the theory relationship between the pitches when examined / compared of the arpeggios and chords.

Spelling out the pitches of an E diminished arpeggio or chord are probably going to be E G Bb Db, and not E G A# C# or E G A# Db, simply in that in the theory DNA construction of this little diminished critter, the 7th chord built up in the minor 3rd interval i.e., E G Bb and Db :)

entire musical resource

The sounds we use to create the various styles of Americana music, scales, chords, blue notes and all the pitches in between.

emotional environment / a song's emotional storyline

Authors term to describe a particular musical setting for a song i.e., usually major, minor, modal, blues etc., but also can be used with musical styles; the blues, folk, rock, pop and jazz. The idea of a 'bossa environment' is simply a 'bossa feel.' We can also deepen the emotional quality of an environment with a particular chord progression, the colortones and rhythm.


Refers to one repetition of the basic motive within a sequence.

equal temperament system

A system of tuning whereby the naturally occurring 'Pythagorean comma' error of pitch becomes equally corrected and distributed over each of the 12 pitches, as we divide the octave into 12 equal tones.

This creates the modern chromatic scale of equal tuned half steps. These equal tuned pitches give us all the chords from a to z. Our 'any chord, from any pitch, in any key' all in tune, is possible thanks to equal temper tuning.

equal temper tuning

With equal temper tuning ... we can create pianos, guitars and near anything with keys or frets, instruments of all sorts for the last 500 years or so, the instruments that love making chords, and all the chords through all 12 keys centers.

And without equal tuning ... the glorious harmonies, arpeggios and intervals through all they keys, soon becomes a compromised tuning mess of sorts :)

So we equal temper tune the 12 pitches for chords and re-mess around with their tuning a bit for making the Americana melodies, especially the blue notes.

... and read on !

equal temper tuning

For we get our glorious harmonies through equal temper tuning, a system of whereby each of the half step intervals within the octave span are equally 100 cents in size. We get 12 and they stack right on up into chords, all sorts of chords, and any chord really, all just like butter. Without this precision tuning, what we know today about 'the changes', changes. It might even get confusing, so we equal temper tune the pitches for chords and Mother Nature the pitches for melodies. And together ... :)

Now applied to most of our musical instruments, the precision of dividing the octave into 12 equal parts, equal temper, is not only completely responsible for our ability to create all of the wondrous chords and harmonies but really any combination of pitches, and still sound OK. And octave purity is the basis.

Harmony magic. How and why do our chords and harmony work? In a nutshell, because our modern pitches today are equal temper tuned. Without its tuning precision, our harmony begins to wobble once beyond the triads and a couple of key centers.

Mess up your pegs a bit and strum some chords. Yuk ! Or not as your art demands :) That today, that we can get every possible chord 'equally' from any of our 12 pitches is because, and only because, of the equal temper tuning of 12 pitches. How many eggs in a dozen?

Built right into our guitars, by the gradual shortening up of the frets as we move up the neck, this tuning magic is what makes all our glorious harmonies possible. Blues, folk, rock, pop, classical, jazz and even beyond chords, all need their pitches equal temper tuned. Sitars? Nope. The Americana original 'Spanish' open 'G' tuning triad and played with a slide? Combine both on the one ax ... pretty much.

Historically, the application of equal temper tuning to modern music really comes to fruition with the making of the piano around 1700. In heart, body, soul and and mind, the piano that we still know and love of today, its own ying / yang balances a rigid tuning for making chords with an ease of sounding intervals. These become the shades of color on their palettes. Piano rhythms ? Unlimited in swing and can bring the thunder with ease. The subtle soft to loud of volume, thanks to key stroke velocity and Cristofori's ideas and their realization, wins the day for musical dynamics, all in tune.

Equal temper tuning is a system of tuning whereby each of the half step intervals within the octave span are equally 100 cents in size. Some believe that our most beloved major and minor 3rds suffer dramatically under this tuning scheme. For their more natural sounds, we lean to a 'just' intonation, where the pitches are tuned to simpler ratios. At 100 cent precision, the major 3rd is sharp the minor 3rd is flat, so do 'warm' them up with your best vibrato.

Applied to most of our musical instruments, the equal precision of dividing the octave into 12 equal parts, equal temperament, is not only completely responsible for our ability to create all of the wondrous chords and harmonies but that really any combination of pitches and still sound OK. Find and hold a piano's sustain pedal, hold it down, and pick a color of notes to sound. Either one, and any note, and we've some sonority. Try the black keys exclusively for the five pitch magic that cores it all, now tuned up to 100 cents per and still as chimey and 'all good notes' as ever.

Equal tempered tuning is a system of tuning whereby each of the 12 pitches are equally distributed within the octave, thereby rendering them equal to one another. And as applied to a full piano keyboard, this equality is extended over an aural range of seven octaves, so 88 total.

Thus with equal temper tuning, all musical events are equally projectable from each of the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale, thus creating the full palette of musical colors enjoyed by the modern guitarist.

And now beyond. Tuning precision plus electronics makes the MIDI revolution possible. We've 24 per octave notes for keyboards now. We might be hearing some of this work in movie scores. Where the reality of the scene and events gets bent a unique way we've not seen before. it's a different sound than a whammy bar, I think. Just explore and U'll find it.

"What is remarkable about Western music is that by its chosen scales, modified thru equal temperament, and by developing complex forms and complex instruments, it has raised the expressive power of music to heights and depths unattained in other cultures."

wiki Jacques Barzun


Guitarist ? Bassist ? The splash page picture of guitar leanin' into keys is the clue to this e-books content. If your chosen instrument is the guitar or bass, you've really come to the right place as I mine is too. For near all of the 2,140 written music examples included have guitar tab, along with their audio. And as all our musical instruments, from a kazoo to horns to drums and percussion to strings and pianos and keyboards to most things electronics share so many of the nature's original pitches, all may equally share in the knowledge of the 'AmerAfroEuroLatin' musics included here.

Understand Your Music

Essentials Of Modern Guitar

Tonal Resources For The Creative Musician

Understand Your Music

Essentials Of Modern Guitar

Tonal Resources For The Creative Musician

These are the titles of the three main Jacmuse authored books, whose theories and principles are now combined now into this one e-book, written under the new educational banner of "Understand Your Music." For during its writing, it's philosophy of music education evolved.

Written for all musicians, instruments and the piano, with aural playback for learning by ear in the oral tradition and in learning to read and write music, which combine to create a record of our history.

"Essentials" was written back in the 90's, a paper edition that, as the technology evolved, was reworked into this modern, web 'e-book' and then combined with "Tonal Resources For The Creative Musician" into this e-book titled as 'Understand Your Music.' The entire original "Essentials" work is available as a .pdf file, opened with Adobe reader. Just click on the cover to explore its first 100 pages or so.

Tonal Resources For The Creative Musician

"TRC" was written back in the 90's too, a paper edition that, as the technology evolved, was reworked into this modern, web 'e-book' and then combined with "Essentials" into this e-book titled as 'Understand Your Music.' The entire original "TRC" work is available as a .pdf file, opened with Adobe reader. Just click the cover to explore its first 100 pages or so. Read on !

"Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist."
wiki ~ Pablo Picasso

UYM / EMG / TRC philosophy

Educational philosophy ot this e-book working it all on-line or off-line.

UYM / EMG / TRC educational structure and philosophy is based on assessing the ...

number of elements ...

... in any given component in our music.

That as we increase this number, our artistic options expand. As art options expand, we can usually see a morphing between our AmerAfroEuroLatin musical styles.

'Become one with One.' One what?

Well, One as a number, 'One, 1, i, and I,' can create ... a start point ... for a few key discussions of our essential musical components. We can have a 'I chord', we have a tonic / One pitch in scales and key centers, surely a One in building arpeggios. We have a rhythm downbeat on beat 1 yes? We have a 'one bar' musical form, i.e., a 'vamp.' We have a 'one pitch tritone' that makes Americana musics Americana. On and on really and then ... ?

So exploring One leads us off to ... ? After One? Well, Two of course. A Two chord, a 2nd scale degree, a two chord song, two chord vamp, 2 and 4, 2 pitch intervals ... And after Two comes Three. Three notes in a triad, 3 notes in a triplet, 3 chords and the truth, 3 keys centers in "Giant Steps." Cool? Then four, five six ... up to 12, and even 15, and even a way to 24 before we close the loop and back to where we started, you guessed it ... One :)

R.O. !

UYM / EMG / TRC philosophy

In musical style. That the number of different pitches used in creating a musical work consistently reflects the general category of music style we would place it. Thus our progression of understanding the theory can be simply viewed as a gradual addition of pitches as we expand our core any one of our core elements numerically.

For example thinking melody; from the four and five pitch melodies of children's songs into folk, add a sixth for the blues, into the diatonic seven for pop and onto to include all 12 for the jazz palette.

With the chords, two note fifth's of metal become three note triads of folk become four note blues chords, five notes and beyond for jazz chords.

In rhythms we go through the subdivisions of the beat; whole, half, quarter eighth.

In musical forms, we have the number of measures in a phrase, phrases make forms that creates a song. From two bar vamps to four bar lullabies, to the 12 bar blues and off to the 32 bar song forms and beyond.

Music and math have combined to create our resources, from as far back in our memories as we might ever get to go and forward to the new systems of today :)

And last but not least, U Y M / Essentials views most of the theory from the perspective of the major scale group of pitches and build things up from there. There's just more major key songs than minor. No diss to minor intended, and minor key centers are explored of course, but the major key is the default.

The philosophy associated with chord type and substitution is one good example of an advanced way of thinking that is based in the major tonality.

Formal music education is shaped in this e-book as book learning, through a structured BA level curriculum of a college music program, combined with top 40 to divebar bandstand and everything in between essential knowledge. For all this spectrum of musics, and the musicians who play the songs, I've rubbed elbows and sometimes some blue notes too. What I learned from all these artists combines to create the wide fabric of Americana musics, styles and genres.

For with e-book hyperlinking of commonly shared music words, creates the connectivity between the styles and further, a basis to explore their evolutions on through historical eras, with each new generation picking up the same common components of pitches, rhythm and time to reshape into the new of their own day.

Creating new styles, often with new sounds from new instruments, and collaging together into music their perceptions of their life and times. With a hundred or so years now, we've quite a library of Americana to draw from. Add in jaunts in the waybac machine to earlier eras, origins and evolutions from around the globe that found their ways to our shores, and our own formal Americana cyber school originates.

"Let us not pretend to deny in our own philosophy what we know in our heart be true."

wiki ~ E. O. Wilson

~ Understand Your Music ~ Essentials Of Modern Guitar ~ 'e' book's file structure


The derivation of a word, the study of how the meaning of individual words evolve over the passing of historical times.

wiki ~ etymology


A term that attempts to encompass and describe the migration of peoples from Europe to America over the last 500 years or so, the history of their traditions and their ways of making music.

wiki ~ history of Europe
wiki ~ history of the Americas

European musical ancestors

European musical ancestors of Americana music in historical sequence; Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Debussey, Stravinsky and Schoenberg ... and every one of your own 'classical' favorites too !

wiki ~ European music composers
wiki ~ Americana music composers


Everyone. The inclusiveness of music, its making and events that include its magic, is surely among our most community building activities ever know to sentient beings of all persuasions. You, me, the band, the fans, the techs, the sound the lights on and on ... When the band has fun everyone has fun and surely everyone can potentially include everyone and anyone who might be wanting to take part in having a bit of fun.

Have we left anybody out? Easier perhaps to just include everyone :)


Simply an idea that helps us to understand how things change, oftentimes organically as one grows out of another as the eras go by and one generation succeeds the next.
wiki ~ evolution

evolution / historical

Many, many moons ago, a colleague from the prestigious Berkeley College Of Music and I were discussing the tonal evolution of Americana jazz music from inside to out. And we both marveled at the idea that what took the Euro Cats 400 years to accomplish we Americans did in less than a hundred. Imagine that :) Please read on !

The Evolution Of American Harmony

This is the title of a new work I dreamed up that looks to track the evolution of our American musical sounds from diatonic 'inside' to the 12 tone 'outside.' The research is to simply start with the 'top 10' songs of each decade, starting around the middle of the 19th century or so, and explore the evolution of the harmony as it unfolds.

This survey will finish in the 1960's, for by that time in our evolutions, we're 12 tone free and good to go. Estimated publishing date is 2025.

explore and get lost


experiment and find your own way

Explore by 'crunching' down the theory letter names and numbers to understand the theory. Also that there's a perimeter to the scope of discussions here that is universally expanded by choosing a word, highlight it and google it :) So be curious? Explore? Yep. Experiment by using theoretical explored concepts to generate your own new combinations. So get lost and then find your way back through discovery.

"Keep exploring. Keep dreaming. Keep asking why. Don't settle for what you already know. Never stop believing in the power of your ideas, your imagination, your hard work to change the world."

wiki ~ Barack Obama

existing knowledge / information

'E.K.' Is the knowledge that any interested learner brings to the topic they wish to learn about. It's what an artist of 'any subject' brings to the table in their learning, and through their studies, to get better at doing.

This web based html. discovery learning book is written so that the words and terms the reader knows, become their way into the musical curriculum in this work. Its really just that easy.

With a start point, the reader then proceeds by their own curiosities, juice and gumption. And most times, the initial curiosity is about how they create their own art, or why a style is what it is, or sounds the way it does, as say, compared to another. All the great arts we love do this, to share and compare and then create the new :)

extended / extensions

Refers to chords that include pitches above the three notes of the triad, in academia they are 'upper structure components' and for all of the rest of us, the colortones.

Fair Use

Fair use. To max the effectiveness of the vocabulary, sometimes the only thing that brings it is the original real deal audio or a picture of what the theory words are describing. The quipp "dancing about architecture" only goes so far in describing in words the nuts and bolt of a structure. In our case as musicians, hearing (feeling the vibrations) is believing.

So luckily in educational works such as this e-book, Uncle Sam allows us to collectively borrow bits of original art from one another, a perfect snapshot of the art to help illuminate the ideas of another creative and be cool with the legal.

There's a few of these pure 'snapshots lifts' included throughout this work to do just that. These snapshots are copyrighted and owned by their creators and heirs, their inclusion in this e-book comes under the 'fair use' clause of our copyright laws.


sheet musics

All the jazzy leaning lines and changes from our Americana song book we might ever need.


fake books

Collections of lead sheets showing only chord progressions from various music publishers, also known as "real" books.

A strumming technique where the strings are brushed back and forth, usually by a thin pick or fingernails.

fast Four
Initially a 12 bar blues idea whereby the chords of the tune goes to the Four chord, in the second bar, so a 'fast' move to the Four chord. Then on back to One, for bars three and four, then to the Four chord again in bar 5, starting off the second phrase etc., of a regular 12 bar blues. In slower tempi, fast Four near every time :) Here's a classic 'fast four' bass line, rote worthy on through a couple of keys.

fear of music theory

Call it a learning block, that some players have, that makes them resistant to learning about music theory so as to understand their music, the music of others, and communicate more fully. Not too sure why as each of us is 'theory' unique but some Cats just purely want to channel their muse without any theoretical interference?

feed the bulldog

Just a slang expression for taking care of business, solving the problem, fulfilling one's responsibility to, also as termed, to satiate the critters.


A pause, hold or breath in the musical performance, usually conducted by gesture, commonly found at the end of a composition.

fiction (al)

False, imaginative made up, make believe, fantasy narration.

wiki ~ fiction

( the ) fifth

Fifth. Just like counting fingers on the hand, our counting from above our root pitch One to Five, we come upon its fifth. '1 2 3 4 5.' In its purest form, when sounded with its root pitch, the interval of the fifth is said to be perfect, second only to the octave in perfection of sound quality of two distinct pitches sounded together.

'Perfect' in sound simply implies purity or perfection of its sonority or aural soundings, surely pleasing to our ears, the perfect fifth is mathematically based in a simple ratio of prime numbers; that of 3:2.

We've two ways to alter the perfect fifth using the half step; to diminish the perfect fifth by reducing the size of the interval to the root, known as 'b5' or, augmenting the perfect fifth interval by half step up, commonly know as known as '#5 or +5' etc.


A fill is a bit of a rhythm lick that sets up a downbeat soon to come in the music. Thinking 4 / 4 time, fills often happen in the 4th bar of a four bar phrase. And they set up the downbeat, beat 1, of the next four bar phrase. So at the end of each four bar phrase there's usually a fill? Yep. That most of our forms in music are four bar phrases, ties all this in quite nicely.

As we evolve in our styles, and gradually add in the number of 'fills' in our music, we can see a corresponding morphing between our musical styles.

For example, extract one minute of music from each of your faves in our core five styles. Chances are on the lullaby and folk end of our style spectrum, we'll find fill or two in the one minute of music.

Into the blues and rock, probably a few more as cats are now setting up the turnaround to the top and maybe 'filling to Four.' Very common and super effective in the 12 bar blues.

Towards the jazz horizon, cats are 'filling' all the time, setting up the points of interest soon to come in their music, and in more modern settings, listening to the soloist and creating a dialogue together that includes fills to highlight the spontaneous creativity that is occurring.

Imagine some early jazzy dixieland music for instance, where all the instruments are continuously filling to a future point all the time. That crazy sort of joyous mix of combined voices to tell the story.


Personal view, concept and term of artistic creation whereby an artistic idea i.e., a motif, is passed through a structured theory framework or fingerboard pattern etc. For example, to move a triad (motif) chromatically (filter).


Fingerings. A term used to describe how the fret hand finds the pitches. In the Americana musics for guitar, fingerings are simply about getting the pitches we each want, there's no strict way of fingering really anything. As we each bring our own physical resources to the game, we each must find our way to sound out the pitches. Find a bebop line for perspective.


4 fingers 4 frets

Of course there are common fingerings for tons of guitar stuff, but cats that veer off into bending lots of pitches or delve into the saxophone lines of bebop, (thank goodness for the areggios), should be prepared to make the fingerings up as they go along to a certain extent, as these sorts of lines often call for creative fingering solutions, discovered individually by those that look to play these sorts of lines.

The basics; index through pinky on fretboard hand are numbered one through four. Strumming or fingerpicking hand; the 't' is thumb, then 'i' for index, 'm' for middle and so forth. Classical guitarists have set guidelines everything, we Americana cats not so much.

"I didn't get my fingering from anyone.

I created my own chord constructions."

wiki ~ James Taylor

first inversion

A chord voicing where the lowest pitch of the chord is third chord degree, i.e., C / E. A root position triad is C E and G, with C as the lowest note. First inversion finds the E note as the lowest. Makes for a nice stepwise motion to Four, a most common of destinations in the songs we love.

five / 5

In our U Y M musics, the number five is the number of pitches that becomes the first fully formed grouping of pitches for creating our melodies. Labeled the pentatonic scale, from this start, both in major and minor, we build up pitch by pitch up to our 12 total pitches, our full compliment of melodic resources on our creative palette.

five elements

Fire, water, earth, wood and metal, according to the Chinese way of organizing the universe.
wiki ~ Wu_Xing / China five elements

Five of Five of ...

A cycling of dominant chords, i.e., D7 to G7 to C7 to F7, Bb7 etc., (can also be triads).


A music notation symbol (b) that lowers a pitch by half step.

flat picks

A plastic device used to start the strings in motion. In varying thickness, shapes and sizes, colors too :)

flip, flip it

Just a great word really, and most times here in U Y M / Essentials we're talking about flipping something major to minor, or vice versa. Intervals flip, chord tones, diminished 7th chords and augmented colors, anything symmetrically constructed loves to flip.

form (musical)

Form, musical. Definite patterns and set structures of numbered measures for creating songs, and all sorts of musical compositions, from eight bar songs through 12 bar blues through classical concertos, there's a cycle of elements that forms up a loop, usually in combinations of two, four, eight and sixteen bar phrases. Common musical forms include;

1 bar of heartbeat

2 bar lick

4 bar ditty

12 bar blues

8 bar song form

16 bar song form

32 bar song form ~ A / A / B / A

32 bar song form ~ A / B

The evolution of form. In all the creative artful art of the human endeavors in life, making a thing bigger has been the way it rolls, both intellectually and engineered, all through history and in practice. In music, the expansion of the existing forms for composing songs in each era helps energize a 'next and new' form in music.

In doing so, our art gets dimensionally bigger with restructuring the elements we already have, plus, the new ones we discover along the way as the creations of our own new art necessitates. Sometimes what we have just won't fit, won't hold up, won't whatever, and we just have to puzzle together something new to win the day.

formal music college

Formal music college. This is the John Myers Fine Arts Building that houses the arts programs at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, a S.U.N.Y. University College of Arts and Sciences. As real deal as it might ever get for a super novice such as I when first walking in these doors, and on to graduate four years later :)

The John Myers Fine Arts Building.


Simply using numerical equations of whole steps (1) and half steps (1/2) to create our various musical components.

forward motion

Creating a sense of anticipation in the music, taking advantage of rhythm swing to propel the music forward, commonly achieved by using an offbeat 8th note pickup when starting a line.

Phrasing to beat one. Also, in consecutive four bar phrases, creating a forward motion of a line's rhythm so that the phrase ends on beat 'one', of each new four bar phrase. So we phrase to beat one, and each new beat one of the next four bar phrase, as the music moves along.

Very very advanced concept and tricky to bring off. Huge in creating 'breathing room' for our phrasing in both the blues and jazz styles, forward motion thinking creates that 'space' to give our 'muse creative' a moment to 'suggest' something to say.


Four. Its capitalized number designating a primary diatonic scale degree, Four, the subdominant, provides a secondary resting point within a key center, adds a core essential color for Gospel grace, middle piece of I / IV / V chord progressions, both major and minor, so anything three chords and the truth has potential magic with Four.

four finger / four fret

Four fingers / four frets. Just a suggestion really but a fairly common technique for guitar players, mostly borrowed from the classical cats, whereby each of the four fingers of the hand fretting the pitches on the fingerboard assume responsibility for articulating their respective pitches within a span of four frets.

With the picking hand, we can use thumb, index, middle and ring to get four 'picks', to sound four notes of four note chords. Again a classical approach. Total control of the start and stop of the sound is a goal too. And arpeggiate any which way. Max control of making sound in moving time to bring the swing. Blues and jazz unite :)

So four fingers for four frets and four picking fingers for four note chords. Or any combination thereof as needed. Check out the pic for a part of this suggested technique, but the more you play, in practicing and jamming with others, you'll find your own way for making your art.

four pitches

Among our most common principles in music theory for chords is the use of four pitches in our voicings. These four simply correspond to the voices we find in vocal choirs. From the lowest pitches of the bass, up through tenor to alto and soprano on the top. (bass / tenor / alto / soprano)

fourth inversion

A chord voicing where the lowest pitch of the chord is ninth chord degree, i.e., C / D.

fret point

Simply a numerical designation of where the rubber meets the road ... or in our case, where the finger, string and fret all converge. This juncture is the meeting of heart, head and hands expression.

the 'freedom' to ...

"What is remarkable about Western music is that by its chosen scales, modified through equal temperament, and by developing complex forms and complex instruments, it has raised the expressive power of music to heights and depths unattained in other cultures." Jacques Barzun.

wiki ~ Jacques Barzun

full score

A full score is a term we use to describe a composer's 'scoring' or writing out their music, and full means that every nook and cranny of the music is written out, for all the instruments needed to play all the parts, thus their intent for each pitch is committed to paper.

wiki ~ full score

function (chord)

Chord function, or really the function of any of our musical elements, is simply to understand how that element catalyzes and reacts with the elements around it, how a particular chord type reacts within the tonal gravity of a key center, as a component in chord progressions etc., i.e. tonic, minor seventh or dominant chord types.

This 'function' bases our abilities to create a sense of direction in the music, its degree of aural predictability and can become the basis of substitution of one element for another. At this level of understanding, our ability to juxtapose these elements in creating works of art is near boundless.

... and please ... R.O !

functional harmony

The idea and term 'functional harmony' comes to us here from Euro classic music of the 17 and 1800's. Music that uses chord progressions and sequences that enable listeners to sense where the art is going and its points of clear resolution through traditional cadential motions. In analyzing these components, the idea of a functional harmony emerges.

In this text, functional harmony more generally refers to the building of chords and their progressions, as exclusively found within one tonal center, i.e., diatonic harmony. So ... no blues or borrowing ? Yep, we're talkin' driven' snow chords, and for that matter, mostly triads too.


A term used to describe the starting pitch from which an overtone series is created, also starting pitch of musical scales, the root of a chord etc. In the following example of the overtone series, the first low low pitch 'C' is the fundamental pitch of this series.



A style of inner urban rock / blues popular during the late 70's and onward. Here's a couple of choruses of a funky rockin' blues rhythm guitar featuring this 'E9' in action chord for ya :)

wiki ~ funk

fusion (-esque)

The merging of two distinct Americana styles or genres by recognizing the common roots they share. Such as jazz and rock, which share the blue notes and becomes 'jazz fusion' as pioneered in the later 1960's and forward through to today The blues / rock pentatonic groups make a major comeback in 'jazz fusion', as a new approach to 'through the changes' improvisations, as pioneered by Coltrane.

'G' note fretboard locations

'G' notes. In this 'Essentials' book, the key centers of 'G' major and 'E' minor are the anchors for the movable, looping of scale shapes. Here are the nine 'G' notes on the first two octaves of the fingerboard. And what happens with the pitches above the 12 fret? Why ... they begin all over again from the open string pitches of course :)

G C D' er

A 'G C D'er. Super slangy of course, this term was from me old days playing folk and country tunes. When jamming it was not uncommon for a tune to be called, followed by a description of the song's chords, as being a 'G C D'er, which on guitar, looks and sounds like this. This is ... a three chords and the truth approach ya ?

Country 5th's

Country 5th's. Back in the 50's Nelson's "Crazy" ran right up the charts to the top and stayed there for a good while. In its leaning country, there's a bit of this lick throughout the recording. The classic rockin' rockin double stop, maybe a little twang to countrified.

Country blues

Essential and easy (?) country lick yet blue hue bear to master in time. One of the crown jewel licks blending blue in the country with plenty of room at the top :)



Gallop. We borrow a rhythm from the big critters who in their scootin' along, create a rhythm we call a gallop, that just gives us a musical rhythm that brings the big swing. Think of the cliche of horse's rhythms when they set their hooves to a gallop pace.

In theory, a rhythmic idea, usually in groups of three notes, that anticipates and sets up the next beat of the next three, and then loops or repeats a few times or many times depending, building up momentum and excitement in the music.

Rockers should check out the now famous Leonard Skynard's 'Freebird' gallop, also the 'William Tell Overture' by G. Rossini. Here's a mashup mix to wet ur whistle.

We Americana's often slip a bit of this rhythm into our lines, as a triplet figure, to set the swing thing in motion in our 1/8th note lines. For bass players it becomes that 'chickityboom' lick.


Music slang term for instruments, amps, processors, reeds, speakers, microphones and all of the above etc.



Old time slang expression describing a really really really nice song. 'Oh, a real gem.' Which are the ones we love to play :)
wiki ~ "Crazy" song

genre ( sub )

Genre. A broad category or subject heading. In Americana music, this 'genre / sub genre' relationship becomes a seemingly endless journey as new talent comes up and recombines the elements they are given to create their own musical art for each new generation of players.

Then the art commentators come along and create new labels as needed. These labels could be termed subgenres of the genre etc. For example, the genre blues has its subgenres; blues, rock, blues country, folk blues, jazz blues, punk blues etc. Is there a metal blues yet? Must be one by now right ?

get in the way

Some believe that knowing the theory will spook their muse. That if a musical something has a name to identify it, there's a loss of mojo. And that's cool and probably true for those cats.

Then there's the mojo of performance and getting under the stage lights. That's when musical time takes over at the downbeat and we have to negotiate real music, we just dig in and go. There's no more theory, theory is for 'in practice.' So, no loss of mojo under the lights :)

"Giant Steps." Composed by jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, "Giant Steps" takes us directly to an evolutionary end of our studies of Americana music theories, as outlined here in this UYM / EMG text.

Developed and thought to be written as early as 1957, according to Wayne Shorter, from his biography "Footprints."

Recorded in May 1959 and released around New Years 1960, each of the compositional elements of "Giant Steps" become pathways of studies. For in the harmonic scheme Coltrane evolves by 1960, the centuries longstanding diatonic 'motion by 4th' finds yet another sleeker way to sound, thus blur the colors and accelerate our sense of motion or forward motion as in music.

'minor 3rd ~ perfect 4th'

This cyclical root motion opens up a pathway to the augmented triad, its associated whole tone colors. Somehow, and maybe die to tempo, Coltrane re-invents the old way a new way and conquers all. Four pitches per chord, implying a major pentatonic color, and transposed for each chord of the cycle. This maintains Coltrane's penchant for outlining the harmony. That this evolution is preceded by his V7b9 and 'sheets of sound' style thinking, is testimony to Coltrane's dedication to the search.

Within a year or so of circling the globe on the radio airwaves and vinyl, "Giant Steps", and its innovative approach to harmony and soloing through changes, has energized the jazz world over with a fresh new true blue all Americana NYC jazz one of a kind ...


Slang for a lot.



Slang for guitar, or any stringed instrument I'd imagine, the term originates for me in Newark, New Jersey from the 1980's or so.

gig / gigging

Slang for where the music is happening, oftentimes a professional musical job, i.e., "the gig."

global ideas

Just an easy way to say that the theory in this work is the theory of Western music in general and as guitar players, we are equal temper tuned, thus capable of the full spectrum of 12 tone scales, arpeggios and chords. We can also physically bend the pitches to find the coolness between the 12 fretted notes.

Global is anywhere our AmerAfroEuroLatin musics have traveled to around Earth, it's music theory has followed. So a D Dorian mode here in AK will be the same D Dorian where you are reading this, and the same anywhere Western music theory is working its magic around the globe. Imagine that :)

wiki ~ Western music

gospel music

In theory, a merging of diatonic mostly diatonic triads within one key center that supports an often deeply 'blues hued' approach to the melody, telling stories of a spiritual nature.

grace note

A pitch articulated as a quick lead in to another pitch usually by half step, also a trill or turn of pitches, hammer on or pull off, a wide wide wide BB King styled vibrato has a ton of grace :)

wiki ~ BB King

grand staff

So named simply in that we find a 'G' treble clef staff linked with a 'F' bass clef staff, as combined then used mostly for the piano; left hand bass and right hand treble clef.


Graddus Ad Parnassum

For music theorists, now just a dusty old text (ha) of music theory by Joseph Fux and named after sacred mountains hangouts of the of ancient Greek peoples. Written in a dialogue between maestro and pupil, many dialogues within this work follow this format. All in honor of Muse, from the now ancients right on up to tomorrow.

R. O. !

wiki ~ Muse
wiki ~ Gradus ad Parnassum

Greek modes

Greek modes. A name (s) for the groups of descending pitches (loops too) as used by the ancient Greeks of 2500 BC, named as Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian and Mixolydian.

We often use these exact same old labels today for the church modes of the 1200's, these further evolved into the 'relatives', once the pitches were approaching equal tempered tuned, in the 1400's.

The Ionian, Aeolian and Locrian groups were added by Glareanus around 1500CE, completing our seven unique groups we have today.

Guitarist Ted Greene

Guitarist, artist, author and master maestro Ted Greene holds a unique place for jazz leaning guitarists on the scene today. For Greene combines a mastery of harmony with a sense of timing and swing that's clear as day to hear and feel, bringing to life Americana melodies from deep in our collective history.

groove / pocket

Slang term usually applied to dance music, simply a term that describes all the elements that combine to motor a song along. The groove is that magical combination of various elements that gets toes tapping and thus ... folks up to dance.

groups of pitches

My term describing musical scales, i.e., 'the C major scale is also the C major grouping of pitches.' This slight alteration from the common wording is based on the idea that in our melody making and improv, if we practice and play scales our lines just might sound that way, like 'scales.'

Whereas if we're thinking along the lines of having a 'group of pitches to create melodic ideas from', we're developing a more lyrical aspect to capture a group's unique color.

Just word semantics here? Yea probably, but remember 'practice does make permanent', what we practice is often what we'll play.

guide tones

Guidetones. Sustained pitches creating a DNA sort of melodic line of the harmony. For pure melody players of the Americana, learning the 'gospel' guidetone line establishes half our core ... (?), which combined with the blue notes, creates our double helix DNA musical. Motored by Amer/Latin rhythms and aurally supportive and mass percussive Euro equal tempered changes, we're guide tone good :)

Pianist Oscar Peterson's own magical song "Hymn To Freedom" is a perfect capture of a gospel guidetone line.

In theory. In a basic form, the roots of the chords in a progression would be a guide tone line. A line of the 3rd of each chord, a line of the 5th's etc.

Using the 3rd and 7th of each successive chord is a bit more numerically advanced (using two pitches), and is cool as now we define each chord's type along the way of a song's harmonic progression. That chord type theory enters us into the realm of chord substitution theory through guide tones is a jazz pathway for artistic development.

When soloing 'through' chord changes, a guide tone line becomes yet another way to structure our ideas to create 'inside' the changes improvised dialogue. This next idea 'just cruisin' roots in C ...' as the saying goe'd, in 'C' major.

guitar gear

Guitar gear. Just stop by most any music store and marvel at all things available for guitar, realizing that a good segment of this pile is theory based or driven, signal wise. For once the electric guitar took hold, the electronical engineering shaping the guitars output sound signal can define what buttons we push. Full barre chords sound too muddy?

Well, back in the 50's and 60's, the amp gear could handle all four, five or six of a barre chord's combined pitches. Amps got bigger and louder, the 'fuzz' of all that electricity coursing through the wires needed bigger and bigger amps and power. And artists loved the fuzz for the sustain.

So we invented the stomp box that distorts the signal into fuzzy. But now barre chords, with their four, five and six pitches, have too many pitches to sound at one time. They get too fuzzed up. So, in theory :), we go to chords that have just a root pitch and a 5th. And a whole new world of sounds and possibilities open up into new genres within styles. Root and 5th is sleeker, just two pitches sounded together as opposed to four, five or six pitches, and we know sleeker is faster, generally.

Another gear / electric evolution is of course the MIDI revolution, still being perfected. And from which now there's the further subdivide of the perfect octave interval. Into 'microtonal' 1/4 tones, giving us 24 pitches per octave. And there's the '#15' arpeggio, while not electric in guitar gear signal, providing an additional portal to go beyond our usual domains.

Another gear revolution would be in the looping of the signal. The loopers we often shed and sometimes gig with. We also see the refinement of the theory in the building of the acoustic instruments as well, with all sorts of new ways to voice a guitar in its organic state. On and on really to seven strings, baritone and harp additions, an endless array of stompbox pedals, each with their own bit of magic to add to the mix :)

half cadence

Cadential motion where the progression closes to a point that is not the tonic chord of the chosen key center. Think 'vamp' and the Four or Five, Six and Three chords. HBDM.

half diminished

Half diminished is something diminished but only half way :) Which in its most common spot, is as a 'half diminished 7th chord.'

The diatonic triad on Seven is a diminished triad yes? So its about the added 7th. Yep, read on :)

half diminished 7th chord

A diatonic Two chord in the minor tonality as ii-7b5, and Seven in major key as vii-7b5, both built upon a triad with a minor third and diminished fifth. Both chord are based on the three note, diminished triad.

Also, 'half diminished' is a common jazzier name for a generic Two minor seventh chord type, but featuring a diminished fifth.

half step

The smallest intervallic division within the system of equal temperament, i.e., by half step or chromatic, both of which translates to one fret on our guitars, 12 half steps in a full octave, each 100 cents of measurable pitch vibrations / occilations. Examine our 12 pitches letter name pitches organized by half step with its perfect closure;

C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb B C ...

half step lead in

In approaching the target pitch or chord from half step above or below.

half step / whole step

Alternate interval approach to creating the diminished color, a symmetrical cell. 350

Hammond Organ

( 'The Hamminator" )

wiki ~ Hammond Organ


Slang for our mind, memory, instantaneous recall etc., it's on the hardrive :)
wiki ~ the mind


A 'pure' pitch created by lightly touching a string at specific divisions, i.e., frets, to produce 'harmonics.' Above the fifth, seventh and 12th frets live the natural fourth, fifth and octave harmonics of the open strings.

harmonic series

Another way to describe the overtone series.

harmonic minor scale

A group of pitches based on the relative minor group, with a natural minor third and minor sixth interval above the root pitch, yet further distinguished and singular by its raising of the natural minor seventh by half step, to a leading tone major seventh above the root. Letter name pitches from the root pitch 'C':

C D Eb F G Ab B C

Also, know that the fully diminished 7th chord has the harmonic minor as a parent scale, with the fully diminished scale, whole step / half step, completing its lineage.

harmonic system

Describes the idea of tertian harmony or chords built by stacking pitches using the interval of major and minor thirds, further implies our ability to project any chord from any pitch thanks to equal temper tuning.

harmonic substitution

Simply replacing one chord, often the written chord in a song or chord progression, with another. Hip to the jazzy tritone sub yet ?

D- G7 C becomes D- Db7 C

harmonic, thus melodic substitution

Mostly a jazz thing, for when we substitute one chord for another, our melodic choices evolve and change. This is very common in jazz 12 bar blues performance as it opens up new groups of pitches for creating our improvisations within this rock solid compositional form and the blue notes.

To add chords (harmony) to support a melody. Harmonizing up a few of those "Hot Cross Buns" in 'C' please :)


i.e., triads and chords, vertical stacking and simultaneous sounding of pitches, the chords used to support a melody.

Harvard Brief Dictionary Of Music

This is a cover picture of the book I've owned for the better part of 40 years now. A simple paperback edition originally $3, its true value incalculable in my home studies. Find a copy, pony up the big loot and a full spectrum of all musics opens for those who will read.

head / head tunes

Head. Slang for the melody of a song, also denotes the top of the form, da capo, Italian for 'the head.' On the bandstand, the leader of a tune will get everyone's attention and point their finger to their head, signaling a return to the top of the form of the song being performed. Like this.

Head tunes' is a slang term mostly that are created from a cool lick or phrase placed into a standard musical form. A two or four bar phrase slips right into rhythm changes. A bluesy, four bar phrase repeated three times becomes a 12 bar blues song. "Jumpin' At The Woodside" is a longtime head tune fave for many a jazzer over the generations since its writing and introduction in 1938.

wiki ~ head music
wiki ~ "Jumpin' At The Woodside"

hen's teeth

My friend KB's expression to describe a range of potential for something that is somewhat rare, scarce and hard to find etc., anchoring one end of the spectrum for locating stuff that is 'hen's teeth rare, near just downright virtually impossible to locate, ever :)

here in Essentials

Warning ... personal opinions ahead ... :) This is probably more of an author's note really but the concept is simply that ... in art there's generally lots of opinions and lots of approaches to any given topic. Thus the phrase of 'here in Essentials' is included to simply reflect the way that I theoretically think of things and approach particular topics of artistic and musical interest.

here, there and everywhere

As the title of a pop song by The Beatles, here in UYM / Essentials this idea refers to the fact that the same music theory lives and rules across great sections of the globe. A major triad here in AK is the same one in NYC, London, Berlin, Peking, Moscow and all points where a commonality of pitch is found, or a piano :)

hip to the changes

Slang for knowing the chords to a song, also knowing about chords, theories, voicings, chord type, progressions, substitutions etc. Also helping those 'unhip' to get 'hip.'


My slang term (?) for making something hip or hipper, as the case might be.

hills in which we live

My slang term ( ? ) for our planet Earth.

wiki ~ earth

historical perspective

The 'historical perspective' creates the ever present personal writing conundrum of this UYM / Essentials work. As the idea of 'modern' implies a gradually evolving artistic sense within each artist, theory ideas not in historical context might fail to show their modernization and consequent evolution.

As knowing music history is in and of itself such a colossally inspired venture, it is challenging to draw the line between theory and history when describing how things have gone, and go, in the Americana musics today. So be it. As they say in Fairbanks ... 'it is what it is.'

The curious among us can hopefully left click and drag Mouse to highlight, then right click Mouse to Google and explore beyond, at their own free will :)

history of improvisation

As old as the hills now, this ability to improvise is just part of who we upright, walking critters be. In making our musics, we have today the biographies of the legends that come before us, creating pathways of discovery to help our own talents develop and blossom into new art.

In jazz, the arpeggio figure of spelling out the chords has been the catalyst a couple of times to developing new way at creating improvised dialogue. Getting a sense of how this comes about, in theory, is a window into new ways forward for the modern artist.

wiki ~ lists of musicians / Americana musicians bio's

history / theory dynamic

That we can trace the evolution of the theory from the 1880's forward in our Americana music provides us with a timeline of the players who built upon the work that they inherited from previous generations. There are definite milestones along this pathway that in one fell swoop really changes the complexion of what came after. While most of these theory evolutions are associated and documented with musicians; Louis with swing rhythms, Parker with bebop and Coltrane with post bop symmetry, other theory evolutions are not as easily found; when did the Two chord supplant Four in mainstream jazz, or when does dominant harmony supplant the written changes in high spirited and accelerated improvisations towards the chromatic blur ? As theorists we often get to create and ask more questions than we can answer, prompting the next 'search' for the impassioned artist.


In music, this term 'hits' is a slang word with a couple uses; it refers to when a particular rhythm get's struck, i.e., that rock music will mostly 'hit' on one, the downbeat of a measure of 4/4 time. Expanding on this meaning, 'hits' is used also among players when the downbeat of a performance is supposed to start, i.e., the gig hits at 8.

A 'hit' song is also what many of us composers would love to write, especially a hit that makes it into the top 100 song list, then a top 40 hit or even a 'top 10 hit' where's there's a chance it'll get to be a #1 hit song, imagine that :) Keep writing.

hits on 2

The idea that the music hits on 2, that we super accent forte the second beat of a measure in 4/4 time, is a sure way to bring the swing. For example, finding a '2' in a four bar phrase super forte accent by tacit on the '1' before :) Master this 'rhythm pop' a la Freddie Green style, and bring the swing forevermore.

wiki ~ Freddie Green
wiki ~ one drop ?

"The Hokey Pokey"

The "Hokey Pokey" (USA) is a pop tune with giant 4/4 quarter notes on the downbeat and a solid steady pop on 2 and 4, so a big wide swing potential. Everyone knows it and it might be a line dance too. Though it is possibly attributed back to the 1850's overseas, thus a lighting rod for sparking the later 'British Invasion' (not :), the tune is a rather perfect 8 bar song form.

wiki ~ Hokey Pokey


Hollywood. That crazy place in LA where some very hip players and writers hang, who can conjure up the perfect mood, mode or mojo of music for any imaginable visual scene going down, and have the budget $ to bring it all together.

Depending on a lot of factors, we as creative artists might have been influenced by what Hollywood has laid down that represents any given historical era.

Horns in 5th's to herald royalty. From East to West, various horns for the sounds of NYC street life to country muted twang in a spaghetti Western out west, to under the sea low notes of bassoons and oboe's.

Ever see one of those documentary films about various Earth critters and how the audio uses different orchestra instruments to portray each animal's instinctive character, coolness and dance ? Some of those sound / visual pairings are forever locked into Americana cliche, thanks to the West Coast visionaries of Hollywood and public school in the 60's.

So to the moon and back we go, with a whole lot of swing in between, big band to sitar to orchestras with brass and strings, and all the trimmings and vocals of course, an infinite variety of vocals, and dance. Hollywood film and show scoring is a great place to reverse engineer our learning process here. Listen closely to the music sound track of any movie and figure out what it is in theory, instruments etc.

... So, what is the theory behind that chord that makes our hair stand up when such and such a scene unfolds ... ? Do we want to be able to play it ? Label it? We theorists tend to yes, want to know these things.

For in a practical way, if we follow a historical timeline from wayback till now, at any point in the historical story we can find a movie or two depicting that time period. Chances are in its musical score there will be some original music written in the style of the 'theory of the day' so to speak, recreated on actual period instruments. Capture an era of time in music.

Does this Hollywood combination guarantee authenticity of historical era ? In thoughtful, creative hands it just might. For these are some of the heaviest and well funded music thinkers we have. Are you searching for ancient melodies? Me too :) Simply a seemingly endless historical musical extravaganza, created by pairing up the music theory of an era with its 'period correct' instruments, and find the groove to make it all dance yet again.

wiki ~ Hollywood
wiki ~ "So What" song

Hollywood chords

A slang term that Dr. Miller would use to describe his best and fanciest jazz chords, of generally super orchestral proportions and thus, gigantic fingering contortions, that always got everyone's attention :)

"Put in a Hollywood chord there ol'e boy :)" Doc had a handful of some very fancy chords with that West Coast Hollywood level coolness and its bright lights and bigger stars. Here's the ones recalled. Example 1.

Nice huh? Doc knew them all, send good vibes as I get to pass his wisdom along to you. Oh, and the last disaster chord, the #15 is all mine :) Yet, the theory of it comes from one of Dr. Miller's collegues of maestro magics, jazz pianist Dr. Alan Frank.

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

~ Dr. James B. Miller ~


Term that describes a unique texture of music that began to developed in the 1500's that features one main melody line supported by vertical stacks of pitches or chords.

Homophonic music replaces the polyphony style that predominated European music for the previous 200 years or so and comes about as the tuning of our pitches evolve towards the equal temper tuning method.

Once this style is established, this composing technique of one melody line supported by chords has ruled the day ever since, so historically becomes is the predominant texture of the nearly all the Americana sounds we inherit today.

~ one melody line supported by chords ~

hook (the)

Hook / riff / ditty. Oldtime American slang term for the part of the song everyone remembers, usually a catchy phrase, a combination of words and music that gets stuck in our heads, oftentimes one word hooks become one of the top 40 all time classics.

In our Americana musics, Willie Nelson's 'Crazy', The Beatles "Help', Eric Clapton's 'Layla', Van Halen's "Jump" are all solid one word hooks.

Of course hooks can be any number of words, thus usually a catchy phrase of an idea or image that means something to all of us. "Help Me" by Joni Mitchell, The Temptation's "Just My Imagination." Ms Sheryl Crow's "Every Day Is A Winding Road."

Our hooks can transcend ethnic languages as in Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour." Run down any listing of top 40 hits from any era really and the read a list of hooks and you'll get the idea.

Anyone of us can come up with a hook. And really from any where. Often times when the words come along, they'll have a rhythm to them.

~ words + rhythm = hook ~

That's usually the easy part :) Then the work begins to craft it all into a song that captures the hook's magic. Collaboration is often the key here, too many great songwriting teams have proven this over and over and over over the last 10 decades or so. Got a partner to write with ? Got something good? Make sure you 'own it' by copyright with Uncle Sam, who makes it easy to register.

Extra hooks and songs from the author :)

"When Ya Coming Back"

"Click Clack"

"Waltz In To My Arms"

"The Truth Is"

"Flow The Love"

"Heard You Talkin' Voodoo ... 'Bout Me"

"Who Dat Who Dat Dere"

wiki ~ hook music
wiki ~ "Jingle Bells"

wiki ~ "Crazy" song

wiki ~ "Help" song
wiki ~ "Layla" song
wiki ~ "Jump" Van Halen
wiki ~ "Help Me" song
wiki "Just My Imagination"
wiki ~ "Everyday Is A Winding Road" song
wiki ~ "Peg" song


hold ( last )

A hold in music is simply a pause that 'holds', sustaining whatever sounds everyone was making at that moment. So collectively for the band this usually becomes a chord. Usually gestured or conducted, we can count back in to look for the downbeat, to continue onward, even a strong gesture by the leader, so as to end the performance of a musical piece all together. This is most often termed the last or final hold and is written in the music as a 'bird's-eye', formally known as a fermata.


Term that most often describes the basic shape created by the pitches of a melodic line, generally implying step wise motion.

house tunes

Slang term for the music played between a band's sets, as in concerts, clubs and such.


Used to describe a particular shade of a common color, i.e. the various "hues of green", lime, kelly, neon etc.


An important symbol / electronic device devised by humankind to record a word or concept, allowing ideas to be connected with other ideas with the click of a button.

"I can ..."

The last four letters of A M E R- I - C A N spellout ... 'I can.' Be American :)

'I can ... we can, together.'

iambic pentameter

Iambic pentameter = five 'pairs of feet.'

A common rhythm of verse in the English language that finds five pairs of 'iams' strung together into a phrase. So 10 syllables total.

These can become our paired 1/8th notes in a two bar phrase or jazzed up like this.

wiki ~ iambic pentameter
wiki ~ Shakespeare

iambic pentameter

Cool ? Feel the pulse and sense the repeat of it coming ? Sort of has that feel that ...

It's a very common and pure magical way that this '10 feet' of words motor the lyrics of blues songs when put together into three, four bar phrases of the 12 bar form. Here's my best run at an iambic pentameter motored four bar blues phrase, that repeated three times, bolts right up into 12 bar form.

... 'the truth is ...

... ya just don't love me know more ...'

Cool ? Count them ? 10 'feets', three times is a charm so it seems.

wiki ~ iambic pentameter
wiki ~ Shakespeare

iambic pentameter

And for poets, theatre folks and 'rhymsters' of all stripes and spots, look to the works of the bard himself, William Shakespeare, for volumes and volumes of iambic pentameter rhythm magics.

wiki ~ iambic pentameter
wiki ~ Shakespeare


Imperfect in music implies that 'classically', there's yet an even better way to achieve perfection. In this case, it's about coming to a rest point in the music.

So a V to I harmonic cadential motion with the tonic pitch ... not in both bass and lead of the One chord, is 'imperfect', so creating a slightly less definite sense of a truly 'perfect aural closure', the release of tension or coming to a complete or final resting point in the music, by having the tonic note in command of the last chord of a song, i.e., in both the bass and treble voices of the final chord.

~ improvise ~

~ improvising ~

~ impro- vi - sing ~

Improvise ... to spontaneously create solutions for challenges in our American music, commonly to mean the creation musical lines in real time with the band. Also 'to solo' is a common substitution for improv, improvisation etc.

In soloing, artists most often use the form of the song and its harmonies to create their own unique 'theme and variations' of the core storyline of the song being performed. Players can develop their chops throughout their entire careers. Many listeners not only enjoy this but eagerly look forward to this spontaneously creative and most magical process during performances of Americana musics.

While the degree of improv in the music surely vary's by style, if there's a strong soloist with the group, chances are they will be featured at some point. Becoming the featured soloist of the band is the old fashioned way up the ladder in show business.

Essentials improv soloing theory is in two parts; at any given point in the process are we soloing over or through the chord changes? This basic distinction of theory quickly translates into a parent scale or arpeggio approach, the latter leaning to jazz and the whole tamale of its harmonies, substitutions and evolutions.

Quite easy to understand the theory of this; over or through, as their basic intervals are different. With a couple of semesters shedding, it all should begin to clarify, the initial capturing of the basic level for the 12 bar blues and on into the bebop of jazz. From this span and perspective, your own 'art' will create the pathways forward to developing your artistic signature.

In the performance of Americana music, if the players are not reading, then they are playing from memory, by rote, and as such, are to varying degrees improvising; making their part up as it all goes along. Is this why music is so much fun to play? Could very well be. Just making it all up as we go along, trying to remember our parts, focusing and listening to the other cats in the band. This improvisation business connects all the dots :)

in the lead / lead pitch

Refers to the highest pitch in a chord voicing.


Incomplete dominant 7th chord. Simply a chord voicing where the lowest diatonic pitch of a triad or chord, its root pitch, is omitted from the voicing. Any chord can be 'incomplete' of course, but V7 chords get most of the attention here, as it is the 'tritone within' that motors part of its magics. Thinking in 'C' major.


Originating in a particular geographical area, native to a land all its own.

wiki ~ indigenous

individualizing instruction

Creating an educational curriculum for each person based on the existing information they already own and bring to the learning process, plus their own needs and capacities in both creative and intellectual endeavors, and all tailored to their own unique ways of learning and building knowledge within.

wiki ~ auto didacticism


Slang for music industry.


... no end in sight ... sky's the limit :)
wiki ~ infinite

inside / outside

Jazz slang for musical ideas often associated with improv; 'inside' which uses only a key centers diatonic pitches, the 'correct' pitches as directed by any given chord change and or 'outside'; a musical idea created with the non - diatonic pitches related to a chosen key center, used deliberately and hopefully artistically, to create an atonal sounding idea over conventional chord changes etc.

(an) instrumental

Instrumental (an). A song without words, if there is such a thing, or perhaps more common, an 'instrumental' is to perform a song without its words, as an 'instrumental number.' "In performance, the leader will say "the horn player's got the line", that sort of thing. Any instrument can be 'the horn.'

Sans a singer. So when the singer takes a break, the band will play what is termed an 'instrumental number.' In these arrangements, the 'vocal' line is 'sung', interpreted by an instrument. Any can play the line, from a kazoo to tuba, and all points in between.

When an instrument takes over the assignment to sound the melody in an arrangement, the backing instruments have a bit more room to jazz it up. As the human voice seems to 'demand' a different sort of attention and focus.

interval (musical)

Interval. Simply a theory way we can 'measure' our musical components to create comparisons between our various elements. The basis of our numerical labeling system.

... describes the musical distance between two pitches.

A term that describes the musical distance between two pitches, most often identified by numbers and description of its sound qualities; major, minor, sharp or flat etc.

The intervals used to create any of our components determines what that thing becomes. For example, thirds make major or minor. Sevenths are either the leading tone or a blue note 7th associated with V7. As measured from the root of any component, its intervals determine it sound and thus what it does in relation to the components around it as the music flows along.

and ... R O !

interval purity

Interval purity. The music system we enjoy today is mostly based on the purity of natural sounds provided by Mother Nature. And there's a hierarchy to this purity of how we as peeps hear and perceive our musical sounds. How we've tuned these natural pitches over the millennia surely plays a part of today's musical notes, but our core basis originally comes direct from Mother Earth. The following listing, from top to bottom, lists our diatonic scale intervals in order of purity of sound as defined numerically by ratios of numbers, representing the frequencies of the pitches. Octave is tops !

perfect octave 2 : 1
perfect 5th 3 : 2
perfect 4th 4 : 3
major 3rd 5 : 4
major 6th 5 : 3
major 2nd 9 : 8
major 7th 15 : 8

and ... R O !

interval ratios

The mathematical numerical relationships of our musical intervals. We also credit Pythagoras and his people with first understanding, quantifying and recording for posterity the ratios of the additional pitches generated from within this octave initial, struck fundamental pitch. Interval ratio values from the Wikipedia Webster.

wiki ~ interval ratios
perfect unison 1 : 1
minor 2nd 16 : 15
major 2nd 9 : 8
minor 3rd 6 : 5
major 3rd 5 : 4
perfect 4th 4 : 3
augmented 4th 45 : 32
perfect 5th 3 : 2
minor 6th 8 : 5
major 6th 5 : 3
minor 7th 16 : 9
major 7th 15 : 8
perfect octave 2 : 1

and ... R O !


interval studies

A series of melodic studies that seeks to exhaust the fundamental intervals over the entire playable range of the instrument.

and ... R O !

intervallic symmetry

When the intervals used to create a musical component are all the same, this could also be a combination of intervals which is repeated as a cell.

in a nutshell

Putting the ideas of a page's discussion into a few sentences at the beginning of each discussion, helping to accelerate the choosing of topics for additional learning for whatever existing information a reader brings to this text.

(an) inner intellectual structure

This is one of the key things that the theory does for us; it creates an understanding of, thus an ability to, organize all of the kibbles and bits associated with our music into our own intellectual structure, that in one sense becomes our musical resource; vocabulary and bag of tricks from which we create and envision our musical art to share with other like minded, artistic interested folks.


Intonation is the fine art of being in tune in all sorts of ways and settings. For a guitar, it's about the physical dimensions and layout of our guitars, so physically making the instrument in tune with itself to play the fretted notes in tune. We have measured this all along with basic rulers.

For as fixed fret location determines pitch, and frets are measured into place, just makes sense that there's an 'adjustment' possibility in the design. Most electrics have some sort of tune-a-matic bridge, as shown above.

With the fixed bridge of acoustics, quality of craftsmanship tends to play the largest role. So we use the term intonation to describe the fine tune of string length so that the measured in, fixed frets, each create the correct stopping point / string length to sound the pitch we're trying to bring to life. Intonating our guitars helps to insure that all of these pitches are properly tuned to a string's fundamental pitch.

We can adjust an instruments intonation by adjusting its string length relative to the harmonic and stopped pitch located at the 12 fret. With electrics, we usually just have a screw to turn to change the length. Fixed bridges of acoustics are tricky as we have to build up one side and reduce the other of the string saddle to get to the right string length. When these two match perfectly, that string is then intonated or 'in tune' with itself.

wiki ~ intonation music


Intonating a guitar. Easy to do, simply tune up the open string to their acceptable pitch by whatever means and then sound the harmonic above the 12th fret. Then carefully finger and sound the stopped pitch at the 12 fret pitch. These pitches should match as closely as possible. Adjust your string length at the bridge, if you can, to dial these two in together. There's only 2 ways to go, so if your adjustments make it worse, go the other way, it's a 50 / 50 chance :)

While the above intonating is periodically done as general maintenance, a further intonating can be achieved by thinking along the lines of musical style and the key of the next song. For example, if your next song is in G and your playing open chords, surely check the three G's and smooth out any waves that might be lurking.

Also, there's the common issues with the higher B, 5th string, in that the instrument fights to create a balance between the lower pitched major third with the edgy sharpness of the upper B note as we equal temper tune our guitars. Oh well, I guess we'll have to well ... compromise a bit.

'X' marks the 'B' notes.

intonate your guitar

Just as we use the midway point to find an open string's octave, we can intonate our guitars by comparing the sound of the harmonic over the 12th fret with the pitch created there by pushing this button. If they are different, then the instrument is out of tune with itself. We remedy this by changing string length, usually by moving the saddle of the guitar one way or the other, depending. Sharp / longer. Flat / shorter, I think.

intro / outro

Slang for the music that introduces a song; intro. Or the music to take it out; outro.


As the term inversion implies, we're simply flipping our components over to see what might be on the other side. We do this inverting process and juxtaposing of the pitches mostly with musical intervals and stacks of pitches, i.e., chords. R O !

inversions / chord

Chord inversions are where the lowest pitch of the chord is not the named root of the chord. So, in describing the voicing of a chord, we often use the terms, root position, 1st, 2nd and 3rd inversion, to designate when the root, or the third, fifth or seventh degree of the chord is the bass pitch respectively of any chord really. Ninth in the bass ? Sure, then a 4th inversion, fairly common but talk with your bass and piano player to let know. Beyond this point in the arpeggio, inversions becomes a bit esoteric to our legit identifying process. R O !


Is the reversing of a musical interval from ascending to descending or vice versa. For example, move up a minor 3rd from 'C to Eb', inverted we move down by major 6th to find the same pitches, 'C and Eb.'

With the simple intervals; perfect stay perfect, major flips to minor and minors become major, augmented can become diminished and vice versa, and most curiously, their numbers always add up to nine. Up a major 6th C up to A inverts to going down a minor 3rd C down to A.

6 + 3 = 9

wonder why it's always nine ... :)

inverted (upper) pedal tone

Diatonic common tone in top voice of a chord progression.


A Greek word, older modal or church name used to designate the white keys from C to C, which in the modern era we simply call the major scale.


The idea of 'it' here are the ideas inside your head that represent whatever topic is at hand when the idea of 'it' comes along. So basically how you understand it and what it is to to you.

In a cyberbook, the topic is presented in such a way as to allow for readers of every level of experience and knowledge, i.e., their existing information, an opportunity to advance their understanding of the topic, and how the information settles into each of our own unique minds is simply how we each understand it :)

J.S.Bach chorales

J.S.Bach chorales. A collection of music from the early 1700's that transitions the polyphony of the day towards homophony; one melody supported by chords. At formal music school, we were are tasked to theory analyze every pitch in a chorale and relate it to its 'who, what, when, where and why' in the music :)

wiki ~ Bach chorales

jam / jamming

A slang term to describe making improvisational music that includes everything from working with a metronome, jamming along with jam tracks and favorite recordings, getting with musical friends at home or at school to work the magic, heading to your area jam sessions to hang with experienced players and advance your own pro career.

"It is not so hard for me to jam."


Early historical label of the late 19th century for music commonly known today as jazz.


A style of Americana popular music that will commonly employ all of our 12 tones in one song.

sensibilities of the jazz artist

Jazz artist. In one sense, the jazz artist is the creative musician that takes on the responsibility to learn, understand and hear the entire spectrum of our Americana musical styles and all of the theory that goes into their creation. While a tall order for sure, simply getting one's arms completely around the resource is often enough of a start. And while it might take decades to fill it all in, no matter really.

For knowing the whole theory knowledge base, we should then always have a way to untangle understanding whatever we come across in any music. It's this 'arms around the resource' that needs to be foundationed kinda asap, if there is such a need as asap in these sorts of studies. ASAP simply brings a full view of the resource.

And of course any artist of any style is equally welcome to all the theory. This freedom of thought is core Americana and the basis for the essential philosophy of this work; the evolution of the artist and their art by way of understanding the set in stone nuts and bolts of our music theory. That through understanding the theory, any music we ever dig, created in any style, becomes a potential source for inspiration (10% ?) ... which always helps and is followed by the perspiration ... said to be around 90% to finish the jobs we start :)

jazz chords

Jazz chords are characterized by a couple of fairly unique attributes that help suit them for creating jazz music. That tempos are often brighter (faster) in jazz often necessitates that we shape the pitches of chords to be lighter, thus quicker, all while retaining the harmony's basic functions in the music.

These attributes include; no doubling, chord shapes tend to be movable, they can include all manner of colortones and variations, and we tend to 'type' jazz chords to facilitate their learning. We'll usually puzzle jazz chord together with tighter progressions, often by half step or fourth, voice leading and rhythmic inflections (half step lead in).

jazz mantra

My tongue in cheek term for the degree of knowledge and the exhausting of the resources that jazz players enjoy.

jazz process

Here in UYM / Essentials, this idea of a 'process' is simply the way I learned the musical resources to play the jazz styled songs contained in our Americana songbook. The process becomes a curriculum of study, pedagogy or methodology for internalizing the basic vocabulary of our jazz language for guitar.

juice, learning

My term for inspiration, the learning 'juice' is that commonly shared human quality of spirit, that we each can bring to our own learning process and development.

Energized and improvised on here from the ideas delivered by Pat Metheny in a speech at the Association Of Jazz Educators conference, a fair while back now.

Simply that we as a species can undergo quite fantastical leaps of physical and intellectual growth during middle to later teen years up through our 30's, and even beyond for some.

Simply that during this stage of our lives we have the 'juice' to burn the 'midnight oil' day after day after day, and on into night if needed, to keep at a thing until we discover, solve and master what it is we seek to know. In Alaska, in these sorts of pursuits in summers we often say 'sleep later, winters :)

wiki ~ Pat Metheny


Jump is a style of swinging jazz pioneered mainly by Count Basie in the mid 1930's. In its basic theory, jump is created by improvising musicians who based their music on cool riffs learned by rote. These melodies were placed into the 12 bar blues form, or rhythm changes, to create what we term as a 'head arrangement.'

Bands counted the tune off, played the head and off to the soloing they go. Vamp lines are often used behind the soloists to add momentum. Jump's brighter tempos kept the dancers up and bookings steady.

Within a decade or so, the jump style and groove crossed over into rhythm and blues, rockn' roll, rockabilly and really to all points beyond initially based in the 'jump' of the mid 1930's. Any sort of rockn' thing that also swings with a core sense of 2 and 4 pulse, could find a heritage link to the jump style.

Basie's "Jumpin At The Woodside" kinda says it all and man does it ever swing :)

wiki ~ Count Basie

wiki ~ "Jumpin' At The Woodside"

just intonation

An 18th century system of tuning whereby the intervals of pitches are created by ratios of small whole numbers only, a system of tuning centered in one tonal center whereby the major 3rd and 5th are perfectly acoustically correct, while the other pitches of the diatonic scale are derived from these two pure tones, their inversions and intervals. (paraphrased from Harvard Brief Dictionary p.148.

wiki ~ just intonation


My term for when a learner's existing knowledge of the theory dramatically expands by the addition of one new concept or element, creating a new musical horizon. Also a good name for a band :)


Using the name Kansas, a wonderful state of our beloved Union, is simply a cliche reference to the "Wizard of Oz", the 1939 movie classic where the heroine Dorothy gets whisked away to points far beyond her Kansas home. Used as a metaphor in this e-book only in our conversational music theory discussions, Kansas is our diatonic realm, home. And the idea of 'we are not in Kansas anymore' ( from the script ), is just a pun for some fun, that simply means that our search for musical and artistic coolness has taken us beyond our diatonic borders. And if that's not enough ... remember that the opening pitches of "Over The Rainbow" create the octave interval yes ? Surely a musical sound pure as the driven snow, as well as the theory basis of our architectures.

wiki ~ Wizard Of Oz
wiki ~ Dorothy Gale
wiki ~ Harold Arlen
wiki ~ "Over The Rainbow Song"


Alaska slang term usually reserved for what we call our bounty from the Great Sea, but also just a slang word we also apply to super specials and other everyday everythings and anythings that we deem worth holding on to for possible future endeavors.

key center

The tonal center of a musical composition, i.e., a song written or performed in C major is said to be 'in the key of C major.' Its octave span, diatonic notes are

scale / C D E F G A B C

arpeggio / C E G B D F A C

R. O. !

key scheme

The idea of key scheme is mostly about composition. Composers often develop a cycle of key centers, a contrasting of tonal centers for different themes, follow traditional key centers and modulations in accordance with musical forms. All of these would be examples of a key scheme, a thought out process of where we are going to go key wise in our music.

R. O. !

key signature

Term used to describe the number of sharps or flats associated with each of the twelve major / minor keys, eases the writing and reading of music by placing diatonic accidentals at the beginning of the piece. Here's the key signature for A major / F# minor in treble clef and common time.

King Kong beat

A rhythm riff that gets us back to the origins of our music of sentient beings jammin' for the dancers ... ? No surprise that it is named after the king of the jungle :)

Klezmer music

Klezmer music is a rather oldtime style of music that is part of the Jewish traditions. And while not a real focus here in Essentials as a musical style for performance, part of its theory is unique and beneficial as it takes us to a rare and rather beautiful theoretical spot; a mode built on Five of the harmonic minor grouping of pitches. This opens a couple of ways. The 'hypo' modes of the original Greek modes. The church modes of course and the 'modal' application of loops within loops as applied to the pentatonic colors of the jazz rock fusion of the later 60's and forward.

label it

This process of identifying and labeling elements is at the core of what a theorist does. In learning about any topic in life, the process is oftentimes the same; we examine structures for its component parts, we identify each part to see what it does and label it, then look to understand how one component effects another.

The coolness we gain in this process is an understanding of the components and how we usually mix them to make music. Along the way creating a vocabulary of terms that identify the components, and their use in discussions encouraging dialogue to further explore and experiment with our resources.


'Layla' is a popular rocking love song from the early 70's that features a smoking guitar riff right out of the gate. Really just a couple of super ancient pitches that when sounded, can energize our universe today anew :)

wiki ~ Layla
wiki ~ Duane Allman
wiki ~ Eric Clapton
wiki ~ Tom Dowd

lay out

Slang term meaning "not to play", i.e., to lay out of the mix.

lead (in the)

Refers to the highest pitch ( voice ) in a chord voicing ... and R O !

lead sheets

Written music including the melody pitches, their rhythm in standard notation and appropriate chord symbols, all lined up together to create a song. Lead sheets are collected by musical styles and put into real books. Music and its publishing has historically been a very big business. Still is. Lucrative and fun too, nice combo :) Here's a modern version lead sheet of a now very ancient melody; pitches, their rhythm and suggested chords.


The person responsible for organizing the music and musicians ( sideman ) for a musical event, also the artistic focus of a recording session.

leading tone / 7th scale degree of natural, relative major / minor scale

Our leading tone note, a theory lingo way to describe the 7th scale degree of the major scale, is an essential pitch that energizes our sense of anticipation towards a resolution within a key center. The leading tone is a half step below the tonic pitch, thus the diatonic 7th degree of the major scale.

The leading tone note also becomes a first evolution between the relative natural minor and major, creating the harmonic minor group of pitches.

With the multiple leading tones within the V7b9 chord, we can blossom into a section of our harmonic palette that even today, we could still call 'sheets of sound.' Brought to life by Coltrane's explorations in the late 50's, jazz players love this 'b9' theory for understanding the basics of the V7 chord substitutions of the jazz language.

lean against

Something to lean against. This is my slang term that implies having some sort of 'time keeping' going on in the music as we create it. We 'lean against' the pulse and beat, which gives us places in the ongoing groove to phrase our ideas as a collaborative effort. Anything from a ticking timer clock to a metronome to a looper, click track and in the best scenario, a full on drummer who responds in kind while keeping time :)

In advanced ideas, when we can 'lean against' points in time, we get a chance to 'forward motion' our phrasing. In concept, we're 'pushing off' a beat and heading to a future rhythm / time point in the music. This frees up the rhythms of our phrases as our ideas unfold. It also gives us a momentary chance to 'think', while improvising, of what to play next and how to play / phrase it in, as our story moves along.


Melodic motion of an interval greater than a major second between two pitches. Thus, arpeggios and chords constructed by major and minor third intervals are created by leap, while scales and their melodic motion are said to be created step-wise.

learning block

Learning block. An obstacle to learning, often created by the learner, based on their prior educational and life experiences. Learning blocks are simply obstacles to be identified and overcome, 'obstacles are the things we see when we take our eyes off our goal.' To paraphrase Henry Ford.

The 'I can't ... as in 'I can't do that ... ' is simply and totally un-American, for the resolution "I can" is built right into the letters of American. The last four letters of 'American' spell our end goal in performing Americana musics; 'I can' and will help us to overcome our own learning blocks.

A M E R - I C A N

Attitude. Please just try what is being suggested in the discussions, even just one time. Counting numbers of measures and beats aloud is a common phobia. Counting off a song too. Singing the part to be played is also a block for some. Getting everyone in the band to sing their part is a challenge, but can work wonders :) And even doing it one time, helps break these blocks of ice, and let the learning flow.

Try to drop phrases such as ... 'Oh, I know that' from your vocabulary and sub in a 'really ...?, in a good attitude of voice. Then listen patiently and see if there's not a new idea to be gleaned and tied into what you already know. Fix impatience to interrupt with an inner counting system to pass the first few moments of feeling impatient, try counting the measures of a four bar phrase in 4/4 time to build strength to listen;

1 2 3 4 / 2 2 3 4 / 3 2 3 4 / 4 2 3 4

Gives us a 'two for one' and we become better listeners too !

We overcome learning blocks in a cyber text by 'tying into one's own existing knowledge' as a sure way to build up new knowledge and energize the energy for working through books such as UYM / Essentials. Self directed by the juice of one's own curiosities. For 'these books ...'

please R. O. !

learning style

Learning style is a pedagogy term that describes what educational activity or environment a unique individual best learns the topic of their choosing; by reading, writing, speaking, playing, doing etc.

please R. O. !

learning tunes

Learning tunes. The pro advice I pass along comes from professional trombonist Bill Watrous. In learning new songs Mr. Watrous's advice was to learn and memorize the melody, changes, form and the lyrics. Those that will find and spin his recordings will surely hear the lyrics of the songs in his playing. Watrous' rendition of "My Foolish Heart" is particularly memorable. As the song's poetry of words flow from his trombone.

Mr. Watrous also passed along the idea that for the pro leaning player, learning three tunes a week was a reasonable goal depending. That within just a couple of years of such diligent and disciplined study, a player would have a reference to cover pretty much anything musical that might come along after. In the college world, a four year baccalaureate degree fits into this timeline quite nicely :)

wiki ~ "My Foolish Heart"


A style of phrasing a melodic idea where the pitches of the line are smoothly connected, as little separation between the pitches as possible.

Let Music Ring

A curriculum book for a century or so of Americana public school education. This edition is from the 1950's. Used across America during the 20th century, any of our Americana stars who got to public school might have learned their first melodies from this collection. Many are included in this e-book with notation and audio.

There's about a zillion copies of this public school essential music book out there to be found I'd imagine, for "anything can be anywhere."

Letter name pitches / a chromatic guitar / bass. In music, our letter name pitches run through the alphabet from 'A' to 'G', whereupon we close the loop and simply start again. This gives us seven of our 12 total pitches. The other five we get by adding sharp and flat symbols to these seven letters. Called 'accidentals', they raise or lower a lettered pitch by half step. Combined we create the chromatic scale. Here are the seven letter named pitches.


For every instrument. Take time each day to rote learn the letter name pitches on your chosen instruments. And surely learn the core 12 so we can talk about theory :) And is there a piano nearby ? Lucky U ! Know those letter names yet ?

Learn the pitches on a guitar and bass guitar. Knowing the pitches just makes a lot of easy cool guitar stuff happen very quickly. For the same lick in open position is the exact same at the 12th, in the paired keys of 'E / G.' So if whatever is cool is in a movable shape, and tons of coolness is, simply knowing super rote the letter names on the neck will make a lot of learning stuff, and especially playing songs, go kaboom, as we're just moving the same shapes to different spots. Once solid, the letter name pitches open the theory doors wide too. Here are the letter name pitches for our six string guitars. The letter notes for a four string bass are on the lowest four strings, E A D G.

letter name pitches

A key to the layout of the pitches is in understanding the looping nature of the letter names and their sound. Notice the 'F' to 'F' and 'C' to 'C' towards the top of the graphic? Cool with a one octave span? That we just start it all over again at the 12 fret? Notice that we've two strings with the same open letter name? Coolness hangs in the rote learn and memorization of the fingerboard. Do it once thorough and through, and have them on your own hard drive forever after.

As a 'stgc', eventually knowing ALL the pitches on your ax is max empowering to a committed musical artist. Might this be you ? Easy do. Just take one string per day for a few weeks and voila, we gots this pitch thing going on.


A wordbook or dictionary, a list of vocabulary terms associated with a particular subject.
wiki ~ lexicon

Liberty, Ms

A giant copper statue in NYC that represents the essence of the Americana spirit; that all are welcome here to flourish in freedom and contribute to maintaining freedom through the disciplines of self respect, and sharing and caring for all.
A work perpetually in process, it's not what we become in life that shapes our own Americana dream, but what we overcome, enabling each of us to create a full life to develop our spiritual enlightenment along the way. Doing this together as a society is the core that energizes the glow from Ms Liberty's torch; a dream for a society where 'all are created equal and all are welcome here', that thus united together in common cause, all can flourish and prosper, and we will call it the United States of America.
wiki ~ NYC
wiki ~ Statue Of Liberty


Slang for a musical phrase.

line (the)

Just a slangy way to describe the melody line, although also used to describe any line in any music anytime, a slang term with flexible and variable, improv qualities.


A straight or nearly straight line, in music to imply the shape of a melodic line, usually more horizontal like the horizon than vertical, like a line going up to the moon.

the literature

The literature, is simply a general term for the ...


... the entire combined library of music, books, recording, talking about, digital media et all, everything, in intellectual circles, the academia of any topic, in our discussions here we often intro with ...

"And from the literature, we can clearly see that the Two / Five / One chord progression rules a part of the jazz harmonic domain that ______ ... "
wiki ~ literature

localized position

Executing musical ideas in one area of the fingerboard. While the 'span' of frets will vary, the four finger / four fret approach is common. As is occasionally 'stretching' to add one fret below or above the four fret block of a localized position. Tis' amazing what all lives within five or six frets.


Simply a closed set of elements that perfectly closes back upon its starting point, after each element has been visited in its own sequential order.

In our music theory, everything loops, everything ? Yep, everything. And thank goodness for that :)

R.O. please.

looping concept

That in all of our music theory, and oftentimes in the art we create and enjoy also, if we extend whatever cycle of pitches we are examining far enough along their pathway, they will always close back upon their starting point. Often termed here in Essentials a 'perfect closure', we theorists, thus enlightened as believers in the 'loop', can forever self correct our theoretical musings. For if they ever fail to perfectly close or balance out within the fundamental structures, we know we've goofed up somewhere along the way. Easy to go back and find it, well not always but we can.

R.O. please.

loops of pitches

My term to describe when a popular group of pitches or scale closes onto itself, or in electronic music, the virtual repetition of a phrase, as say an 8 bar drum pattern.

long horns

My term to describe the Medieval horns that created the original 'heralding' of royalty, of all the sentient beings of our kingdom. From the picture we see two sizes, root and 5th ... ?

wiki ~ Medieval music

love songs

The #1 topic for writing songs :)

the lute

The lute. Early stringed instrument with frets so an early ancestor that evolves over a couple of hundred years into our modern guitar. The chord fingering ? An 'E' major or 'A' minor shape, no capo hmm ... ?

Note pluck / motor hand right at bridge a la Jaco.

wiki ~ the lute
wiki ~ vihuela

1st five frets of a Tele ...

wiki ~ Jaco


One who builds and repairs guitars.

Lydian Chromatic Concept Of Tonal Organization

Lydian Chromatic Concept Of Tonal Organization. Written by Dr. George Russell, a rather sought after theory book by jazz musicians that basically recreates our system of music theory and properties of tonal gravity with the Lydian scale, replacing the diatonic scale, as our tonal basis.

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

In the more jazz improv leaning styles, with Lydian, we've no diatonic motion to Four and with Lydian b7, a clear and solid lean towards all things V7.

C D E F# G A B C becomes C D E F# G A Bb C

This basic paradigm shifting, towards V7, can have a dramatic effect on the art it creates. And while the blues features these V7 colors, in jazz with altered colortones, its different. For at some point in the spectrum, all chords become V7 chord types.

A new Lydian evolution. UYM Essentials evolves beyond Russell's Lydian Concept through the symmetrical sequencing of an alternating pattern of major and minor thirds.

This arpeggio group then includes the #15 interval above the starting root pitch, and goes beyond into a second octave, before the expected perfect closure of looping a major 3rd / minor 3rd interval sequence. So, 24 pitches to close the loop from C to shining C. Count them here to begin.

~ C E G B D F# A C# E G# B D# F# A# Db F Ab C Eb G Bb D F A C ... E G etc. ~

This major Lydian #15 is balanced by the minor Dorian group of pitches, which is the flip side of the Lydian #15. So, a Lydian and Dorian pairing. For it is built by sequencing a minor 3rd / major 3rd interval pattern and loop sequencing of the pitches. Combined, we achieve the relative diatonic major / natural minor balance of the Ionian / Aeolian pairing, but Lydian empowered.

Author's note. I got to Boston one time and tried to look up Mr. Russell at his day gig at the cool New England Conservatory of Music, to talk theory and especially about my '#15" discovery. No Luck. But I then scooted over to Berkeley School Of Music and made some new friends, then got their theory books from the school's book store. So, all's well that ends well :)

wiki ~ Lydian Chromatic Concept Of Tonal Organization

Lydian mode

The fourth mode from from our diatonic major scale group of pitches. One of the original modes of the ancient Greeks. Our one diatonic mode that holds the augmented 4th interval as measured from its root pitch; thus three whole tones. Tritone, #4 / b5 and #11, all having a bit of the whole tone color.

Lydian b7 mode

A mostly jazz alteration of the Lydian mode whereby its seventh is lowered to create a dominant, minor or blue 7th. This gives it the same pitches as the melodic minor group. As such it becomes a group of pitches in jazz improvisation as a melodic substitution for dominant harmony. And oops ... the 'E', in spelling ' C' melodic minor, should be a 'D')

So ... thinking 'G7' ...

... in resolving towards 'C' major / minor. So: 1) parallel keys

2) from Two; G7b5 / augmented / whole tone

3) from Four; b9 / #9 / blues to bop

4) from bTwo / bNine; b9 / #9, b5 / #5,

Author's note. Melodic minor substitution is for some artists a 'next valence' of colors beyond what V7b9 can bring. For some players, such as John Stowell of Portland, Oregon, the melodic minor's unique color shapes some unique storylines in itself, as well as cool dominant tensions.

In Coltrane's evolution, we see the working through of potentials of what the four leading tones can provide. Coltrane's path then loops back to the pentatonics and working with triad structures a in "Giant Steps" before moving to a more 12 tone approach. 450+

vocabulary letters m - z

'Thought is born of failure. Only when the human organism fails to achieve an adequate response to its situation is there material for processes of thought, and the greater the failure the more searching they become.'

wiki ~ Lancelot Law Whyte

"Not all those who wander are lost."

wiki ~ Tolkien

"We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success."

wiki ~ Samuel Smiles

"There comes a time when we realize that we must save ourselves."

wiki ~ Jaquira Diaz


~ page index ~

~ Americana music theory and practices ~

~ art ~

~ blues ~

~ chords ~

~ chop shop ~

~ chord melody ~

~ chord progressions ~

~ chord types ~

~ chord voicings ~

~ classical conversions ~

~ composing ~

~ the diatonic realm ~

~ diminished colors ~

~ ear training ~

~ emg (old) in pdf ~

~ form in music ~

~ glossary B ~

~ groups of pitches (scales) ~

~ history in music ~

~ improvisation ~

~ intervals ~

~ Jacmuse songs ~

~ jazz guitar ~

~ lifting ~

~ loops of pitches ~

~ major minor (relatives) pairing ~

~ measures for vocabulary terms ~

~ melody ~

~ methods ~

~ modes (of olden times ) ~

~ metronome ~

~ motifs ~

~ notation ~

~ numbers (by the #'s) ~

~ scale arpeggio chord ~

~ sequencing of musical ideas ~

~ silent architecture ~

~ songs to read and rote ~

~ start (college music theory 101) ~

~ styles and genres of music ~

~ substitution principles of harmony ~

~ superhoot ~

~ suspensions ~

~ time ~

~ tuning ~

~ 2 5 1 ~

~ vamps and grooves for jamming ~

~ whole tone augmented colors ~

References. References for this page's information comes from school, books and the bandstand and made way easier by the folks along the way.

References academia 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 own and finest resident maestros !