~ glossary / A to L ~

~ searching by word ~

~ vocabulary of musical terms to label the theory ~

~ all of our music components / sounds will have their names ~

~ ... and very often more than one ... :)

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

This e-glossary is a word search engine too. It 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, cultural and geographical location from whence it comes to us here. In alphabetical order of course, scroll 'a to z' to find your music word. Ex.1.


A series of musical tones that expresses an emotional thought and when combined with rhythm in time, its emotional energy too :)

What we call 'a musical 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., through our many blend of cultures.

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 for voices 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 thing a 'real gem.' (S)

A to A on the piano keys

wiki ~ piano

a song

A song is a story of life set to music that tells the thoughts of the topic from the composer's point of view. (S)v-4

a wee bit sharp

'A wee bit sharp' was what Pythagoras bumped into when he tried to close his loop of 12 pitches based on the interval of the perfect 5th.

Known to us as the 'Pythagorean comma', this out of tuneness baffled we music thorists and many mathematicians for a couple of thousand years all across Europe.

It also applies to how equal temper tuning, which solved this 'comma' riddle, 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 in sound from their natural pitch from this equal 'homogenization of pitch' than others. Luckily with this approach to the tuning, 'anything from anywhere' is now the rule of the day. And most instruments, excepting the piano, can bend the tuning of 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 focus on pure tuning pitches from the Mother, 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 with musical notes.

Major / minor 3rd. The bad news in all of this 'wee bit sharp' fix of equal temper tuning is that within a key center, 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 tempered 3rd's, major and minor, fair rather poorly aurally and pitchwise after being filtered thus 'homoginized' through the equal temper math process.

While the major 3rd is a 'wee bit sharp' thus losing some purity and sweetness leaning to 'brittle', the minor 3rd, our beloved true Americana blue note, is a 'wee bit flat' so a bit 'dull', and often needs a push up, a from a wee bit to full on stretch, a sweep of more convincing pitch levels, especially in slower tempos. So be it, sweeten' up both with some vibrato, more with the blue notes as a matter of historical course.

Thanks to the nature of our gits, and really every ax excepting the piano keyboard 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 ...and folks were getting things ready to head over to their New World.

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 natural.

Here we see the sharps and flats of each of the 12 major key centers around the cycle of fifth's. Rote learn this chart by handwriting out a copy or two of your own.

Note, the key center for 'C' major that sits at 12 o'clock in our 'keyclock', needs no accidentals for its pitches, (they're the white keys on the piano) and that all of the the other 11 keys do, either a # or a 'b.'


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

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, no accidentals, as their pitches are the white keys on the piano.

Once we know the letter names and what they represent, we can shed their various groupings and 'evolutions' simply by the adding or altering of one pitch at a time. And when we shift letters to corresponding numbers, we start to cook the whole 'add one pitch tamale' up real nice. Once in place, we run it through the other key centers, especially the ones we're mostly playing our songs in. Jazz leaning artists will eventually need all 12 major and 12 minor centers somewhere under their fingers at some point along the way.


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 a spoke of the wheel of the melodic minor substitution approach to melodic and harmonic color creations.


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 use such harmonic motions to bring some 'gospel' into any of our styles.

Amer ~ Afro ~ Euro ~ Latin

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 a blended Americana influence.

Vast in its contents, it combines the 'Amer' of Native American, 'Afro' of African American and 'Euro' of European, and Latin for our South American musical flavors.

For most AmerAfroEuroLatin musics are built with varying degrees of the same music theory principles, pitches, forms and basic elements of time.

The Latin influence from the 1940's onward in jazz, over time, deeply effected existing swing rhythms. And 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' that made the 'bar lines go away', creating a seamless flow through phrasing and cadential motions. 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 blue notes exquisitely combined 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 same 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

"I did not do it on my own."

wiki ~ Magda Saleh


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.

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 seven diatonic pitches available in each scale shape. It's a sort of 'find what's cool from each shape' discovery.

As each shape has its own spots of perfect (lightning strikes) symmetry of the relative major minor scale pitches. 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.this is to 'signal' what

Making eye contact. When possible, a trick to all this is like safe driving, simply to 'signal your intentions.' Hand cues for holds and fermata's, hand conducting time changes, all backed up with making eye contact through lines of sight wins the day near every time. And honk the horn (aural) to get someone's attention :)

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; scales, modes, arpeggios or chords, and is used to describe them in a similar manner to how we talk about visual color. Thus, blues music is various shades of blue. R. O. !

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 simply by skipping every 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 to learn about how the 'S A T B' of four part harmony was handled when equal temper tuning first comes along, empowering all 12 pitches to be tuned up together and built into a piano for the first time in our history. Herr Bach's day gig was to write new church music for each week, and over the decades created a lot of four part harmony as collected in the chorales.

~ like this ~

All written by this Cat. R.O. !

During the same years Bach also wrote a book of songs to show all the world the range of melody and harmony available with equal temper tuning the 12 notes; enabling all 12 major and minor key centers. These 300 year old songs we can study in Bach's own "Well Tempered Clavier." (there's two volumes written about 20 years apart.


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 'perfect' jazz. 'Bebop', a style of Americana jazz, historically evolves in the very late 1930's then on through the 40's, continuing to influence the jazz styles / genres and its artists to this very day. Ever popular among jazz players and audiences, we'll even hear a bop styled melodic phrase or fills in pop, 'top 40' and today's sampled musics, in arrangements with horns (especially saxophones) in the mix.

And in that brief phrase of musical notes we get an aural glimpse of what was the popular music coming over the airwaves in the 1940's. Cue up on this dial and hear with a click, some pure bebop ... and imagine you and bandmates sounding these lines.

Cool ? Some serious chops or what ? R.O. !

wiki ~ bebop
wiki ~ "Confirmation" composition


Americana pioneers. Pioneered by saxophonist Charlie Parker, pianist Thelonius Monk, trumpet master Dizzy Gillespie, drummer Max Roach, guitarist Charlie Christian and their friends, bebop songs are characterized by brighter tempos, super intricate melodies, chock full of modulating chord changes of mostly diatonic harmony fully extended with the colortones, with the swing and polyrhythms of pure Americana with a ferocious sense of forward motion in time, all combined into a profoundly exciting style of Americana jazz to both perform and listen to :)


Author's note. The idea of 'bebop' as a 'perfect jazz' is my way of comparing the various 'perfections' of our music theory foundations with a diatonically centered style of music; one in which every nook and cranny of a diatonic key center plus blue notes is explored and often all included in 32 bars of music.

We music theorists use the term and concept of 'perfect' and apply it to many aurally tangible musical elements. In doing so we establish a baseline foundation of the best resources we have available to establish key centers and consequently, create a standard of 'qualities' to preview all the other puzzle pieces that may come along in creating our Americana musical arts.


A perfect example. For example, just three of our 15 root based intervals; the octave, 4th and 5th are termed perfect due to their earthly organic purity of sound quality in relation to all other intervals. And with the seven or so varieties of chord cadences, we've labeled selected group of pitches stacked in a certain, set in stone order, that we call a 'perfect' authentic cadence', two chords in succession that without any doubt establishes our concept of a tonal center focused on one tonic pitch.

Having such a basis', are we more free and empowered to explore such possibilities as; the interval studies, tension / resolution, chord substitution and 'softer' cadential motions ... in relation to a backdrop of perfection ? Could be :)

Plus there's theories of a 'perfect' closure to many of our resources; loops of pitches, groups of pitches, forms for writing songs, or how near any syncopated rhythm oft enough repeated, will eventually, and naturally, return to its start off point to begin its pattern again.

perfect 4th
perfect 5th
tension / release
chord substitution
'softening' cadences
in relation to ...
loops of pitches
groups of pitches
form in music


So in theory and with this in mind, 'bebop perfect' combines two essential Americana elements within our spectrum of styles; the gospel harmony of 'motion to the Four chord' that we can find in near every Americana song. And that the relationship between the melody notes and chord tones, in both written and improvised melodic line is mirror 'perfect.'

Often termed 'inside' or playing through the changes, this 'mirror of pitch perfection', of the melody pitches reflective of the chord pitches, creates one of the cool and steepest challenges jazz artists face. As the harmonic scheme becomes more involved ... so does the creating of improvised lines in relation to a song's chord progression. Jazz players love this ever puzzling challenge as skills are strengthened through the shedding. And in bebop music ...? This challenge sits right atop the mountain of Parnassus.


Motion to Four bebop style. Thinking in the key of 'C', compare these two chord progressions (root motions) getting us from One to Four.

'C major triad ' to 'F' major triad

'C ~ B-7b5 E7 ~ A- D7 ~ G- C7 to F'

The first progression is the straight up usual way of moving from 'One to Four', that we find in every style and genre of Americana. The second progression is bebop's usual way of starting on One, then finding a way to Four, by using most of the 12 pitches; the seven diatonic pitches five blue notes. Here are the above jazz changes in 'F' major.

To conclude. So not really saying here that 'bebop' is artistically the best music ever, but that in its component parts and actual performance, we gain insight into a series of 'perfections' knitted together into classic Americana song creating a perspective of curiosity ... 'in relation to' ... the myriad of unique combinations of the same musical components now from a globally influenced Americana community. Cool ... ?

Bebop guitar

'Bop' guitar provides the best of challenges for the aspiring artist of all stringed instruments, and for guitar, a pinnacle of achievement. EMG' bop guitar curriculum follows history; starts with Euro fretted, equal temper tuned lute and classical guitar which merges with an open tuned banjo. Combined together, five patterns weave together the diatonic pitches over a 12 fret span creating a sequenced looping of the patterns. Once mastered through the 12 paired key centers, the shapes provide the diatonic pitches for interval studies, triads, arpeggios, color tones and chord voicings in localized positions, enabling each of the 12 key centers to be accessed within a six fret span through the range of an instrument. That all these various shapes are each in themselves movable and include the 'blues elevator' within, seals the shedding deal for going after the bebop lines of the legends.

Beethoven String Quartets

Beethoven String Quartets. In our studies of Americana musics, we bump into the tonality idea of 'inside / outside'; are the pitches under consideration diatonic to our chosen key center or not. In the Beethoven string quarts, grouped into four distinct writing periods, we can hear the gradual evolution from 'inside to outside' in tonality, the expanding of sonata allegro form and in the expansion of harmonic opportunities, through both transitory and confirmed modulation of keys.

So like Bach and the thorough exhausting of diatonic harmonic possibilities in the WTC and Coltrane, and the exhausting of the cadential possibilities of the minor 3rd structures within V7b9 and further expanding into the major 3rd building of augmented triads, Beethoven's evolutions in his string quartets give us an insight into how genius develops over the decades into creating new musical art; art never heard or even 'understood', until brought to light by dedicated labor.

In classical music canonical lore ... that the "Old Testament" is Bach's Well Tempered Clavier and the "New Testament" Beethoven's Piano Sonatas.

wiki ~ Beethoven
wiki ~ Beethoven String Quartets
wiki ~ Beethoven Piano Sonatas


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.


The 'blues' is a term we use to describe a musically unique sound for expressing our Ying / Yang balancing of emotions that runs through all of life. In the old days sometimes, sad blues songs we're sung by the family on the way to escort the dearly departed to their final resting place, and then on the way home, the family sang a bit more joyous blues songs as a life recommitted, renews once again. Sad ~ joyous, Yin ~ Yang :)

Now at least a couple of hundred years old, blues musics are an indigenous aural root to all our Americana musics, both as pure 'blues songs' or by weaving the blue colors into the diatonic realm, which combined encompass near every Americana song, through all of our styles and genres.

Blues music has its own unique ways, with its own set of unique pitches, bends and shakes, lots of cool jazz leaning chords, so many varied rhythms for energizing any story needing to be told, in every mix of styles imaginable, blues lyrics and its poetry, its song forms and improvisation, both vocal and instrumental, all are spoken here :) R.O !

blues form

Blues form / 12 bar blues / predictable. All along now through our Americana music history we've had the blue's songs. First as a modal blues; a four bar phrase repeated over a drone note or two, then the 12 bar song form; three four bar phrases of three chords and the truth. So many storytellers each with their own nuanced thing yet the 12 bar blues form endures to foundation all. It evolve in the 1930's jazz into 'rhythm changes', but that's another story. First, 12 bar blues.

Core to this all is in the predictability of the way music naturally flows. And that anyone within hearing distance can find the pulse to find a way in and follow along with the story being told; in part this predictability encourages and enables all who choose to take part to join right on in; with words, in dance, toe tap right along with every beat.

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. Find the top in the 12 bar blues form; 25 choruses of 'Bb' blues.

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.

Find any of these titles to hear 12 bar form in a song performed by artists that made them famous.

~ "Crazy Blues" (12 bar @ 1:15) / Mamie Smith ~

~ "Blue Yodel # 1" / Jimmy Rodgers ~

~ "Love in Vain" / Robert Johnson ~

~ "Choo Choo Ch'boogie" / Louis Jordan ~

~ "Mean Disposition" / Muddy Waters ~

~ "Johnny B. Goode" / Chuck Berry ~

~ "Kansas City" / Fats Domino ~

~ "Route 66" / Ray Charles ~

~ "Red House" / Jimi Hendrix ~

~ "Twisted" / Joni Mitchell ~

~ "Hound Dog" / Elvis Presley ~

~ "Roll Over Bethoven" / The Beatles ~

~ "Rock And Roll" / Led Zepplin ~

~ "Give Me One Reason / Tracy Chapman ~

~ "Still Haven't Found What Im Looking For" / U 2 ~

~ "Pride And Joy" / S R V ~

~ read on ... ! ~

blue notes (scale)

Blue notes. The ones that make us tear up and cry, makes our hair stand up and sets everybody a swayin' a body swaying, the pitches of the blues scale, also those 'five other 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 according to bebop jazz guitarist Jimmy Bruno.

The blue notes simply have a 'slightly to dramatic' difference in range of 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.'

For guitar, this lick is often a first try at the blues rub on an open 'E 7" chord. It's a 'hammer on', from the open string 'G' to the 'G#.' Surely a fave lick of the country, rock, blues, pop and rockers, all of us really :)

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. Elevator 'E is probably most common, 'the 'A' el and 'G' el too.

'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 !!!

five scale shapes

bossa / jazz

new 2 5 1 chords

Bossa ~ Jazz ~ the five scale shapes. In this e-book, these two styles are so similar and rooted together in theory and practice that they're grouped together in discussions; of their scales, arpeggios, chords, chord progressions, improvisation.

As guitars are traditionally built and tuned with 'E (blues) / G' (jazz and bossa) as root pitches, learning methods have historically based their pedagogy on this 'E / G' root perspective. With 9 out of 10 songs in most real books written in a major key, the following ideas are in presented 'G.'

Jazz learning the fingerboard. We can take each shape one at a time and simply run the shape up and down the fingerboard, noting root pitches and key centers. These five shapes will eventually live right atop one another at any position / fret, getting us through all the 12 relative keys, all the diatonic modes, the arpeggio and chords associated with each one of the five shapes. Termed 'localized position', we can then find all five shapes through all 12 keys over a five or six fret span.

And while mastering this tamale is usually months (and months) of daily shedding, it has created for now countless players the foundational basis of a complete palette of musical colors through all the key centers. Slide things around by half step to bring the swing rhythms and Americana blues hue.

Author's note. These scale shapes come from the classical cats too. They have been doing it for couple of hundred years now. Mastery of these concepts and resources, and in any manner really, is BA college level basics for the diatonic needs of a modern Americana guitarist. And for some reading here, it can be all they ever need.

Localized positions. Once these shapes are under the fingers, by 'layering' one atop another, we can get all 12 paired key centers, and their modes, arpeggios and chords, within a 'local' area span of five or six frets at any point on the fingerboard.

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.

Harvard Brief Dictionary. "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."

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

Also cadence; 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 cadential 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 :) And do dig deeper on your own if needed of 'perfections' in our musics.

Half cadence. Includes harmonic motions that end on the Five chord, thus halfway there or thought to be incomplete as there's no resolution to One, the tonic.

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 reflected usually in a major key. 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 music and cadential motions from a selected mode; Dorian, Lydian etc., and using its qualities and pitches to create cadential motions.

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 as a cadencing of chords.

Non resolving cadential motion. Cycles of changes both diatonic and chromatically enhanced. A chord progression such as; Three / Six / Two / Five, or half step double Two / Five are fairly common, essential (?) and cool when jazzing things up :)

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


cadentially reinforced

Through cadential motions, to ramp up the sense of tonal gravity or obscure the direction we're going, to create unexpected twists and surprises in the music.


An open section where a player / artist 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. And where the idea and concept of ...

"anything can be anywhere"...

used throughout this e-book, is sourced.

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 and ancient forms of communication between all 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 spelled out number such as; 'Three', 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 the 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.

“Your relationship with your music is the most important thing that you have, and it is, in the sense of private and sacred, something that you need to protect. The dross of everyday life is very, very powerful and very strong. So you need to protect your special relationship with your music.”

wiki ~ Andre Watts ~


A musical / arts event where your musical arts presence is requested, details to be determined but often include a payday.

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 linked ways into understanding various theory and art aspects of 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. !

modern cave cats :)

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

This picture is used for education only, as Dee Snider and I went to public school together, in Baldwin, N.Y., back in the 70's. Being a couple of grades back, I and all my music pals coming up were inspired by Dee and his hard rockin' crew.

So a sincere thank you Sir 'D' 'en advance', for your colorful pic depiction of your musical art, a super clear represenation of the essential component of all learning; to stay hungry and urgently hungry at times, so as to feed and energize us all for a lifelong love of learning :)

wiki ~ Dee Snider


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

~ chords ~

Ya hip to the ...

changes ?

The ( chord ) changes.

"Che che che changes ... "

Verse word and hook probably too huge hit in the 70's, iconic line of syllables really, and now cliche to a generation of rockers of all the stripes, by David Bowie.

'Slang, the changes.' With jazz origins, probably shortened from 'chord changes', 'the changes' is today just a common slang term for the chords and their progression in a song.

Now 'getting hip to the changes' ... Often a question on the bandstand, 'hip to the changes' is slang for knowing the chords to the song, the one about to be played.

Further on up the road, deeper hipness in knowing 'the changes' includes learning about how harmony ( chords ) works, and further to appreciate through knowledge of, its evolutions through the styles and evolving complexities through our 500 years or so of music history.

That we guitar players today have had these 'chord changes' since the 1400's or so, on a lute, provides pathways to the magics. We've the chords on piano too of course, as a push button musical instrument designed and tuned, from 1700 or so, constructed to play 'all the chords through all the keys', and with today's midi an orchestral wide range of colors and beyond, a career spanning of acquired knowledge evolving our art.

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 the vibes our local universe and to points beyond its horizons.

Let water flow and the wind chimes forever bring new melodies ... as we chant away to the listening universe.


In history, before we had maps we had charts. In music, a chart is a musical map of sorts. Chart is a slang term written musical score or lead sheet. Need charts for your band ? Put the word out to your 'local universe' and it will provide; for there's a ton or more of charts out there; from friends, teachers, libraries, schools, music stores, used book stores, on-line etc.


Chomp ~ 4/4 time ~ 4 beats to the measure. Slang term for a style of playing chords on banjo and guitar, popular from our earliest times through the 1940's styles of jazz, with a quarter note beat in 4/4 time, so just the same ol' the 'big 4' all along, providing a rich super pulse heartbeat 'motoring' of the harmony through solid '4 to the bar' rhythms. Also, chomp also means the older '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, all '4 to the bar' rhythms. Back in the day, guitarist Freddie Green set the beat of the Basie rhythm section choppin' wood, filling dancefloors night after night, year after year and decades later.

Once mastered, this 'big 4' is endlessly subdivided with all the fancy 'up chuckin' on the offbeats that can be found in all the Americana styles; bluegrass, rock, reggae, pop and blues, classical (naa :) but surely bebop and beyond ! And near any push, accent or syncopation 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', with four to each bar / measure.

The flip side of this steady pulse playing is called comping ... :)


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, to live even, to discover the love to hone our craft ... :)

"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

Ya hip to the ...

changes ?

Chord / vertical stacks of pitches / changes.

"Che che che changes ... "

Verse word and hook probably too huge hit in the 70's, iconic line of syllables really, and now cliche to a generation of rockers of all the stripes, by David Bowie.

'Slang, the changes.' With jazz origins, probably shortened from 'chord changes', 'the changes' is today just a common slang term for the chords and their progression in a song.

Now 'getting hip to the changes' ... Often a question on the bandstand, 'hip to the changes' is slang for knowing the chords to the song, the one about to be played.

Further on up the road, deeper hipness in knowing 'the changes' includes learning about how harmony ( chords ) works, and further to appreciate through knowledge of, its evolutions through the styles and evolving complexities through our 500 years or so of music history.

That we guitar players today have had these 'chord changes' since the 1400's or so, on a lute, provides pathways to the magics. We've the chords on piano too of course, as a push button musical instrument designed and tuned, from 1700 or so, constructed to play 'all the chords through all the keys', and with today's midi an orchestral wide range of colors and beyond, a career spanning of acquired knowledge evolving our art.

Read on ... !

wiki ~ "Changes" song David Bowie

a chord

Different pitches, vertically stacked and struck, sounded together. Read On !

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. !

1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15

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 / One), passing chord (Two) and tension (Five). R. O. !

chord function

Any chord within a key center / progression of chords can be assigned a 'function' within 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 usually the highest note of each chord, i.e., in the 'lead.' 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

Spelling chords (coffee) chart. The following chart is a likeness of the one created by college mentor 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 harmony tamale for me, as Bach's music was the basis of music theory class 101.

Author's note: Here in 'C' major, run it through the other 11 keys, even just once, and a golden light illumination appears when it's time to spell any triad or chord, even with colortones of our local universe. For having done it once, and by rote written it out, you will know of the way to do it again and again for all the days and all chords that might ever come along.

How it works. Since our scale degrees are one through eight, so one full octave, and our arpeggio degrees are one through 15, we need two full octaves of the scale loop to create its 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 'C' major scale to create its 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 full 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 resides.

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 chord quality in relation to musical styles.

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 technique, where the artist is looking to include new options when 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 symbols through the decades. Here are some of the more common ones in use 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.

And pitches not part of the chord ... ? Why the non-chord tones, sounds like a band :)

chord type

Chord type / I, ii, V. The theory of chord type allows us to streamline three unique interval combinations to create three unique families of chords, usually identified by number; 1, 2, or 5. The idea is to be able to identify any chord by its 'type', placing it into a chord family of like members that function the same ways within chord progressions. Chord type helps us in building a vocabulary of voicings and shapes and understanding where we will commonly find and use each of the three types of chords in Americana musics.

'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 ), are viewed in relation to the major tonality, and provide us the three basic artistic elements generally used for crafting music. These are; 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.

chorus ( song )

In a song, the chorus is the part of the lyrics that traditionally everyone gets to sing along to, so the words to the chorus tend to stay the same, whereas a verse, the words of each verse will often change as a song's story unfolds. Some Americana fave chorus' include ... 'now everybody sing ... ! '

'May the circle, be unbroken ...'

'Swing low, sweet chariot ...'

'Are you going to Scarborough Fair ... '

(a) chorus

A chorus / form in music. Leaning jazz slang, a chorus is one complete cycle of the entire form of a song. Common cycles include 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 a soloist will take.

While song forms can be anything really, as a song's own story dictates the length and form, common American forms include; a four bar phrase doubled into 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, these last based in part on the Euro 'sonata allegro' form.

Lifting. In learning your music by ear, the song's form cycles through its progression and there's often subtle differences for the tricky spots. Even a top 40 song of 2:20 length will go through the form of the song a few times, so a few choruses. So if one 'spot' is aurally obscured in one chorus, find the same spot in the next chorus, and maybe the note or chord sought is more clearly audible etc. Knowing that 'everything loops' can help too in a lot of ways.

chromatic (motion), by half step and the '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 chromatic riff. Also on altered chords, where the colortones are tightly voiced and often planed by half step, in brightly 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 those getting up to dance. And once the dancing starts ... well the room just comes 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


In historical order, to understand a series events in the historical sequence in which they occurred.

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 based on four ancient scales;

~ Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian and Mixolydian ~

Each mode consisting of the tones of the basic diatonic scale of today's white keys of the piano, becoming the Euro system of pitches in the 16th century with the addition of two 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 UYM / 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 a certain sound. 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. And there's no full spectrum of Euro harmony from indigenous Americana pitches. Thus the melting pot of two systems of theory.

No blue notes, no big four, no 2 and 4 in classical. Call and response? Yes, that's in there. Using a dominant chord type as the One, Four and Five chords like the blues ? 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 in Americana ... we simply combine the best of both and pulse most of it with a 2 and 4 beat accent, and that brings the potential of swing.

clavec beat

The clave beat ... 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'
'3 - 2 clave'
'2 - 3 clave'

clave beat

Learn a reggae pattern or two, and accelerate tempos as chops allow. Sifted over the 'big 4' and a blues hue and we've the rhythm motor for a 100 dance songs ... at least :) But first things first nest c'est pas?

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 not :)

Jazz guitar players love the claw for playing changes. For four fingers gives us four different notes or voices for a chord ( bass, tenor, alto, soprano ). Plus, 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 one half of the magic as the fretboard hand 'dampens' the strings.

Once a four finger style is considered, there's three, two, one finger too. Which can be the thumb, which powers ideas in octaves and chord melody arrangements, 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 of melody 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 both in the band and 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. This next couple of pitches we learned as kids, thinking pure cliche in 'C.'

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

Each musical 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 and often bring smiles :) There's also 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 ...

Cool ? Like it ? Learn it here if need be.

Society history evolution of cliche. Super hip brand spanking new of right now today then with use becomes cool and then eventually becomes ... '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 yesterday's cliche, and back we it'll go to the super hip brand new to start off again, now part of our collective Americana lore of nostalgia.

~ new cool ~ shtick ~ parody ~ cliche ~

Cliches go back to a historical source and then generationally into our collective memories. Remember those bell bottoms jeans ? Same sort of thing. Colors do it, foods do it, we all do it :)

New players are encouraged to learn cliche as it ties us right into the history of the genre and style we dig. Once firmly under the fingers, we will naturally 'variate to survive the bore-doom' and bring our own 'new.'

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 to get the phrase started. Once underway, cliche finds its way, for it has the power of collective memory 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 of beats clicks on by, and we abbreviate an 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 and round and round ... !

Cliche from melodies. While there's a dozen dozen's or so cliches in Americana, there's also like a gillion songs that use the same pitches and rhythms, yet all unique somehow. Maybe 'cause of the lyrics, the poetry of the story, and even with the same themes ... love for instance, each still unique as the person who wrote it. So cliche is renewed each time by one's own unique ... ?

All things 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 often a nice combination of pitches to get under our fingers, becoming another puzzle piece to knit into our lines. And who knows, maybe U'll make it into a cliche for you and your generation.

click track

Recording studio term for a metronomical beat usually delivered via headphones to the recording players to help get folks on the same beat to solidify a common groove while getting a capture of aural art.


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 of the next key center.

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

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

D E F# G A B C# D

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' simply because they share many of the same pitches.

The less pitches shared ? The more 'remote' a key center is said to be. And the more remote ? The more startling when presented into a story ... ? Could be :)

C: C D E F G A B C

one click to the right ...

G: G A B C D E F# G

one click to the left ...

F: F G A Bb C D E F

accumulate :)

close voicings

Pitches of a chord voicing that are within one octave; 'C E G C.'


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. And even believing that everything loops, or can to closure.


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 :)

Coda. 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 seven colors of the seven chakras; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and violet, to describe traveling in the time through the spiral path of refracted light beamed through a prism, revealing what maybe on the dark side of our Moon."



wiki ~ Pink Floyd

color tones

Color tone. 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., starting at the 7th. Once there we move into the second octave above our fundamental, so 'add 2 becomes 9', '4 up an octave becomes 11', thus '6 up an octave numerically becomes 13', and color tones include all their alterations to; so #4, b9, #9, #11 etc. In modern speak, these arpeggio based color tone pitches are also know as chord tensions and extensions. Lot of names for all the same things so be careful of the toes along the way.


Coltrane, John

John Coltrane (1926-1967). American jazz saxophonist, Coltrane helps to pioneer, codify and advance the AmerAfroEuroLatin palette of musical colors we inherit today.

By following a historical timeline of the recording and release of Coltrane's original compositions, we've a guided study of the development and evolution of our own AmerAfroEuroLatin harmony modernizations from basic blues through to "Giant Steps" and beyond. Please read on.

Coltrane's harmonic evolution

Coltrane's evolution ~ creating new harmonic opportunity. This e-book's jazz improvisation / harmony studies parallels Coltrane's search for new harmonic challenges and opportunities during most of his career. Pictured here is a chart I made of opposing triangles that represent steps along the way.each new challenge and conquer, neccessitating a new challenge, up until "Giant Steps."

Based on the historically correct writing sequence, we've the Coltrane compositions "Moment's Notice" into "LazyBird" into "Naima" and on to "Giant Steps", all written, recorded and released within a 10 year period. In these songs the harmonic evolutions manifest. Please scroll to bottom of this graphic to begin ascending this pathway evolving the harmonic complexity.

(where the) coolness hangs

Coolness. 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 'the magic of 'it', especially so in blues guitar.

Also that each of the common pitches, for example the pitch 'E' or 'G' when playing blues, each unique location on the neck of these two pitches creates its own unique timbre, that the same lick in different spots produces somewhat different results; both aural thus art too.

Reveal here the secret to some guitar magic of finding one cool idea in other spots on the ax. These 'G' and 'E' notes locate us and provide the reference points for the 'blues elevator.' Once we arrive at that pitch / floor location, there's always other coolness in that neighborhood. .

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

common practice

Common practice. As the term implies ... 'just what everybody does', yet the doing, defined by an era of history, whereby folks of a generation use similar artistic elements to create their sounds and songs, defining a 'style of music' of a particular 'era' of history'; a common practice.

And since we've had the same basic pitches all along, thinking 'common practice', we can discover why the disco era sounds like the era of disco; what rhythms, bass, chords / colortones, lyrics and form shaped the hits.

We can do the same common practice approach here with the Euro Baroque era of the 1750's and J.S. bach. Or the jazz era between 1939 till 1960, when the Americana evolutions of harmony completed the existing era's cycle evolving into a new creative vista / era of organically evolved artistic directions with a clear return to the indigenous pentatonic colors, but now with supporting harmonies of all 12 pitches, and in a whole new super-excitng way :) Or to the 1800's era of pure Americana folk blues storytelling, of those days before electricity.

For we 'jazz it up' Americanos; from the 1880's ragtime, into dixieland, swing, bebop, hard bop, post bop, jazz rock to 1980's fusion and now beyond, a 'common practice' for us is to find the blues within the songs and their arrangements of these eras and examine its original core elements and their evolution through the succeeding generations; musical form, blue notes later electrified, harmonies and stories, and further into the weaving of the 'blues hue' all through the Americana styles and genres.

Cycling dominant chords in dixieland songs and stylings, swing rhythms energizing grooves in the 1930's, fast to superfast tempos in the 40's, bluesy gospel in the 50's, leaning chromatic in the 60's, and sifting in rock beats in the 70' ... all generally speaking are a 'common practice' for each era.

common time

4 / 4 time; four beats per measure and the quarter note gets the beat, the 'big 4' ... :)

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. The other side of comp is 'chomp', which is to play a quarter note rhythm, a 'chomp', (choppin' wood) '4 to the bar.'


While the term usually implies one who writes music, in our American ways of improvising music making, we oftentimes get to make it up a bit as we go along, thus the idea that we all get to compose our parts while the music moves along. And thinking in this 'improv' way just might encourage us to write more and become composers, as in the more traditional sense and use of the word; the writing complete songs, operas, string quartets, symphonies.

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

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

wiki ~ Leonardo da Vinci

compound intervals

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

pitch letter names
interval name
# of half steps
# of whole steps
common names
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 # 11 / augmented 11th
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 / double 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 on a piano 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 written as an 'F' for trumpet / tenor sax, a '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.


Pleasing to the ear and the opposite of dissonant; unpleasing to the ear, consonant describes a harmonious relationship between pitches, which we music theory scientists back up with the science of pitches, their vibrations measured as waves and simplified into ratios of numbers. Then there's the art part of this whereby we each define the lines between the pitches and their relationships to one another ... :)

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 jazz chords

The chords most designated as 'core chords' are the shapes or voicings that come right out of the five linked 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 jazz guitar method.


core colors

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

core of it all

'At the core' of the Americana sounds are a couple of things, 4 / 4 time with 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 / improvising cats get more miles out of this one shape / group of the pitches than any other in our local universe, in both major and minor keys and other emotional environments. And all good notes in all sorts of settings, thanks to the pentatonic major / minor paired group of five notes.

~ major ~

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

~ C D E G A C ~

~ minor ~

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

~ A C D E G A ~

Whole step whole step ... step and a half .... whole step step and a half for major colors and flip it over for minor colors, same notes same shape :) Rote the core pitches as big red dots at any fret, know that the spaces between the notes, by bending, is 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; a fully movable shape up and down the fingerboard 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 / shedding five shapes. These five scale shapes illustrated below 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 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 to the days of the lute ...

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. Once solid, move onto the remaining four shapes; shape # 2, #3 #4 #5, rote learning each up an down the neck. This is prolly more 'calisthenic than musical.' Chops builders.

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 that our now 300 year old 'modern guitar' of today is built and 'standard tuned' to lean 'E' Dorian in it's layout, marvel at the puzzle that we inherit :) Here positioned in the relative key centers of 'G' major / 'E' minor.

could be

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

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. Find some as time and resources permit.

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. A snippet of the song; the solo / vamp.

Sound to you U like there's some 50's rockabilly swing in there somewhere ... ? Oh and there's the 'A' train too ... :) To get us there a la swing ... :)

wiki ~ Count Basie
wiki ~ jump blues
wiki ~ "Take The A Train"


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. R. O. !


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."

"Creativity inspires the arts and art inspires creativity."

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.

"Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of, who do the things no one can imagine."

wiki ~ Alan Turing

Cristofori, Bartolomeo

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 clock like representation. Read the letters to the left counter clockwise motion for perfect fourth intervals; 'C F Bb Eb Ab' etc. 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 in their major / relative minor grouping as we move around the cycle to the left.

Note how the 'b's and #'s are increased by on with each click. In performing songs with fancy chord progressions, the term 'backpedaling' is common which denotes that the roots of the chords are moving by fourth.

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 !

cy five tritone

# 4 / # iv / b5

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 (scale). 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 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 now ancient mneumonics with our numerical pitch designations, interlocking the systems to strengthen our own full spectrum of musical knowledge.

wiki ~ solfegio
wiki ~ mneumonic


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.

wiki ~ DNA


Dominant / Five. 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, and there's a written record too of the truth, that our Dorian / Lydian pairing of modes of today were two of the original modes from the toga days of Pythagoras. For we know the pitches of ...

'G' Lydian are ...

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

and 'E' Dorian are ...

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

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 'G, A, B and C# and E' are on this gitfiddle 'square dotted.'

Equal temper tuning. Of further 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)

octave doubling

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.

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

Musical moods = emotional environments.

Just a more 'scientific' than art way to describe the general emotional qualities created by the various musical elements within Americana musics and the mood of any song; sad and happy, longing and joyous, brooding and angry, the rejoice and rejuvinating of Americana gospel :)

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. R. O. !

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 triads and 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. So we get the 12 pitches, each equally 100 cents in size with perfect ratios for the octave interval, equal temper tune the pitches for chords and keep Mother Nature's pitches for melodies. And together ... :) Pure Americana.

... and read on !

equal temper tuning

Harmony magic. How and why do our chords and harmony work, especially on a piano ... ? 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 close 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 precision of 12 pitches. How many eggs in a dozen? #'s on the face of a clock ? Pitches in the chromatic scale ?

equal temper tuning

Built right into our guitars, by the gradual shortening up of the distance between the frets as we move up the neck, ETT compensates for the higher pitches that vibrate at faster rates, termed cycles per second, moving up in pitch. From low to high as on a piano.

'A' : 27.5 ~ 55 ~ 110 ~ 220 ~ 440 ~ 880 ~ 1760 ~ 3520 ~ :)

So all the chords and their various colortone mashups; for the blues, folk, rock, pop, classical, jazz and even a bit beyond chords, their pitches need to be equal temper tuned to function nice.

Sitars have frets yes ? Yes they do have frets but not harmony we enjoy. Sitar artists use a drone bass pitch, a pedal tone and layer lines created with pentatonic scales with some extra half steps in key spots.

equal temper tuning

Super history game changer. 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 mind, the piano that we know and love today, with its own unique Ying / Yang, balances a rigid tuning for making chords with an ease of sounding any of the intervals that color any harmony.

Especially with the blue hue, which on near all other instruments is produced and nuanced with some 'bend', or wider learning vibrato the oscillates the tuning pitch of any note, warming up any note while creating the 'blues hue', so essential on the Americana palette.

And piano rhythms ? Unlimited in swing and can bring big thunder with ease. The subtle 'soft to loud' of volume, thanks to the key mechanism, stroke velocity as designed by Cristofori in 1700, will eventually win the day for musical dynamics and expressive touch in the keys of the modern piano we know today.

wiki ~ Cristofori

equal temper tuning

By 1720, Bach had one of the predecessors of the piano, a 'clavier' which he tuned himself, and within a few years has written the first volume of his "Well Tempered Clavier.' A second volume follows 20 years later. This is the collection of Euro songs that harmony students today should acquaint themselves with to understand a root source for our own Americana jazz harmonies, chord progressions, voice leading, melodic phrasing, invention and permutation and sequence.

equal temper tuning

Intervals sound out of 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 most dramatically under this tuning scheme. For their more natural sounds, we can 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 and 'push' the minor third around to find your blues.

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 temper tuning

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 keys in 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 now 24 note per octave keyboards capable of stacking notes into chords. We might be hearing some of this work in recent movie scores. Where the reality of the scene and events gets bent a unique way we've maybe not ever seen before. 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

wiki ~ Jacques Barzun

Essentials Of Modern Guitar

"EMG." Guitar ? Bass ? If your chosen instrument is the guitar or bass, you've found a good e-book for your studies. For near all of the written music notation examples included (there's 2,100 +) include guitar tab, along with their matching audio. Melody lines look like this, mouse click the music for its audio playback.

Cool ? And click any example 100 times to hear and master you want, unlimeted playback no adds :) Also, there's a piano starter method for all theory scholars and 'start basics' for vocals, the horns, drums, fiddle and harmonica artists. 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 our instruments may equally share in the knowledge and evolutions of our 'AmerAfroEuroLatin' musics.

Understand Your Music

Essentials Of Modern Guitar

Tonal Resources For The Creative Musician

Essentials Of Modern Guitar


Tonal Resources For The Creative Musician


Understand Your Music

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 banner of Understand Your Music.

For as the technology evolved and basic web / computer resources improved and became more a part of mainstream learning, my philosophy of music education and teaching of music theory evolved. To take advantage of the new technology, two print texts became one e-book.

Written to include musicians of all styles, genres and instruments, this e-book combines the aural playback of notated music for learning music by ear, in the ancient oral tradition while learning to read and write music with standard notation symbols, which combine to create a cultural record of our music history and its evolutions.

So if 100 years from now folks wonder about the nuts and bolts theory of what made 20th century Americana music tick, this e-book contains just such a record; puzzled together by the musical vocabulary of academic terms and slang words, formal classroom studies to the bandstand, and the musical sounds they all create.


Essentials of Modern Guitar

"Essentials" has the bebop DNA. Written back in the 90's, a paper edition that, as the technology evolved, I then 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 above to explore this book.

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

UYM / EMG / TRC philosophy. The UYM / EMG / TRC educational structure and philosophy is based on assessing the number of elements in any component in the song and music we are learning. That as we increase our elements; of pitches, beats in a rhythm, chords in a progression, lyrics, spoken word, our artistic options expand. As art options expand, we can usually find somewhere in the literature of a morphing between our weave of musical styles; our AmerAfroEuroLatin style, creating a 'spectrum' of styles ranging from children's and folk songs on through the blues, rock and country into pop and on into the jazz realm of our spectrum.

'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 for One, and then ... ?

After One? Well, Two of course. A Two chord, a 2nd scale degree, a two chord song, two chord vamp, beats 2 and 4, a 2 pitch tritone, intervals between two pitches. 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

Numbers in musical styles. 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 any one of our core elements numerically.

For example thinking melody; from the three, four and five pitch melodies of children's songs into folk, add a sixth into minor five for the blues, six major for gospel, into the diatonic seven kaboom for pop and right on up to include all 12 pitches for the full on jazz palette.

With the chords, two note fifth's of metal become three note triads of folk become four note V7 blues chords, five notes and beyond for jazz chords with color tones.

In rhythms our numerics theories are super clear as we go through the subdivisions of the beat, thinking 4/4 time; 1 whole, 2 for half, 3 notes in triplets, and 4 quarters, groups of 5,6 and 7, then 8 for eighth notes to 16 for sixteenth notes.

In musical forms, we have the number of measures in a phrase, phrases linked together make forms that creates a song. From two bar vamps to four bar lullabies, to the 8 bar song to the 12 bar blues and off to the 32 bar song forms ...

Even in tuning up the pitches, which is also viewed from a numerical historical context, the tuning refinement from Mother Nature's overtone series pitches to those of equal temper tuning, and the many steps in between, can be represented by numbers in learning; the original measuring of the pitches by ratios of intervals through the 'rule of 18' for fret / fingerboard layout, to the modern solution of today's pitches based on the physical implementation of the mathematics of the '12th root of 2', we've three millennia of scholars and artists to discover.

So all in all, music and numbers / math have combined to create our resources, from as far back in our memories as we might ever get to go and forward from the present into the future, to the new systems being developed today :)

Seven pitches / songs in a major key with harmony. This numerics philosophy of UYM / EMG philosophy combines and views most of the theory from the seven pitch grouping of the major scale and builds things up from there. For there's just more major key songs than minor. No diss to minor intended, and minor key centers are fully explored, but the major key is the default for our theory studies simply by number of melodies and songs written with the uplifting and inspirational energy generated by the seven diatonic pitches of the major scale.

Additionally :) ... this major scale basis, further associated with chord type and substitution principles, can quickly kaboom thus advance our way of thinking, facilitating and even accelerating the learning for those artists so inclined.

Formal music education. The curriculum content of this e-book spans from the nuts and bolts 'basics' and through the formal curriculum of a BA college music program that I completed in 1982. It's presentation is nuanced with dialogue of my personal performance experience of blues and jazz musics, in near every possible Alaska performance format, from wine / divebar, roadhouse bandstands to the more focused, often seated audiences of concerts and multi line-up festivals.

Through all this spectrum of presentation of musics are insights from the musicians I've rubbed elbows with and very often some blue notes too. What I learned along the way from creating this collaborative art in these various performance settings is directly written into the curriculum of this work, to create a more narrative styled dialogue, blending the formal and the street, a portrayal of the wide fabric of the Americana musics, styles and genres in the myriad of different performance formats and presentations found in the everyday creation of musical arts.

For an e-book's hyperlinking of commonly shared music words creates that magical connectivity between the styles, becoming a basis to explore stylistic evolutions on through historical eras, with each new generation picking up the same common components of pitches, rhythm and time to then reshape into the new of their era.

Creating new styles through the decades, often with new aural sounds from new instruments, along with fashions et all, it all collages together to capture each era of our history. Now with a solid 100 years or so of doing it, we've built up quite a library of Americana to draw and learn from. Add in jaunts in the waybac machine to earlier eras, origins and evolutions from around the globe that found their ways to our own shores, and a unique Americana cyber school of music and art originates and manifests in this e-book.

"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

Euro / Amer

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. R. O !

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.

~ curiosity ~

explore and get lost


experiment and find your own way back

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, with 'free public education', as this e-book provdes globally, Uncle Sam in his wisdom allows us to collectively borrow bits of original art from one another, often a perfect snapshot of art, to help illuminate the ideas of another creative and be cool with the legal. Sharing is caring, as we 'free of charge' promote each others work for the benfit of all through public education USA.

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 citing and inclusion in this e-book is by the 'fair use' clause of USA 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

Fast Four. Initially can be found in 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 in the 2nd bar of a conventional 12 bar blues. Then on back to One, for bars three and four, then off to the Four chord again in bars 5 and 6, starting off the second phrase etc. In slower tempi, fast Four can happen like near every time, as we get move right out of the gate. In brighter tempos, whoa !!! :) Motion to Four brings the 'gospel' in our Americana musics like no other nothin', so reverence is due. Here's a classic 'fast four' Greek styled (descending) bass line, rote worthy deep and as it'll work everytime, surely run on through a couple of keys (12).

wiki ~ Willie Dixon
wiki ~ Tommy Shannon

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. In notation, fermata's can look like these two jazzier black blobs that hover above the staff.

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 by adding in pitch by pitch up to our 12 total pitches for the chromatic scale, to 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.

wiki ~ PSUC


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' and 'E' 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 ... everything loops :)

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 :)


the gallop

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 really really nice song, that probably went to the top 40 at some point, is still requested and fills the dancefloor on a Saturday eve ... 'Oh, ____ is a real gem.' The ones we love to play every show :)
wiki ~ "Crazy" song
wiki ~ "Crazy" song
wiki ~ "Crazy" song
wiki ~ "Crazy" song
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 under composition and 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 mostly diatonic triads within one key center that supports melodies often inspired by a six note scale group of pitches and often with a dash of the 'blues hued' character, gospel songs often telling stories of a uplifting spiritual nature of historical significance.

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 by connecting line with a 'F' bass clef staff, as combined used mostly for the piano; left hand bass cleff 'F' and right hand treble clef 'G.'


Graddus Ad Parnassum

Around 3000 years ago. For music theorists, Graddus Ad Parnassum is now just a dusty old text of music theory by Euro maestro Joseph Fux and named after the sacred mountains hangouts of the of ancient Mediterranean Greek peoples pictured here in color. Written as a dialogue between maestro and pupil, many dialogues within this e-book follow the "Graddus" format. We call this 'call and response' in Americana musics. All in honor of Muse, all the way from the now ancients right on up till today ... and then on towards 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 that combine to create the 'diatonic realm.'

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.

green room

Green room. A slang for a place to hangout that's warm (in AK) and has a couch, located near to the stage. So if there's a greenroom and a stage then cool, there's a show coming right up. Advice straight from the stars for performing well and putting on a good show ... ? Warm up for 15 minutes and walk right onto the bandstand an try to get a downbeat and off ya go into the setlist. Works every time, well ... in theory :)

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.

Word semantics here? Ye prolly but ...


guide tones / guide tone lines / bass players / fiddle players

Author's note. Some readers here will embrace this now ancient principle of composing music and in doing so, then know of a pathway to better understand both all the musics that might ever come along to explore as well as a way to structure near everything our creative muse might ever imagine :)

Guidetones / guidetone lines. As the name implies, our selected pitches / tones are sequenced into closed loops that we form up into a song. And we build songs with these loops; a bass line, blues riff, a melody line, a guidetone line of '3rd's, 5th's or 7th's that run through the form and chord progression of any song.

now ancient
closed loops
form into songs

guide tones / guide tone lines / bass players / fiddle players

Americana perfection. Pianist Oscar Peterson's own magical song "Hymn To Freedom" is a perfect capture of a gospel guidetone line of harmony. Rote learning this one song could open a new universe for further discovery, to understand the theories of harmony both in its concepts for composing songs and aurally 'by ear.'

And knowing there's a 'bit of gospel' in everything 'musica Americana'

For jazz leaning cats, Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar" is built around a guide tone line of the blue note / blues scale pitches, Written in 'C' minor, there's a 'Eb, C Bb, G, F, Eb C' decending line woven through the melody backed by cool chords. Composed in a sort of perfect order, if there is a such a thing in art, it's clear as day where its going cadentially, adding to the coolness and importance of rote learning / master.

wiki ~ Oscar Peterson
theory of harmony
aurally 'by ear'
wiki ~ Stanley Turrentine

guide tones / guide tone lines / bass players / fiddle players

In theory. In a most basic form, we create a guide tone line with the root notes of the chords in a song's chord progression; a guide tone bass line / bass line story.

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. These notes create guide tone line. Chord type theory principles enters us into the realm of chord substitution theory, thus we can through guide tones discover a superclear 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.

fiddle players

Guidetones / fiddleplayers. String players love to saw away at the chords too, especially when in the mix behind the singing voice. Guide tone lines, spelling out the chords while through time is the beginning, middle and end of it. Lean classical and completely work out your solos note for note, write them down. Pure Americana style improvise with the now ancient theme and variations basis. Combine both top stay bizzy in showbiz.

In performance of Americana music the fiddle has played an essential role all along. Songs such as the classic "Ol' Joe Clark" has origins that go all the way back across the pond to the British Isles, from when it and many many many 'Appalachian fiddle tunes' can be sourced.

While there's always room for improv along the way, fiddle players should be careful not to 'noodle' around when other instrument have the lead. And this is where guide tone lines come in. Especially true when playing behind the singer, noodling around sounds like it sounds; noodling around, whereas sounding out guide tone lines help outline the chords of a song and rich'n up the harmony.

Think root to root to start, then find a harmony line with 3rd's and 5th's. When your solo time come, time to bring it. Beginners in improvisation have a start point with the ancient ways of theme and variations and 'sing the line ~ play the line', then organically evolve as chops develop.

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 :)

Gypsy jazz guitar

Gypsy jazz, in modern terms, is today a collection of musics 75 years in the making that originated over in Europe, specifically Paris, France, in the mid 1930's.

Rhythmically it combines the magical swing of traditional Americana jazz melodies with the 'chop chop chop chop' / 'chop chop chop chop' / '4 beat to the bar' beat rhythm styles of the earlier original Americana dixieland jazz percussive banjo rhythms of the 1920's.

As Gypsy jazz instrumentation originally / traditionally includes acoustic instruments without drums, its 'chop chop' percussive rhythm style becomes its magical pulse, and thus musical motor, known among the initiated as 'la pomp.' There's always a payday in being the motor.

While diatonic in nature, melodies and improvisations often feature the pitches of the harmonic minor group of pitches and it's modes, especially what is generally known as a Klezmer scale, with its 'half step gypsy flavored exotics.' Cycles of V7 chords are fairly common in a gypsy jazz song's chord progression.

wiki ~ Gypsy jazz
wiki ~ Django Reinhardt
wiki ~ Stephane Grappelli
wiki ~ Eiffel Tower

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

Bending notes aside and thinking Euro theory, 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.

half time

Tempo change to half speed of what it was.

Hammond Organ

( 'The Hamminator" )

wiki ~ Hammond Organ


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

hard stop

Slang for when the music comes to a complete stop.


Harmony. Triads and chords, vertical stacking and simultaneous sounding of pitches, the chords used to support a single note lines of a melody.


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 ~


Homophonic. Term that describes a unique texture of music that began to develop in the 1500's that features one main melody line supported by vertical stacks of pitches sounded together as chords, each with a clearly designated bass note.

Homophonic music ( one melody line ) replaces the polyphony style ( two or more melody lines ) that predominated European music for the previous 200 years or so and comes about as the tuning precision of our pitches is further refined with the equal temper tuning method, better tuned pitches stack up better into triads and chords.

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.'

5 x 2 = 10

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 ... ( 3)

... ya just don't love me know more ...' ( 7 )

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.

"Just because it's improvised doesn't mean it's not a legitimate composition."

wiki ~ Julian Lage

~ 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 ... recognize this one ...?

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 / v7. As measured from the root of any component, its intervals determine it's aural qualities 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

~ Interval studies ~

A series of melodic studies defined by a selected pitch interval, by which we can exhaust the fundamental (diatonic) intervals over the entire playable range of the instrument.

And while they work for all instruments, guitarists have the 'five shapes' curriculum to learn the fretboard pitches and its scale / arpeggio / chord magics.

A first shedding / interval study would be diatonic, by major and minor 2nd's, so the pitches are sounded scalewise up and down the scale, exhausting whatever each shape gives us, thinking in 'G' major / 'E' minor relative up and down the fingerboard:

2nd's: G A B C D E F# G F# E D C B A G F# G

3rd's: G B A C B D C E up and down etc.

4th's: G C A D B E C F# G C etc.

5th's: G D A E B F# C G etc.

6th's: G E A F# B G C A etc.

7th's: G F# A G B A C B etc.

8th's / octaves: G G A A B B etc.

Diatonic triads: G B D, A C E, B D F etc.

7th chords: G B D F#, A C E G, B D F# A etc.

Then run the licks backwards. Or, then up, skip up a step to the next pitch and backwards then up a step etc. Like this with 7th chords;

So ... up 'G B D F# then down 'G E C A' ... then up 'B D F# A' then down 'B G E C' etc, a 'C' major 7th arpeggio.

All of the above intervals are the common motions found in lots of songs. So all sorts of shedding calistenic coolness. Nowadays there's tons of book to outline these sorts of exercises. That we can also do it by ear and rote, following a couple of hundred years of learning tradition and working the bugs out, is pretty cool too :)

And along the way. Remember to 'stop along the way' in this shedding madness / routine, for when something cool shakes loose in the pitches. This 'lil' bit' can be any number of different things; lick, riff, ditty, motif, a one note rhythm, a hook, all of the above. Just extract it, shed the shape / pitches up and down the neck for good measure, its the rote way to remember the lick and get it into any key center. So yea, top to bottom, left to right, bottoms up and backwards moved chromatically or with skips in between ... for thank our lucky stars today that what goes up still comes down ... as the sayin' once go'ed :)

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 !


Invert. 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