~ Understanding Your Music ~ E M G © ~

by Joe Craig

~ 'age old insights' for creating your own songs today ~

"The one true teacher lives at the center of your heart."

wiki ~ Sanskrit proverb

Welcome !

I thank you for choosing this magical cybertext extravaganza of an e-book for learning about our Americana musics. For modern e-books get a special magic or two in their writing, that further dimensionalizes the written word on a written page.

Mentorship in the arts. This e-book is dedicated to Dr. James B. Miller, my mentor while attending the University in my early 20's. Forty years later this e-book now takes form, its writing initially sparked to life by the lifelong curiosity of all things music that Dr. Miller proudly embodied and freely shared beyond measure.

Mentorship guided. While this e-book and curriculum are designed to be self guided and based on individualizing instruction, as in any learning journey in life, having a mentor and companion to assist and journey with along the way can make our learning easier, productive and more pleasurable.

Throughout our lives, sometimes a mentor is not present just yet, as is often the case when we first start a new pathway. So we must do as best we can with what we have, and in this book, designed for self discovery energized by curiosity, there's plenty of ways to get started. And once underway, good things will happen.

Collaborative by nature, as we involve ourselves with music over the years, mentor (s) will come along to assist in our own learning. In believing also that by teaching others helps our own knowledge and art to blossom, as Dr. Miller did, we then also can become the mentors, encouraging those new artists who will follow on after us.

So our motto here in learning ... ?

"Seek and ye shall find."

meets ...

"I get by with a little help from my friends."

Working with this e-book on-line. Designed to take advantage of the wonders of all things modern and electric, sharing this e-book all across the world with musical friends can be a couple of clicks away from a modern empowered computer learning system.

And off-line ? While we can bounce a signal off satellites in space, and still run a wire from here to there to connect, know that this e-book fully functions as a stand alone off-line curriculum. While it does need a computer's capabilities and a web browser to operate, this platform does not need to be on-line, or hooked up to the internet in any way. For all of the written text and hyperlinking within, and all the pictures including written music with all its playback music, are included.

Finding a mentor. And to begin to find a mentor, get with your nearest public library folks for help, just ask a librarian for ideas on how to begin. Chances are good that a public library while have internet access, so e-mail the author for ways to start with the curriculum and join with Alaska's statewide musical arts community.

'By ear' and book learning. Learning 'by ear' ties us to a community of like minded artists who also 'play by ear', and perform without written music. By adding formal book studies, often in the form of written music, to one's own love of music, we usually create a curiosity about the 'finer points' discovered along the way in learning to play songs.

'Book learning' is in many ways is simply a vocabulary of words and their resulting sounds. Thus empowered, our conversations with knowledgeable artists can often evolve our own understanding. Knowing each musical style might have its own words for similar components, we often cross pollinate words between styles, creating the nuances woven through the Americana spectrum of styles. Ideally new knowledge opens new doors, which energizes new curiosity, thus prompting new questions to be explored ... and round and round it all goes ... like the feedback loops of old from the big roar :)

This e-book has notated audio playback. Combined with mp3. playback of the written notation, 'by ear' and curiosity jump us right to '3d' dimensions. So now those 'hey ... what was that chord' also becomes 'E7#9.' And knowing that ... ? Well 'E7#9' is also a V7#9, and/or a dominant chord with a color tone, and/or a 'tritone sub', and these new 'theory options' are notated and have mp3 playback. So, theory options become vocabulary words, linked all throughout in perfect closure, well mostly :) So we 'mostly by ear' players, who are curious about music and love to just play it, have a 'book learnin' way into the full on whole tamale, style spectrum of Americana song.

We learn 'by ear' while reading the written notation. Learning about music through listening and rote learning our parts is the way we generally roll in Americana musics. Watch any performance of folk, blues, rock and pop, even jazz, chances are the performers are not reading the music when performing. So what many of us often do, is use the music reading to help us with learning our parts, which we also learn by ear. Then, we memorize and perform the music by rote. With loving mentorship, it's the age old way of learning the magic.

In this new fangled e-primer, we've the best of both; most aural 'by ear' ideas are written out in standard notation and linked to its mp3. playback file, and there's a little over 1800 examples. While music theory discussions of intervals, rhythms, scales, chords and styles generate most of the examples, 35 or so of the full melodies included come from an old public school music book of Americana classic songs and are among the same songs many of our Americana musical heros also learned starting out.

So we can sure up our by ear / rote learning with reading, and copying the notation for sharpening writing music skills too. Through in a few 'what's that or what if' questions along the way and our lifetime journey into the musical arts begins through this e-book portal to the www of global musics !!!

What we already understand. The basis of this method is to first recognize what we already know about our music. These become our start points. We then tie this knowledge on into topics of which they are a part of. This e-book then weaves together the theory, history and art of these essential start points.

So just ask yourself, what do I already know about music I love the most? What don't I know about this music? Also ... what do I want to know? What am I curious about in this magical of all the arts ?

... in answering, what music words and ideas come to mind ?

For these self queries conjure vocabulary words to open up this book for you. Once engaged, your own 'need to know' curiosities will always be your true energizer for your learning. Curiosity is built right into who we are and, if we dig it too, all the better. The process here is to click, read, discover, then click read discover, click read discover ... :) And if it happens that your computer is on line, mastering a one 'trick click' with your browser rig and this e-book does the Wiki-kaboom :) Questions that arise ? Ask your mentor.

Check 1 2 ... check 1 2 ! First modern magic. A most magical of all music theory 'e' book magical features is that we can now make the notes of our written music ideas sound out their pitches as written with a click of a button. By using computer notation software, its mp3 file and a web browser, our modern wizardry helps to 'hear the theory.' Click on the music and try it out. Check 12 ... check. Example 1.

Amazing huh? Nice and bright, grand piano patch ? Yep. Blinks a bit too? It's supposed to. To hear it again, and again and again ? Just click it, and click and click :) The ancient rote learning by repetition. So yea, this playback 'e' feature just might be the ultimate bridge getting the notation and theory together in schooled learning.

Thus empowered, we can play by ear and then explore what's under our fingers. Rote learning all along the pathways provided by a word. For instance, the triads that create this last idea is a super magical music word for certain, and in this e-book hyperlinked to a couple of dozen related discussions all through the book.

For this simple association of specific musical sounds and their special music words is the ancient way we've always learned, thus can form a true basis to begin understanding all musics and arts too. For we can trace how the very same compositional elements are shaped, and reshaped, to build up our various styles a the decades roll on by. Playback helps.

A second magic. We can link from one topic and discussion to another with a hyperlink. Try the link to the right to read up on the philosophies that govern this book. Then click back to return here or click forward and continue on from there.

With this magical linking feature, our own unique curiosities of music energize a way through this book, building upon what you already know and love about music, and even your general interest in the all arts. Scholars might term this foundation of 'what we already know' as our 'existing information.'

With hyperlinks, we build in learning excitement. For in this work's design, there are links that go ever deeper into the complexity of each topic. As we choose our links, we discover our own pathway of learning, accelerated by our own curiosity and need to know.

For example, we can link discussions from our historical source and organization of the pitches to create loops of these pitches, then link to group up these pitches, then link to major and minor these pitches, then to 'mode' these pitches, then link to arpeggiate these pitches and finally to stack these same pitches into triads, chords and arpeggios beyond. While a throughout these discussions are links that tie back into the blue hue origins of the Americana mix, and to points beyond of the 12 tone looping universe.

'So as you click along and bump into what you already know, just click ahead and keep on keepin' on :)

A third magic ~ learning by ear. As crazy as it sounds, the third magic is more of a realization and was not planned, and discovered at the end of my writing this book. Turns out that nearly all of the musical phrases included are ear training and transcription exercises too. And they will work for any instrument, clef etc.

For those that play be ear, you can push the button as many times as you want, to find the pitches. Start off by singing the pitches, then find them on any instrument you have on hand. Click any idea a hundred times if needed, to rote learn by ear the same basics that build up all of our styles of musics. Try it with a click.

Major triads? Yep. One / Four / Five? Yep. Hearing the theory in action is called ear training in college. Finding it on our chosen instrument is the challenge. Lifting ideas off recordings and notating the lick is transcribing. And for those becoming more astute listeners, associating a vocabulary word with its sound is a brick to build with. Building knowledge and being serious is fun.

A fourth magic. Written in this book are a couple of hundred links to topics included in the online Wikipedia encyclopedia. None of these topical links are active. Zero. None. Nada. YOU have to choose to explore beyond this book's realm by your own clicks and such. On a reptilian rig it goes like this;
... click / drag to highlight text / right click to search / choose / click and arrivee at your destination ... :)

The letters 'wiki', even in an unenergized link, are the search engine trick and go right to the page of the topic. Try it out. It's beyond cool and even on 'dial up', will eventually get us there :) Try this link to a wiki page all about web browsers.

wiki ~ web browsers

While all of the 'wiki' links are worked out, this 'click / highlight / search / choose / arrive' magic can further be used to search any text within this text, to explore beyond into the web. Imagine that. So combining these together, to wiki and beyond by choice, we together create a guided pathway for you to explore and learn many aspects about the music you dig. Histories, artists, theory and literature of etc.

For it's the best place to start really, with music that just touches our souls. Shared with musical friends, sky's the limit for a full lifetime of discovery learning and a life in the arts, for 'all music was once new.' Here's another way this 'beyond' manifests, defining any word.


Five's a charm, a last bit of magic for now. All the links within this 'e' book are black until visited, then turn to purple. It'll look like this.

Over time, and as you acquire knowledge from moving around in the text, by making our clicks through the discussions and vocabulary, you'll see more and more of the purple text, highlighting accumulated knowledge of the vocabulary terms of our musics.

'Seeing purple = curiosity, discovery and learning.'

By turning words purple, tie you right into the collective musical components we all can share. Seal the deal in your own 'understand' by being able to aurally recognize the musical colors.

This all might take a lifetime, but some things do, yet, we get to remain curious and keep learning about the art we've come to love. And for those that just need to know right now, we're a different breed of cat for sure and we'll always figure out a way to figure it out.

Oh, and on down the road and seeing too much purple? Just clear the browser history and be back in the black.

UYM / EMG curriculums. The following listings are simply suggested ways to begin using this book. So whatever describes your interests and strikes your fancy, click off to explore, click on back to start again. Bookmark your discoveries and build knowledge through exploration. Don't worry about getting lost, for we all do. And in finding our own way back we learn our own ways of understanding the secrets of making art.

"Not all those who wander are lost."

wiki ~ Tolkien

Ancient ways the modern way. In the olden days an still right up to today, the easiest way to have the most fun with music, and become the best player we can become, was to go and apprentice with the master artists of the art we each love best.

Today, with modern technology, we as up and coming artists learning and honing craft, can get an instrument and play right along to recordings. For those starting out, might be the best way to sit at the feet of a master artist.

For those readers here so inclined, knowing this and pursuing this 'by ear', pure aural curriculum track, you might not need this book. That is until U start working with players who 'do' know 'the book', then ya might wish you do.

the book (one page)

An easy way to begin. Combining studies and fun, we can begin by learning a song in a style. The ones included link up their to nuts and bolts theory discussions, to understand how we glue them together.

So call a tune and count your own learning off ... :)

A couple of 'start' pages. Another easy way to begin with this 'e' book is through these start pages. As our Americana music basics include theories, storytelling, the blues and improvisation, these start pages create a broad view to explore. And as your own interests and curiosities demand, a deeper explorations of these topics begins by your own juices to energize your journey.

Home school ~ public school. For these learning centers, which usually work with younger musicians, this music text is also focused on improving a students ability to read standard English.

With its ten chapter quizzes, and associated discussions, improving a learners 'reading comprehension through musical studies', is a main goal for homeschool groups.

The seven steps, a sequenced study of the basics. The links below form a curriculum of basics that apply to all of our musical styles. Take each in turn, rote learn their basics and take the vocabulary quiz to seal the deal.

got a hill to climb yet ? ... ah, at the core of it all ... :)

Public libraries. When this book is part of a public library's collection, each unique reader creates their own unique pathway through by selecting links to topics of interest to them. As 'all roads lead to Rome' in our systems of music theory, any music art curiosity sparks a beginning to the 'click, read and explore' process.

And if the library computer is also connected to the www., this book will help energize a global search for the understanding and theory from musics from around the world. Click to the table of contents menu for additional topics and ideas to explore.

For music teachers. For music educators that would like to add this resource to their own curriculum, there's a menu of choices to organize a sequence of 'skills to be acquired' by up and coming players. Teachers gain an 'on line' home, open ended www. now global resource for the individualizing of instruction for each of their pupils.

Classical conversions towards 'improv Americana.' For the classically trained musician looking to add further strengthen their skills with improvisation, there's a curriculum of study to shape their existing perspective and chops into a 'by rote resource', a palette of colors, to create improvisations within most, if not all, of our Americana styles of music.

Becoming a professional Americana musician. Reading here and thinking of going pro ? Create a career for yourself in the Americana musics? Cool. Welcome to a life in the arts ! While reading music is easily included in Americana studies, to 'play by ear', so leaning towards rote memorization and improvisation, is more the learning tradition.

The method here is mostly blues based. We learn a root to root, three chord 12 bar blues song and form. And from this bass line story, as we jazz up the harmony, our bass line story then changes too, more nuanced as we find more ways to go through the same 12 bar form. Playing within form strengthens. Add in metronome clicks, and we've a creative loop moving through time.

which opens up into it up by adding in more chords, e harmony and chord progressions of the For in Americana musics, entire careers are based on this 12 bar form and once firmly understood. That this old time 12 bar form, really three - four bar phrases, quickly morphs into other forms; the eight bar song, which then doubles right up to an 'A / B' of 16 bars, which then doubles to 32 bars; A A B A, A B, so now to include rhythm changes and sonata allegro from the classical school.

This basis creates an endless opportunity for career long artistic development, creating skills that work all through and within the Americana songbook. You'll always have something under your fingers that works, something to play when you go jamm with artists in any style, and for guitar and bass, works on acoustic or electric.

Make it a blues. There's a common way to practice with the 12 bar blues song form. And in doing so, strengthen all of the basic skills we need to make our musics as a solo artist or with a band, and then in a band setting, eventually under the lights. All based on predictability, and once we master its original bass line stories, the 12 bar song form become our rocks to build with.

And if the jazz bug ends up biting ya, the cure is to order up the whole tamale, both in theory and history, so a 100 year old library of songs, biographies and stories of Americana, that in this method starts with the 12 bar blues and using the harmony, we evolve on into bebop, post bop and hard bop, and then beyond a wee bit too :)

Becoming a professional classical musician in the Euro traditions. This world of music is based on getting musicians together that read music. Reading music is an art in and of itself, and the history of the symbols is a fascinating story of the evolution of capturing music's three dimensional magic in a two dimensional plane, i.e., on paper. Just start reading and be determined. Work at it each day and good things will happen.

For guitar players. Starting with ideas for beginning players and the open chords, we add in some historical evolution of the blues by examining two common ways of tuning up of the pitches. From this basis we work our way towards jazz guitar, which includes a theoretical understanding of all styles.

For bass guitar players. The bass method is structured right down the middle of our relative major / minor theories. Joy an sorrow paired hand and hand through triads and the added 7th of the blues colors. Along the way the Americana we love in all styles is revealed.

For listeners. There's a few old school traditional pathways within this text to begin cool studies for listeners. For if there's an interest to know, curiosity will find a way to win the day. And once more in the know, chances are you'll playing one or two.

Chapter headings. Most books go by chapters, and this 'e' book can too. While we can 'click off' to wherever as we read and venture along, for some readers it can be helpful to have a numerical way to 'chapter' through a book. Here they are, numbered and sequenced by evolution of content and with the understanding that ... 'all roads, lead to Rome :)'

chapter 1
chapter 2
chapter 3
chapter 4
chapter 5
chapter 6
chapter 7
chapter 8
chapter 9
chapter 10



Beginning artists / theory. You know who you are. Just use your own existing knowledge, what you already know of your musics, as a way to begin your studies here. Your curiosities, instincts and artistic needs to know will choose which links to follow, just click, read and discover. Click, read and discover ... and rote learn what you need to know, it's quite easy really :)



Intermediate artists / theory. You really know who you are :) U have witnessed first hand the magic and now have a vision of what it is going to take to be the player that you want to be. Just follow your own curiosities, click and read on ! Here's some links in.

Intermediate artists / by the numbers. At this point you probably realize there's ways to numerically represent near everything in the theory that comes along. While not a perspective for all artists, there's a sort of 'perfect accuracy' we achieve when we use the numbers, at least in our theory discussions. For some artists, accuracy really really counts.

So an intermediate level studies approach can include examining each of the scale degrees we get with a combined scale / arpeggio / chromatic numerical extravaganza. Here are the links.

Advanced artists / theory. You really, really know who you are :) Advanced pretty much means that you've been doing this for a while now. So just follow your own curiosities, click and read on ! Here's some links into the more advanced discussions within this book.


Advanced capstone classes. Included in this book are three chapters called 'capstones.' As in architecture, cap-stones are the high points often in arches, built up by all our combined studies of music theory building blocks. From their heights we view new challenges to explore and conquer.

"If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants."

wiki ~ Sir Isaac Newton

Basic academics and activities. So what musical topics are you curious about or what new theory knowledge will help you find your art ? Here are some linked suggestions for discovery.

The whole tamale. This approach, is all about creating a complete big picture our musics in one fell swoop. Once in place and framed by real history events and nuts and bolts theory, we've a lifetime's sized canvas to fill in our needs as they come along. And as we evolve in our own musics and music making, we cook up our own tamale.'

table of contents

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

wiki ~ Abraham Lincoln

~ now then, have a question or two about your music ? ~

~ page index ~

~ Americana music theory and practices ~

~ acknowledgements ~

~ art ~

~ Bach and Coltrane ~

~ bass ~

~ blues start ~

~ blues in open 'G' ~

~ blues is standard tuning ~

~ blues chord subsitutions ~

~ blues / make it a blues ~

~ bibliography ~

~ by the numbers ~

~ chords ~

~ chord melody ~

~ chord progressions ~

~ chord shapes ~

~ chord types ~

~ chop shop ~

~ chord voicings ~

~ classical conversions ~

~ composing ~

~ the diatonic realm ~

~ diminished colors ~

~ ear training ~

~ emg (old) in pdf ~

~ find your mojo lick ~

~ form in music ~

~ forward motion ~

~ glossary ~

~ guitar ~

~ groups of pitches (scales) ~

~ history in music ~

~ improvisation ~

~ intervals ~

~ Jacmuse songs ~

~ jazz guitar start ~

~ jazz guitar method ~

~ Jake Matson and Joey Fender ~

~ key centers ~

~ lifting ~

~ loops of pitches ~

~ lyrics ( and writing ) ~

~ major minor (relatives) pairing ~

~ measures for vocabulary terms ~

~ melody ~

~ methods ~

~ metronome ~

~ modes (of olden times ) ~

~ mojo licks ~

~ motifs ~

~ notation ~

~ numbers (by the #'s) ~

~ open tunings for guitar ~

~ performance ~

~ piano / voice basics ~

~ quotes ~

~ scales ~

~ scale arpeggio chord ~

~ the shape of any chord ~

~ sequencing of musical ideas ~

~ silent architecture ~

~ songs to read and rote ~

~ spelling chords ~

~ start ~

~ styles and genres of music ~

~ substitution principles of harmony ~

~ superhoot ~

~ suspensions ~

~ teaching aids ~

~ time ~

~ tuning ~

~ 2 5 1 ~

~ vamps and grooves for jamming ~

~ whole tone augmented colors ~

~ Essentials Of Modern Guitar © ~

~ Tonal Resources For The Creative Musician © ~

~ Joey Fender's Blues Book © ~

References. References for this page come from the included bibliography. In addition, books of classical literature; from Homer, Stendahl and Laudurie to Rand, Walker and Morrison and of today, provided the additional puzzle pieces to the musical ones to shape the 'art' page of this book. Special thanks to PSUC university professor Dr. Y. Guibbory, who 40 years ago now provided the spark to ignite a love within of the weaving of the arts into the art of life.

wiki ~ Americana

References. References for this page's information comes from school, books and the bandstand and made way easier by the folks along the way.

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

'I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well.'

J. S. Bach 1685-1750

'Invest yourself in everything you do. There's fun in being serious.'

John Coltrane 1926-1967