~ start ~

~ understanding your own music ~

~ are you a new theorist ? ~

~ a listener wanting to understand theory ? ~

~ brand new to guitar and bass ? ~

~ are you a new theorist ? ~

~ new to improvisation ? ~

'what is it about your music you don't understand ...'

~ unde ~

~ under ~

hat in your music do you want to learn about ...'

~ new theorists ~ new listeners ~

~ new guitarists ~ new bassists ~

 

'energize your own learning in life through education, exploration and discovery ...'

 

 

In a nutshell. Simply to help super brand new theorists start their learning pathway to understanding their music by picking up a couple of solid rudiments that will apply to all of our Americana musics. Along the way we use musical vocabulary words that we all can share in common that create keyword links to new discussions on other pages. So based on your curiosities and what you need to create your musics, the learning directions you take are entirely up to you. That said, a top to bottom working through of any page in this entire book is an organized and proper way to proceed. And, there's always the back button if we wander too far for ... :)

Brand new to guitar and bass. learn a melody and one chord.

new melody new chord

repeat

 

"Not all those who wander are lost."
wiki ~ Tolkien

Perfectly closed loops of pitches. This idea of 'loops' is really an easy way to get our arms completely around our understanding of music. That however we group up the pitches, if we follow the group's sequencing long enough, we'll always arrive back to our starting letter name pitch. Always? Yep, always. Seems crazy with all of the various musics we've had over the millenias but in theory, this is the law. For example, here's our basic alphabet loop of letters to name our seven lettered pitches. Example 1.

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

So just like in our alphabet, when we get to 'Z' we've run out of letters and back to the top we go. In music it is even easier as we only go to 'G', gee. that's easy :)

All based on the perfection of sound. In our AmerEuro musics, the basis of its architecture is all based on what we physically perceive to be the most perfect of aural sounds. These are our 'perfect' intervals. The idea of an interval is between two things, which in our case are pitches. We've three perfect intervals; the octave, perfect 5th and its inverse the perfect 4th, an interval up a 5th creates the same letter name pitches as an interval down a 4th. Examine the pitches from our root pitch 'C.' Count the letter names on your fingers.

Up a perfect 5th; A up to E; A B C D E.

Down a perfect 4th; A down to E; A G F E.

Here's the notation. Example 2.

Aural perfection ... This idea of aural perfection gives us a basis to build upon. It is determined by how smoothly two pitches aurally meld themselves together. While today, there's a few ways to scientifically measure this, back in the days when smart folks started up our theory, they did it all by ear. "Let your ear be the guide."

And the natural half steps ... Thinking of the letter name alphabet pitches, we can use the piano to locate the 'built right in' half step intervals of our relative major / natural minor group of pitches. Notice the '2 / 3' occurance of the black key groups? And know what interval lives between this sequence? Between 'E' and 'F' and 'B' and 'C?' If you know or guessed the half step, cool. If not just rote learn it right now :) Examine the keys of most any piano we might ever bump into. Example 1.

Look familiar? Cool. Find these pitches and run them right to left so downard in pitch and find some of your own melodies and motifs to sequence. These pitches are the as 'old as the hills' ones for near as we might figure certain. As theorists, our task here is to simply find the half steps in the patterns of letters for each of the key centers, modes and various scale formulas that we need to make our own musics. The key of 'C' major and 'A' minor are easy, using just the white keys at the piano, thus no accidentals. The remaining key centers we'll need the sharps ( # ) and flats ( b ) to work their magic.

The natural half steps and the chromatic nature of our guitars.

Nso built right into our gits is the half steps everywhere. Each fret measures off a half step of the strings to gives us the chromatic scale on every string. Examine the following illustration and click on it to hear it some of the chromatic color. Example 1a.

Need to learn the letter names of the pitches? Yea, the chromatic color is for the wizards I'd imagine :) Need to learn the letter names of the pitches? Well we all do at some point. Start right here maybe, with the two outside strings as they're usually tuned up to the same letter name, thus have the same letter names. Separated by two ocatves, these 1st and 6th string pitches give us the handy reference points.

the chromatic color
wizards
various tunings
the octave interval

Not reading music notation yet? No worries at all. For in an 'e' cyberbook the written musical examples play back what is written. So a solid pairing of notation and playing by ear built right in. Use the string grid and the lower staff tab to help locate the pitches. Example A.

Recognize the line? Cool. A second way jumpstart improving our reading skills is to begin to clap the rhythms as notated. This way of learning to read helps to train the keep the eye moving, a key part of the process. Cybertexts back up the notation with mp3 files of the notated music. And reading is just like learning most things, just a matter of wanting to do it. Example A2.

So the magic of this book makes our learning here quite modern all around. Knowing the letter names of the lines and spaces of the treble clef staff, the five horizontal lines with a treble clef is an of itself huge knowledge when starting out. Here is the treble staff and letter names. Example A1.

'G' / treble clef
treble clef lines and spaces

Just rote learn the letter names on the staff. Most of the musical examples included are in 'C' major / 'A' minor.' These key centers hold the pitches of the white keys on a piano. So no accidentals, no sharps (#) or flats (b). For in writing music to be read it is often said that; whatever way to notate our music that makes it easiest to read is always a good place to start. Here are the piano keys. Example B.

Not uncommon to push a bit past the staff lines in both directions to notate the pitches. As 'C' is a main note for us in the discussions, here's it's expanded notation using ledger lines, just abbreviated lines that follow the loop of letter names for the high and low notes. Example C.

This should get you started on the road to reading. Rote learn the symbols and over time their recognition can become second nature. Learning to hand clap out the rhythms of written notation is oftentimes the first step in understanding the rhythm part of reading notation. Just do it a bit everyday and it'll happen for you.

Seven steps to Parnassus. This idea goes back to the ancient Greeks, some of whose ideas started on us on this understanding music journey. Parnassus is a mountain in Greece on who's top a grand tribute is built to the wisdom and intellect of these peoples and their spiritual and philosophical aspirations. The seven steps are the levels of knowledge one ascends to acquire a wide of wisdom to build upon.

The seven or so sequenced topics that follow here combine theory basics with performance ideas to get the wisdom under the fingers. We want to create an understanding as quickly as possible within each learner that gets 'their arms completely around the resource.'

And while our understanding of our music is hopefully ever growing and evolving, a sort of puzzle whose pieces can often refit together a number of ways, having a big picture of our resources and organizing systems creates an inner 'thought structure', a personal framework for organizing our knowledge. So as new ideas come along throughout our careers, we can tie it into our existing information, building up our knowledge base for immediate recall when needed.

For whether you perform, produce, arrange, write and record or for now just hang with those who do, these skills and their theory should make you a stronger player and contributing asset to the artistic teams you work and play on for your understanding of Americana musics.

The steps which follow. Simply take each one in turn and work at it long enough to get the gist of it. For each are a central component of understanding and creating our Americana musics. Combined together they create a solid basis for whatever explorations may follow. These discussions close with a survey of our musical styles, their main theoretical and organizational components and improvisational aspects, all generating links for further explorations.

Mt. Parnassus, Greece. "Blossoms' blooming ... :)"

Super theory game changers. Ah the game changers, those nuggets of knowledge that can shift whole paradigms of understanding. Here we liken them to the steps of the mount we aspire to ascend, upon whose top lives an understanding by us of our own musics.

In this book and study there's a dozen or so of these game changers. Some are nuts and bolts theory and others are in artistic perspective. The nuts and bolts stuff should be rote learned, thus committed to memory for quick recall. For the knowledge to be learned is mostly a just dozen symbols or so placed in their unique magical orders. We rote learn the streams of these symbols. And given the improv nature of our Americana musics, we'll be sure glad we did as we mosey down Music Road.

The art perspectives ones are probably just more like 'food for thought.' For while they too are theory based, they are 'opinion theory based' so a bit far fetched maybe, which will raise some eyebrows I'd imagine. Just use what works to expand your dreams, your ability to focus on your music to further your work. Stay hungry.

For we each will end up building one game changer upon another, their placement in our own theory constellation based on how we each have learned what theory and theories we already know. Purely natural that our own understanding of music will evolve as we work at it all, new ideas take hold and we can share with our fellow musicians. "Hone our craft" as some have quipped.

Learn melodies. Playing a real melody that we might already know is a great place to start. If you got a git tune it up regular. No git yet? Just sing along. Know this melody yet? "Shortnin"? Goes way way back into our Americana. In C, here's the 'hook' of the line. Example 1.

Just the four bars? Yep, easiest place to start, with a four bar phrase. We see that a lot in our music. Riff on that scale shape up and down the neck a bit for this is the center shape of what was once termed the 'box' scales, might still be too. Cool? Here's another understanding your music total game changer.

~ super theory game changer ~

Three in one; scale / arpeggio / chord. The basis of our Americana music flows from the relationships between which pitches we group up together and how we sound them out. As theorists we can think of a 'group of pitches' from which we can create scales, arpeggios and chords. Thus we can create a scale, an arpeggio and chords from the same group of pitches. These become the diatonic core building blocks of all our musics. In this next idea, our group of pitches form the 'G' major scale. From this we create its arpeggio and a 'G' major chord. Example 2.

Scales are created stepwise. Arpeggios are created by skipping every other pitch of the scale. These 'skipping' intervals, how we measure the distance between the pitches, are major and minor thirds. We skip a step between each of the scale pitches to build arpeggios. In creating chords, we simply segment the arpeggio pitches, stack them up atop one another in groups of three or four or more, and sound them together. Examine stepwise scale letter name pitches into arpeggio skips of thirds. Example 2a.

G major scale
G
A
B
C
D
E
F#
G
G major arpeggio
G
B
D
F#
A
C
E
G

Understanding this evolution of our musical components from scale into arpeggio into chords can be a game changer for so many us. They form a perfectly closed loop of pitches. As such, any one pitch can become a start point creating its own center of gravity and corresponding scale, arpeggio and chords.

~ super theory game changer ~

Time. Time, timing, tempo, rhythms, groove, feel etc. are all terms we use to describe the flow of our music as it moves through measurable time. Clearly found in the 'walk along' of marching band music, three essential beats / rhythms have historically combined to base and create our Americana musical time. These are; the big four, the accenting of the 2nd and 4th beats of the big 4, and the triplet figure, which places notes together into groups of three and creates the gallop.

Once we have the big four beat of four quarter notes, so much of our varied styles within Americana music become possible. Known as 4/4 time, it is the same 'boom boom boom boom' pulse found throughout all of the world's music. Back in the 1880's or so and then forward, some of our Americana styles of music started to accent the 2 and 4 beats. Once there's this 'backbeat' feel in the big four, any sort of triplet of three on any note value really, starts the Americana swing in motion. And the rest as they say, 'is history.' :)

Counting measures of a four bar phrase. In this first idea, count so that the first number in each group corresponds along with the appropriate measure;

1 2 3 4 / 2 2 3 4 / 3 2 3 4 / 4 2 3 4 etc. Cool? So is everything in Americana music a four bar phrase? Well maybe not but don't be too surprised how true this might turn out to be. Thankfully we can always go to the radio and check in, see what length of phrases are rockin' the airwaves. Use this simple method to count any number of measures in 4/4 time.

Next, snap along with your fingers on the 2 and 4 and just keep counting along. For the triplet find a three syllable word, one for each of the three eighth notes. 'Trip-a-let' works fine; 'van-nil-la' and 'choc-co-lat' and 'straw-ber-ry' too :) Example 3.

Feel the pulse from 2 and 4? Cool with the snapping your fingers along? If so then you're creating the pocket and groove of all Americana, congratulations. It's also a fine way to count things off with the band. And how about the triplet? Feel a bit of the gallop that makes it seem to jump a bit? The gallop is in the Americana DNA here. Ya got to feel the gallop to swing. Just take your time and enjoy this discovery for there's a ton of great guitar licks that are based on this triplet rhythmic figure.

With the finger snaps on 2 and 4 try to wait and hold till to the last moment before your snap as you groove along. As you do this a number of times in a row, you'll feel a sense of pulling between your snap time and the music's time. That sense of a physical 'pull' between the accented and unaccented beats is the basis of our swing. Here's a longer click track to try this out and find the swing. If the beats get tangled up, simply count '1' before the accented click to find 2 and 4 again. Example 3a.

Feel the pull? That's the physical sensation of swing. Does it make you smile? No surprise there :) You, me and a zillion more who feel its magic! Thank you Louis Armstrong, credited with its recognition and invention ! Find this physical sense of pull to interpret melodies and find it with your rhythms and be golden forevermore :)

Hear the real deal. Next up, spin your local radio dial to any am or fm station and find some sort of rockin' poppin Americana music. There's a super good chance there's the 2 and 4 pop in the mix, usually on the snare drum. Snap your fingers on the 2 and 4 and count along; 1 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4 etc. Do this a couple of times and feel the magic and we end up just doing it by habit whenever we get within range of something cool.

Spin the dial to the next station with music. Find 2 and 4 in the mix. Style? Next station, same process. Anytime there's a 2 and 4 and we snap along we'll find the swing right away. It might be subtle or might be wide, we might have to make it up ourselves too, but with the 2 and 4 pulse in 4 / 4 time we easily can. Any style? Yea pert near any style will swing.

Spin to the Euro classical music station. And sure enough, the 2 and 4 vanishes. Crazy huh? Easiest way for a legit player to swing is to follow these ideas and exercises here. Really? Ever see them cats count off a thing by snapping their fingers on 2 and 4? Nope? Well neither has anyone else because that's not their thing. No 2 and 4? No swing, simple as that. In 3/4? Later :)

Teach a legit player to snap the fingers on 2 and 4 of a big 4 beat and at least they'll have a way in. Some historians will say that back in the 1880's it was legit players, socially pushed out of their legit work and into the honky tonks, that birthed ragtime which became jass which became jazz. And ragtime is some very serious music to contemplate, compose and perform. So on then to the next radio station of Americana music and guess what's back? Right, an accented 2 and 4 has returned to create the core dance in all of our Americana musics.

wiki ~ Ragtime

Last, practice counting off music in 4/4 time. Find the tempo of your song. Match your inner tempo to the clicks of a metronome. Then start clicking on 2 and 4. Count it in to start. Need a band? Or just even some clicks to lean into? Makes all the difference. Get Franz again ? Sure thing :) Example 3b.

Quick review. These musical time ideas and exercises are some giant steps to master for the newly minted theorist but hopefully in doing so you'll know what swing feels like and have a start to mastery of its magics. Getting your music to swing is now all about how you work it, now that you are in the know.

~ super theory game changer ~

Diatonic, the key word. Diatonic, just one of a couple of ways to refer to one of our very oldest Americana melody maker group of pitches. Major scale, Ionian mode, relative major / minor are a few other ways. Remember this winter holiday melody? Here in E major all on the top string. Example 4.

Sound familiar? Cool. Nice to have a melody line on just the one string. Great line to run through the 12 major keys on one string.

Some theory. In initially discussing the theories of Americana music, the basis of all is the term diatonic. Harvard Brief describes diatonic as originating from the Greeks, and meaning through the tones. These tones for us today are the 7 / seven pitches of the diatonic scale, leaving five remaining pitches of our original 12.

The idea of 'diatonic' bases all of our theory in thought and process as it defines any one pitch, arpeggio or chord within a key center. Once we know its root source, we can sort out even the jumbliest jumbles of pitches to understand where they come from and their relationships in the music under scrutiny.

We can simply ask 'what key center is this pitch(es) diatonic to.' From there we untangle and build. Nine out of ten times in most Americana musics our pitches are diatonic to the key of the music, from a closely related key center or simply adding in a bit of the blue hue spice of coolness.

So we only have 12 different letter name pitches? Yep, in our theory musings we've only get the 12. Of course we generally get a couple of octaves usually but historically, that was not always the case. Know of these 12 pitches, can you find identify them on your ax and or at a piano keyboard? Example 4a.

7 + 5 = 12

Why this plays so heavily right out of the gate is due to the near and ever present influence of the blue notes in the Americana sounds we love. And these essential blue notes are also the remaining five pitches of our total of 12? Exactly. And are they diatonic? No they are not diatonic to a key center as defined just above. We theorists 'borrow them' to jazz up and bluesify the seven diatonic pitches in innumerable ways.

A problem? No, not at all and really only my problem in trying to describe the nuts, bolts and art of the music in theoretical terms. But as long as you're hip to the idea of diatonic, and what it implies, all is groovy in Theoryville. Part of what makes American music so wonderful from a historical / global / enjoyment perspective is the artful blending and ofttimes continual improvisational merging of the seven diatonic pitches with the five blue ones. This all created by artists making new art in the moment.

Our dear ancestor's music from across the pond to the east, often termed European classical music, has historically been diatonic. Every pitch in any music 'theory assignable' to a diatonic key center or borrowed from one. Any real blue notes rubbed over a diatonic harmony? No. Any backbeat accent on 2 and 4 to swell the pulse and open up the groove to swing? No. At least in our Americana sense. Any improv to speak of? No. Yet this European influence becomes the basis of all of our Americana harmony.

Anything to do with tuning the pitches and building up of these pitches into chords historically originates from Europe. Throughout our discussions I call this seven pitch diatonic / five pitch blue note combination the 'blues rub.' We'll feel it again and again as we learn to understand the relationships and their sounds of combining these two groups of pitches in our music.

~ super theory game changer ~

Learn to spell triads / chords. So you're thinking that learning to spell chords might get you another step along to your own private Parnassum? Cool. We at Essentials do too :) For many, developing the ability to quickly and accurately spell any chord is the basis of their theory knowledge, just can't say enough about mastering this skill and the rote learn strengthening it brings.

Pick a song find its key. Most songs we have are created in a key center with a set group of pitches that we use to create its melody, arpeggios and chords. These pitches we term 'diatonic.' Most often its the seven pitch relative major / minor group of pitches. These are the same pitches we use to spell its triads / chords. For by relating a triad to a key center, we quickly get its basic pitches and negotiate the rest from there. So,we picked "Oh Susanna" for our song in the key of 'C' major? Sure, let's build up our triad spelling chart.

Scale degree. So from the above discussion of diatonic we begin anew with seven pitches, upon each of which we can build a diatonic triad. That in each and any key center we can number the letter name pitches of our chosen, parent scale. We call these our scale degrees. Mostly one (1) through (8), which gives us our octave closure, we then simply fill in whatever letter name pitches of the key center we choose. Will these same 1 through 8 numbers apply as scale degrees to any of our 12 major / minor key centers? Yep. And if you understand this ya just got a bingo :) Examine the numbers of our scale degrees. Example 5.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Apply letter name pitches. Cool? Easy do yes? When we theorize within a key center, we can use these numerical designations to locate what we're talking about. Do these numbers also represent our root pitches for chord progressions as in One, Four and Five? Yes these are those numbers. Let's add in the letters that represent the notes of our chosen key center. We're thinking 'C' major here yes? Example 5a.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C

Ah, again the octave closure One through Eight. No loose ends allowed :) So now we've a corresponding number with a letter name for a pitch. So when cats talk about the first scale degree of 'C' major the pitch is 'C.' Sixth scale degree is 'A.' The third scale degree is 'E' etc. Cool? Surely rote memorize this number / pitch relationship. Got a hankering to master this? Write out and rote memorize this chart for our 12 major key centers. Minor key centers too? Sure why not.

Add arpeggio numbers / arpeggio degrees. Just like adding numbers to scale degrees, we can add numbers to our arpeggios too. We can simply call these our arpeggio degrees. These numbers open up our chord spelling abilities. We spell our chords in thirds, meaning we need to simply skip every other note in our stepwise scale. In doing so we create an arpeggio.

So do we skip every other number in our scale to create the arpeggio? Yep, but there's a twist in this as we ascend past and expand our octave closure interval to two full octaves. Really? Yep, we need two full octaves to work this chord spelling magic. Problems? Nope we do this all the time in our theory musings. Examine the new set of numbers. Example 5b.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15

So is this the source of '1, 3, 5?' Sure is. And 1, 3, 5 are the numericals for building our triads? Roger that Amigo. Let's add in the arpeggio letter names. Example 5c.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C

Clear as mud? Skipped every other letter of the scale to create the arpeggio. See the looping in the pitches of the octave closure? Can you imagine a 'C' between the 'B' and 'D' of the '7 and 9' numbers of the arpeggio? Is that where we get into the second octave? Sure is. Cool with this and you be golden as they say in some parts.

Rote learn. Just a suggestion here but consider rote learning the letter names of the 'C' major scale and then respelling these pitches into its arpeggio format. And in some ways, speed counts. Rote learn it so that you can spell the letters out in the blink of an eye, or two shakes of a lamb's tail if you live agrarian. Fast? Fast. Leaning towards jazz and soloing through chord changes? Run this bit through the 12 major key centers.

Chord quality / Roman numerals. In our next line of our triad spelling chart we layer in Roman numerals. Luckily with these we get two varieties; upper and lower case, just like our capitol or lower case letters. We theory scientists use these two varieties to designate whether our triad is major or minor in its aural color. Again back to the 'one through eight' sequence, examine the designations of our diatonic triads. Example 5d.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
I
ii
iii
IV
V
vi
vii
VIII

From the Roman numerals it looks like we get a few major triads and a few minor triads within each key center. Yep. Is this the legendary diatonic '3 and 3?' Sure is. Legendary in that 95 out of a 100 Americana songs are based on these six chords. And many of these don't even get to all six, but use just three. 'Three chords and the truth?' Yep. Three chords and the truth.

Let's spell the triads. So this chart works like this. We decide which chord we want to spell in the key center of 'C' major. Find that note as a scale degree. Then find that letter name note in the arpeggio which becomes the root pitch / 1 / One of the chord. We then read to the right to find its 3rd and 5th, completing the three notes of our triad. Let's spell the triad built on One in the key of 'C' major. Example 5e.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
I
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
diatonic triad
CEG
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Cool? Rocket science this is surely not but it is surely a game changer for our intellectual evolutions in understanding our musics. So the triad built on the 1st scale degree of the key of 'C' major is a major triad spelt 'C, E, G / 1 3 5 / a root, a 3rd and a 5th.

Spell the triad built on Two. So in spelling Two, we need a root, 3rd and 5th. Examine the chart. Example 5f.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
.
.
.
.
1
3
5
.
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
.
ii
.
.
.
.
.
.
diatonic triad
.
D F A
.
.
.
.
.
.

What? See how we moved the arpeggio degree numbers so that the #1 is above the letter name of the root pitch of the triad we're wanting to spell? Magic revealed? Magic revealed. Try for the Three chord?

Spell the triad built on Three. So in spelling Three, we need a root, 3rd and 5th. Examine the chart. Example 5g.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
.
1
3
5
.
.
.
.
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
.
.
iii
.
.
.
.
.
diatonic triad
.
.
E G B
.
.
.
.
.

Again we need to slide our arpeggios degree numbers to designate our 3rd scale degree as the root / One of the triad. The rest is a breeze n'est-ce pas?

Spell the triad built on Four. So in spelling Four, we need a root, 3rd and 5th. Examine the chart. Example 5h.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
.
.
.
.
.
1
3
5
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
.
.
.
IV
.
.
.
.
diatonic triad
.
.
.
F A C
.
.
.
.

Spell the triad built on Five. So in spelling Five, we need a root, 3rd and 5th. Examine the chart. Example 5h.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
.
.
1
3
5
.
.
.
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
.
.
.
.
V
.
.
.
diatonic triad
.
.
.
.
G B D
.
.
.

Spell the triad built on Six. So in spelling Six, we need a root, 3rd and 5th. Examine the chart. Example 5h.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
3
5
.
.
.
.
1
3
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
.
.
.
.
.
vi
.
.
diatonic triad
.
.
.
.
.
A C E
.
.

Seems we ran out of chart there. Did you figure out the necessary process? No worries really, we just loop back and keep on spelling. "All things music theory always loop back to their starting point for perfect closure." When we add colortones to the triads this'll happen a lot as we spell the pitches of the 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th chords. Cool?

Spell the triad built on Seven. So in spelling Seven, we need a root, 3rd and 5th. Examine the chart. Example 5h.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
.
.
.
1
3
5
.
.
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
.
.
.
.
.
.
vii
.
diatonic triad
.
.
.
.
.
.
B D F
.

Easy enough eh? And Eight takes us right back to where we started. Perfectly closed loop? Yep, perfectly closed.

The whole triad spelling tamale. Putting all of the charts together we can create our official 'essentials' chord spelling chart. Here in 'C' major, we can simply fill in whatever key center we need, major or minor, modes whatever, and work the same chord spelling magic. Example 6.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
I
ii
iii
IV
V
vi
vii
VIII
diatonic 7th chords
CEG
DFA
EGB
FAC
GBD
ACE
BDF
CEG

Now ain't that a beauty :) Master this chart and how it all works, and it can be a rather giant step forward for the emerging theorist. Spelling chords goes right along with improvisation, especially as we move from soloing over the changes and into a more 'soloing through the changes format.' This 'through the changes' is the jazz improv stylings that began to happen in the later 30's and forward, as players used the chord progressions of a song as a new basis for their creativity. Arpeggiating the pitches of the chords becomes the way non-chordal instruments; i.e., the horns, tell the harmonic story.

For those readers here leaning to jazz, we've a very thin but sure link to Charlie Parker through Jackie McLean, whom a dear friend here in AK had a chance to study with back in the 70's. During a lesson, McLean wrote this on the music under scrutiny. Example 6a.

'Spell' is the last of the three words in McLean's own handwriting, and we can just see the D major 7th arpeggio pitches in the measure on the left. So when shedding and sifting through for ideas, simply spelling the chords with his horn as the changes flow by is a way to look for and generate new ideas.

~ super theory game changer ~

Adding the 7th. As we evolve our understanding of number of pitches and musical style, the adding of the 7th to a triad leans our style meter towards the blues and jazz sounds that historically core one true root of our Americana musics. The basic evolution here is of course when we add a diatonic 7th to the Five chord, enabling V7 to come to fruition. This first addition of the 7th we can find in all of our musics; from songs for children into folk, bluegrass, country into pop and points beyond.

For even as this is a 'start' page for many readers, we should know right off of the tritone bearing V7 chord, that it is the core color of blues harmony. What is new and transitional here is that we add a 7th to each and every chord in song. So when blues morphs to jazz, musical possibilities blossom anew rather quickly for opportunities of exploration and expression.

The basis of adding the 7th is the same as in understanding the addition of any pitch; is is it one of seven diatonic pitches in a key center or one of the five associated blue notes. Thus a general rule of thumb throughout the library of musics; if the added 7th is not diatonic, we'll be able to make it into a blue note.

So in theory. So, continuing a bit further into the blues and jazz of our Americana theory, we can easily add the 7th to each of our diatonic triads. In doing so we evolve our chords beyond the three note triads that form the basis for traditional folk and country sounds, adding in some blues and begin to jazz things up.

In adding a 7th to a triad we open up a discussion of its chord type, additional color tones and chord substitution. Of course our musical styles will most likely transition as we move along this pathway. Once we get a sense of this structural 'type' of chord and create the three essential categories, our whole mathematically logical, perfectly closed, tuned and balanced system of pitches becomes infinitely more three dimensional.

For from this harmony perspective we in a sense begin a re-engineering of the historical and evolutionary process of melody moving into chords. We have the option to expand our harmonic palette of colors, think along the lines of creating a parent scale for each chord, and thus use our chords to generate melodies. So by just adding a 7th to a triad we get this paradigm shift of sorts? Pretty much amigo, adding the 7th is a portal for new colors to add into the mix, creating new ways to express the art in our hearts.

So adding the 7th to each of the diatonic triads is a snap really, as we'll just tack on the next pitch in the arpeggio to the three notes of the triad. Here's the 'tack on' process in bold type for our tonic, One, 'C' major 7th chord. Example 7.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
Imaj7
ii-7
iii-7
IVmaj7
V7
vi-7
vii-7
VIII
diatonic 7th chords
CEGB
DFAC
EGBD
FACE
GBDF
ACEG
BDFA
CEGB

Easy do yes? Here's the chart for spelling out the Two minor 7th chord. Example 7a.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
.
.
.
.
1
3
5
7
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
Imaj7
ii-7
iii-7
IVmaj7
V7
vi-7
vii-7
VIII
diatonic 7th chords
CEGB
DFAC
EGBD
FACE
GBDF
ACEG
BDFA
CEGB

Easy do yes? Here's the Five 7th chord. Example 7a.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
.
.
1
3
5
7
.
.
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
Imaj7
ii-7
iii-7
IVmaj7
V7
vi-7
vii-7
VIII
diatonic 7th chords
CEGB
DFAC
EGBD
FACE
GBDF
ACEG
BDFA
CEGB
Quick review. Easy do yes? Same for all of the triads? Yep. In any key? Yep. Major or minor? Yep. Call a tune, pick a key, build up its relative major / minor scale, arpeggiate this scale in thirds, pick your root pitch, locate that pitch and read to the right; 1, 3, 5, 7 and onward beyond. It's all about the 'slide' of the #1 of the arpeggio degrees sequence to find the root letter name of a chord, then read to the right as we would normally do with reading English words. The other color tones, associated with our fancier chords, follow the same process? Sure do, exact same process, every one of them :)

~ super theory game changer ~

The diatonic 3 and 3 ~ simply beyond amazing. Everyone reading here probably knows and if not soon will that we can and often do build up a chord on each of the seven unique pitches of a major scale. What's not commonly known so it seems is that six of these seven chords, split into two groups of three, become the One / Four / Five chords of both our relative major / natural minor key centers.

That in so much of our Americana musics, the diatonic One, Four and Five chords are the principle chords that motor a song along. Placed in various sequences, they drive a seemingly endless array of grooves through a wide spectrum of styles. One / Four and Five. 12 bar blues in both major and minor, perhaps the first best of many reasons to rote learn all of this. That we get this three chord group, in both major and minor, from one group of pitches is just downright a shame not to know right now. Termed in this Essentials work the 'diatonic 3 and 3, the sooner a cat digs into this and understands the magics, the sooner another step to their own Parnassus becomes manifest, is taken and conquered.

Clear Americana examples of One / Four / Five songs? Again the 12 bar blues form in both major and minor keys could be an easier start point, if necessary and rote learned. Any rockin' of anything in this 12 bar form is going to be cored on the 1, 4 and 5 chords. Minor song with variations? Motion to Four is the core of it all in all of the Americana musics we love

Take my word for it :) And if we mix these chords together, this 'diatonic 3 & 3', the 145 major / 145 minor chords into the same song somehow, we now cover the basic harmony of probably nine out of ten Americana songs, spanning through all of our musical styles. Throw in 'blues hue' chord or two and a modulation somewhere and we might be talkin' 10 out of 10 tunes here. The author's own "When You Coming Back" included in this work just by chance has 'em all :)

Dig this. Hip to the idea of 'relative major / minor scale? You mean the major scale? The diatonic scale? The natural minor scale? Aeolian mode? Ionian mode? Are these are all created with the exact same pitches? Yep, exact same pitches. This one group of pitches begets and weaves major and minor together and all of the above by simply starting from 2 different points within the same loop of pitches. Really? Yep. Exact same group of pitches just with lots of different start points thus handles (names). And there are more names if we add in more start points as in 'the modes within' yes? Yes there are, another four or five. Begin this mashup of vocab by examining the pitches of G major / E minor, our guitar's structural core of pitches and key centers. Example 8.

scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
G major
G
A
B
C
D
E
F#
G
G diatonic
G
A
B
C
D
E
F#
G
G Ionian
G
A
B
C
D
E
F#
G
E relative minor
E
F#
G
A
B
C
D
E
E natural minor
E
F#
G
A
B
C
D
E
E Aeolian
E
F#
G
A
B
C
D
E

Not too shabby; half dozen groups with the same letter name pitches. Why all the different names? The naming of each group is mostly historical or geographically generated, or both. Any modal name is way old and from Europe. G major is the common vernacular among folk, country and bluegrass stylings. When 'relative' enters, here comes some theory usually. From the chart we see that coolness does reign in the simplicity of our letter pitch organizations, it's the labeling of that can often create initial confusion. And how's your knowledge of the fingerboard and the letter names of the pitches these days? Can you find the 'G' / 'E' relatives on your chosen instrument? Might be time to lock it all together; pitch location and theory, when understanding the theory is just so straight forward for those so curious :)

And for the chords? With a refinement in tuning of the natural scale, additional coolness awaits as the diatonic 3 and 3 is built right up from these very same pitches. The 145 major chords come from the major scale and the 145 minor come from the pitches of the natural minor group. Examine the pitches. Example 8a

scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
G major
G
A
B
C
D
E
F#
G
arpeggio pitches
G
B
D
F#
A
C
E
G
One / G major
G
B
D
.
.
.
.
.
Four / C major
.
.
.
.
.
C
E
G
Five / D major
.
.
D
F#
A
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
E minor
E
F#
G
A
B
C
D
E
arpeggio
E
G
B
D
F#
A
C
E
One / E minor
E
G
B
.
.
.
.
.
Four / A minor
.
.
.
.
.
A
C
E
Five / B minor
.
.
B
D
F#
.
.
.

Ever seen such a layout of the pitches in this manner? This is a common way to chart up and spell out the letter name pitches of the diatonic chords. Created from the perspective of the 'G' major center, then 'E' natural minor, we measure and numerically label each of the pitches from 'G' and 'E', both of which assumes the position of One to locate the root pitches for the 1, 4 and 5 chords, then spell out their triads in the usual manner from their diatonic arpeggio layout.

Author's note. This adding of the numbers to represent letters is nothing short of potentially game changing for the emerging theorist. Using numbers instead of letters allows us to project most any theory ideas, principles or combinations of pitches equally from any of the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale, advancing our understanding of the entire system. And as we add more pitches into the mix; more pitches in melodies, more chords / color tones in a song's progression, subdivision of the beat and measures in our form, our style of music evolves from the folk side through blues, country, rock and pop and on into jazz.

Cool isn't it? Two sets of One / Four / Five chords, one major, one minor from the same pitches. The ultimate sets of threes for the Americana harmony mix and match. No end to the chord progressions they might create in all of our styles. Super rote learn these ideas and chords for maximum success. Example 8b.

Wow, in this one musical graphic we get a variety of theory coolness. Diatonic relative pitches and keys, the upper (major) and lower (minor) case Roman numeral chord degree symbols, standard notation of the pitches, string tab note locators and line grids for chord shapes.

As these chords generously allow for, do consider working in some fingerpicking to help locate your single line melodies from within these big open chords. Sing, hum or buzz along with your melody to get it just how you want it to sound, feel and flow. Make it all dance :) Bass lines often begin by just playing the roots of the chords. Then by using the other diatonic pitches as passing tones between the roots of the chords in a song's chord progression, creating a story line.

So did you already have these chord shapes under your fingers? Cool. No, then just learn them here if need be. In learning new chord shapes; try to slowly strum each chord just a time or two then move to the new shape, strum once and move to next shape etc. So simply back and forth till the new shape is mastered. The strumming is usually the easy part, making the fingers change between the chord shapes the challenge.

OK with the last barre chord B minor in the last idea? Here it is again. As it is the same core shape as A minor just up two frets, the index finger becoming the barre replacing the nut of the open strings. Evolving open chords to the movable barre chords is often a dramatic step for the evolving guitarist, rockers take note.

Coolness with the relative chords. As mentioned above, these six chords provide the gist of the harmony for all our Americana musics. While of course not always in G major / E minor, most folk through pop styled tunes are based on combinations or chord progressions of these six diatonic chords. A capo often employed to reset the pitches for any other key.

For bass, in this sort of diatonic chord motion, connecting the roots of the chords with various rhythm patterns creates a bassline that tells many a song's story. Rote learn these changes by pitch letter name and by ear, there's only six so fairly easy.

This next idea finds two quite common ways of working the E minor triad, which is built on the sixth scale degree of G major, into the One / Four / Five of G major. Both are used in a lot of memorable songs. Example 8c.

More coolness with the relative chords. This next idea has all six diatonic chords woven together into an four bar phrase which ends with a deceptive cadence. Ex. 8d.

Cool ? Cool. Just stepwise motion moving up the scale and building a triad on each scale degree. Notice that one chord is missing? Where's Seven? Seven is a diminished triad that is rarely in these diatonic progressions. In these styles of music, way more common to find the triad built on Seven as part of the dominant Five 7 chord, which in the key of 'G' major makes for D7. Examine the pitches and their sounds. Example 8e.

scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
G major
G
A
B
C
D
E
F#
G
arpeggio
G
B
D
F#
A
C
E
G
arpeggio # degrees
.
.
.
1
3
5
.
.
Seven / F# minor
.
.
.
F#
A
C
.
.
arpeggio # degrees
.
.
1
3
5
7
.
.
Five / D7
.
.
D
F#
A
C
.
.

Sounds common enough yes? Cool with the open D7 shape? Remember we're just trying to get at the theory of the pitches etc. Where a thing comes from, its own purely diatonic basis. Cool with the term diatonic and what it can imply? Oh, and can we add a 7th to any of our diatonic chords? You bet. Click to explore adding the 7th's or see what's next right here ...

~ super theory game changer ~

Play our music by ear. A lot of the traditions we share and pass to each new generations is by ear. Either orally telling a story with our voices in words and, aurally telling our stories through making music. Generally termed 'playing by ear', we hear music and simply figure out how to recreate it on our chosen instrument.

And while we surely do see Americana players reading written music in performance, most often these are jazz leaning musicians. See folk, rock, country or blues players reading the music while performing? No not too often. Maybe reading the words to the song. If there's a string section in pop music performances those cats are reading. Studio or session musicians in really any style, working in recording sessions? Many are solid solid readers of standard musical notation.

So to start to learn to play by ear, find a melody or two that goes deep into your own music history, sing some of the melody then find and sound out these pitches on your instruments. Build it all out from there one phrase at a time. Once you've got the line under your fingers, sing different interpretations, jazz em' up, add some of your own mojo juice, be overly theatrical in your vocalizations and then discover how to impart these 'nuances' with your fingers. This is a basis of making Americana musics. This is also the basis of creating your own unique sound, an artistic signature as they say in the biz :) Click the link for a dozen or so 'melodies by ear' suggestions.

~ super theory game changer ~

Major or minor? Can you distinguish between the sound of something major and something minor? If so, the show is over, move right along :) If not, then surely take a minute to begin to understand this two-part distinction as nearly everything we musically own; our scales, arpeggios, chords, keys and songs in our Americana music is really one or the other, major or minor. That we often play one off another and balance between the two in one song is also super common in most of our styles. Hearing the difference is a step in one's ascent to their Parnassus.

For the emerging theorist, try to distinguish between our major and minor chords / triads sounds by ear? Click on the following icons and see if you can. Example 9.

#1
#2
#3
#4

Answers. Hold up to mirror :) ronim / rojam / rojam / ronim.

Well how did you do? Get a few? Get them all? Miss them all? Miss them all but reverse? That's a good sign :) Try them again? Keep trying and by the close of this discussion and through the main page major / minor link to the right I predict you'll be on the road to major / minor aural recognition perfection! Regardless, do take the link on the right to a rather full nuts and bolts examination of this essential major / minor dichotomy.

~ super theory game changer ~

Twelve pitches of the chromatic scale. So how many eggs in a dozen? How many numbers representing the hours on the face of an old fashioned clock? How many different pitches in our musical system? Number of pitches in the chromatic scale? If you're thinking along the lines of 12, cool and all is well here in downtown theoryville. For in theory, 12 is all we get.

We've initially two basic ways to organize this entire grouping of our pitches. One is going to be stepwise or scaler, termed the chromatic scale, a symmetrical scale built exclusively the half step interval, one fret on our guitars. Click the music and sing along with the 12 unique chromatic scale pitches. Example 10.

Notice how some of the pitches in the descending group have flat accidentals while the ascending uses a sharp (#) to designate pitch? Cool, both of course are correct. We term these pitches enharmonic equivalents; that a 'C#' is the same as 'Db.' And while flats tend to go down while sharps go up, the actual accidental used to identify any pitch is best determined by the key center of the music we are looking to understand.

A second way to present our 12 letter name notes is to create a picture of pitches resembling the face of our clocks, which we call a cycle of fifths. We often use this depiction in talking about key signatures, the basis of our diatonic, tonally centered view of the theory. Ex. 10a.

Cool? 12 pitches no more no less, in theory anyway. Thus empowered we've our arms completely around our pitch resource. That all of our musical components for making music in any style become available from with this closed and tuned loop of pitches.

~ super theory game changer ~

Improv. In the musical styles you dig to listen to and aspire to perform, is there improvisation in the mix? Do you get to 'take a lead' and spontaneously create your part during sections of the song? Americana music styles each have their own improvised parts, and there is a span of degrees of how much the music is improvised. From the folk end of the spectrum and on through into pop, with the melody line most often sung with words, most of the music we hear, especially performed live, is created from rote memory of each of the musicians.

Players rote learned their parts and then collaborate their memories all together in real time into one consciousness to make the music come alive. So in a sense they're improvising their parts in real time but playing their parts by heart. Based on memory, focus and concentration, this process of re-creating from memory with others is probably the coolest thing we get to do as musical artists. Projecting this collective thought process to create other community and communal activities, it maybe the coolest part about being two legged critters.

Stronger players in these creative realms get more ride time. As we move along our spectrum away from folk and into the country and especially the bluegrass sounds and styles, instrumental breaks become more and more of a feature in performance. Players often spending some serious shedding time building up their improv chops, licks, ditties and how it all fits together. History has always recorded these players in some form or another from whom we can study.

Jam. To jam is something many players just dig to do. In these sessions, cats bring their rote memorized music skills and collaborate their parts unrehearsed, their ears are their guide to the musical part they create to contribute to the mix. Theory plays a role in helping the artist understand the music around them and helping them find ways into the jam. These sessions historically have created many new bands, as like minded players get a chance to meet new artists and find players they groove well with. The usual looseness of the sessions encourage explorations oftentimes not encouraged in other performance settings enabling like minded artists to explore together, often beginning new friendships that encourage making new art together.

In blues and jazz. While all of our styles will follow a musical form in a song, in the 12 bar form of blues and various larger forms of jazz, spontaneous improvisation is a fair share of the performance time. In many settings it is expected and anticipated as each soloist gets a turn to 'cut loose' and create / improvise on the energy of the song being performed in their own unique way. Taking a full turn or two of a song's form, termed a 'chorus', is the basis here and the beginning point for emerging artists.

While these improv parts are mostly improvised anew each time by the artist, there's in most cases a lot of preparation to do this. And more so with jazz than the blues. In both musics, when under the lights and called upon to solo, it's just time to bring it. A super easy way to begin to improvise is by creating variations on the theme of the song being played and the mimicking of ideas between soloist and backing band, a back and forth dialogue often termed call and response.

Over or through the changes. This 'either or' is where the theory becomes a solid way into understanding and creating your own improv magic. We use the term 'changes', which is a slang word for the chords of a song, and soloing 'over or through' the chords is the basic fork in the road theorywise. Soloing over the changes covers just about all of styles excepting jazz where cats start a new conversation about 'inside / outside.'

Jazz, through the changes. In the jazz traditions of improv, there's a real legacy of creating improvised lines whose pitches are a direct reflection of the pitches of each chord as they pass by. To hear the chord changes in the improvised line becomes the goal many strive for. This is the 'inside' playing mentioned just above. The pitches of the improvised melody are 'inside' the pitches that make up the chords. Compare the two motions of One to Four and then the improv lines they might generate. Jot down the changes. Example 11.

So the jazz changes (chords) simply may provide more of a harmonic opportunity for expression. These the ones you jotted down? Example 11a.

Would someone play this jazz styled idea over the vanilla changes of One to Four ...? Maybe, I know I never did. For when I was playing over 145 changes I just didn't know there was a Two chord of the even the tritone suspension within V7. So do more chord changes generally mean more pitches in the line? Usually. We can clearly track this in the literature. Well, more harmonic opportunity has translated into more pitches for sure. For our Americana blues jazz helix has evolved.

The jazz artist is often looking for more of a harmonic challenge as a basis for their ideas. Remember, that as you read this here, we've a 100 years or so of Americana musical evolutions. We've a since very solid 75 years now of artistry where cats divvy up the harmony of the diatonic pie, maximize the number of chords in a phrase, then accelerate the tempo and play through these chord changes in all manner of ways; scales, triads, arpeggios, sequences, permutations, blues licks even the melody of the song :) The melody! Imagine that. So maximum diatonic harmony in the fastest tempos? Bebop? Yep. Dig this boppish chordal motion from One to Four. Root pitches in melody create guide tone line for the changes. In 'F' major. Example 11b.

11 of the 12. Got seven of the 12 pitches in the roots of the chords. They must be the seven diatonic notes of 'F' major. Yep they are. So we need a 'C#' for the 'A7' bar 2, a 'B' for the 'G7' bar 3, an 'Eb' for the 'F7' bar 4 and an 'F#' for the 'D7' bar 6. So four more pitches plus 7 makes 11, out of our 12 pitches total, to make the chords for just one, eight bar phrase. Cool. The remaining pitch ...? Ab, the key of 'F' major's fave blue note :)

The importance of understanding diatonic. In soloing through the changes we might get our most important lesson as to why understanding 'diatonic' solves a ton of our improvisational mysteries. For as we create improvised melodic lines using the pitches of the chords, knowing their overall diatonic origins is a huge help in generating pitches, what we term a 'parent scale.'

Arpeggios play a big part in this process both in our day to day improv and historically as well, as they clearly outline the harmony of a song. As our jazz music has evolved over the decades, evolution of the harmony has helped to increase tempos, raising the excitement of the music for players, listeners and dancers alike. It also raises the bar for the jazz artist.

Improv 101, theme and variations. To begin this process here, rote learn this theme and combine it with singing the idea and sounding it out on your ax. Once under the fingers, vocalize new variations of the lick and just find these on your chosen ax. By recreating this age old process, you are now officially improvising and creating new art from your heart, articulated by our voices and spoken out through your instrument. Your voice / play / creative basis is limitless factor here. Here's the lick with a popular variation from the Latin stylings. Example 11c.

Sense the pattern in the pitches? Each of the pitches in the theme approached by step from above in the variation. Each an episode within the lick.

In minor. Similar idea here but in the relative, natural minor key to 'C' major, 'A' minor. Example 11d.

Again, sense the pattern in the pitches? This time we group in three notes and ascend stepwise. Five episodes to close the line of a four bar phrase. Isn't the four bar phrase at the core of it all? What's 'it?' Onward we go :)

Sequencing. In music, the term sequence means the same as in other arts; that a series of events follow a definite pattern of order as designed by an artist. Finding a melodic cell you dig and sequencing it through various filters is as an organic way to start your musical journey as any ever devised. Why? It's just what we do as peeps I think; that all of life's facets are sequences of events in a regular order. It's among the coolest thing we probably can do as a sentient being, to create artistic sequences.

For in truth we do tend to sequence near everything in our lives and when applied to our life doings, we very often end up getting important things done. Sequencing in and of itself creates an energy. In it's repetitions it charges up and creates a sense of forward motion and natural closure of form that is potentially all self balancing. Helping to achieve balance is our artistry and over our careers is our journey :)

As an artist matures the elements to be balanced and their juxtaposition into art also mature, and an increasing complexity is not at all uncommon. The Beethoven string quartets would be an illuminating Euro example of this evolution, of an artist's reaching for a greater complexity of elements to work with over their lifelong career span. Surely this evolutionary arc is also clear as day in our own Americana with Coltrane; whose evolution to a 12 tone system of blue notes evolved from a colossal ability to create improvised dialogue 'inside' the changes.

With this in mind, this START page begins our sequencing studies with two ideas. First is the three notes of the triads, the basis of our chords, their pitches sequenced from each note of an ascending major scale. Example 12.

Second is a descending, four note melodic sequence of the natural minor scale. Example 12a.

Cool? These two sequences contain bits or whole chunks that will fit in lots of musical places. And with some transposition to close keys and permutations, these two sequences combine to become a lot of musical resource for a wide range of the Americana sounds we love. Can any idea be sequenced? Probably. And beyond the diatonic realm? Oh yea, that's part of a jazz players skill set; anything from anywhere. Along these lines, here's a major pentatonic group of pitches cycled through a minor 3rd, perfect 4th filter. Example 12b.

Coltrane's "Giant Steps" changes? Post bop symmetry? Yep. A pinnacle of Americana compositional evolution. It is included in the in The Real Book volume 1 where I first got hip. The author's most fave changes for improv after the 12 bar blues? "Giant Steps?" Probably, while fairly easy to rote learn it's still super tricky and often played quickly like the original recording, it's just such an exciting and challenging improv thought process :)

~ super theory game changer ~

Finding the top of the form. For the emerging artist wanting a better understanding of their music, so much of learning can be facilitated by exc

 

hanging the letter names of pitches for a numerical representation of the pitch. The trick to doing this is that we choose one pitch as a tonal center, and create a diatonic key center group of pitches to support the center pitch. This central pitch becomes One, and all other pitches are 'measured' as intervals from this note.

 
 
 
 
 

~ super theory game changer ~

By the numbers. For the emerging artist wanting a better understanding of their music, so much of learning can be facilitated by exchanging the letter names of pitches for a numerical representation of the pitch. The trick to doing this is that we choose one pitch as a tonal center, and create a diatonic key center group of pitches to support the center pitch. This central pitch becomes One, and all other pitches are 'measured' as intervals from this note.

Also termed the 'tonic' pitch, this One / tonic pitch is the central note and core of the diatonic realm. Most if not all of our Americana musics are of the diatonic realm where the diatonic pie is the soup de jour :) Examine the following chart as we line up the rows of numbers that we need for transformation. Example 13.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
triad # / quality
I
ii
iii
IV
V
vi
vii
VIII

Scale degrees. "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8." Know this row of numbers? Cool. Super common. The first set, one through eight is the set in stone foundation from all the way back and spans one full octave. Most commonly associated with the natural major / relative natural minor group of pitches spanning the one octave, a 'scale degree' is quite simply a numerical equivalent for a letter name pitch. Thinking 'C' major examine the pairing of pitch numbers and letters over the span of one octave. Example 13a.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C

Thinking 'A' natural minor. Example 13b.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
A minor scale
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A

Descending scales one full octave. Example 13c.

descending C major scale
descending A minor scale

We can use the same numerics for any of our relative groups of pitches. Moving up a whole step, same numbers apply; D major / B minor. Ex. 13d.

Thinking 'D' major. Example 13a

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
D major scale
D
E
F#
G
A
B
C#
A

Thinking 'B' minor. Example 13a

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
B minor scale
B
C#
D
E
F#
G
A
B
ascending D major scale
ascending B minor scale

Scale degrees will apply to any key center. Any group of pitches, scale or mode even. Most times it is numbered one through eight but not always. Number identities of the blue notes might need some wiggle; sharp Four / flat Nine etc. Just try to be flexible and use what works for you now to better understand your own musics. The rote learn key to lock in with scale degree is the octave span. So if we stay with the 'C' major scale and its full octave eight scale degrees, we should be able to create eight arpeggio degrees yes ?

Arpeggio degrees. "1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15." Know this number sequence yet? Not quite to Fibinachi's just yet as we are just skipping every other number but absolutely still needing to have all eight to work the magic. Eight scale degrees give us eight arpeggio degrees. Thus in both the perfect octave closure. With scales one full octave. With arpeggios; two. This key theory concept is subtly reflected in the numbers. Compare the two sets. Example 13d.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15

So if Eight is the scale degree one full octave above One and between Seven and Nine of the arpeggio there's usually an Eight. Need two full octaves to get to Fifteen? Yep, two full octaves to create the perfect arpeggio closure as with the scale degrees. Examine the same scale pitches now presented in their arpeggio format. Example 13e.

arpeggio #'s
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C

Quick review. Making sense? Simply skipping notes and adding a second octave to cover the notes we skipped. Rapidly articulated arpeggios tell the tale for the single note lines of any style really. For the jazz artist they can be the bread or the butter. And it turns out the our Americana arpeggio kings were also the game changers in the evolution of the Americana jazz.

Triad quality. 'Roman numerals.' The last set of numbers in this discussion to replace the letter name pitches with numbers within a key center is to identify the diatonic triads we build on each scale degree. Here we use the same Aramic numbers One through octave Eight for scale degrees and One through Eight upper (major) and lower case (minor) Roman numerals for the triads. Examine the two ancient systems of identifying the same numerical positions. Example 14.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
triad # / quality
I
ii
iii
IV
V
vi
vii
VIII

Bolts right up! Tis simply an amazing thing. So for us theory scientists, once we're cool with this transition of symbols, letters to numbers, the golden road of unlimited devotion is revealed. We can easily follow its pathway to illuminate the essential 'diatonic 3 and 3' ideas as we outlined above. In the meantime, dig the diatonic triads One through Eight in 'F' major. Going up! Ex. 14a.

Sound about right? 'F' major is just a very lovely guitar key to bring out some very warm and rootsy Americana musics. And just two voicings create the six chords of the 'diatonic 3 and 3.' And Seven? Seven can be the portal to all things beyond the diatonic and in truth, there's just way too much to 'explainin' for this start page. Oh well, we have those pages and discussions too and all just a click or two away :)

Turns out 'F' major is also an elevator key for getting us all the way to the top floor of the Diatonic 'F' Building. Like the blues elevator? Or the pentatonic one? All going up? Yep, and down too. All of these device; scale, arpeggio and chord shapes, are just a puzzle of shapes to get us up and down the fingerboard. Do these 'puzzles of shapes' also loop back to their starting points? Sure do. When we filter them through their diatonic source or any consistent interval pattern they all surely do. Just as with the pitches, the idea of 'closed loops' of pitches applies to all our various guitar shapes as well. Even rhythm patterns want to loop back to their starting points. Musical forms too. No end to this looping and closure perfection unless of course we ...

Numbers review. So have a sense of how we correlate numbers and letters to identify and arrive at our tonal destinations within a key center? Cool. Fairly straight forward as the numbers lend their precision to the whole identifying process. Yet while with actual music, our pitches still get some descent wiggle room with the hammer-ons, bending, tapping, slide and open tunings with or without a whammy bar :)

So if you now better understand how the numbers correlate to the letter names of the pitches you are using now, I've probably earned your price of admission here in this one lesson. For the long term, this one bit of magic is a game changer equal to any other really and I'm glad I was the one to hip to these changes :)

For once we have arrived to this step of numerical understanding our musics, all the magics we discover and apply to any pitch, scale, arpeggio, chord whatever can be transferred to any of our 12 key centers. For instance, any embellishment to a One chord in a song written in the key of 'C' major can also apply to the One chord in other songs in a different key as well.

We can then study One as a single component, learn things associated aspects such as inversions and color tones, and then try these One chord attributes in other similar places within our library of musics. Like learning a new chord shape? Exactly. Is this discussion now about function? It sure is. That in the creation of the artistic tension and its release in our musics we, can numerically describe the function of a component? Absolutely.

Play a different song in a different key in a different style in a different tempo with a different, different, different ... ? Excellent chance that our 'One' chord knowledge will transfer directly and apply to the One chord in any different 'whatever.' And this is fundamentally the basis of a modern guitarist? Tis is indeed, with practice :)

So the various properties surrounding Five / V7 apply to any V7 chord in any key or style? Yep. So a G7 in the key of 'C' major chord becomes V7. And that V7 chord has a triad build up and color tone possibilities that apply to all V7 chords found in any of our 12 key centers. Yep. So just like using a capo or barre chords to change keys and keep the same chord shapes, our numerical thinking evolves our understanding by thinking along the lines of a 'type' of chord, a rhythm, phrase, that we often see again and again in our musics.

In this view, understanding our own music becomes a study of what pitches we generally use in relation to our key center pitch or tonic / One. Folk players will have the diatonic 3 and 3, blues cats the One, Four and Five chords, blue notes measured from the tonic pitch of the song and a couple of rhythm patterns easily counted out with numbers. Rock and pop often combine these elements and begin to venture into the color tones, easily identified by number as measured from our root pitch. Jazz players will rote learn this whole numerical tamale, as the music often demands a streamlined approach to the theory as similar elements come up again and again in the music, such as the Two / Five / One progression. Surely there's some numerical goodness to facilitate the music making and understanding in all styles.

Once numerically empowered, as theorists we can then be encouraged to talk about the tonal gravity between pitches and further, their aural predictability variables across our spectrum of musical styles. We can more easily understand #15 and where it can take us beyond the diatonic 'commons' so to speak.

There's truly many many correlations between music and math. As math is a numerical representation of science, everything from the diatonic ideas described above to the physical measurement of musical sound waves, the basis of our tuning the pitches, numbers of measures in musical forms, ratios of intervals to determine aural purity of pitch, sequences of numbers in arpeggios and their color tones, there's just a lot to explore and discover here for math minded and curious artists in general. So just rote learn these next three stands of symbols and what they represent for understanding our music, even right here and now, and chances are you'll remember them forever :) Here are the symbols paired up again in review. Writing them out a couple of times will usually always help the rote learning process. Example 14b.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
triad # / quality
I
ii
iii
IV
V
vi
vii
VIII

Cool? Question? Post to Jacmuse on Facebook?

~ super theory perspective game changer ~

Musical styles and reinventing the old into new. Having now examined a bit of the pitches and their organization into scales, arpeggios and chords, let's go through each of the broad categories of the Americana styles and see which of the pitches play the largest role in creating each of the styles. To start off, dig the core Essentials philosophy pitch theory of musical style in chart form; the additive letter name pitch process and corresponding evolution of style. Our spectrum of the Americana sounds manifests. The pitches, example 1.

12 total # of pitches
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
1 ...
scale degree #'s
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
5
#5
6
b7
7
8

children's songs (5)

C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
(A)
.
.
C

folk (6)

C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
.
C

blues and rock (6)

C
.
.
Eb
.
F
.
G
.
.
Bb
.
C
pop (7)
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C
jazz (12)
C
C#
D
Eb
E
F
F#
G
Ab
A
Bb
B
C

Five to six pitch melodies / children's songs and traditional folk, country and bluegrass musics. Telling stories through the lyrics of the song with a fingerstyle or light pick, a strumming or back on the nails fanning technique on the guitar to back up the voice. Mostly in 4/4 time, with mostly five note pentatonic melodies (+1) over diatonic triads, with a 7th on Five. Three chords and the truth is very common for a complete song. As is the mixing of the three major and three minor chords created from the diatonic scale (the diatonic 3 and 3).

The musical forms of these styles are connecting up four and eight bar phrases repeated, and in longer stories and songs, written into the 16 and 32 bar song forms, so the A/A/B/A or A/B etc., of sonata allegro. Not a whole lot of improvisation until this moves toward the country or especially the bluegrass stylings, then look out. For solo breaks, bending pitches and improv become way more common and the instrumental wizardry of the players starts to bring the house down like the vocals and stories being told. Nearly all in this grouping of genres have a hook, in the melody line or words, or both combined.

Blues and rock. Mostly in 4/4 time with a 2 and 4 backbeat (especially on the snare drum), with mostly pentatonic melodies over diatonic changes which in the blues are often all V7 chords. Rock players, especially in the later 60's and into the 70's of classic rock, tend to use minor pentatonic color with some blue hue over either both major and minor triads / 7th chords, probably the oldest trick in the book to sound cool right now :)

Blues artists hang way deeper into the pitches of the basic blues scale, the minor pentatonic five + a tritone, regardless of the changes. Bending every pitch in an improvised line is not uncommon and our favorite players in these genres often do just that, where every pitch struck has a 'something' added. Iambic pentameter often shapes vocal phrases and the words of a four bar phrase, and three, four bar phrases combined, makes for the 12 bar blues form, which is the most common.

Many of the early rock tunes are also the 12 bar blues form, "Johnny B. Goode" et al. Blues music and blue's hued stylings evolve simply by working deeper into diatonic chord changes towards a more pop and rhythm and blues stylings, while accelerating the tempos and working chord substitutions into the mix create a jazzy direction with passing chords and half step motions.

Rock takes us all over the map. While rock most often hits on one, the downbeat, there's always a 2 and 4 backbeat hit to dance to. From a 12 bar early electric blues rockin' good time tear it up to more theatrical and show group of later decades, where even classical influences are woven into the magic, there are myriad ways and possibilities many for the creative rocker. With dozens and dozens of sub genres and all varying degrees of improvisation, rock music is just a good way to be creative, express oneself and have some fun. That the music is historically blues based, and depending on the strength of the individual players involved and what they can bring, rock music is very inclusive even with just using a couple of chords and pitches, for an artist with some energy, a story to tell and an audience that wants to jump around a bit and have some fun.

classical influence

Metal. Understanding metal music follows in the Americana traditions of all of the above styles combined while looking forward through the most modern electric gear available, sci-fi modern as I've heard it described. Yet, still the original Americana big 4 march is again accented on 2 and 4, creating the backbeat for the pull of swing. Metal melodies and lines often evolve from the eighth note swing to sixteenth note prolation of fusion, while generally faster tempos move the dancing towards, the mosh for those so inclined.

Metal artists love to add in odd meter ideas (phrases) in the arrangements, offsetting the 4/4 mainstay grooves temporarily in distinctly unison riffing fusion sections. So all of the artists are playing the same lick together; in unison. Unison lines make for incredibly epic music. Very electric in both impact and gear, which for metal guitar features tons of sustain. Drum's advancements include specialized hardware for special effects, all fully mic'd and all run through giant mixers and P.A.'s. Same for bass, a thundering BOOM in unison perfect pitch and rhythmic synch. Singers are often shouters too, which through a giant P.A. gets everyone's attention. For there's a raging in metal that just works better LOUD and thus, is all the rage :)

Creating metal guitar music nowadays is perhaps first and foremost just a lot about chops. While everybody in the band really has to be solid, guitar is often the leader with the melodies. That faster adds more wow factor is really just historically correct. Like bop for the jazzers? Exactly. Bop's 190 / 230 and on up tempos gets the improv barreling right on through the changes :) Metal digs the power of everyone in the band ripping off blistering lines as loud as possible, be good listeners and do the homework. Very very cool but be very very very careful of your stereo hearing mechanism.

Chords in the shredding sections are often just fifth's, so no 3rd in the triads to determine major or minor. Which thanks to their two pitch construction help them to move rapidly about the neck as well as process well through the shredding gear. Acoustic interludes are creatively boundless in expressive regards, though open tunings are kind of rare it seems (?). I honestly do not know.

major and minor triads

the gear

open tunings

So while the overall sound is still quite blues based in theory, at least pitch wise, chord progressions are often minor pentatonic based, melodies of 'three in one minor' and the tritone / #4 / b5 is sounded in various ways all over the style. Lots of one fret half steps sounds in metal licks. Just gives them a bit more of the exotic, pushing boundaries a bit and hair raising moments :)

pentatonic groups

three in one minor

a tritone

#4 / b5

a tritone interval

a one pitch tritone

a two pitch tritone

~ in theory ... ~

~ the five pitches of minor pentatonic + one pitch octave split tritone = the six notes of the blues scale yes? ~

~

minor pentatonic + tritone

Vocal melodies in metal are also mostly of the minor pentatonic pitches while more the modern lead lines of today we often find a lot of chromatic motion, thus by half step, creating a de-tuned sense of tonic, thus all 12 of our pitches come into play. Scaler lines often blur on by while sweep picking the arpeggios creates that 'sheets of sound' effect originated by Coltrane in the late 50's.

1/2 steps ~ chromatic motion

all 12 pitches

sweep picking

scales / arpeggios

Coltrane

Pop / Dance / Club. Mostly in 4/4 time with the 2 and 4 back beat groove (snare drum) gradually evolving through the decades becoming the steady 4 beats to the bar pulse (synth) of club in the last 10 years or so. Pop music is mostly created from the seven pitches of the major scale, both in melody and of course in the harmony, where its pitches are tuned up to equal temper. It is a storytelling form, usually love stories, and it lives on its hooks, those catchy riffs that get stuck in our heads that help make our everyday same old just a wee bit brighter, fun and done with love.

There is some improvisation in pop, especially in live shows, but most soloing becomes the lines everyone knows from the record. Most times cats just play the melody or hook of the tune. Good for business :) These riffs often become classic eight bars of total thought out and perfected coolness, usually with a unique and unmistakable tone that pop players strive to capture when performing live (actually must have if the want to keep the gig). For guitar players, this in itself is a real challenge; for to get the right tone and effect from off the record is often a lot of wires and dials these days, but then to 'pull up that patch' quickly with a couple of clicks while on the bandstand is often a whole 'nother ongoing challenge they face.

For as the new tunes come out and get their airplay, the ladies start to croon 'em and the rest as they say, is history. New tunes could mean a new guitar sound, so new mixing of existing colors, something tried and true, or something completely new, often in the same tune. Top 40 guitar players, while getting a built right in 'keeping it fresh' factor from the radio thus also get a ton of homework to keep up with this week's top 40, which can be from a half dozen genres; hip hop, country, adult contemporary, R&B, smooth jazz, dance electronica :)

Vocal ballads still often rule pop music's day, as torch songs fill the dance floor with couples on any given night. Songs of enduring love and commitment that idealize our love for one another. Pop music is often learned and played right off the recordings, for lots of folks just want to hear their music the way they recognize it from their faves, so they can follow along and never loose their groovy :) Back in the days of Tin Pan Alley, sheet music was all the rage. And while there's still songbooks out there for artists, a lot of this has gone digital, with audio and video taking the place of sheet music in general. These formats provide the platform for learning songs right 'off the record.'

A top 40 club pro drummer once described pop music to me as the songs the office girls heard all week on the radio at work and then wanted to hear on Saturday night, when they'd get all dolled up to go out dancing and have a night on the town. Thus the 'pop' within 'popular.' With the advent of the radio in the 20's and later with Elvis on the scene in the 50's, pop music has evolved as our culture has evolved, the music reflecting the changes through the decades of Americana.

the radio

Like rock, we've lots of pop sub genres, various crossovers and pollinations between all of the styles into hook based, catchy tunes, which oftentimes become BIG money makers, while the stars set new fashion trends and it all keeps the ladies busy staying current and then up and dancing on Saturday nights ... 'I'd like to hear some funky Dixieland' ... :)

the $ loot

'I'd like to hear some funky Dixieland'

Dixieland

Jazz. Mostly in 4/4 time, the ess-Americana big 4 with accented 2 and 4 back beat groove combine together to become the essential motoring components of the swing magic of jazz. That jazz tempos are brighter than in all of the other styles combined excepting bluegrass, which of course often times cooks right along too. The big difference here is that jazz is a 12 tone music while bluegrass is near pure diatonic, even if a bit blues hued at times.

Jazz melodies and harmony are relative major / minor based, and unlike the vast majority of songs the other styles, jazz songs fully modulate or change keys in the course of their storytelling. Harmony is built to near always include the 7th and beyond which opens up our discussions for chord type. On top of this there is a polytonal aspect as well as a continuous 'borrowing' of pitches and chords from other key centers that jazz up the music so to speak. originally blues based, all the blue notes are always in play :)

Jazz evolution historically has been about exhausting the outer reaches of diatonic harmony, evolving complexity of key schemes and recently towards a true chromatic buzzing of melodic line. World influences, especially the Latin grooves are dominant nowadays as they dance so well and open up an even 8th note style for the soloist. That 'even 8th's turn out swing just as well in the earlier more traditional grooves, while a real challenge to master is pure swing magic. There is near always a blues grounding somewhere in the music although poppier jazz less so. Many jazz artists simply dig the excitement of the tempos, the sense of swing in the groove, the freedom to have our whole musical resource to work with as the music so often just flies on by. Thus perhaps the ultimate mind, chops and discipline challenges for the limitless improvisation and creative spheres of Americana jazz :)

Review. Simply based on the purity of aural sounds, at the theoretical core of the Americana sounds is a perfectly closed loop of 12 pitches. From this loop we simply extract select groupings of five, six or seven pitches. And even beyond to eight, nine all the way to twelve really. Our different musical styles and genres within might be theoretically differentiable simply by how many of the 12 pitches are used to create the melody and basic harmony of any song.

musical styles

As guitar players, our resources can gradually evolve the same way. We start with five pitches and work our way up by adding new pitches one by one. The new ones we add evolving the groups of pitches through musical style. In doing so we'll gain a sense of how any style has a basis of pitches that gives it its flavor.

For while there's endless variables in our songbook, understanding the theory of the music is always the same. An awful lot of songs start on a pitch or a chord right? What letter pitch, in what key, can become a number. Once it does, from that point on the same theory of measuring and numerically labeling the distance between the notes of a song applies the same ways to any song in any key. What's not to love right?

musical measurements

In the longview, this opens up the whole tamale, the potential for creating any musical event, melody note or chord, any riff, lick, vamp or ditty, to be sounded from any pitch as the music moves along. Anything from anywhere becomes the mantra. Also a deeper appreciation when the music we are beholding is well crafted and thoughtfully presented (show biz), as our appreciation of its crafting is deepened by have a better understanding of what the players are doing in real time. Thus dually empowered, our sources for new ideas become our entire universe :)

show biz

Much of a teacher's effectiveness can be traced to how well they assess a learners existing knowledge and how they learn best, their learning style. This 'e' book is written so that whatever knowledge you have now creates the first steps on your own pathway forward to understanding more about the music you love. For the theory of Americana is in some ways just a loop, a loop of pitches that can spiral in 3d mind you, but still loops with perfect closure. So wherever each of us find our way into the loop, off we go discovering along the same looping pathway as everyone else gets to yet, that no matter how far we each may travel and by what means, always will our pathway take us back home too :)

As you bump into the things you've learned in other discussions, your nearing to close up your loop of understanding the basic theory that supports all of our AmerEuro styles. Some readers will still want to hear and identify the theory while it moves along in real time as during improvisational moments, and this can take a good while, even after the basics are rote learned and solid.

Starting from this solid spot, curiosity, that thing said to be more important than intelligence ... (?) then kicks in and we should be good to go. Or that "imagination is more important than knowledge" as Albert Einstein once or thrice quipped. Thus coolness prevails in that this work is written so that once a reader hooks into something of their own existing information, the included links associated with any discussion go both directions along our looping pathway; off to the theory basis of the topic at hand or a step or two forward, using the new information generated to move the discussions along. Things we might imagine from what we already know. "All roads lead to Rome" it was once said and this'll be true for each of our own pathways of understanding the Americana musics. Yet when we get to Rome and commence jammin', we'll all understand a version, our own version, of the very same now ancient language that we all share globally :)

So with this in mind off we go, lots of links to lots of discussions with further links to more discussion, all chock full of musical ideas written out in standard notation with guitar tab and the ever advanced mp3 playback file click, makes all the difference to hear the theories in action :) So find the ones you dig and knit up an understanding of your music and share all with those you love. The links here are sequenced to run down the core of the theory and philosophies of this cybertext.

groups of pitches

"We don’t know what we’re looking for when we pick up a book, no matter how clear-cut the genre. We think we do, but we don’t. Don’t ever give people the thing they expect just because they expect it. Our job is to surprise them, to shake them, to turn their expectations on their heads. And do you know why? Because that’s when the MRI of their brain lights up, and they begin to see."

wiki ~ Ursula K. LeGuin

'Stay hungry.' Some of the best advice I ever got in me college days from my buddy from the Bronx, Jay Swartz. The idea that our physical and intellectual lives could be fueled by a built right in DNA driven animal hunger to know and understand, accepting the fact that we learn more from our mistakes than successes, and that all we need to do is to keep trying and not give up. And while this animal sort of DNA drive doesn't ever guarrantee a defined success, prolly safe to say that ...

'if we do quit at something we prolly won't win it.' This might also be a philosophy or sorts :)

So 'stay hungry to solve your curiosities of mysteries' can energize a life that's 'full on' in love for life, in all ways of learning, sharing and caring. I know because I have followed this advice all along. Now four decades later in pursuing the mysteries of my musics, I know that our communal love and knoledge of musical mysteries and the magics of its dance in time, all fuse to become our own lifelong ticket to the global show.

Appel, Willie and Ralph T. Daniel. The Harvard Brief Dictionary Of Music, p. 221. New York: Pocket Books, a Simon and Schuster Division of Gulf and Western, 1960.

Burns, Ken.

The Harvard Brief Dictionary Of Music, p. 221. New York: Pocket Books, a Simon and Schuster Division of Gulf and Western, 1960.

From "Black Water" by the Doobie Brothers,

The Harvard Brief Dictionary Of Music, p. 221. New York: Pocket Books, a Simon and Schuster Division of Gulf and Western, 1960.

'Stay hungry.' Some of the best advice I ever got in me college days from my buddy from the Bronx, Jay Swartz. The idea that our lives could be fueled by an inner DNA hunger that we might not ever truly understand, but whose mystery can energize a life that's 'full on' in the love for learning.

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