~ Essentials ~


~ Modern Guitar ~

'a cyberbook extravaganza for understanding your music and a study method for guitar and bass ...'


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

start here :)

"You have an earnest interest in music and want to understand more."

Welcome and a sincere thank you for choosing this 'cyber' music book for help with understanding your own music and our Americana musics in general. Its writing has personally been a fascinating puzzling together of the work of our own legendary artists while simply following along Americana's own music history timeline. For as time marched on, so did our music. From earlier three chord, pentatonic ditties to the full on and beyond chromaticism 100 years later, we examine the evolution of our music.

Throughout the discussions, what's termed 'to have in theory evolved', is oftentimes also clearly traceable in our historical records, as succeeding generations of players move the musical arts and its theories forward as the decades rolled on by.

These evolutions are identified in theory by using our common letter A B C's and number symbols of 1, 2, 3 / ii V I / 1, 3, 5 etc. Each of our main theory topics are connected and developed simply by replacing pitch letter with a corresponding number, based on the idea of a song written in a key. As we add in new pitches to increase the number of pitches in our music, we hear a corresponding evolution from lullabies and folk stylings to the blues, into country, rock and pop and off to jazz and then beyond. As fluid a spectrum of styles ever woven with 12 pitches.

That many theory discussions included here are written as a 'call and response' between mentor and student is simply to energize the now ancient learning format that reflects the natural improvisational nature of the Americana styles and traditions. And thanks to the hyperlink text, there's also a bit of the 'seek and you shall find' dynamic, as the links go to new discussions and new menus of choices. We simply use our own existing music vocabulary and curiosities to navigate ourselves along, trusting our instincts to choose what we need to learn and when.

What is meant by 'modern guitar?' Simply that we each want to get better, or to 'modernize our own playing' by expanding our own understanding of the music we want to play and enjoy right now. Here in Essentials we often discuss and compare the various 'puzzles' within style and theory, discovering new pieces which eventually 'puzzle in' somehow to our own musics. In doing so we evolve or modernize our sounds. This often translates into getting a better understanding of the theory.

Also, modern implies that as our theory story unfolds, that its history presents a full overview of the wide wide array of Americana musics. A modernist looks to recombine their existing elements in new ways; based on their creative of the moment to create new combinations and possibilities for self expression. And while we all have our favorites, all artistic leaning thinkers truly know that an inspiration for a new piece can come from any style or source, from any historical era of our experiences.

This enables us to create a theoretical span of our musical styles which in turn becomes our modern palette of colors to work with. We can delineate this spanning of styles by number of pitches commonly used to create any given style of melody. Thus empowered, our theory chops then give us a sure way to capture ideas as they come along. Also, there's that rather vast universe of options and ideas to explore for artists for developing their art by examining those that have come before us. Understanding the theory can facilitate both understanding and incorporating ideas. Thus all combined, that by discovering new ideas from whatever source, we will modernize our own musics.

A modern theorist, beyond style. As 'modern theorists', we look to numeralize the whole tamale including style but beyond too. Into harmony, color tones, subdivisions of beat, all sorts of ways to count our music. We initially create a spectrum of thought based on how many of the 12 are in a song's melody. Once in a style range, we count chords, pitches in chords, color tones and arpeggios, time and beats per measure.

All of these components will numerically 'ramp up' just like the number of pitches in a melody, we see our styles morph from three pitch lullabies to 12 tone Rodney. That many if not all of our theory studies here follow along this and other additive numbered pathways just seems too easy to believe but for those that explore here, you'll see it's true :)

Learning through conversation. The dialogues within are really in two unique styles. First is using the age old call and response format. There's a fair number of repetitive questions asked throughout. Just respond and move on. For in every topic, there's a vocabulary of linked terms that describes its component parts. And due to the 'e' nature of such a work as this, by simple necessity you'll see some vocabulary words over and over and over. Eventually they begin to turn purple as you click through and discover. Like this.

Now purple links show that you've rote learned their place in your own build of vocabulary and musics. So the more you turn this web book purple, the more you know. It's all very cool really. Turn this thing purple and you'll have easy a baccalaureate level of understand our musics, from a good college four year program of music education. Full money back guarantee on this :)

For while all links start out black, once you've clicked one to explore, the link then turns purple on that page. Learners refer to this as 'seeing the purple', a color visualization for their own development in understanding their music. The more purple we see then the more parts, vocabulary words and ideas we've visited. Internalizing the meanings of musical words that represent musical sounds and using these words in sentences to express ideas, we knit together to build our understanding of our Americana musics :)

Your studies / discovery learning. For with modern 'e' book wizardry, the theories of our music can be discussed and formatted to individualize instruction for each reader. Based on the interests you bring to this book, your selection of hyperlinked vocabulary choices creates a pathway in, combining one's own existing knowledge and current curiosities with the various evolutions we see in the art, thus theories of the music. Look to standard notation, tabliture and mp3 audio play back to hear the theory in action.


And while this book is a completely functioning, totally stand alone 'e' document, to work as an 'e' book it must be 'run' by any of our popular web browsers. Meaning? That if the web browser running the book is on line, we dimension-alize this Americana music theory book far far beyond its own scope here. Just a few easy clicks depending takes each reader off to pursue their own learning curiosities, by their own directed needs, interests, and available exploration curiosity juices.

For any words within, or text especially worded as to include the letters to 'wiki', need only a right click mousing highlight pop on to g___gle to bring up the modern www. potential for research, to search and explore beyond this book's limits.

Reading here while 'on line' now? Try the left highlight / right search or vice versa mouse clicks, or high light somehow / click this link provided to the right. Surely you've seen this from the magics of 'Gee Chrome?' Well, you get the idea. No? Then chalk one up as we often say in AK ... 'yet another first' for a new discovery made. Here's a pic of even another common browser process for those curious and empowered with a 'e' mouse.

wiki ~ discovery learning


Too cool huh? A few clicks later and we're delving into the theory of the theory or any aspect of any theory that we together have generated curiosity about for ya. No end to it really. So if you've decided to not attend formal music school but still desire a more formal music Ed, BA level curriculum and a bit beyond, 'Essentials' ties the now ancient root history and philosophies of musical pitch and art into our modern tuned pitch resource of today. Do you just really love music and somehow 'need' to know more? Well if you bring your curiosity and some cyber savvy, then this book is essentially written just for you.


"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

Honest Abe Lincoln's 'your own resolution to succeed' is the true energizer for getting after the mostly grinding, rote memorization of factual ideas we each initially undertake in any serious studies we pursue. By simply rote memorizing essential music theory elements we can 'muscle memorize' it all into our chops for performance.

wiki ~ rote memory

That once our resolution is in place to rote memorize a foundation, we've then a base to our understanding, to advance our conversations of the theory. We each create an inner 'silent architecture' as a way to organize our way of understanding music, its theories and its organic evolutions as the new ideas generationally come along. While each unique, we all share the commons together, creating a mutual understanding of the musics we share.

And as our Americana musics now span the globe, so does its pitches and theories. Thus empowered, our new learnings here in Essentials go anywhere our feets might ever take us. This commonality of understanding can help us to make music together with new friends wherever we go.

And right out of the gate ... :) My one wish as author to all who may ever read from this 'e' book; that however serious you are about your own music, that you bring that degree of interest, curiosity and diligence of study to my work too. Your own smarts will empower the rest. Muchas gracias en advance:)

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

J. S. Bach

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

John Coltrane

Seven styles. Here is this work all of our Americana musics and various genres find themselves within one of seven broader categories of musical style. All of this defining is based on the theory of course, numbers of pitches in a melody, numbers of pitches in chords, number of chords in a song etc. While very general really, it is a way to begin to think of our resources in relationship to style. Thus empowered, we develop a perspective to modernize.

Start page theory discussions. The 'start' page is for newly minted theorists, for those who are looking for an overview of our resources, and a survey of musical colors linked into deeper discussions within the text.

A diatonic basis. In initiating our studies here we can organize our pitches and theories around one rather ancient concept. For the diatonic 'through the tones' theory basis of our Americana music today we trace back to the Greeks of toga days. This ancient way of organizing the pitches and of their evolutions creates near the whole catalogue of musics of today from our Euro ancestors.

In creating the melting pot of our Americana sounds, we merge in the musics of our Africana ancestors to this Euro diatonic, whose pitches and rhythms own the blues and swing, essential ingredients for our Americana musical ways. Strongest together, our music and its theories of today is fully inclusive of all people's musics; we now call it our 'Americana music.' So refresh your memories if needed or get started right from scratch, align your own theory stars with the ancient diatonic constellations and become one with your music.

Your music. What music knowhow you bring to this book is the basis of how to click your own way through. As the academics might say, 'based on one's existing information', your own curiosities then guide your pathway to new ideas, which often will tie into and build up our rote learned knowledge base. Click, read and search is the mantra here, when you find something cool to learn, just figure out where the book's pitches are on whatever gitfidddle you be jamming on, sort through the theory of it and discover new ideas to make your own.

Oh, and if you've ever dreamed of making your own music sound like music you heard on the radio, welcome to the club. For in our own initial recognitions of epic human expression and greatness over the airwaves, we sparked to life our own imaginations of musics to join the club. Theory knowledge is a sure way to join up and better understand the magics.

So it may begin. What musical topics are you curious about or what new theory knowledge will help advance your own creative thinking this very day? Learning the theory of any topic is often initiated by starting with its vocabulary, which in music also includes our number symbols. Also, three start buttons; one for newly minted theorists, a method for beginning guitar and bass players and one for schooled up classical cats looking for their Americana ~ Euro improv connection. Click a next step of your lifelong journey of discovery into the theory of the art we all have and can share and love together, makes us dance around and puts smiles on our faces :)

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

wiki ~ Sanskrit proverb


Beginning artists. You know who you are :)

Just follow your own curiosities, click and read on !


Intermediate artists. You really know who you are :) For you have had a chance to hang with a few monsters? And have witnessed first hand what it is going to take to be the player you want to be? Cool.

Just follow your own curiosities, click and read on !

Advanced players. You know who you are :)

Just follow your own curiosities, click and read on !

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.

A curriculum. This series of topics is a mini curriculum that cores a lot of the theory in this text. The discussions link to one another building up our resource of pitches into our musical components. We start with the organic and historical origins of our pitches. Examining the unbreakable loop of our pitches. Examining the Yin / Yang our our musical system. Our groups become our musical scales. How our scales become arpeggios. How our arpeggios become chords. Tuning of pure pitch into modern musical tones.

Essentials teaching method. If necessary, the following teaching topics are a beginning way for teachers to use this book as one of their method books with their learners. For not all students learn the same ways, and there's also times when we just want to try something new. And once in motion we tend to stay in motion. Following the links here in listed order should get some learning motion going.

Theory knowledge. 'Just seems age old natural now that if we figure something out, by our own mistakes and learn it all by heart, we'll understand and know it forever. Thus ever empowered, we can weave in the new ideas as they come along, thought evolving and preparing, yet ready and able for quick recall to share with all. The simple joys of sentient beings :)

Rule of thumb. Want to become an expert at something? Learn its theory.

Paper edition. For those so inclined, there's a printable supplemental text for this Essentials work that runs to 35 pages or so. There's the first edition of this 'Essentials' available for purchase and print. 'Tonal Resources' also. Both of these are posted as .PDF files on this website. A mucho condensed form, yet a paper book to put a clip on or into a binder, to carry around, learn from and share.

Nutshells. So our music theory of today really becomes an easy way to understand any music, from any style from any era. For historically, the pitches are basically the same. It's how we've tuned them up that has evolved. And with each new generation of tuning refinement, our resource has advanced to match the instruments of their day and the artists who worked the magic.

History of tuning. The early 1700's is a true pivot point in our history and is a solid historical marker used in this work. For in succeeding generations thus ever after, artists have had the musical components to create the main body of the Americana art we inherit today.

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