Rhythm Exercises – Part 3 (Advanced)

In this article, our third in the “Rhythm Exercises” series, we’ll be looking at some advanced and challenging rhythmic exercises. These are really meant to test your rhythmic understanding and execution, so if they’re too difficult, don’t worry. Start off with our Part 1 and Part 2 rhythmic exercises, master those, and then build up…

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Secondary Dominant Chords – What Are They?

In this article we are going to demystify secondary dominant chords and the confusion that often accompanies this music theory topic. Even if you’ve never heard the term “secondary dominant chords” before, you’ve probably encountered them regardless of what kind of music you like to play. That’s because secondary dominant chords are present in all…

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Understanding Meter in Music

Understanding meter in music might seem like a fairly simple concept. When discussing meter we usually discuss the time signature, which indicates how many beats will occur in each measure and which subdivision will be counted as the underlying beat. These concepts seem quite simple when looking at examples such as 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4…

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Jazz Theory – The Major Bebop Scale

Jazz theory is not a separate subject area from music theory, although many people think that music theory and jazz theory require separate forms of study. Take it from someone who has attended many music theory and jazz theory classes at the university level – it’s all the same stuff. So why, then, is jazz…

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Chord Tones, Guide Tones, Passing Tones

Chord tones, guide tones, passing tones… so many TONES! What are they? How do I make sense of all of them? Is it really going to help me better understand music? Although the names can start to blend together and get confusing, chord tones, guide tones, and passing tones are a big part of music…

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Harmonic Analysis: A Step-By-Step Approach

Harmonic analysis is an incredibly important key in unlocking the mysteries of music. By understanding and using harmonic analysis we can answer questions such as “what was the composer thinking about (musically) when he/she wrote this music?” Or, “what chords are being used to make this song sound so good?” Or, “what role are each…

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Polychords: What Are They?

Polychords are everywhere in music – all kinds of music. And yet polychords are often not fully understood, or even worse, are viewed as “scary” and “difficult,” leaving students to dismiss them as too advanced for their own understanding. Well, polychords are not too scary, difficult, or advanced. In fact, they are sometimes used to…

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Diminished Scale Theory

Diminished scale theory is usually seen as a dense and confusing topic that is reserved for advanced theory and harmony classes at the university level. Many advanced masterclasses have featured some of the world’s greatest musicians talking about how to apply the diminished scale to improvisation and composition. And while diminished scale theory can be…

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How to Use Upper Extensions – Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of our “Upper Extensions” article we discussed the terminology and theory that students often find confusing when studying this concept. Here in Part 2 we will discuss how and when to use upper extensions by examining a few specific examples: Available upper extensions; left hand chords for comping (specific to piano comping);…

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Natural, Harmonic, and Melodic Minor

In our article “Relative and Parallel Minor,” we explained the often confusing terms that are associated with the minor scale. in this article, we will learn the differences, as well as how to construct, the natural, harmonic, and melodic minor scales. Many students find it easiest to begin with a major scale and use that…

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