Even among some good musicians, music theory is occasionally regarded as more of a “nice to know” thing. Interesting place to visit, but they don’t want to hang around too long.
By contrast, I am shameless enough – dare I say, proud enough – to put forth that I am a music theory GEEK. I like staying “all up in theory land,” and often.
Music theory teaches us WHAT works, and also what CAN WORK. And, if it AIN’T WORKING, it’s usually easier to know WHY, because you possess a systematic command of how rhythm, melody, and harmony work together.
Notice I put rhythm first. Too often neglected — but I put it first in my musical thinking. More on that in other posts.
OK…If you’ve read this far, I guess we have a quorum! Two geeks is always a quorum in my experience. Partly because it’s so hard to find a third geek, on short notice. Anyway welcome, can I get you some coffee? Orange Julius?*
The minor pentatonic is a five-note scale, comprised of selected pitches from the natural minor scale. An extremely popular source of melodic and harmonic material in many cultures, the minor pentatonic’s distinctive signature can be heard “all the time” in improvisational genres like rock, pop, blues and jazz.
For those of you who like to put words to music: The word “pentatonic” comes from the Greek word pente, meaning five, and tonic, meaning tone. Bring that up at your next book study group, and you will look like a raging party animal. Things will go right off the hook from there, bro, seriously.
The purpose of today’s lesson is to give you an easy pattern to memorize, and to show you how to use that pattern to construct any minor pentatonic scale. By “construct,” I mean you will visualize the correct five notes for the minor pentatonic scale, starting on any given root note.
As a result you will have “memorized” all 12 minor pentatonics on the keyboard today.
Here’s a detailed tutorial on how to interpret slash chords on piano. This lesson includes insights into several ways that slash chords are used, such as indicating an inversion, implying a descending bass line, or a simply notating a fresh chordal sound.
Composers and songwriters can use the “slash chord idea” in their creative thinking. That is, the effect of playing any given chord over bass notes that are not the actual root of the chord opens up endless possibilities. Some of the thinking behind these possibilities is discussed in this lesson.
Wassup! Today I’m sharing my reply to a question from a student at Udemy.
This is a two part question; first off, is there anything you recommend (videos, specific techniques, etc) to improve my sight-reading that won’t make me want to shout profanities?
I’ve Googled it obviously, but I’m curious about your opinion, as I enjoy your method of teaching.
Secondly, do you find skilled sight-reading necessary for jazz and blues? In other words, in your professional opinion, can I learn to be a proficient jazz and blues pianist without tackling my fear/hatred of sight-reading?
Hey there folks, I got some more theory for you today. Yipee!
The following is a question and answer thread from my YouTube channel, regarding my video about how to quickly visualize any major scale on your keyboard, by using something called the major tetrachord. First, the original video, and then the Q&A.
Hi everyone! I received a question online today (on my YouTube channel), an excellent one, and one which is subject to debate. The question is in response to one of my videos about using add9 chords on piano. (A link to the video is included below.)
I thought I would share the thread here:
VIEWER: Isn’t the D in Cadd9 supposed to be an octave higher? I guess I’m just confused as to why it isn’t Add2 instead.
ME: Hi Jordan, this is a very good question, and one that is subject to debate. Technically, the voicing of these add9’s that I am using here are really “add2”. In general practice however, add9 is favored in chord symbols found in sheet music, and is meant to imply add2 or add9, depending on the voicing choice of the player. It’s interesting to note that add9 chords played on guitar have the ninth tone on top sometimes, and sometimes the 9th is not the highest tone, often depending on ease of finger positions. This is also true in a piano player’s choice of voicing. Again, to recap, add9 technically has the 9th as the highest tone in the voicing, as you indicated, but when using chord symbols, add9 is preferred for either one.
VIEWER: That definitely makes more sense. Thanks for the clarification.
ME: Certainly, your question is much appreciated! Two other interesting points: A very popular, jazzy left-hand voicing for the MINOR 9th chord (as in Am9) — which, by the way, is NOT an add9 chord, because it also contains the 7th (I talk about that difference in the video) — is this, using Am9 as an example: G, B, C, E, where the root is implied, and can be played before or after the first cluster (or covered by the bass player). I bring this up because here you can see that the “9th” is not the top note in that particular voicing. (You might try that out, it sounds very cool!) Another thing: In my full two-handed voicings in the video, such as Cadd9, left hand plays C and G, and the right plays C-D-E-G. On close inspection you will note that the 9th (the D) is actually voiced far above the root (the left-hand C). But that is not mandatory to voice add9 that way, just a certain nice-sounding choice.
Here is the video lesson which prompted the question:
Learn about the Major pentatonic scale, and its cousin, the "Relative Minor" pentatonic scale (a video lesson). The relationship between any major scale (or key) and its relative minor scale or key is explained here as well, in terms of traditional music theory.
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Todays’ post is about learning “thirteenth chords” on piano. In this video, you will learn a good way to learn and retain all twelve of the standard 13th chords without resorting to rote memorization. In my experience, I discovered early on that learning scales and chords by rote — that is, note-by-note, without any understanding of the patterns they all have in common — is the worst way to go. Learning the underlying patterns that consistently define all scales and chords is absolutely where it’s at!