Tag Archives: music theory

The Music Theory You Need to Focus on First

Most of the time the one thing that holds you back from really understanding Music Theory or using an idea on several different chords is a really simple part of what is going on.

A big part of what having a good overview of music theory is to be able to think in different layers. You can think of the notes you play as individual notes but also as groups of notes like arpeggios, scales or other melodic ideas. But you need the basic overview of the material to be able to do this.

Content:

0:00 Intro – The Basics Are What is Holding You Back

0:21 Three Layers of understanding what is going on

0:37 High-Level Tricks with no foundation.

1:14 Learning the instrument and tying it to Music Theory

1:50 #1 Using Other Arpeggios Over A Chord

2:35 How To Relate an upper-structure to a root note

3:09 Analysis of “The Fake Michael Brecker Lick”

3:39 Build your options from knowing what it is.

3:56 Exploring diatonic sus4 triads

4:26 #2 Pentatonics Over Extended Chords

4:54 Bm Pentatonic over Cmaj7

5:24 How Theory Can Help You Use this better.

6:03 #3 Understanding How Chord Progressions Move

6:25 Fm6-Cmaj7 example

7:01 Voice-leading and how you use it.

7:56 #4 How Do You Learn This?

8:14 Not when you solo, but maybe in on the Bus?

8:47 Connecting different types of information

9:05 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Connect Music Theory with Fretboard Knowledge

A very big part of studying this is to also work on your overview of the Fretboard.

You can check this out here:

Do This To Improve Your Fretboard Knowledge

Fretboard Visualization That makes musical sense for Jazz Guitar

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Why You Want To Think in Functional Harmony

Functional Harmony is a great tool if you want to understand how chord progressions flow and use that information to help you improvise better solos and spell out the harmony.

To me, Music theory is something that I can use to tell me how chords sound and how they move in the jazz standards and tonal songs that I play.

This video discusses why this approach to understanding music is very useful for playing Jazz.

If you have seen any of my videos or maybe also some my Instagram posts were on analyzing chord progressions and small melodic fragments then you’ve seen me reduce the progression for the melodies down to Simple functions so a row with several chords I will often reduce to one or two maybe three functions. It is a way to understand how the progression works.

Content:

0:00 Intro – How I use Music Theory

0:38 Music Theory describes how music sounds and works

0:54 #1 Chords Grouped By Sound

1:15 Diatonic Major Chords and Their Function

2:04 Chords with the same function – Tonic and Subdominant

2:41 Minor Subdominant Chords – A shortlist

3:34 Exchanging Subdominant Chords

4:11 12tone and a good breakdown of Tonal Harmony

4:30 #2 It Helps You Think Ahead and Play More Logical Melodies

5:21 #3 Which Chords Are Important and Which To Ignore

5:54 Reducing a Turnaround

6:34 The II V trap (watch out 😉 )

7:35 #4 Easier To Solo

8:28 IV IVm I examples

9:40 Same Lick – Different IV IVm Chord Progressions

10:13 #5 More Options over each Chord

10:50 Embellishing and interchanging progressions

11:44 Line using embellished progression

11:57 #6 Hearing Functions instead of Chords

12:35 How Do You Think About Chords and Harmony?

12:54 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

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Phrygian Chords – Some Of The Best Places To Use Them

Phrygian Chords are a great chord substitute to have in your vocabulary. It can be used in reharmonizing songs for arrangements or as something to throw in there in solos and comping. In this video, I talk about some of the places where you can apply a phrygian chord. Some more “out” than others. I demonstrate this using a chord melody of the song “I fall in love too easily” which I then harmonized using a lot of Phrygian, or Dom7thsus4(b9) chords.

I use the arrangement of the song but also talk about applying this type of chord substitution or reharmonization on Stella By Starlight and Night And Day.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Phrygian Chords

1:12 Chord Melody – I Fall In Love Too Easily

2:41 Phrygian Chords – What is it

3:00 A few Phrygian Voicings – The Abmaj7(b5) connection

4:30 Phrygian Chord as a substitute for a II V

5:02 Scale Choices and variations for the chords

5:57 Reharmonizing a minor II V I

6:42 Night And Day Reharmonization

7:06 Stella By Starlight

7:49 A few bars with “normal” changes

8:40 Minor II V substitutes and the consequences

10:47 What is the melody actually?

11:34 Tonic chord substitute #1: Phrygian on III

12:30 Using this on Night And Day – Consequence of this choice

13:00 Arranging: Think in expectation of the listener

13:33 Tonic chord substitute #2: Phrygian on I

14:40 Learning to use new chord sounds

15:24 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page.

Learn using Reharmonizations in your solos

A huge expansion of your vocabulary happens once you learn to improvise not only with the notes of the chord but also with the chords in the progression.

This video lesson demonstrates and discusses that.

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Reharmonization – Are you getting it wrong?

Chord Substitution and Reharmonization are Jazz topics that are very often discussed together but are actually not really the same thing. This video is going to go over how I think while creating new chord progressions and how I use my reharmonization jazz skills to create several chord progressions for the same song.

The emphasis is on how to come up with chords and 5 examples of how to reharmonize a Blues in F. I also talk about how I improvise over the progressions, what to play and why.

If you only think of music as one chord at the time then you are really missing out! Reharmonization is a great example of how that which is another thing I am trying to illustrate in this video.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:20 Improvising WITH the chords not just over them

0:39 A Better approach than just thinking substitution

1:40 The Chord is always in a context not just a Chord Symbol

2:08 Standard F Blues

2:29 Parker Blues

3:19 Reharmonization #1

4:06 Analysis of the harmony

4:45 Some Solo Tips for this progression

5:05 Example #1

5:20 Reharmonization #2

6:02 Example #2

6:18 Reharmonization #3

7:00 A Strange A7

7:32 Example #3

8:11 Reharmonization #4 – Re-interpreting Bb7

8:54 Example #4

9:08 Using Pentatonics to play Reharmonization #4

9:33 Don’t Tell The Rhythm Section!

10:01 Reharmonization #5 – Another Chromatic idea

10:35 Example #5

10:50 Method to changing the chords

11:23 This as a Chord Melody?

11:37 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page?

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Voice Leading – Breaking a Few Rules

Voice leading is the method you use to create smooth transitions between chords. Often it is described with voice-leading rules that determine how we move specific notes in a chord move to specific note in the next jazz chord. In this video I will explain voice-leading quickly and then give some examples of how you can actually be very creative and create some interesting sounds and new chord voicings by using voice-leading.

The lesson also illustrates how you can create some great progressions by breaking some of the rules. There is no reason to be tied down and not be creative

Jazz Harmony quickly becomes a science and research, but it is better to be a little free and also just try out the opposite of what is expected once in a while. In the end it is not about music theory but about what sounds good. 

Basic Voice Leading 

The most basic voice-leading rules in jazz are probably the movement of the core chord tones. In general voice-leading is about taking the closest route to a note in the next chord.

Below in the example I have Shell voicings for a II V I in C major.

Notice how the 7th(C) of Dm moves to the 3rd(B) of G7 and stays there as the 7th of Cmaj7.

The same goes for the 3rd(F) of Dm, stays to become the 7th of G7 and then resolves to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7.

In this case the chords are moving in a smooth way from one to the next and in all changes one note stays while the other descends.

Opposite Voice-leading from II to V

In the example below I am voice-leading the 7th of Dm7 in the opposite direction, namely up to Db.

This means that the Dm7(11) chord is moving to a G7(b9b5) with no 3rd. The 5th of Dm7 naturally moves to the b9 (Ab) of G7. The G7 resolves to the C6/9 quartal voicing.

Against the rules on V I

In example 3 I have written out a II V I that resolves the 7th(F) of G upwards to a #11(F#) on Cmaj7.

The transition from Dm7 to G7 is pretty straight forward with G(11) moving to Ab(b9), E(3rd) and C(7th) lead to Eb(b13) and B(3rd). The F remains.

When the G7(b9b13) resolves to Cmaj7 it is moving the F up to F#, B stays and Eb resolves to the 3rd(E). The b9 is also surprisingly resolving up to an A that in this case is a 13th on the Cmaj7.

Suspensions and Surprises

An advantage of starting to explore thinking of the individual voices is that it can free up how we think of chords as vertical blocks that can’t be changed.

This example is showing how you can use voice-leading to create some interesting suspensions in your playing and blur the lines between the chords.

The basic II V in this example is pretty straight forward with a bit of contrary movement in the top-voices. The G7(b9b13) is resolved to Cmaj7(9) also in the way you would expect, but the b9 is left hanging. This creates a suspension of the b9 and gives us a #5 sound on the Cmaj7 that is then resolved down to the 5 on the 3rd beat. 

Not Getting Stuck in Drop2 

Often when you think in voice-leading it keeps you in one type of voicing, so “strict” voice-leading will take a triad to another triad or a drop2 voicing to a drop2 voicing. 

But once you start going in other directions you open for getting other results. In the example here below I am voice-leading the Drop2 Dm7(9) into a G7(b5b13) and then back to a Cmaj7.

Voice-Leading for new Voicings

Thinking in moving voices is also a great way to come up with completely new voicings. In the example below I am creating a G7(b9b5) voicing that I actually didn’t know before preparing this lesson. 

The voicing is a little tricky to play but really sounds great and resolves perfectly to the C6/9.

More Drop 2 voicings in Action!

Of course if you want to dig a little deeper into using Drop2 Chords in comping then check out this lesson on using Drop2 voicings and adding Chromatic Passing Chords:

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Download the PDF

You can also download the PDF of my examples here: 

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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All The Things You Are – Harmonic Analysis

All The Things You Are is a great standard that we all need to have in our repertoire. In this video I am going to go over a thorough All The Things You Are Harmonic Analysis. Talking about how the song is constructed with Form, modulations, chord movement and scales for improvisation.

I also dedicate a part of the video to discuss pivot chords and how they work in modulation, and some of the subtleties we loose when we start turning the chords into jazz chords.

Being able to analyze harmony is a huge help in learning jazz standards and becoming a better improviser.

Table Of Contents:


0:00 Intro – All The Things You Are

1:44 The AABA Form

4:50 Analyzing First and Second A

6:55 Mediant Modulations

8:41 The Bridge

11:57 The Last A

13:20 IV IVm III bIIIdim

15:22 A few thoughts on #IV chords

17:26 Overview of the Keys of ATTYA

17:59 Modulations and Pivot Chords in Jazz

26:40 Scales for the chords

35:44 What we loose by adding extensions to the chords

37:41 Like the video? Check Out My Patreon Page!

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Music Theory – The 3 things you want to Know

A thing that is never mentioned when it comes to Music Theory is that there is a basic knowledge you want to obtain and then the rest gets easier. There are things that you need to know and work on that will make the rest very simple when combining Music Theory, Jazz Guitar and Practice.

In this video I am going to talk about three things you can learn or train for your music theory that will help you build a foundation to have an easier time understanding chord progressions, extensions and voice-leading. I am also going to relate this to what you need if you are improvising over chords, since that is what I am using the theory for.

Instead of looking at voice-leading upper-structure triad pairs in Utopian b7 minor then you can easily build the basic knowledge to make all the other stuff easy to understand.

Table of Contents

0:05 Intro

0:45 #1 – Learn Your Scales

1:09 Why we use scales in improvisation

2:11 Learning the Scales – What to learn

2:58 How To Practice

3:31 #2 – Diatonic Chords and Harmony

4:04 Building Chords in a Major Scale

4:52 Diatonic chords makes it easier to Learn Songs

5:33 What You Want to Learn

6:10 Practice Tips

6:22 How To Play Changes (in 30 seconds)

7:10 #3 Relating Notes To The Root

7:42 Adding Extensions to an Ebmaj7

8:36 Why You Want to know the Extensions in the Scale

9:06 Extensions for another Chord – How it Sounds

9:56 Putting the 3 Things together in one overview

10:30 Like the Video? Check out my Patreon Page

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How To Solo On bIII Diminished Chords – 3 Jazz Standards & 3 Licks

In this video I am going to show you 3 examples of how to solo over a bIII diminished chords. I am going to use 3 jazz standard, explain what scale to use and give you an example of a line. The lesson will talk about not only what to play but also how to craft a line on diminished chords because you need to know more than just what to play.

The bIII diminsihed chord is often causing panic in jazz solos. I have made some other videos on how to figure out the scales and arpeggios for this chord, and I thought that maybe it would be useful to just take some real examples from real songs. A big part of my philosophy is to learn things from songs and this is a great example.

This video will show you 3 songs where you encounter the bIII diminished chord, what scale you need to improvise over it and an example of a line that works over this song.

Learning Jazz Standards – Learning from real music

A huge part of how I learned to play jazz was by studying songs and really figuring out how to play and understand the chords. The fact that you really use the things you learn and can take your knowledge and experiences from one song to the next really helps with building your abilities as an improvisor.

Example 1 – Songs is you

The first example is from the Jerome Kern standard The Song is You.

Song is you is in the key of C major. The bIII dim chord is Eb dim, and the scale I am using to improvise over it is the harmonic minor scale from the 3rd of the key: E harmonic minor.

Key: C major
bIII dim: Ebdim
Scale: E harmonic minor

In this case the melody is really just using the dim arpeggio, and the construction of the line is a motif that develops over the Cmaj7, Ebdim and Dm7 chord.

The lick is using a Cdim triad and using the Eb to target the 9th(E) of Dm7. Targeting the extensions on the Dm7 is really useful because we can pretend to resolve the Ebdim licks as if they are a B7(b9) resolving to Em.

EXAMPLE 2 – Someday my Prince will come

A very common (and great song) is Someday my Prince Will come. Here the bIII dim chord comes along twice in the second 8 bars.


The song is in Bb major, so the bIII dim is Dbdim and the scale is D harmonic minor.

Key: Bb major
bIII dim: Dbdim
Scale: D harmonic minor

Again the idea for making the melody on the dim chord is to use the line on the Bb major as a motif and develop that to fit on the dim chord.

A great Diminished chord melodic trick

One way that works really well to create melodies when moving from a tonic chord like a I or a III chord to a a bIII dim chord is to use voice-leading. This is how I am developing a motief in the above example. The  tonic line is a Bb6 arpeggio and then I can voice-lead that to a Db dim by changing the D and the F to Db and E:

Bb6: Bb D F G

Db dim: Bb Db E G 

notice that I am using the inversion to make the voice-leading clear. 

EXAMPLE 3 – It Could Happen to You

One of my favorite songs! Technically you could argue that this is a #II (or secondary dominant) diminished, but the scale choice is the same and it is nice to have a bit of variation in the examples.

The song is in Eb major, it is a Gb dim chord and the harmonic minor scale from the 3rd is G harmonic minor.

Key: Eb major
bIII dim: Gbdim
Scale: G harmonic minor

The line on the Dim chord is using the b6 which does give it some D7(b9) like sound. The melody is coming out of a motif developement from the Fm7. It is using the same melodic movement in the beginning of the bar before moving to the arpeggio and resolving to the Eb/G chord.

Get you dim chord game further

This lesson shows some practical examples and hopefully you can get some ideas that you can use to make your own licks and get into your playing.

If you want to check out a solo where I also solo over a bIII diminished chord then check out this lesson. 

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bIII Diminished – 3 Standards & 3 jazz licks

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Favourite Chord in the key of C Major?

A chord that isn’t in the key isn’t always a modulation. There are many chords that you will come across in songs that music theory does not describe as a modulation.

In this video I talk a bit about some of those progressions of chords. Show an example of something that is a modulation and a few progressions that are not modulations but still contain chords that are not found in the scale.

The way I view music theory is that it is a description of the music that I play that helps me understand and hear what is going on. In most genres of music you will find a lot of chords that are maybe not diatonic to the scale but are still in the key. Examples of this are found as secondary dominants, modal interchange or borrowed chords from the parallel key.

Content of the video

0:00 Intro and a bit of heated discussion

1:09 Diatonic Chords

1:37 Modulation or not?

2:00 Progressions with non diatonic chord in the key

2:39 A progression that modulates

3:26 What can you come across? Secondary dominants

4:06 Modal Interchange/Borrowing from minor

4:25 Overview of the 21 chords in C minor.

4:55 Song examples with borrowed chords

5:25 My favorite chord and a little solo with it!

5:55 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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How To Analyze Chords and Progressions

We Analyze Chords and Chord Progressions because it is very important to understand how the music flows and also to figure out what to play and how to play when we solo over it.

In this video I am going to take a well know Jazz Standard There Will Never Be Another You and use a step-wise method to analyze the a song. Understand the chords and the progression, and find out what scales go with the chords. This will go a bit beyond just recognizing the II V I’s and also help you really understand a lot of progressions in jazz.

As a musician I find that knowing and using music theory like this is really helpful when studying pieces and sight-reading charts. For me it helps me hear the music on the page, the changes and the color of the melody. For that Harmonic analysis is a very useful skill.

Analyze Chords – Video Content:

0:00 Intro

0:36 What we use the Analysis for

1:06 Three Step Analysis using Roman Numeral

1:29 A few approaches to find the key -The Melody

2:00 The Chord as a way of finding the key

2:27 Diatonic chords in the scale

2:56 The Diatonic chords in the progression

3:54 Adding secondary Dominants and Cadences

6:34 The 3 remaining Chords

6:46 Minor Subdominant

8:47 The Tritone substitute

9:47 The #IV

11:40 Using the analysis to assign scales

13:30 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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