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Music Lessons

Understanding music to improvise better: form in jazz standards

Jazz standards tend to consist of repetitive harmonic patterns and sequences. It is important to understand how these chord patterns are organised and the structure of the pieces as a whole. This will allow you to play in a more relaxed, and consequently more creative, way. In this lesson we will therefore discuss form and…

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Music Lessons

Tonal and modal music: what is the difference?

What is the difference between modal and tonal music? Often when analysing jazz standards we distinguish between modal and tonal pieces, and the same happens when we talk about improvisation: there is modal improvisation and tonal improvisation. So let’s try to explain the difference between modal and tonal music by giving some concrete examples.

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Music Lessons

Modulation in music: what it is, what it is used for

Modulation is a movement of chords by which a piece of music changes from one key to another. Modulation is most often used in the classical and jazz repertoire, while it is used less in rock and pop, where songs usually remain in the initial key throughout their entire duration.

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Music Lessons

Perfect cadence, plagal cadence and minor cadence

What is a cadence in music? In this lesson, you’ll find out what the three most important cadences are and where they are used: the perfect cadence, the plagal cadence and the minor cadence. We will also talk about a special type of cadence called a turn around.

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Music Lessons

Loudness and musical notation, how music dynamic works

The loudness of a sound or noise depends on the amplitude of the vibration, which in turn depends on the force exerted on the body generating the vibration. From a scientific point of view, loudness is precisely measurable, whereas on the staff, loudness does not have an absolute but a relative value. This is why…

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Music Lessons

Jim Grantham Jazzmaster Cookbook, a review and study guide

The Jazzmaster Cookbook by Jim Grantham is a very comprehensive and ambitious book on jazz theory and improvisation. In this review I explain why I recommend reading and studying it, but also what are the limitations that can render even relatively simple concepts complicated and lead a beginner student to be even more confused than…

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Music Lessons

Sound pitch and notation, how the staff works

How does music notation work? What are the five lines of which it is composed? In this lesson we will look at how the staff works and in particular how it is used to write down one of the main qualities of sound: pitch.

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Music Lessons

Major scale, pentatonic scale and other scales, what a musical scale is

What is a musical scale? Anyone playing an instrument is accustomed to practicing with scales, but the concept of a scale has much broader implications than just technique. In this lesson, we look at scales of five to eight sounds in general, in particular the major, minor and pentatonic scales.

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Music Lessons

George Russell and the Lydian Chromatic Concept

In the Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization (1953) George Russell makes the Lydian scale the centre of the tonal system, instead of the traditional major scale. His system was a great inspiration to a whole generation of jazz musicians, who used it to try to expand the language of their improvisations. Let’s see how…

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Music Lessons

Simple and compound time

What is the difference between simple and compound time? Often the beginner student is misled by the term “simple time” and thinks it is a synonym for “easy time”. This is why any tempo that is unusual and difficult can be misclassified as compound time.