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Sage Wisdom

"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."



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March 12, 2006 | Plumbing

"Theory only seems like rocket science when you don't know it. Once you understand it, it's more like plumbing!"
John McGann, Berklee School of Music

The good professor is dead on correct! Not that plumbing isn't an art unto itself, but the ability to rip away the infinite from the finite in unraveling the myriad of solutions to household pipe problems has got to be the plumber's true craft.

It's easy for us to get panicky groping some of the basics of music theory when we forget that they are just that: "basic." We get intimidated by all those possibilities, but really, we only have twelve keys (break that down to four when you master the FFcP on a mandolin), and a handful of basic progressions we'll use. Even all those modes--it's just one scale, the Major Scale starting on different notes.

Melding linear sensibility with harmonic vocabulary is far less frightening when you understand there are only so many notes we can play, only so many chords. And like the great Jethro Burns says, "In jazz you're either on the right note, or just one fret away."

Fret not...

Posted by Ted at March 12, 2006 8:03 PM


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