Category Archives: Music Theory

Chunking down on Scale Practice

Chunking down into N chunks reduces practice required by a factor of Nx where x is the number of possible chunk flavours Paul Hirsh (@jazzpanflute) Why do we need full-length scales? Or:¬†why do the scales we practise always need to … Continue reading

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MOVES to the rescue !

You would have thought that the bass guitar was one of the most logical and intuitive instruments around. It even beats the 6-string guitar because its tuning only uses fourths (=5¬†halfsteps), while the guitar slips in a stray major third … Continue reading

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Adding colour to the diminished scale

It is easy to slip into the idea, from studying harmony textbooks, that the only way to form scale-tone chords is to make stacks building upward from each note of the scale, skipping every other note. Then depending on how … Continue reading

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A Quiet Revolution in Harmonic Theory

In my young day, your first lesson in jazz harmony was the so-called scale-tone seventh chords. This was the basis of the John Mehegan method back in the fifties. You just piled up your thirds on each note of the … Continue reading

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The Science of Licks

Continuing from my recent post on the philosophy of licks, one of the measures of a good lick is how it messes with the listener’s cognition and fries his brain. It arrives too fast for you to take it all … Continue reading

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The Other Jazz Scale

Every now and again, you’re working on a piece and you hit a passage that keeps tripping you up and you don’t know why. When that happens, it’s a sign you are about to embark on some brain re-wiring. I … Continue reading

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Musical education, the wasted years

I am sometimes asked: What is the best way to learn to read music? How can I learn to “read flyshit off a wall”? The best tip I can offer is to make sure it’s music that you really want … Continue reading

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Musical theorems: a bluffer’s guide

The idea of musical theorems is all about drawing simple conclusions from your basic knowledge about notes, and putting them to use in your playing. An example. You know every major scale contains three notes from one wholetone scale and … Continue reading

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Blow your horn, not your savings

The Honeycomb: useless brainfood? The Honeycomb, known by some as the Harmonic Table, maps notes on a hexagonal grid along three axes: fifths, major thirds and minor thirds. That’s nice, but what do you want to do with it? Well, … Continue reading

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Scales can lead you astray

OK so you want to play faster than you can think. Scales are the way to go! You can vary them a bit by playing them in thirds (up two down one) and keep going (up three down two…). Then … Continue reading

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