Rhythm Exercises, Free Advanced Tips for Piano Power

In this article, our third in the "Rhythm Exercises" series, we'll be looking at some advanced and challenging rhythms. These are really meant to test your rhythmic understanding and execution, so if they're too difficult, don't worry. Start off with our Part 1 and Part 2 rhythmic exercises, master those, and then build up to […]

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Understanding Meter in Music

Understanding meter in music might seem like a fairly simple concept. When discussing meter we usually discuss the time signature, which indicates how many beats will occur in each measure and which subdivision will be counted as the underlying beat. These concepts seem quite simple when looking at examples such as 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 […]

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Jazz Theory - The Major Bebop Scale

Jazz theory is not a separate subject area from music theory, although many people think that music theory and jazz theory require separate forms of study. Take it from someone who has attended many music theory and jazz theory classes at the university level - it's all the same stuff. So why, then, is jazz […]

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Chord Tones, Guide Tones, Passing Tones

Chord tones, guide tones, passing tones... so many TONES! What are they? How do I make sense of all of them? Is it really going to help me better understand music? Although the names can start to blend together and get confusing, chord tones, guide tones, and passing tones are a big part of music […]

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Harmonic Analysis: A Step-By-Step Approach

Harmonic analysis is an incredibly important key in unlocking the mysteries of music. By understanding and using harmonic analysis we can answer questions such as "what was the composer thinking about (musically) when he/she wrote this music?" Or, "what chords are being used to make this song sound so good?" Or, "what role are each […]

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Polychords: What Are They?

Polychords are everywhere in music - all kinds of music. And yet polychords are often not fully understood, or even worse, are viewed as "scary" and "difficult," leaving students to dismiss them as too advanced for their own understanding. Well, polychords are not too scary, difficult, or advanced. In fact, they are sometimes used to […]

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Diminished Scale Theory

Diminished scale theory is usually seen as a dense and confusing topic that is reserved for advanced theory and harmony classes at the university level. Many advanced masterclasses have featured some of the world's greatest musicians talking about how to apply the diminished scale to improvisation and composition. And while diminished scale theory can be […]

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How to Use Upper Extensions - Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of our "Upper Extensions" article we discussed the terminology and theory that students often find confusing when studying this concept. Here in Part 2 we will discuss how and when to use upper extensions by examining a few specific examples: Available Upper Extensions Available upper extensions refer to the particular extensions that […]

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Natural, Harmonic, and Melodic Minor

In our article "Relative and Parallel Minor," we explained the often confusing terms that are associated with the minor scale. in this article, we will learn the differences, as well as how to construct, the natural, harmonic, and melodic minor scales. Many students find it easiest to begin with a major scale and use that […]

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What Are "Upper Extensions" in Jazz? Part 1 of 2

The term "upper extensions" has a very important meaning to musicians, particularly to jazz players. This is because "upper extensions" refers to a jazz theory concept that is critical to jazz improvisation and (for piano players) jazz comping. Sometimes it's not the concept of upper extensions that is confusing but rather the terminology. It might […]

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Rhythm Exercises - Part 2 (Intermediate)

Building off of our previous article (Rhythm Exercises Part 1 - Easy) this article features the next level up in our rhythm exercises. But let's get some important points out of the way before jumping in. First, you really need to be using a metronome for these exercises. Many students think "oh, I have a […]

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Rhythm Exercises - Part 1 (Easy)

In this article we're going to highlight some specific rhythm exercises that all musicians can use to improve their rhythmic understanding. The really great part about these rhythm exercises is that you can practice some of them away from your instrument, meaning that you can work on rhythmic training while you're at the gym, in […]

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What Are Intervals?

What are intervals? "Interval" is simply the term we use in music when we want to measure the distance between two notes.  There are two components to identifying intervals. The first is the quality, whether the interval is major, minor, perfect, augmented, or diminished. The second is the number, whether the interval is a distance of a […]

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Diminished Chords: Dominant Chords in Disguise? Part 2 of 2

Now that we've examined the specifics of what makes dominant chords special in Part 1 of this article, lets continue by taking a look at a diminished chord and noting some particular observations. What do you notice about this diminished chord? Well, we could call this a "C# diminished 7th" chord. A diminished 7th chord is […]

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Diminished Chords: Dominant Chords in Disguise? Part 1 of 2

Diminished chords can certainly have a spooky and nefarious sound, but they also have a lot of functionality. So much functionality, in fact, that besides simply being a diminished chord it can also function as one of four different dominant chords. That’s right, those diminished chords you thought you knew so well have in all […]

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