Category: Music Theory

  • Resources For Composers: Violin Pedagogy

    Here’s a list of the classics of violin pedagogy.

  • Fun With Triad Cycles

    Fun With Triad Cycles

    A quick post about cycling through major triads within a narrow range.

  • The next note is never more than a whole-tone away

    I first learned of the exercise of running different scales into each other from Barry Harris. You start near the top of your instrument, and as the chords change, you change your scale but keep going in the same direction. Relatively easy on a tune like Autumn Leaves, pretty difficult on a tune like Giant […]

  • A fun way to derive the melodic minor scale

    This thought just occurred to me as I was listening to the audiobook of Frank Wilczek‘s excellent Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality. The melodic minor is a 7 note scale consisting of only semitones or whole tones, but with no 2 consecutive semitones (put another way, it is “locally diatonic“) The whole tone scale is […]

  • The “Minor 6/9 Shape” Harmonized

    During our weekly jam session this week, my friend Tony and I got into a discussion about a harmonic topic we’ve both been looking at. It’s an intervallic shape that’s pretty useful harmonically and melodically, and has a good ‘modern jazz’ feel to it. You can see the shape in example [A] below. You might […]

  • A few tidbits on the melodic minor

    Thoughts on using the melodic minor in different harmonic contexts.

  • Tidbit: Locally Diatonic Scales

    I was reading an article by Dmitri Tymoczko this morning, Stravinsky and the Octatonic: A Reconsideration, and came across a useful term: locally diatonic. This refers to a scale whose seconds are all minor or major, and whose thirds are all minor or major. This includes the following scales: major, ascending melodic minor, whole-tone, and […]

  • Tritone Fun Facts, Part One

    This post kicks off a miniseries on tritones. I’ll use the terms tritone and diminished 5th somewhat interchangeably. This post covers some basics, the next one will explore an idea about key signatures, then I’ll look at diminished 7th chords.  Let’s start by considering the seven natural notes. If we place a natural note a […]

  • Quartal Harmony: Tetrachords

    In today’s post we will continue our series on quartal harmony with a quick look at quartal tetrachords. When we began with dyads, we saw there are three quartal dyad types: P, A, and D. With quartal trichords, there are nine types (3 * 3). With quartal tetrachords, we now have twenty-seven types (3 * […]