Why Jazz Theory Is Easier Than You Think…

Let me guess…You’re smart. You know your stuff. And you have a sparkle in your eyes when you talk about music. You take lessons and you play in a band, and when you find a few free minutes you’re practicing your instrument. But when you improvise it doesn’t sound like you at all.

No matter how hard you try, you’re always stuck at square one thinking about the right notes to play.

You copy licks and insert scales into your lines — but now your solo sounds lame. You try yet another new melodic concept. That’s even worse.

The problem isn’t your effort or even your talent…

It goes back to the same thing that’s stopping many fine players from getting the music that’s inside their minds out of their instruments.

I’m talking about the trap of music theory.

What exactly is music theory?

Music theory means many things to many different people…

To some it’s a confusing mess of letter names and scales. Each solo is a struggle to make sense of F#’s and Ab7’s, melodic minor scales, dorian modes, circles of 4ths and 5ths…

To others it’s a class that they begrudgingly take filled with dry text books and rules about every aspect of a musical line.

And for some it’s a system of notes and chords that they hold on to for dear life so they can play the “right notes” in a solo.

But if you step back for a moment you’ll see that music theory is much simpler than any of that…

Music theory is simply a way to talk about the sound of music.

It’s a way to conceptualize the construction of the sounds that you listen to everyday. A way to say: “That note is an ‘A’, That sound is a minor 7th chord, and that song is a 12 bar Blues…”

Every theory concept that you learn is connected to real sound. And this is when music theory becomes the most useful – when it’s directly related to the sounds ...

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