Seven nuts in one shell. So U got three fave tunes and one or more is in the ____________ style. Pick and click and off ya go :) Or ... read on !

In a nutshell ~ making melodies. We theorize our musical styles in the following discussions by examining, pitch by pitch, the 12 unique notes we get. Initially working from one fundamental pitch, and following the overtones series, one by one we add the 11 remaining pitches. At each step we create links into the music theory we associate with that number of pitches.

In building up our chords, and especially in the last 100 years or so, nearly always rely on the 7 pitch diatonic scale, for both major and minor keys. Even if the melody is just a couple of pitches, most times in most songs, we need all seven diatonic pitches to create its chords. Even songs of just 'three chords and the truth? Yep.

Rhythms of course have their own unique vocabulary and numerical counting systems, are here theorized by similar metrics identified by beat numbers and subdivisions, notations and vocabulary. And while the quarter note 'big four' is usually the motor, the half quarter eighth is where we get the robust style spice.

So with each added pitch we evolve our music and its various styles and genres. And once there's a handful to work with, we begin to sense the merging of styles, one into another, and along the way create this book's philosophy of a modern guitarist of how with a nick of a pitch here, or a passing tone there, we can flavor or jazz up in our own unique way whatever might come along.

wiki ~ musics of the United States

A spectrum of style. Essentials, EMG, bases a lot of the theory on the correlation between the number of pitches in a melody and the general musical style it creates. We've 12 total pitches for sure and half a dozen or so plus broad style categories, add in genres and there's a ton more combinations. Thus, the following left to right visualization emerges. Example 1.

musical style
kid's songs
folk blues gospel
bluegrass rock country
pop
jazz
# of pitches
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12

All we get. In theory we get just the 12 unique pitches. As our theory is based on nature and the natural ordering of the pitches, we use a core five pitches to create the major and minor pentatonic melodies of children's songs and folk music. Add a very special sixth pitch to the pentatonic minor and we make the blues hue. Add two select pitches to our core major five creates the seven of the diatonic scale, which some believe to go all the way back in our histories and when equal temper tuned, fully enables all the chords. Add another pitch or two as chromatic passing tones helps enable well crafted pop melodies and various common cycles of chords. And in jazz, well all of the 12 tones are of course in play in any tune, any time and any day :)

Melody pitches of styles. So, want a hint of blues in your folk sounds? Maybe more of a jazzier bop in your pop? Find a deeper swing feel in your home spun bluegrass or a more rockin' feel to your country core? Then by all means read on here as we go 'pitch by pitch additive' to rote learn tried and true ways to evolve most any melody or song with just a flick of a pitch or two.

While there's lots of theory aspects to each of our styles, the following discussions centers on melody; and specifically, the number of pitches we most commonly find and use to create melodies in each particular style.

We then look at just those pitches and see what loops and groups they form, we then can determine what harmony is diatonically available to support the melody lines. From this basis we can auralize a linear spectrum of musical styles that reflects the number of pitches generally used to create them. In doing so we'll each find our ways to morph from one style to another. Make folk melodies into jazz songs an vice versa, add a bit of blues wherever and whenever, opening up new potentials of the artistic 'mix and match.'

For example, traditional Americana folk music rarely if ever features any sort of true chromaticism. While on the other end of our style spectrum, the jazzers often embrace a full range of half step motions from either direction, thus utilizing all of our 12 tones as upper and lower neighbors. Examine the general number of melody pitches grouped by musical style. Example 2.

total # of pitches
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
1 ...
scale degree #'s
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
5
#5
6
b7
7
8

children's songs (5)

C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
(A)
.
.
C

folk and country (6)

C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
.
C

gospel (6)

C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
.
C

blues and rock (6)

C
.
.
Eb
.
F
.
G
.
.
Bb
.
C
pop (7)
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C
jazz (12)
C
C#
D
Eb
E
F
F#
G
Ab
A
Bb
B
C
~ folk ~ blues ~ gospel ~ country ~ rock ~ pop ~ jazz

Move left to right. So moving left to right in our chart, as more pitches come into play, we've simply more options to shape our melodies and harmonies, thus the general style of music we're creating potentially evolves in numbers of component parts etc.

Move right to left. The flip side is true too yes? Moving right to left, that as we reduce our number of pitches, we can often increase our sense of tonal center and aural predictability, tonal gravity increases as we center closer to one pitch.

23 chords per song ~ a reggae drummer's joke about the # of different chords in a jazz song

And for the chords? Creating the chords to back the melodies is a bit different. For if there's more than one chord in a song, and there usually is, we'll just need more diatonic pitches to build them all up.

But correlating a music style with the number of pitches in a chord, as used in song to create that musical style ... is just a way easier way to think, along this perspective; fifth's (2 pitches), triads (3 pitches), add 7th's (4) then other color tones (4+) etc. Example 3.

total # of pitches
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
1 ...
scale degree #'s
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
5
#5
6
b7
7
8

metal (2)

C
.
.
.
.
.
.
G
.
.
.
.
C

children's songs (3)

C
.
.
.
E
.
.
G
.
.
.
.
C

folk (5)

C
.
.
.
E
.
.
G
.
A
Bb
.
C

blues and rock (7)

C
.
D
D#
E
.
.
G
.
A
Bb
.
C
pop (9)
C
.
D
D#
E
F
.
G
.
A
Bb
B
C
jazz (12)
C
C#
D
Eb
E
F
F#
G
Ab
A
Bb
B
C
Roman numerals
I
#i
ii
#ii
iii
IV
#iv
V
#v
vi
bVII
vii
VIII
Ah ... the evolutions of the harmonic colors as we morph through our styles :) Begin to loose the sense of 'Kansas' towards the close of the line? That's part of the magic of jazz; the essence of tonal gravity and its ability to project a predictable artistic direction begin to fade, eventually ascending towards the chromatic buzz and beyond.

In most any style ... In today's wide spectrum of Americana styles, the seven pitches of the diatonic scale are the basis of all of our chords. For even if there's just a few pitches in the melody, chances are the song will 'go to Four' at some point and we'll need another pitch or two more to build the chords.

Also, the chances are good we'll never hear a sharp nine (#9) in a song for kids, or even folk tunes for that matter. Except maybe in Halloween songs :) But as soon as the blues hue kicks into any sort of folk styling, and we move towards a blues styling, good chance the #9 color tone might want to arrive somewhere in the music.

So this correlation of number of pitches and musical style is simply to place each of our 12 pitches somewhere in the fabric of our weave of musical styles. To develop a sense as musicians of what generally hangs with a genre. For pro leaning cats who want to gig and keep the gig, knowing what is appropriate, and when it is, often becomes a foot in the door of showbiz.

Thus aware, we become empowered, energized even, to find the colors we need to tell our tales, in any style or just shade things a stylistic way when needed; a quick smile, sorrowful moment, something sassy :) In this next chart of our letter namr pitches, please examine the seven diatonic pitches in relation to 'the other five.' Example 3a.

.
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
5
#5
6
b7
7
8
diatonic chords
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C
other five pitches
.
Db
.
Eb
.
.
Gb
.
Ab
.
Bb
.
.

Easy enough yes? The tricky part in all of this is simply to be flexible in our thinking, yet somewhat rigid to preserve the diatonic perspective throughout.

Which is, how do we keep all the theorizing straight?

Thinking from the root of the chord ?

Yep, thinking from the root of a chord, within the diatonic key center where we find it, will keep things groovy, works like a charm, every time :)

Quick review for chords and style. Once an artist can think of and name, spell out the letters of each of the seven diatonic triads, and know the five pitches that are 'left over', which become the colortones, that's really the whole tamale, diatonic deal for the chords.

It's all in a song somewhere. The rest is just to explore and learn songs and tunes, finding cool new bits of melody, a chord or progression, a bass line story that you don't already know etc., extract, examine to understand its theories, and shed. And historically speaking, by teaching your knowledge to another will, near every time, seal the deal of our own understanding about music theory. Here's the essential triad spelling chart in 'C' major. Example 4.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
I
ii
iii
IV
V7
vi
vii-
VIII
diatonic 7th chords
CEG
DFA
EGB
FAC
GBD
ACE
BDF
CEG

Advanced studies. As time permits, run and rote learn these melody and chord theories through the letter names of each of the 12 key centers and grasp the whole tamale. Explore the interval and arpeggio studies from each of the five movable scale shapes. Add in the concept that we can slip in all sorts passing chords, that live between the diatonic steps and we're pretty much theory golden. Advance further to know the leading tone / substitution properties of the fully diminished 7th colors and discover the penultimate steps to reach the Americana harmony nirvana.

Here's a new music styles version of the chord spelling chart that starts this all off. Note in this organization, that we've gone beyond the 1 3 5 of the triads and added one more, the diatonic 7th for each position. Theory wise, this in itself is a stylistic and super theory game changer in, all simply depending on the art you want to create. Example 3b.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
Imaj7
ii-7
iii-7
IVmaj7
V7
vi-7
vii-7
VIII
diatonic 7th chords
CEGB
DFAC
EGBD
FACE
GBDF
ACEG
BDFA
CEGB

Cool? By simple addition of one select pitch, in this case the 7th for each diatonic triad, our theory kabooms. Along the road, fill in the pitches of each of the 12 major keys at least one time during your studies. We just want to get our arms completely around the topic. Even doing this one time will put some light on things, then just easier to find if we ever need them.

With most of our Americana styles, a capo covers the guitar's ventures towards the remote key centers, but one never knows where that long sought puzzle piece will be found. After running the 12 keys through this chart, chances are you'll be both a chord spelling wizard and potential lounge lizard :) Jazz leaning? Learn this chart ... learn this chart ... learn ... :)

And for the rhythms and synchopation? Yea the same sorts of 'numbers of ...' and style seem to correlate. To the left of our spectrum, mostly whole and half notes for the kids. Quarter notes for the folk rhythms, usually on beats 1 and 3. When we gain the backbeat of 2 and 4, we're heading towards the blues and into rock. Country and pop fits right in around here too. As we begin to add in more improv, the 1/8 note, and long streams of the eighth notes, becomes the basic rhythm for bluegrass and on into jazz soloing. Examine the subdivision of the beat thinking 4 / 4 time, so the big 4, and the basics of our Americana subdivisions of the beat in a one note samba sorta line :) Our spectrum of musical styles in basic rhythm and subdivision. Example 4.

Your musical style. So what's your style of music? Been looking to your own natural world for inspirations? Have a folk tale to tell? Searching for the blue notes? Got some country picken' to do? Making the big roar of it all with rock and roll? Looking to write pop hits for the radio? Maybe you dig conjuring up cool jazzy grooves and instrumental takes on anything with a melody? Using dance vibes to back up your spoken word vocal tracks? Knowing the theory is a way to morph and draw from them all, creating a full palette of the musical colors.

So in the following discussions, the weave is all about finding the common denominators of music theory for each of our broad styles of music. Once initiated, the cross pollinations of ideas between the best flowerings of each of our styles is maybe just a breeze away.

 

Musical style by number of pitches. What follows is probably more fun and musings than serioso theory, yet we do get to explore and combine our core EMG philosophies; how the number of different pitches in scales and chords in our melodies shapes musical style. As a 'stgc'er, our 'styles by numbers' simply illuminates the common musics created. And as we add in pitches, our styles morph from one to another.

Starting with just one pitch and working up to include all 12, we create a survey of the styles and in doing so, create a perspective of our resource that can give us insight to shape and advance our own journey :)

One pitch. So, what musical style do we get with just the one pitch? With one pitch, we can create a pedal tone. And a common place we find 'the pedal' all alone is in meditation musics. Ever here of 'Om?'

'Om' is one note, usually lower pitched for the bottom chakra, that we resonate around in our cranial cavity, that we listen to or sing ...

... a musical note to focus our mind's powers :)

So a long, musical note that collects our thoughts to one focus point, in a self induced meditative state. How cool is that ? Now ancient, the one pitch 'Om' has been a part of this spiritual process forever. Here pedaling along on our lowest 'E.' Om ... om ... om ... om ... :) Example 5.

wiki ~ "One Note Samba"
wiki ~ Om
wiki ~ chakras
wiki ~ standing bell

Do we get this magic with any one pitch? Sure can. Any of the 12 different letter name pitches ? Yep. Remember, 12 is all we get, so for our Americana styled melodies supported by all and any chords, we be good :) Still, we'll just need one pitch for the 'Om.'

Two pitches. With two select pitches, and here following our organic overtone series, we get a ton of style coolness with a root and 5th interval. As the first different pitch in the overtone series we base our silent architecture, which coralled into its own 'cycle' creates the cycle of 5th's. Fifth's are the interval for the heralding of royalty from wayback and today as guitarists, we've a new herald to light up any room. Within our chords, Five and fifths dominate as the 'traffic cop', to direct the flow of our Americana musics. And thanks to our modern electronic wizardry and gear, with these two pitches we create the '5th's of the metalists to make our shredded musics. So not too bad for just two pitches eh ? Example 6.

Three pitches. Off topic here a wee bit, stuck a bit with three pitches yet ... With three select pitches, we can build the triads. And with triads, our modern styles of Americana musics take on a new dimension. For now we have a melody supported by a chord. The three notes of the triads, 1 3 5, live within nearly all of our musics, spanning our full spectrum of styles. And while we've had the pitches all along, stacking them into chords is a fairly recent invention. Building from our root pitch 'C', here are the four different three note triads / chords we get. Example 7.

Sing along. Can you sing along and find the different pitches for each triad? Try again. And again ... if needed that is :) Master these four colors and take a giant step forward. Note that we moved the last shape up an octave to make for an easier fingering solution.

Four pitches. Back closer on topic now with four select pitches to work, we get a span of music style potentials that now fully includes both major and minor tonalities. With the same pitches, just reconfigured two ways. So a 'stgc'er ? Pretty much. The basis of relatives. And from these four pitches we get to build our first diatonic triad, both major and minor. The tonic / One, creating the center for having a key center potential.

From the minor blues elevator to one of Coltrane's main improv motifs in "Giant Steps." With these four pitches we bookend the 'improvisations spectrum' of our musics. And getting this close to the pentatonic five, we can sense its magics is already starting to sizzle with this grouping of four pitches. From the blues elevator to "Giant Steps motif. Example 8.

Recognize the "Layla" lick in the first measures in the above idea? Same idea simply moved from the open strings up an octave. Coltrane's idea moves his motif through the root pitches patterned by the minor 3rd / perfect 4th cycle. Post bop symmetry? Yes, in some circles, yes. "Coltrane changes" in others. Revolutionary in its day regardless of what we might call it today, the motif goes way wayback Americana. Here's some reverse engineering of a motif. I think ? And surely with ... 'a banjo on my knee :) Example 8a.

wiki ~ "Layla"
wiki ~ Coltrane changes

Five pitches. Adding one pitch to the groups of four from the last idea, we evolve the now ancient pentatonic group of pitches. Endless possibilities in this group in all manner of the styles we love in Americana musics. These five pitches, so aligned together, is to our musics what denim cloth is to our 'blue jeans' Americana, casual style of comfortable clothes that look very fine and ... can work hard too, take a lickin' and keep on tickin' :) Examine the letter name pitches. Example. 9.

wiki ~ denim cloth
~ pentatonic group / major and minor ~
scale degree #'s
1
.
2
.
3
.
.
5
.
6
.
.
8

major penta (5)

C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
A
.
.
C

.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
scale degree #'s
1
.
.
b3
.
4
.
5
.
.
b7
.
8

minor penta (5)

A
.
.
C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
A

There's a ton of 'theory understanding' with these pitches. Where to start? Here 'style wise' and near the beginning, we create melodies for folks songs. We also get the relative major / minor potentials from the exact same group of five pitches, retain our first diatonic triad. That there are said to be no 'bad' pitches in this group for improvisors, through all our styles, gives us a solid start yes? Thinking in the relatives 'C' major / 'A' minor with our core five pitches. Sound this one a couple of times. Example 9a.

Picking up some Asian wind chimes, Native American chanting vibes from this last idea? Cool. Yea no surprise then, for the five pitch pentatonic group centers both these musics and many many other indigenous cultures around our world. Outer space too? Maybe. Never been there ... yet :)

wiki ~ indigenous peoples
wiki ~ outer space

Six pitches. An original 'Americana style kaboom simply by adding one new pitch to our core of the pentatonic five. New style in major: gospel and the Four chord for both major relative minor. New musical style building up from the minor pentatonic group? The blues. While not quite yet complete, these two groups of pitches / colors we combine into our Americana gospel.

And making the minor five pitches into six and the blues? Why we add in sharp Four, and split the perfect octave in two, in doing so find the deep indigo tritone blue within the octave's aural perfection. Examine their letter name pitches as these groups evolve. Example 10.

~ gospel ~ blues ~
scale degree #'s
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
5
#5
6
b7
7
8

major penta (5)

C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
A
.
.
C

gospel (6)

C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
.
C
scale degree #'s
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
5
#5
6
b7
7
8

minor penta (5)

A
.
.
C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
A

blues

A
.
.
C
.
D
Eb
E
.
.
G
.
A

Cool? One new pitch added to each of the major and minor pentatonic groups. In minor, nice to think that with the sounding of that 'one note', the blues hue magic manifests. In major, and gospel, its all about the motion to Four and how we might get there. The melodic '4-3' suspension providing a supremely 'amen.' Example 10.

Hear the '4-3' in bar two? Love the 'sus 4.' And hipsters reading here picking up on the 'missing' pitch at this point in our evolutions? Where's our 'north star', our leading tone that unequivocally pulls us to rest on One?

Seven pitches. At seven pitches, stylewise, we're in all of the realms really. Surely from a chords perspective. For we need all seven pitches to make most of the chords used in most of the styles.

For a song might have a pentatonic melody, but has a Four chord in supporting the line. Well, we don't diatonically get all the pitches we need in the pentatonic group to diatonically create a Four chord. Of course we use the chord anyway yes? So, these seven pitches are the central group for creating all of our diatonic chords.

The 7th pitch we add is the leading tone, it's also the 7th scale degree and it completes our group of pitches to create our 7 diatonic chords. 7 7 7 :) So a major kaboom theory wise? Yes indeed.

These seven pitches build the relative major ~ minor group. Now with 7 pitches in the group / loop, and we equal temper tune the pitches, all of the vast array of diatonic harmony harmony that we enjoy today lights right up. Examine the letter name pitches. Example 11.

~ relative major / minor / modes / chords ~
scale degree #'s
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
5
#5
6
b7
7
8

major penta (5)

C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C

gospel (6)

C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
.
C
relative major
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C

relative minor

A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A

These two groups cover a lot of ground for us, in creating melodies, triads / chords, and their colortones.

The 'rule' we break everyday. Just turns out that in all of our musics, we tend to break the diatonic rule quite often. A 12 bar blues in a major key is a good example here. We use three V7 chords and a blues scale. None of which can be 'diatonically' created from one another or any parent scale. A problem? Nope, not at all. But in understanding our musics, we just might want to know why, and where the pitches are coming from to create the sounds we dig.

"Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist."
wiki ~ Pablo Picasso

Eight pitches. Perfect Octave Closure. Since we're breaking stuff, might as well add the 'octave eighth' pitch first, before continuing on to more colors. For in doubling our root pitch up an octave, we create the outermost valence of the unbreakable 'loop of 12.' For near all dwells within the octave.

All of our musical styles deeply rely on this perfect octave closure, a perfectly closed loop of pitches.

For in composing songs, the form used to structure a story plays a leading role, and how the pitches tell the story in musical notes is shaped by the form of the song. Octave closure, and the looping sense of moving towards a destination it can create, has historically gone hand and hand with musical form, in composing our stories of life into the songs and tales of old and new we love.

Within the octave interval. This next idea begins finding the colors within the octave's perfect loop and closure. With this perspective we can get our 'arms around the resources' as provided by the 12 pitches. Here's the major scale and a major pentatonic melody. Example 12.

Cool ? Sound about right ? Cool. And finding the blues hue within the octave interval? Easy. And how about a pure chromatic by 1/2 step only riff ? Simple. Ex.12a.

Cool ? Just the few pitches needed to bring the blues hue? Yep. And any of the 12 pitches of the chromatic color can be borrowed at any point to bring its magic? Absolutely. That all our colors can manifest and thrive within the octave is the core of the understanding right here. Potentially, some very essential theory in this as we gain the intellectual closure that never ever quits.

And quitters never win, except in ... :)

~ now ... from 8 through the 12th unique pitch ~

Eight pitches / the 'other' five pitches. Octave closure and adding in new pitch colors. At eight unique (different) pitches, it kabooms yet again. For while we can add in one pitch at a time, we can also think along the lines of the 'other' five pitches. And in regards to style and how these pitches find their spots within the diatonic, we want to look at both their melody and harmony evolutions.

For example, there's rarely ever a '#1 / b2' pitch in folk musics. Even in the blues, '#1 / b2' is more of a 'way pushed out of tune' tonic / One pitch than a true #1 coloring.

So for a first 'easy in' to understanding these remaining five pitches / colors, we can view them as blue notes in relation to the diatonic seven, then just sort things out from there. As we ascend beyond the diatonic towards the complete 12 pitches of our palettes, we're thinking blue notes and blues hue, and bebop leaning jazz lines.

With chords, the essential evolutions become making the four diatonic minor triads into major. Then by adding a 7th to each triad, we then easily start up the 'V7 of V' cycles, the cycles of dominant chords, we find in songs from all eras and styales. Like the blues? Yep, and beyond too, as we move by fourths around the cycle.

In chart form, next examine the letter names of the pitches, as we evolve our colors with the blue notes / other five pitches, thinking from the root pitch 'C.' And while there are surely other ways these 'other five' blue notes effect our chords, these next ideas are a sort of 'first valence' of the possibilities. Example 13.

scale degree #'s
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
5
#5
6
b7
7
8

major penta (5)

C
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C

other five pitches

.
C#
.
D#
.
.
F#
.
G#
.
Bb
.
.
arpeggio degree #'s
1
3
5
7
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
evolve tonic I to become V7 of IV for a stronger, more authentic cadence motion to Four
C
E
G
Bb
.
.
.
.
.
relative minor triad on vi evolves to major, becomes V7 of ii
A
C#
E
G
.
ii -7 evolves to a major triad / now V7 becomes V7 of V
D
F#
A
C
.
iii -7 to major / V7 becomes V7 of vi
E
G#
B
D
.
vii -7b5 borrow two pitches / to major / V7 becomes V7 of iii
B
D#
F#
A
.

Letter names or numbers? In designating the root pitches of triads and chords, both letter names or their numbers within a key center work fine. Whatever is best for you to be correct is best. If your style of music stays near the 'diatonic 3 and 3', chances are letter names for chords are just the ticket. Also, when working with other artists, be sensative to their ways of understanding how they label chords. All that matters really is getting on the same page and making your musics together, whatever anything in the music is labeled etc.

For some readers here, further on down this 'letter / number' road, there's an idea we term 'chord type.' Here we move beyond one key center's 'diatonic 3 and 3', and begin to borrow chords form other keys. Here the numbers begin to take the lead. It's just easier usually as we lean towards a jazz styling. And once moving in this way of thinking, we'll usually apply the numbers to all our elements, as we take on a more fully 12 tone vision of the resources etc.

As roots of chords. A next evolution with these five notes, still within a diatonic scheme, is to make them the root pitches of new chords. These root we slip in between the diatonic positions, creating more chromatic motions in the bass line. More chromatic = jazz it up ? Exactly. Examine the pitches, the new five we're adding now in billiard balls and da bold :) Example 13.

5 pure blue notes
.
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
scale degree #'s
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
5
#5
6
b7
7
8
7 relatives major / minor / oct. close @ 8
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C

blue note / 5 remaining pitches

.
C#
.
Eb / D#
.
.
F#
.
G#
.
Bb / A#
.
C
12 pitches / chromatic enhancement
C
C#
D
D#
E
F
F#
G
G#
A
Bb
B
C

'C#, D#, F#', G#, Bb.' Mixing sharps and flats? Oh well, common practice dictates yes? Thinking 'flat 7' is way more common than '#6.' So, these passing chords are a way to 'jazz things up a bit.' The passing diminished color becoming not only an accelerator pedal to zoom up our sense of forward motion in our chord progressions, but as part of V7b9, our portal to our chord substitution universe of all things leaning towards the jazz stylings.

So ... which goes where? So which pitch we add next is really a matter of taste, choice and of course, necessity. What style are we creating in etc., helps determine our next pitch choices. Thinking here along style lines, and with 'C' as our root pitch to measure from, a few generalizations about the color tones and a brief example of their aural magics.

Add 'Bb' / 'A#', the b7 / # 6 for Folk: Very common to add b7 for tonic Mixolydian color and build a real V7 chord for motion to Four. In 'C', adding in 'Bb / A#.'

Add 'F#' / 'Gb', the # 4 / b5 for blues and jazz: Blue melodies love all the blue notes of course so thinking chords now to find something new, the #4 / #IV / tritone note and chord is a way to jazz lean things with just the one pitch / chord. The #4 also gives us our first 'V of V' cycle, so essential in our Americana songs through our spectrum of styles. In 'C', adding in 'F# / 'Gb.'

Adding 'C#' / 'Db', the # 1 / b2 for pop towards jazz: Pop chord progressions love to cycle by fourths and fifths. Just across the wheel and pedal on back to home. The #1, a wailing wailing blue note, also gives us our key pitch to create another click back on our 'V of V' cycles and of course the great accelerator itseld, the '#1 diminished 7th chord.' In 'C', adding in 'C#.' Flat two as a root pitch is a bossa nova / Latin style staple, in theory based on the tritone substitute chord. Up an octave as 'b9', a common jazz passing tone

The b3 / # (sharp) 2 for pop toward jazz: Total total blue note honker. As a chord, #2 = passing diminished between the diatonic Two and Three chords in the up tempo, through the changes jazz realm. In 'C', adding in 'Eb / D#' to the line.

The #5 (sharp) for pop toward jazz: With #5, three main new chords found in pop and beyond are now diatonically available. We can augment our tonic triad, creating a rather unique motion to Four. While mostly pop and jazz, this comes along in the country styles too. And with #5 we also evolve a V7 chord on the diatonic , minor Three position, setting a stronger, even 'old timey' passing chord motion to both Four again, or to our relative minor on Six. Both of these motions are not uncommon in pop chord progressions. In 'C', letter wise simply adding in the pitches 'G#' / 'Ab' into the mix :)

Thinking genre and musical style. These next ideas examine our most common styles and genres of songs with our various numerical musical creating devices. All in good fun really and mostly a review, and of course all in theory. For anything can be anywhere is the art of making art. That we each can find our own best way to understand our own music, yet all share of and from the same 'well of knowledge', is the Americana way. That all our musics in the Amer Afro Euro weave today share a global music theory and vocabulary.

Children's songs. Our most theory basic songs are ones written for kids and usually rhymes of special words that we love. The theme for the words power the melody. Kids Americana songs have just a few pitches, often arranged as a major triad with a jaunty air. Usually stepwise pitches as it is easier to sing, there's often a sequence in the line to generate some motion to the closure of the story. Repetition often wins the day.

Time and tempo. All about telling the story of the songs, finding a tempo for the words and their rhymes. Mostly in the 'big four' or in 3, all of the Americana lines have the DNA to swing easily with great joy.

Melodies. Clear, sequential, stepwise and triads are all common. Strong beginning and ending to the line.

Arpeggios. Most often on the tonic pitch and One chord, many of our melodies made with triads.

Chords. Principally One and Five, and really any and all in competent hands. Remember simple can often be a solution and sometimes the best one too :)

Form. Two, four and eight bar phrases repeated over and over. Also, 'mini' song forms are not uncommon.

Color tones. We find the major 6th in more adventurous lines of major pentatonic, the minor 7th of the pentaonic minor in many minor melodies.

Improv. Mostly in the vocals and storytelling, instrumentally maybe 8 bars per tune per player in performance ... ? Jazz players might consider keeping their solos short until asked for more :)

A song to learn. Rote learn by ear your favorite song that you learned as a kid. Too easy? Run it through a couple of keys. Still too easy? All 12 keys. Create a chord melody of it? Find a a 2nd favorite same process? Essentials suggestion, "This Old Man."

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

wiki ~ Leonardo da Vinci

why ?

Folk songs. In performance, our Americana folk songs are almost always sung, for in folk music, there's a tale to tell, a story to be told. While instrumentals versions are not uncommon, and soloists will 'theme and variate' the written melody of a song, vocal tunes are surely favored. The voice paired with a stringed instrument goes way way back in our evolutions. Thoughtful and heartfelt harmonies in the voices will win the day every time. For we've had this music all along. Folk songs tell a story that most folks listening can understand and identify with in spirit.

Often retelling our histories, our Americana folk captures in music our historical events for the ages to remember in song. Mostly pentatonic in melody, three chords and the truth from the diatonic key center often rules the day; One, Four and Five as triads with a 7th on Five, so V7.

Time and tempo ~ 4 / 4. A 'walking tempo' is most common in 4, in 3/4 time are the waltz's and 6/8 begins to appear to help the swing along. Folk dancers tend to do steps together, clogging and square dancing are still fairly common.

Melodies. Diatonic five to seven pitches to capture the emotional quality of the words used to tell the story of the song. Simple, heartfelt, humourous and sincere, to tell any tale of the sameness of humanness we all share and live each day in commonality.

Arpeggios. As in children's songs, the three note major and minor triads still rule the day as folk motifs.

Chords. Principally One, Four and Five triads. Here we first solidly enter into the realm of the 'diatonic three and three.' One / Four / Five progressions in both major and minor with the one key center, relative major / natural minor pitches. These six chords create the basis of the harmony weave of a gillion or so Americana tunes. Remember that simple can be best too.

Form. Eight bar phrases double to 16 which doubles to 32, the most common of our song lengths historically, excepting the 12 bar blues of course. In the longer 32 bar forms, often there are two themes, one major one minor, providing a balance for the 'two sides to the story', a creative retelling the ups and downs of a tale.

Color tones. Again Six is most common, although any open tuning can advance the coloring up of the triads right quickly. Surely a hint of the Americana blue hue, all throughout the literature, all throughout our history, some genres more than others.

Improv. Mostly in the vocals. Some cats yodel along which is a hoot, crowds love this. It's so rare nowadays that it'll bring the house down pert near every time :) I've seen this magic many many times. If new to you, try some improv yodeling along with your song and see if you don't initially bust up laughing. Work it into your act and behold its joyful magic on audiences of all ages.

Solo breaks are not uncommon but now we're leaning stylewise towards the bluegrass side of the dale. If ya get the nod to play a few bars, maybe just find some of the melody. Having something cool for the last hold can be a nice added touch in closing.

A folk song to learn. Into the wayback for Essential's suggestion of "Oh Susanna." An Americana love song fave, just a perfect pentatonic jaunty a la ditty, which can swing super hard, is old timey, yet a great dance tune too. Recorded by so many folks stars over the decades, it's just a shame not to know today, and even share once in a while in these modern times of the sophistication of near everything. Like making an old fashioned school book into this fancy 'e' book? Prolly :)

Ye haw and a woo hoo !

Another first bluegrass song to learn. Hands down choice here ... "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms." Man this tune can cook ! Gets the dancers right up and even singing along when gently encouraged. Find a recording and learn it by ear.

Blues songs. The blues is a wide wide strand in the fabric of our Americana musics. For we can find its blue hue in just about every style imaginable. Well maybe not kid's songs. In theory, initially based on combining pitches from two our main ways tunings, we rub these notes together to create its hair raising blue magic.

Intro's. There's really just two that need to be initially mastered that will end up working in lots of essential spots through all our Americana styles. There's the "Muddy" and the "Elmore" intro licks, each here named after the artist that they are associated with.

Time and tempo / a 2 and 4 backbeat / dance. Folks love to dance, and listen, to the blues, as it is usually easy to follow right along with the band and story being told. They can improvise / coreograph their steps right along with the improv of the music. Blues is almost always in 4, tempos vary between slow to the brighter shuffle, where the triplet feel of 3 is layered over the 4, making for the 6/8 or 12/8 feel. That both of these time / rhythms are in the basis of swing ties the blues styles with the jazz styles.

Melodies. Blues melodies backing the vocal lines are usually just a couple of pitches. Longer sustained notes too. Based on the blues scale; the minor pentatonic group with an added tritone, the words and pitches, harnessed into 4 bars, are often simply repeated 3 times to create the form of the song.

4 x 3 = 12 bars

And while there's variations of course, most of the lasting literature is in the 12 bar form. So, three, four bar phrases. Two repeated verses as the 'call', and the last as the response is common and tells a story in a natural way. This writing format has now worked like a charm for a hundred years or more. Got any blues hooks needing to be developed into a full song?

Arpeggios. In the blues, as in folk as in rock and country and anything with a gospel hue, the three note triads really rule the day when arpeggios are in the melody. In either an ascending or descending direction, triads rule the day. Blues bass lines are for the most part created from consistently arpeggiating the chords. In the bass lines, arpeggios often include the 7th to sound out the pitches of the backing V7 chord basis of blues harmony.

Chords. Principally the One, Four and Five chords, with a big push to Four is very very common, and in the chords and harmony is where the pure diatonic theory goes quite wonky, and rather quickly for that matter.

First, our parent scale for the melody pitches does not have the pitches to create the chords ...

So we've already broken our first rule of diatonic harmony. A concern? Nope, just want to know the combinations and sources for the pitches.

Second, that the One, Four and Five chords in a major key blues song are all V7 chord type, so they all contain a tritone between their 3rd and 7th.

Concern? Nope. So in sorting it all out there's a lot of borrowing pitches. Problem here? Nope, but very often quite a tangle for emerging theorists to decipher from our diatonic perspective, our essential basis for understanding most musics. So, does any of this theory mumbo jumbo matter when writing or performing blues songs? When we get 'under the lights' as they say?

Good question amigo. When writing and shedding, I'd say yes theory matters big time, but then I'm a theorist. Knowing the theory provides imaginative options for our creative. And when performing? I'd say no, the theory of it is built in to what we're playing, the form, chords etc. Because once under the lights, the magic begins anew each time we count it off ... :) Never fails. Poof ... what was I thinking ? I've other, more important things to think about now :)

In a minor key blues song, same 12 br form generally, the three principle chords are minor 7th, so what we can term a Two chord type. A minor triad + minor 7th. Thus, way more diatonic in overall constuction. I'd say the major to minor ratio of key centers of 100 blues songs that get played regularly is about ... 10 songs in major for every one minor.

Yet, in major key blues, there's a ton of minor pitches in the melody line. Actually, the best of the blue notes ( ? ) are minor intervals, in relation to the pitches used to build up the chords that support them. This all revolves around the major 3rd of the triad in V7.

Blus rub ? Blues hue ? Create blue magic ? Exactly.

Form. The four bar phrase and motion to Four are the 'Four Kings of the Blues.' Most blues songs string three of these phrases together making 12 bars. This is the core Americana blues form. And while there's all sorts of variations in length of form, this 12 bar blues form has been our continental standard for eight or nine decades now, and is surely also heading towards global recognition, becoming known as a musical form that quickly brings like minded cats together right now.

Like jamming? Yep, but with a measurable form or framework to organize pitches, chords and music time together, to build an interactive group magic that is recognized and shared by the players, the listeners and dancers alike. When everyone in the mix can follow along together, there's a new type of potential for creating community through our music.

Color tones. As the blues is mainly a V7 based genre, the most common color tones are the ones built off V7. That melody pitches, the blue notes, are often not part of the basic chords, advanced players will often find these tones in the chords in their supporting role behind the singer. The melody minor 3rd becoming the V7#9 probably being the most common. The diatonic 'nine' color of the V9 chord makes the core harmony for all sorts of funk styles. Eleven is common in songs in a minor key. Thirteen is the color tone for all sorts of blues grooves; jump, swing, rockabilly etc., whether the 12 bar blues form is the overall structure of the song or not as the case may be. Blues hue mixed into other styles? Exactly. Americana core? Yep.

Improv. In small group performance, I've ever yet to see cats reading on the gig. So in that sense, the whole tamale is being created live thus improvised; everyone making up their parts together as they hear it as they go along together. In addition, there's a lot of soloing as each player can get an opportunity to 'testify' about the story being told. While usually a two chorus minimum, stronger players need more space to work up their magic. In regular jazz performances of the 12 bar blues, in medium to brighter tempos, taking a half a dozen choruses is not at all uncommon.

Dynamics. The loud and soft dynamics of the music is probably most apparent in a blues performance than in any of our other musical styles. Getting the whole band underneath evenly in volume so as to hear the whisper of the soloist as well as backing their shouting release is the range of dynamics that can happen in every song. Very very difficult for a band to do consistently well. That said, the repeating cycle of the 12 bar form gives ample opportunity and an easy target for everyone to bring the volume down at the 'top' of the form. We just have to remember to do it or gently remind one another. The profound effect that volume dynamics have on the art being created, and the audience as well, makes it well worth the effort to strengthen the dynamic ability of an improvisatory collective of players; for a little bit of discipline can take us a long long way.

A song to learn. The author's own "The Truth Is."

Gospel songs. Add folk and blues together and we get gospel. Just as with the blues, our gospel music is a wide wide band in the fabric of our Americana musics. As it evolved early on in our American history, say around 1800 or so, it has been with us all along. In today's musics, and especially in women's vocal lines, there's just a ton of this 'gospel' crossover with the blues.

Time and tempo. Gospel music is designed to include all in the room through storytelling. Themes are universal, about love and spirit, doing good deeds and remembering there's a reckoning for each of us a coming, on down the road. Tempos give listeners a chance to reflect on the idea and respond in kind. The 'call and response' format between voices, found in all of our Americana styles, is rooted in gospel music. The 4/4 pulse is most common throughout the songs.

Melodies. Melodies are diatonic mostly, with big dollops of the blues hue adding to the testimony of the partakers. Rhythms are There's a six pitch, major scale sans a leading tone pitch, that gives us the carefree of the pentatonic five, while including Four. Motion to and from Four is the core DNA of gospel. We use it in all of our styles to 'bring some gospel' to whatever style we're creating in.

Chords. Again, principally mixing the diatonic major and minor One, Four and Five chords, i.e., the three and three. The blues influence often adds the b7. Motion to Four is the core of it all. There's no other chords in gospel that hold such prominence. In both major or minor keys, motion to Four is at the core of it all

Form. The musical form for gospel is most often written around the call and response of the lyrics and story. Alternating eight bar phrases, even just a four bar vamp works just fine if that's what the melody calls for. The longer 32 bar forms, the AABA and AB are also common, though suited more for listening perhaps than ther back and forth of call and response.

Color tones. The added colors to the harmony often revolve around adding the '6th' to tonic function chords. Otherwise triads rule the day, giving the melody a chance to proceed unhindered by the colors of the chords. The stories and message in gospel music is one of simplicity, and the harmony and colortones support and reflect that. That said, the vocal melissmas of seasoned singers is probably beyond being accurately notated, as melodically complex, and oh so Americana, of any vocal lines we might ever hear. As cool as it gets? For some yea, and hair raising? Yep, that's the idea.

Improv. There's some blowing in gospel, though often limited to to just sections within a piece. As the organ plays such a role, its sustained pitch ability creates some wonderful crescendos. Often the leader of the music will improvise a dialogue with the listeners, so everyone gets a chance to testify and add in their own magic.

Dynamics. Since gospel music is so cool in telling stories, cats need to be good listeners and super keen on following the nuances of the singer / leader of the session. Experienced leaders of gospel bands develop their own ways to tell the band what to do while performing. A lot of this is looks and hand motions. And while the musical parts are generally within the grasp of most players who try, following the soft / loud dynamics generated by how the story is being told, is a supreme challenge at times. At the close of many performances of gospel music, there's often a coda that just grooves along, most often between One and Four, that gives everyone a chance to join in. These codas will often get louder and louder till there ain't no more to get to, at which point, the leader conducts the band out, often with a series of holds, giving everyone a chance to catch on to the end nice and solid and finish together.

A gospel song to learn. "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

“Fats, how did this rock ’n’ roll all get started anyway?”An interviewer for a Hearst newsreel asked him in 1957. Mr. Domino answered: “Well, what they call rock’n’ roll now is rhythm and blues. I’ve been playing it for 15 years in New Orleans.”

wiki ~ Fats Domino

By Jon Pareles and William Grimes Oct. 25, 2017

Rock songs. Coming right on out of the blues of the 1950's, early rockers followed close to the 12 bar blues form. The earliest 'official' rock songs followed the boogie woogie arpeggiated V7 bass line for each of the three chords. Since then there's no limit to the creative direction rock music has taken. Telling stories is still the core. The juice of young love, that at some point bursts from every heart from each new successive generation, is often the magic elixir to energize the next top 10 hit.

The evolution of the gear for guitar players, through the succeeding decades, plays huge in the evolutions of the various styles and genres of all of the rock music we inherit today. While mostly looking for longer sustain on held notes, the various signal overdrives rockers love often call for readjusting the combinations of pitches we choose to sound together. So Chords? Yep, the chords. The 'power' chords? Yep, the power chords. For example. Example 14.

"Easy Blues"
12 bar blues
wiki ~ boogie woogie
magics
"Easy Blues"
top 10
evo ~ gear
evo ~ power chords
evo ~ other evos

Cool? Simply that less pitches makes for less confusion as the pitch orbits of each string of each note in any chord goes through the amplification process. So where's the big roar in the last idea, sounds vanilla ? Well, that's your business to jazz it up :)

What makes it 'rock.' Time and tempo / rock style music hits on beat one. Folks love to dance to rock music so tempos are danceable to slower for slow dancing :) The big 4 again is king. And while the 2 and 4 backbeat fills the dance floor, rock likes to hit on the downbeat, 1, the first beat of the measure. In essence, rock is rock because it hits on one; drums, bass, guitar, vocals ect., nearly always followed by the snare hit on 2.

Melodies. While there's a lot of rock instrumentals, most rock melodies are sung. Melodies are usually blues based or if more major scale, then leaning towards a more pop direction. Critics often distinguish between a 'singer' and a vocalist.' A singer finding moreart in the presentation of the pitches of the song's melody and a vocalist more focused on fronting the band show, telling their stories with oftentimes with more bravado and showmanship than pitch expertise.

Chords. Principally mixing the diatonic major and minor One, Four and Five chords, i.e., the three and three. The blues influence often adds the b7. Thanks to the evolution of the gear, today's rockers are often just working the root and fifth of the chords, modern power chords I guess. Early 50's rock and rockabilly used more triad based ideas, with the major 6th chord adding in the jump feel of rockabilly and its swing. 60's power chords were barre chords with a fair amount of doubling in the two core voicings. 70's begin the digital gear evolutions and its balance of a return to analog hand wired rigs. So from the 5th's of metal to the beginnings of the V7 blues and V9 of funk and into jazz harmonies, all of our chords can find a home somewhere in the rock stylings.

Form. The 12 bar blues is not uncommon especially early on and also in rock adaptations of true 12 bar blues tunes. The four bar phrase still reigns supreme, getting linked like boxcars to tell the tales. Intros play a big part in rock. Signature riffs to kick off a tune are still among the most sort after pitches in the biz.

Color tones. With its blues basis, rock colortones mostly lean the way of the blues. But anytime there's some pop in the rock, all of the diatonic colortones are in play. Any sort of theatrical rock will surely stretch all of the boundaries of all of our elements.

Improv. Rockers, like blues players, generally are not reading the music they are performing, thus they are improvising their parts often based the rote learning of their part in the music. Through repetition their parts become second nature for performance. The rock soloist often holds the top spot among the fans, when both lead singer and soloist are the same cat, the potential for superstar status begins to align.

Dynamics. Since "Stairway To Heaven" was released, rock composers love to mix and balance quiet sections with a full on musical blast. Time and again we hear top 10 songs with acoustically sounding intros or verse sections within a song followed by the full roar of the chorus. Not too sure if the opposite is true. A blast of a verse with acoustic chorus. Regardless, rock is music that is generally played loud. Over the decades of its performance it'll take a toll on one's physical hearing abilities. Be mindful of your ears around loud and powerful sound reinforcement equipment. Although some might quip ... 'if its too loud you're too old ...' if we can't hear it then we can't hear it ... at any age. Be careful, we only get two ears, and all the stuff inside that make them work, which is a lot of very small parts, and they are way hard to fix.

A song to learn. "When You Coming Back."

"Easy Blues"
12 bar blues
wiki ~ boogie woogie
magics
"Easy Blues"
top 10
evo gear
evolutions of power chords
top 10
hits on 1
the big 4
the backbeat
the big 4
pitch expertise
the diatonic three and three
root and 5th
power chords
barre chords
blues chords
jazz chords
intros
signature riffs
diatonic color tones
theatrical rock
rote learning
verse
chorus
wiki ~ hearing
wiki ~ ear

Bluegrass and country songs. The basis of these musics is probably just 'three chords and the truth.' Stories are written and told as in the folk manner but country has its own sort of twang to it. Bluegrass brighter tempos, more breaks and improv generally. The themes for the songs run the wide range of events that fill the lives of the folks that live in the country, as opposed to the cities, probably why we end up and call it country music. Bluegrass named from the color of some of the grass that grow in Kentuky.

Time and tempo. Folks love to dance to these musics, so there's a few key tempos, bass patterns and beats to learn. The big 4 rules still rules the day, strong 'chunkin' on 2 and 4 is common in bluegrass and there's a waltz's in 3 are surely a dancer's delight.

Melodies. Melodies are mostly diatonic major with a hint of the blues on certain pitches and words. In Appalachian sourced melodies we commonly find Mixolydian mode hints into more traditional bluegrass melodies such as "Old Joe Clark." Telling the story is the key and however best that is, the vocalist will usually decide and shape the lines accordingly. Vocal harmonies have been essential in these genres and take lots and lots of work to get right. The hard work pays off in beautiful art and well worth the effort for those that want to gig steady. Bluegrass has way more instrumentals (no vocals), where the melody is played by an instrument in the group. Rule of thumb here is to simply not be afraid of the melody. Just rote learn it and then gig it over and over, become one with the melody :)

Chords. The full mix of the diatonic One, Four and Five major and minor triads are all in play. Surely a 7th on the Five chord making V7 / dominant 7th, and more of this sound when the blues hue enters these genres.

Form. The four bar phrase is still king, multiples of four into really any of the abbreviated or full 32 bar song forms are most most common. Although there's the 12 bar blues form which usually comes along with some rock influence in country. Country songs tell stories, stories easily unfold in the timeless manner of the gospel basic of call and response, which most often balances all into four bar phrases. Master the four barphrase and a lot will fall into place :)

Color tones. Six is probably the most common and forms an original country guitar / bass guitar lick. In the vocals, there's the fluidness of the gospel, bluesy chromatics of pitch that adorn principle pitches with accomplished singers. Potentially termed melismatic, finding a balance between pure tone and a gospel blues filigree is the challenge all country singers might need to negotiate at some point along the way. Yodeling was an earlier style that country folks just love but not all too common these days.

Improv. Lead solo's in bluegrass and country for guitar, steel guitars, fiddles, mandolins, banjos and more, usually run eight bars or so and are pretty snappy affairs getting in some real joy and oftentimes laughter into the music, longer solos when playing live to stretch out tunes. Studio recordings, and this is historically speaking too, often finds each soloist getting four bars, as they split up the larger form to give everyone a say and still come in under three minutes for the recording for radio play. This creates some wonderful 'trading of ideas' between the players.

Dynamics. The loud and soft voice dynamics of an animated storyteller can add great depth to the telling of the tale and draw in the listeners that much closer.

A song to learn. In addition to the titles suggested in the above discussion, two of which are included as lead sheets in the songs section, here's two additional suggestions; the absolutely rollicking Americana classic "Roll In My Sweey Baby's Arms" and the Old West story of Marty Robbibs titled "El Paso." Both of which are simply great tunes, now classics covered by many stars and mostly known by everyone in the room.

Americans country music
three chords and the truth
bass patterns
instrumentals
fear not the melody
the diatonic triads
V7
32 bar song forms
cliche country lick
wiki ~ "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms
wiki ~ "El Paso"
covered

Pop songs.

"Some people want to fill the world

with silly love songs ... "

"What's wrong with that ... ?

Americana pop is an urban phenomena of mostly vocal music and was at one time totally centered on American jazz. When radio first came on big in the 30's, the age jazz was king and most well crafted pop song had everything; a spoken word intro, recitative setting up the story to be told backed by hints of the song's main melody, an instrumental introduction to the statement of the main melody, a second melody commonly know as the bridge, a recapitulation of the main melody and some sort of coda that brought the song to a close. Do we still get these elements in well crafted pop songs today? Absolutely.

Through the decades after, pop took on new meanings as our culture evolved. By the 50's, the cross-pollinations between communities began the advent of rock and roll. Originally based on the blues form, early rock became the new pop and jazz moved on. From that point forward through the 60's to today, pop music, or America's popular music, has also been tonic centered but just a lot more diatonic, relying on core pitches that are worked into very singable hooks. Easy to remember, easy to hum along with. Ever get a tune 'stuck in your head?' Probably a pop song. While mostly about love and all its wonders, pop songs continue in the American tradition of musics; at the end of the day to simply wash off the dust of everyday life.

Time and tempo. Pop music is very often the music the office folks listen to on the radio at work during the week and want to go out and dance to on the weekends at their clubs. Mostly in 4, tempos range from ballads to salsa's that race the dancers around. No limit and all is in play. Folks love to get fancied up and go out to dance on Saturday night. There's a big payday all around in the whole process for show biz folks. It's what we do. Not sure how music theory fits into all of this but it can't hurt to know. Fresh remakes of remakes of originals with a modern touch ( yours ) can still go top ten.

Melodies. Pop melodies are mostly diatonic in a major key. Minor key pop tunes often tell sad stories and then borrow a bit of the major to bring some light and to steer clear of a too darkly modal effect. The melodic mixing of the yin / yang ~ major / minor ~ minor / major has been with us forever.

Chords. Pop chords are mostly triads, diatonic and mix of the three principle chords; One, Four and Five.

Form. The various 32 bar song forms are most popular. Today's hip hop and beyond is usually a series of four, four bar phrases, repeated.

Color tones. Diatonic mostly with limited chromaticism. And unless the story line is blues hued, there's not a lot of the blue notes which if present are cliche ideas.

Improv. Usually four to eight bars of a worked out idea and this would be the riff of the song or quoting the hook.

Dynamics. Nothing over done really, just an even mix for dancing and telling love stories. Author's note; not sure why there's not more spots where 'a wisper' of the voice is used.

A pop song to learn. Here's a Latin dance number titled "Waltz In To My Arms."

wiki ~ "Silly Love Songs"
Americans pop music
pop music
the radio
well crafted
recitative
intro
melody
the bridge
recapitulation
coda
form in music
wash the dust
in 4
wiki ~ top 10
major / minor
the diatonic 3 and 3
form in music
cliche ideas
the riff
quoting
mix / mastering

Jazz musics. Throughout all of our Americana history of creating jazz musics, the element of surprise is perhaps its most exciting feature. For when we each think of our most exciting music, tempo wise it is scootin' right along exctitng music, surpeise :).

Jazz songs. The theory in Americana jazz covers the full spectrum of all available resources, instruments, combinations etc., that anything from anywhere is all on the jazz palette of musical colors. We can historically trace the evolution of the gradual lessening of the sense of a tonal center through the decades; from the more tonic centered blues of the 20's to the free 12 tone works 50 years later. In between is the full slicing and exhausting of the diatonic pie as well as a full exploration of basic chord substitution principles that have lead us to the V7 based chromatic buzz of today.

Time and tempo. Surely the big 4 march is the basis, for from it springs the easy swing that energizes the jaunty Americana we so dig and can find somewhere in all of our stylesd and genres. Nowadays everything is in play from all cultures, and especially the Latin sounds from Brazil and beyond. Initially in the later bop of the 1940's then the softer bossa nova craze in the late 50's into the 60's, today's Latin influence creates a modern coolness and smoothness that is pure dance. Explore.

Melodies. As all 12 pitches are play and the endless shading of the blue note pitches in between, absolutely no limit to our melodic resource. As guitar plyers we can fret a note, bend a note or find the right pitch with a slide. Sequences are very common, as are wide interval leaps and especially the octave, found in so many great jazz melodies.

Chords. Anything from anywhere is the theory mantra. While it takes a while to get there, knowing the theory of this potentiality creates the evolving harmonic vista.

Form. All of our most common forms; the 2 bar vamp, the 4 and 8 bar phrase, 12 bar blues, 16 bar forms that double to 32 song forms are in the jazz literature. Players routinely negotiate an arrangement by saying; vamping in, play the form, solo over the form and vamp on out. Or call something as a 12 bar blues. Collectively from all the styles these forms sum up what commonly find and play in jazz songs. With these under our fingers we've the raw materials to expand and arrange musical forms to tell the unique story of a song. A strong sense of form, and where one is within a set form as the music moves along is the goal. For if your music evolves along the 'free' stylistic vein of jazz's historical pathway, it'll be the form of the piece that helps to bind the elements in performance. 'Marking' the time, as in the beginning of each new four bar phrase, is a sure way to sure things up in this tonal environment.

Color tones. All colortones are available on chords.

Improv. The heart of jazz is the 'collective conscious' improv of the collaborating players. Whether playing by rote or reading, for jazz players there's usually the improv basis underneath it all. For even rote players will oftentimes read along written music, turning chord symbols into their arpeggios and sound these pitches out as the chords pass by, creating single line melody style improvisations, sifting for ideas to further develop. While more reading the music groups usually leave sections for each player to solo in the emotional environment created by the song.

From club date to concert hall, dixie to modern, jazz players will shed with collaborative improv in mind, show up and negotiate, and often bring to the music aspects of what their day has brought them. Mix a few of these voices together with a sense of swing and somewhere in the negotiation of the music is the cherished artform we call jazz that we newly invent each time we count it off.

Dynamics. Again the idea that an interesting conversation is often created with a well modulated voice of tone and volume. Knowing the words to the instrumental versions of standards is a way into the story of the song, becoming a way into the message and intent of the composer that we recreate.

A song to learn. Hands down learn "When The Saints Go Marching In." Find its swing. Advanced cats might run the line through all 12 keys to up the challenge. Then the blues, its notes and form. Once the basics are mastered in a couple of keys, start in on the chord substitutions. Strive to 'hear the changes in the line.'

Americans jazz music
a palatte of colors
tonal center
a palatte of colors
diatonic pie
V7 chromatic buzz
octave melodies
big 4
bossa nova

explore

bending pitches

slide

sequences

octave interval in melodies

form in music

free jazz

marking time

tonal environment

color tones
emotional environment
swing
count it off
dynamics
standards
count it off
"Saints"
... through 12 keys
blues
12 bar form
blues subsitutions
hear the changes ...

Review. In a top to bottom review of this page, we end up with an accumulated sense of each of our main musical components and how we in theory shape them in creating a style of music. There's a gradually increasing numerical aspect to all of this too. Pitch by pitch to scales, a doubling of length of measures in a phrase, add extra color tones notes to triads, these all contribute to the evolution of the theory / musical style dynamic. That we want a splash of one style to jazz up another into something new and exciting, is among the most wonderful things we might get to do as improvising artists. As theorists here, we look to explore the way of the splash :)

theory / style dynamic
'jazz up'

"I wrote the shortest jazz poem ever heard ..." "Listen."

wiki ~ Jon Hendricks

Footnotes:

(1)Mauleon-Santana, Rebeca. 101Montunos, p. iv. USA Sher Music Co.,Ca. 1999

(1) Isacoff, Stuart. Temperament ... The Idea That Solved Music's Greatest Riddle, p. 40-42. USA Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2001

(2)Aebersold, Jamey and Slone, Ken. The Charlie Parker Omnibook. New York: Atlantic Music Corp., 1978.

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Seven songs. While in each of our seven broad styles of our Americana there's just lots of songs we can learn, yet if we fully learn just one song, one that has that style's DNA nice and thick woven into its core, and we can emotionally embrace its vibe, we're probably golden forever in that style. Called 'covering a tune' in the biz, the idea here is that if we can cover _____ , then just about any other song in that style and genre shoulda woulda coulda be doable by a pro leaning, gigging artist. That if ya got the chops to cover ____, ya can probably learn ____ pretty easily. Read the bio's of the musical artists you dig and vision to emulate, and this idea of 'covering' comes up again and again, again, and again :)

Seven songs.

We're just telling stories with words. So on the airwaves of today, the spoken word again reighns supreme in getting a story told. With the advent of our modern tech, simply fantastical combinations of old fashion opera, reconvene in diagital giving us, the lights, action camera from the old days.

As musicians, the coolest aprt of all of this newness of spken word in most cases is peformed while dancing. For some of the biggest stars of our pop / hip / hop and beyond are dancers And in this combo the of big beat, groove and setting, dance and movement, the spoken word is presented in a fully formed setting thataurally depicts the humaness of the story being told.

It just doen't get any better for the creative musical artist who will thrive on collaboration with other like minded artists. For it takes a whole lotta crew to work this magic. Unlimited rewards in all the aspects such as fame, fortune and fun, all while building community by providing fun art that folks can enjoy together. Got any shows coming up ?

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~ a spectrum of styles spanning folk to jazz ~

~ music style by # of melody pitches ~

~ music style by # / loops of chords ~

 

hip hop musics and songs

 
 

new age musics and songs

 
 
 
 

'from children's songs and folks in the country to bluegrass and beyond to the blues hues urbanized into the 'R an' B' of reggae, rock, rap, hip hop, pop and off to bossa and the ever beyonds of jazz ...'

 

“Fats, how did this rock ’n’ roll all get started anyway?”

An interviewer for a Hearst newsreel asked back in 57. And Mr. Domino answered: “Well, what they call rock’n’ roll now is rhythm and blues. I’ve been playing it for 15 years in New Orleans.”

wiki ~ Fats Domino

By Jon Pareles and William Grimes Oct. 25, 2017