Learning & Teaching


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A Glimpse At the Modal Universe

A diagram demonstrating a section of the huge modal universe. You may see how mirroring modes (turning them upside down) can organize them into levels of brightness. It can also identify those modes that are identical in mirror form. These include Dorian (used in a thousand tunes from Scarborough Fair, Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Brick House to The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy), Aeolian Dominant (Babooshka) and Double Harmonic (Miserlou from Pulp Fiction).

These are just 3 of the heptatonic even-tempered modes with mirror symmetry parents. There are many others, scales with 2-12 notes, as well as scales with ‘twin’ mode systems. Regardless this technique can be applied widely and is a rich resource for composers and improvisers alike.

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Spelling Guides. The polite edition for teachers.


Apostrophe's Polite 2 Effect or affect polite its your there polite to too two polite


MiltOnNotes Volume One

Here’s a compilation of several lectures on composition, 539 slides on many compositional aspects relevant to all styles.

If you don’t have time to read it all, simply type in a random page number and you should get a good stimulus for a composition.


Chords and Scales vs. Time-feel: A thought.

Chords and Scales vs. Time-feel: A thought..

Harmonic Literacy for Guitar XI: Triskaidekaphilia! 13th Chords Everywhere!

Harmonic Literacy for Guitar XI: Triskaidekaphilia! 13th Chords Everywhere!.

Harmonic Literacy for the Guitar IX – Endless Lines on Static Major Chords

In addition to playing over static minor and dominant chords, the ability to play over static major chords
in all positions of the fretboard is extremely useful. This have been kept fairly neutral. avoiding too much
differentiation between Ionian and Lydian so that these can be used on most instances of static major chords.
Learning and composing Major scale patterns like these (together with the Dominant and minor examples) will greatly
enhance the harmonic proficiency in your playing, and creative freedom in improvisation. Endless Lines III on Static Major Chords

Harmonic Literacy for Guitar VIII – Endless Lines on Static Minor Chords

Continuing from the last study, let’s take a CAGED approach to the minor or minor 7 chord. This will involve
Dorian, Melodic Minor, Aeolian, Dorian bebop, Minor blues and other bebop devices. A Dorian key signature
is given as this is a central modal component in a lot of static minor chord playing.
These have been written as continuous studies so repeat each section and move on at will for an epic workout.
Again we focus on a quaver feel,but remember that once absorbed these can be endlessly shuffled and lego-ed
in creative performance. Note also that these can work well on there related dominant chord (F7 in this case).
Be sure to visualise the underlying chord-shapes and arpeggios, practise in various keys, styles and tempos to
make them an intuitive part of your playing.
Endless Lines II on Static Minor Chords

Harmonic Literacy for Guitar VII – Endless Lines on Static Dominant Chords.

A real challenge in playing jazz guitar lies in the performance of long seamless lines. This of course is only
a small component of improvisation, but it’s worth working on, as the sort of motor control and brain-finger
connection has to be really developed. Using the CAGED system established previously, we’ll look at playing
over static dominant chord. This will largely use dominant, bebop dominant, lydian dominant with typical
bebop devices. Rather than runing scales, these (somewhat abritrary but effective) 4-bar phrases cover much
of each position and require a comprehensive understanding of fretboard harmony. Of course these can be
edited, recomposed, transposed, and lego-ed endlessly.
Endless Lines I – Static Dominant Chord

Harmonic Literacy for the Guitar VI: Minor Challenge. iiø-Valt-i all over the shop.

Following on from the challenge in the last post – developing ii-V-I vocabulary all over the fingerboard –  the following study takes a similar approach for minor ii-V-i patterns, for example Dm7(b5) – G7alt – Cm7. This will greatly enhance useful vocabulary. Furthermore all of the G7alt material may be readily used in a major ii-V context, and as ever these ideas can be broken up, restructured, shuffled, edited, sequenced and recombined for further editing. As a child I preferred Lego and Meccano to Playmobile and ActionMan. This is because with Lego and Meccano’s smaller and endlessly interconnectable units far more was possible, and the creative imagination had far freer scope; and partly because my ActionMan had missing fingers and only one of his eagle eyes moved.

One should adopt a Lego approach here, but just make sure you put them away when you’re finished.

Minor ii-V-I lines CAGED

Harmonic Literacy for the Guitar V: ii-V-I Isn’t this a lot of fun.

The following short document uses an approach that provides 40 useful ii-V-I lines in every position of the guitar fingerboard, greatly aiding fluency of long improvised lines through jazz harmony. Hard work, but big returns. As ever, enjoy the process of practising and earn the resulting creative freedom. Yeah.

ii-V-I lines CAGED


In Two Minds: Harmonic Literacy for the Guitar IV – Walking Bass & Chord

Unlike the piano, the ability of playing a simultaneous bass line and chord progression on the guitar is hard won.

However, with some focused work on fretboard harmony, an effective, intuitively controlled and fun approach is possible.

The following document provides an introduction to the technique – and some patient practice will go a long way. Enjoy

In Two Minds: Harmonic Literacy for the Guitar IV – Walking Bass & Chords


Melodic Minor Harmony and Modes

An Introduction to Popular Music Harmony

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Upper Structure Chords

Get on top of your harmony.[scribd id=50813436 key=key-2c52bur762jfva7la0oo mode=book]

Complete Track Analysis Techniques

Complete Track Analysis

Popular Music Harmony: Inversions and Basslines

Time-Feel Lecture Slides

Jazz Harmony Lecture Slides

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