Chord Theory, Jazz Theory, Scales And Modes

Learn Jazz Theory

February 17, 2009

This lesson will help you think about jazz theory and help you find a way to organize your jazz theory practice time. When we start learning jazz music theory, it is easy to get bogged down with individual topics and lose track of where we are. Jazz theory can be a fun and interesting topic but you need to have a structured approach to learning jazz theory. I will try and outline the main topics you need to think about when you are learning jazz theory. We can break our practice time down into small sections and work on each section in turn. When learning anything, it really helps to have a plan of action by following the list below you will have a structured guide to learning jazz theory.

Although it can seem initially daunting, jazz theory is nothing more than information you can use to help you improvise and write music. You need to learn the basic information in order to play and improvise over a piece of music but you also need to develop your own musical personality. The more confident you become with jazz theory, the more natural and free your playing can become. In order truly become free as an improviser, you need to learn jazz theory inside out.

Below I have listed the main elements of jazz theory. Practice working through each section daily and you will soon be fluent in jazz theory.

Basic Jazz Theory

In order to be a competent improviser in jazz, you need to know all of the scales, chords and information below.

Major scale and it’s seven modes

The chords of the major scale

How chords are constructed

What scales to play over a dominant chord, major chord and minor chord.

Seventh chords

How to play over a 2 5 1 progression

The cycle of fourths

Advanced Jazz Theory

Once you have mastered the basics of jazz theory then you will also need to learn the following:

The melodic minor scale and it’s modes

The harmonic minor scale and it’s modes

Altered dominant chords

The chords of the melodic minor scale

The chords of the harmonic minor scale

The diminished scale

The whole tone scale

Suspended chords, slash chords and fourth chords

When practicing your jazz theory, break down a list of what you need to learn and work on each topic step by step. By having a structured plan of action, you will find learning jazz theory much easier.

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