Art • Music • Education
Greetings to the curious, unconventional, free-thinking musicians! This is where you'll find my diagrams and thoughts on music, theory, and songwriting. Let's geek out together and have some fun!
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42 | Lesson 3: Visible Relationships
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Live Streamed on May 28, 2023 1:02 PM ET
216 | Introducing the ChordMap

Hello there.

New Pricing October 1 (Membership Changes Only)

Hey Folks,

— THIS PRICING CHANGE ONLY AFFECTS MEMBERSHIP CHANGES STARTING OCTOBER 1st. In other words, if you’re happy with your current support level, nothing will change for you. —

Starting October 1st, we are increasing the price of the ColorMusic community here on Locals to $7/month or $70/year. 

-- If you already have a monthly or yearly subscription, maintain your current support to KEEP your current rate.

-- If you are on monthly, switch to annual now to get grandfathered in at $36/year. You can do this by clicking UPDATE at the link below.

--If you are a member and become a supporter now, you can lock in $36/year when you sign up before October 1:

Good stuff is coming your way — Lesson #15 in October, and the full music theory course by next Spring. Hundreds of scale and chord charts in the expanding Library. Exclusive video content. 2024 is going to rock!

Your support is everything.

If you have any questions, the ...

September 24, 2023
Today - Live stream

Hey! The September live stream is today. Everyone is welcome -- Supporters and Members. We're talking about bass guitar labels, as well as other updates, and Lesson 14 going live! 

8:00 p.m. Eastern


September 26, 2023

@MikeGeorge et all.

I just learned about this the other day. The John Coltrane mystical image. It seems its similar to your Chordmap.

I've been trying to understand it, but there is so much information on it.

Can you provide any insights to this?

-- Rick

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September 25, 2023
YouTube Live -- WHY Scales Sound Good

Hey! Join me for this YouTube live stream -- Monday, September 25 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern:

Scales are fundamental to music. People tell you to "practice your scales." You spend hours (and years) playing them. But WHY do we need them? And why do they sound good in the first place. Let's look at the answer.

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September 24, 2023

I'm a retired grandma who hasn't played her guitar for a while. I found your site about music theory and started watching your videos. I learned more about my guitar from you, than I've known ever before. Well worth the money - in my opinion. Thank you.

September 22, 2023
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236 | Gb Relative Modes - Guitar Chords
Permutations to expand your songwriting palette

Earlier posts in this series look at how to form and play different permutations (or "modes") of a key.

These principles apply to any key, including the key of Gb (a.k.a., F#), as we'll explore here. When you take the 7 notes of the Gb major scale -- Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, F, Gb -- you create 7 modes starting on each respective note.

Each pattern is a distinct sound because each mode begins and ends on a different note (or "tonic"). In this example, the tonic of Gb Ionian is Gb ... while the tonic of Ab Dorian is Ab ... and so on.

Each sequence of notes sounds nice. But they sound especially good when played as chords -- like these chords of Gb Ionian (a.k.a., Gb major):

The Gb Ionian mode sounds good fleshed out as harmonies because it's really just the major scale pattern. And just like the notes, these same 7 chords can also be arranged into 7 permutations -- like these three patterns, for example:

And the same idea applies to all of the other chords in this key, as you can see here....

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September 13, 2023
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234 | Changing Keys (Can’t Help Falling in Love)
How to transpose songs

There are 12 keys in music. And you can shift (transpose) a song to play any to them, as I explain in this video:

On the guitar, key changes are relatively easy using a capo. You just clamp the device onto the instrument’s neck and then play chord shapes to alter the pitch ... where the higher you rise up the fretboard, the higher the pitch.

Or at least this is how most guitarists transpose a song — mindlessly using the capo like a crutch, and never really understanding the underlying theory behind each key change.

If this hits a little close to home, don’t feel too bad. According to legend, famed composer, Irving Berlin, did this too. Only he played the piano. So the process was more involved. It’s said he had a special keyboard made that allowed him to play everything in the key of F# … mechanically moving the piano’s hammers to shift into any key by operating a crank.

But you don’t need to live this way — ignorant to the real theory at play behind key changes.

It turns out, it all pretty easy to understand transposition (a.k.a., the art of changing keys) using the circle of fifths. To illustrate, here are the diagrams that accompany the video. It’s the song, “Can’t Help Falling in Love," in three different keys….

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232 | Morphing Music with Modes - Pachelbel’s Canon
Playing with modes to make new music

When you write music, modes give you a range of emotional options to choose from. The major modes (Lydian, Ionian, and Mixolydian) are relatively bright … while the minor modes (Dorian, Aeolian, and Phrygian) are sonically more dark. And based on the mode you pick, you can create the kind of vibe you want, as I explain in this video:

And what’s really cool is that even once you’ve composed a chord progression, you can morph it using modes. Reshaping the overall sound of a song by shifting from one mode to the next. And the result can be amazing — like morphing a Norman Rockwell painting into a Picasso, or vice versa -- to produce entirely new art.

To see what I mean, take the key of B major (a.k.a. B Ionian), which includes seven basic chords.

On a guitar, these chords are played like this:


And using just these seven chords (or even only a subset of this group), you can come up with all sorts of songs.

But using modes, you expand your palette as a songwriter, accessing even more patterns from which to build chords — and by extension, chord progressions.

Each mode is simply a permutation of the major scale — like these in the key of B. In other words, it’s all the same notes. Only each respective mode begins and ends on a different note.

And just as there are 7 chords in the Ionian mode, these same 7 chords appear in all modes derived from the underlying pattern. For example, C# Dorian includes the same chords as B Ionian … as does D# Phrygian … E Lydian … etc....

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