Theory 101: Power of the Pentatonic Scale

The Major Pentatonic Scale A pentatonic scale has five notes, which in the C Major pentatonic scale are as follows: C – D – E – G- A Take a look at the notes and intervals, and think about what’s missing. The C Major pentatonic scale is the C Major Scale with the fourth (F) [...]

By | July 24th, 2010|Bass, Guitar, Piano, Theory|

Theory 101: Stairway to Sevenths

By combining what we learned in how to Build Piano Chords with our knowledge of Basic Intervals, we are ready to move beyond the triad. First stop: seventh chords. Take a basic triad and add a note that is a seventh above the root to form a seventh chord. There are several different types of [...]

By | July 5th, 2010|Theory|

Theory 101: Inverted Intervals, or 9 – x = ii

Intervals are inverted, major becomes minor, augmented becomes dimished, dogs and cats live together...mass hysteria! With a table that shows the common name and alternate names for each interval, along with examples and inversions.

By | June 22nd, 2010|Theory|

Theory 101: Chord Inversions for Piano

From our last post on Building Piano Chords, you should be able to form root position chords in any key.  Root position simply means that the chord is played with the root as the lowest note.  (The root is the reference note for a chord: the tone the chord is built on and named after.  [...]

By | April 5th, 2010|Piano, Theory|

Theory 101: Building Piano Chords

Here's Nate again, this time with a lesson on building chords in the key of G Major.  From the last lesson on scales and the circle of fifths, you'll remember that the key of G Major has one sharp: F#.  So the scale runs as follows: G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G. The most basic chord is a triad, which [...]

By | March 28th, 2010|Piano, Theory|

Practice > Minor Pentatonic Scale on Guitar

While keyboard players typically begin their scale studies with C Major, guitarists should consider starting out with the A minor pentatonic scale.  Justin Sandercoe offers an excellent introduction to a scale that is used the world over in all different kinds of music. In America, this scale is most closely identified with the blues. It [...]

By | March 15th, 2010|Guitar, Theory|

Practice > Scales and the Circle of Fifths

Now comes the exciting part! I knew it was hard to make scales exciting, but trying to find a good tutorial on YouTube tells me it may be impossible.  There are some high quality demonstrations of individual scales on, but the introduction is missing some key information.  Go ahead and watch it, then come [...]

By | March 9th, 2010|Piano, Theory|

Podcasts: Music Theory for Guitarists

This is an excellent series of podcasts on Guitar Music Theory available for free on iTunes. Taught by Desi Sarna, the author of Fretboard Theory, they are best for intermediate and advanced players. Lessons include pentatonic and major scale patterns, chord inversions and arpeggio patterns with the CAGED system.

By | March 4th, 2010|Guitar, Theory|

Theory 101: Basic Intervals

Type "music intervals" into Google and you get over 5 million results, most of them useless.  They are either too long or too complicated or of poor quality or just plain wrong.  The best introduction to intervals I found was at  The YouTube video is below, or you can see the video along with [...]

By | February 22nd, 2010|Piano, Theory|