Chord-Scale Theory and Linear Harmony for Guitar: Creative Tools for Improvisation and Composition in Contemporary Music

 
9780615431116: Chord-Scale Theory and Linear Harmony for Guitar: Creative Tools for Improvisation and Composition in Contemporary Music
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Chord-Scale Theory and Linear Harmony for Guitar: Creative Tools for Improvisation and Composition in Contemporary Music is a guide to modern music theory as it relates directly to the guitar fretboard. It covers basic harmony as well as the complex harmonies used in jazz in a friendly easy-to-follow format. It contains examples in standard notation, guitar TAB, fretboard diagrams, and charts. It is comb-bound with a clear plastic cover and conveniently sits open on music stands. It is a great resource for intermediate and advanced guitarists with various backgrounds looking to expand their musical horizons and creativity. (Suggested prerequisite: basic music theory.)

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From the Author:

Greetings!

I first released what I now call the "beta version" of Chord-Scale Theory and Linear Harmony for Guitar in late 2010. It was based on over a decade of private study and self-education. I created and compiled many diagrams and charts for myself and my students that illustrated various ways of thinking about the fretboard that allow for both a deep understanding of the underlying elements, and some useful tips for "thinking on the fly" in improvisation-based situations.

I found that the central concepts of "chord-scale theory" are not only applicable to jazz, but most current genres (rock, pop, indie, folk, country, etc). Therefore, I consider chord-scale theory to be as much of a "rock theory" or "country theory" as it is a "jazz theory" (from which it was originally based). Chord-scale theory has no particular "sound" of its own, yet it can be employed to create (or recreate) the characteristic sounds of any modern genre. As a compositional tool, it can be a very inspiring approach with which one can create progressions, arrangements, and complete songs in functional or modal frameworks. As an improvisational tool, it allows for one to think of "pools of notes" (and subsequent tonal hierarchies) from which one can readily choose the "right" notes and voicings in real-time.

Chord-scale theory often takes a "big picture" view, seeing chords (especially large extended ones) and scales (subsets) as two forms of the same thing. Though this view is valid enough, it tends to leave a lack of explanation regarding some of the gritty details evident in all styles of music. Many of these details are better explained via "linear harmony"- the study of harmony and melody in motion (both elements hugely affected by rhythm and phrasing). This view is an improvement on the static "vertical" analysis of melodies against their corresponding chords. By integrating the "pools of notes" signature of chord-scale theory with the voice-leading, melodic devices, and phrasing addressed in "linear harmony", I am confident that a musician can feel empowered by an understanding that can guide his/her intuition to a high level of creative self-expression.

After the initial release of the book, I received a lot of very positive feedback on my work, and enjoyed corresponding with the readers who felt inclined to write. Around the same time, I also began to run into some veteran "CST haters", who heatedly discussed the oversights and pitfalls of the certain prominent educators in the field of chord-scale theory (not me, mind you). At first, I was taken aback, but soon learned to see it as an opportunity to refine my own understanding and book for the better. I began to read countless online articles, blogs, and threads, and studied the works of Bert Ligon, Hal Galper, Robert Rawlins, Matthew Warnock, Keith Waters, and many other contemporary educator/authors who are highly regarded. After a year of reevaluating the "Levine" school of thought (which I originally subscribed to in the year 2000) and some of my own "homegrown" ideas, I feel like I gained a clearer overview of the current "jazz theory zeitgeist" (especially as it relates to the guitarist community). With this mindset, I fully edited and revised my book to meet the needs and high standards of the modern student to the best of my ability.

The book is designed primarily for the layman interested in self-study. It is written in a friendly easy-to-follow manner made for practical application. There are combinations of fretboard diagrams, charts, guitar TAB, and notation on almost every page. It is also set up well for use as a quick reference book for those already savvy with the material.

I print the book in small quantities, and ship orders as quickly as possible. The above-mentioned fully revised edition is shipping now. I will do my absolute best to ensure buyers a quality product. Customers are free to contact me if they have any customer-service needs or other questions. Upon request, I will gladly send the newly revised edition to any customers who bought the book prior to 2012 with a proof of purchase.

  • Click the "See all Editorial Reviews" link below to read the introduction and more!
Thanks, and best wishes.
 
~Jonathan Pac Cantin (JonnyPac), Author, Illustrator, Guitarist/Composer

From the Inside Flap:

From the Introduction:

As nearly all musicologists and music theory books point out, music is made of three interlocking primary elements: melody, rhythm, and harmony. Music missing one of these components sounds incomplete. Making sure that all of these elements are well developed in a piece of music should be a priority for each composer, arranger, and musician involved. There is some debate about which element is the most indispensable out of the three, but what is important at the end of the day is that they are all embodied within one another. Since an arpeggio can be interpreted as a linear melody or as a broken chord, the border between melody and harmony is especially undefined. A single melody can shape the rhythm and imply the underlying harmonic structure. This is a wonderful thing since it naturally unifies all of the parts. This is the basis of "linear harmony". 

The ability to interpret harmony accurately is often the last skill to be developed (if ever) by musicians and listeners alike. Many average pop listeners rely on lyrics to guide them through a piece of music, while some rely on a steady rhythmic pulse that they can move their bodies to, and others appreciate a catchy melody. Simple and repetitive is what works best for most commercial purposes. Too often listeners fail to appreciate the subtleties of advanced harmony. In a sense, harmony was the final frontier in the history of Western music. Certain audacious composers through the ages were fascinated with finding new and innovative methods of putting chords, voicings, and progressions together. Because melody and harmony are so closely related, fresh melodic ideas co-evolved with the new developments in chordal theory. This enthusiasm for harmony continued all the way through the modern jazz era. A deep understanding of the harmonic element of music is a rich source of creative inspiration and listening pleasure for all of those who cultivate it. Studying "chord-scale theory" and "linear harmony" will simultaneously help to develop a well-trained ear and improve general musicianship. Both of these concepts are relatively new spins-offs of traditional music theory.

This book is intended to help guitarists play with an overall sense of harmonic clarity and creative control. I hope to give students a basic foundation on which to build articulate music by providing them with a compilation of useful diagrams that apply theoretical concepts directly to the guitar fretboard. The majority of the material is designed for intermediate and advanced guitar players wishing to expand their horizons. This book is not intended to teach how to read standard notation, TAB, or introductory level playing techniques. Basic music theory is a suggested prerequisite. If you feel that you do not have these fundamentals down and still wish to use this book, please find a suitable teacher or book to assist your studies as needed. 

The guitar lends itself to be played with only a fractional knowledge of "fretboard theory". This can lead to some debilitating misconceptions about music as a whole. Instrumentalists tend to approach music in a variety of ways, and many emphasize the particular aspects that apply strongly to their given roles. For instance, horn and woodwind players often think of melody lines and notation, drummers often think of grooves and measures, while guitarists often think of "chord shapes" and "blues-boxes". I believe that musicians can transcend the limited vision of their own instrumental roles and think about the bigger picture, recognizing the relationships between the primary elements. Developing this perspective should enable you to compose, arrange, improvise, and perform in a holistic manner. This praxis emphasizes real-time harmonic analysis and improvisation, both of which are useful tools in most forms of contemporary music. It is a theory designed to guide intuition.

Keep in mind that I am a practical person, musician, and teacher. I do not expect all musicians to have perfect pitch, a metronomic sense of complex polyrhythms, and the technical prowess of a virtuoso. Achieving accurate relative pitch, sensible timing, and enough technique to express personal ideas and perform confidently in a group setting are realistic aspirations for most of us. Remember, music is an art, not a sport. There are many "right" ways to solve creative problems in art. Keep an open mind to the various ideas as they are presented, and then decide what you will accept and discard. These decisions will help to shape your personal style.
Some Musical Ideas and Notes:

There are three common ways to address a progression (or section of one).

  1. One is to generalize the underlying harmony (meaning to play in the parent key without addressing each individual chord). This is usually done by playing the tonic chord-scale, outlining and embellishing the tonic triad, and/or playing blues-scales and pentatonic licks over the entire section. The downside to this approach is that without chordal accompaniment, many of the harmonic details are lost or go by unsupported.
  2. Another is to specify the underlying harmony. Most of chord-scale theory is purposely designed to enable musicians to do this on the fly. The majority of the material this book explains how to fit the "right" pool of notes over the underlying chords and/or how to imply the chord changes in the absence of a chordal instrument through "linear harmony" (pages 65-75). This approach is by far the most demanding (theoretically and on the fretboard), but ultimately more empowering to one's creativity than generalizing.
  3. The final approach is to ignore the underlying harmony altogether (or to superimpose an alternate "outside" harmony over it). This can be the result of motif-based improvisation, one's liberal elaborations on the "vanilla" underlying changes, or deliberately playing tension-building (or ambiguous) sonorities. It is beyond the scope of this book to cover any details regarding this since chord-scale theory is largely about playing "inside".
______________________________________________________________

  • Contemporary Western music is based largely around chords and chord progressions. Despite this fact, only a small percentage of it (with the exception of "modal jazz") was written with actual "chord-scale theory" in mind. Chord-scale theory is a modern tool that can make choosing the "right" notes while improvising much easier (even in music that pre-dates its formal existence). This is especially true on a pattern-based instrument (the guitar fretboard) where, within each position, one can literally "see" the intervals that make up scales, modes, arpeggios, voicings, and how they often overlap into unified forms.
  • The central idea behind chord-scale theory is that each chord is paired with a corresponding scale. The scale is considered the source of the chord, and called the "parent scale". Jazz musicians coined the term "chord-scale" to unify the two. All of the other musical parts that are played with the chord simultaneously (melodies, harmony lines, riffs, bass-lines, etc.) are based around the same parent scale and tonal hierarchy. Chromatic (non-chord-scale) notes are used as passing tones and melodic embellishments, etc.
  • In order to play harmonically specific melodic improvisations over any given chord progression, musicians need to be able to change scales/keys gracefully to match each chord as it passes. How to outline chords using "linear harmony" is covered in this book after the fundamentals of chord-scale theory have been thoroughly explained. It is a fresh look at building melodies that are structured with guide tones, voice leading, various embellishments, and ways of aligning the strong tones of a chord-scale with the strong beats of the meter.

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