Lee Evans, Ed.D., is a Professor of Music at New York City’s Pace University. His newest book, Crash Course in Chords, published by the Hal Leonard Corporation, is a theory and performance work-book replete with information for intermediate students on basic triads, 7th chords, inversions, chord voicing, voice leading, transposition, and more....

Lee Evans, Ed.D., is a Professor of Music at New York City’s Pace University. His newest book, Crash Course in Chords, published by the Hal Leonard Corporation, is a theory and performance work-book replete with information for intermediate students on basic triads, 7th chords, inversions, chord voicing, voice leading, transposition, and more. For more information, visit www.leeevansjazz.com.

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Consonance vs. dissonance: Inborn or cultural?

F or many years, I have taken  issue with the notion (held by  some) that consonance—the  absence of musical tension— equates to combinations of pleasant and  agreeable musical sounds, while dissonance—the  presence of musical tension—equates to combinations  of unpleasant and disagreeable musical sounds. It is  a...
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Unifying techniques in musical compositions

Any musical composition may be analyzed from the perspective of attempting to reveal its various facets of unity and variety . A work may often prove to be satisfying to the listener when these elements are in judicious balance. Notwithstanding that, however, the predominant features of any given musical masterpiece are unquestionably the work...
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Understanding bar lines: A brief history

In Western notation, the vertical bar line through the musical staff first came into usage at a point in history when polyphonic textured music (two or more melodies simultaneously) evolved from monophonic textured music (one melody only; no accompaniment). The principal purpose of employing bar lines at that moment in time was to coordinate singer...
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Music notation: A brief look at its historical evolution

In early Medieval times, if one wanted to learn a song, one listened to someone sing it.  ​It wasn't until the ninth century that monks began to experiment with various ways of notating music in written form, with the goal of helping people across a wide geographical area remember the many musical accoutrements of Roman Catholic religious serv...
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Notable next-door neighbors

Many music theory textbooks illustrate melodies  that often consist, in part, of chord tones—the notes that match an underlying harmonic progression. An example of this may be seen below, in the folk song Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair . The first three pitches, above the words "Black, black, black," are chord tones outlining a D mi...
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Minor scales: a hug and a kiss, or just a handshake?

During my first ten years of piano study, starting at age five, the term diatonic scale was never taught to me. Nor had I realized that there existed an entity called a natural minor scale, inasmuch as I had been directed to practice only major, melodic minor, and harmonic minor scales as part of my daily practice regimen at the keyboard. Additiona...
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Diminished seventh chords, and, pardon the expression, half-diminished seventh chords in jazz and popular music

Diminished seventh chords In jazz and popular music, diminished chords are invariably played as four-note chords, rather than triads, whether the chord symbol says Cdim (C °) or Cdim7 (C ° 7). A diminished seventh chord consists of a diminished triad plus a diminished seventh above the root of the triad: ​However, enharmonic spellings are fre-...
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To slur or not to slur: that is the question

​In my published books I have always devoted a great deal of attention to phrasing, because I believe that phrase marks, or slurs, provide syntactical clarity to music and thus serve as indispensable performance guidelines for the pianist.  Many writers and publishers omit slurs in printed music, especially music written for early-level pianis...
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The rhythms of jazz: Syncopation

An important aspect of rhythm (in any style of music) is the alternation of accented and unaccented musical elements. When the accented elements differ from what is expected, we have syncopation , an essential part of jazz. This article will examine two kinds of syncopation first outlined by Winthrop Sargeant in his pioneering 1938 work Jazz: Hot a...
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Eleventh chords in jazz and popular music

There is a swath of New York's Catskill Mountains, a two-to-three hour drive from Manhattan, that until recently was euphemistically known as the Borscht Belt. As a teenager I spent my summers playing in dance bands in the area's resort hotels. The predominant clientele were middle-class Russian Jews-one of their favorite dishes, beet borscht, was ...
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Jazz suspensions: Bridges to somewhere (usually)

For the past quarter century I have conducted piano teacher workshops throughout the United States and  Canada. Teachers always have a lot of great questions, and one of the most frequently asked questions is "What is a jazz suspension ?" Jazz suspensions in general are bridges to somewhere, at least usually. Suspensions are chord tension-tone...
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The Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to the Piano Magazine in 2019.

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