Experimenting with Music Structure as a Learning Tool


in Composition, Learning Music

One of the most fascinating factors in learning music is progressing from absorption of concepts and principals into experimentation mode.

Music absorption mode is the process of learning the basic principals and application of that principal to music. An example is learning a musical minor scale math model and applying it to several key signatures.

Music experimentation mode is having learned minor, major, pentatonic, and altered scales and playing with each type as you work through a series of chord changes.

This serves the purpose of allowing you to re-harmonize, compose, and make existing song structures hip.

Experimentation brings the sound of music contrast to your senses in a new light and feeling of mode and sense.


A simple but immensely significant piece of instruction, or advice if you will, was to audition scales and chords. This advice stuck with me and I don't believe that there is a practice or play around session that I don't at sometime think about this concept and apply it.

Starting at an initial level you may experiment with adding new extended notes in the way of dominant or major 7ths, or working with 9ths and 6ths. This simple experimentation may give you a new hip sound you really like.

Ramping up a bit from this start you will need to experiment with moving from one chord to the next to see how it flows. Maybe you try several types of chords of major, minor, or diminished configurations

song-fragmentAt the composer level you may start with a series of basic chords and melody and start to play around with progressions. Let's say you have a single chord change from measure to measure. You might add one additional chord to each measure as an experiment.

This will cause you to have to audition both scales and chords, as we remember these are so necessarily related.

Experimentation as a teaching tool

This process of experimentation is a fantastic teaching tool. It was through this process that my ears were opened up to the jazz world which was such an enigma to me for so many years.

I've decided to pull out a Christmas Song that I worked on a couple of years ago and see if I can't reproduce some of this experience here in the blog pages. I'll work with the basic fake music template and walk through some of the aspects of where I finally ended up. The above two measures are from that effort.

Let's take the Journey

Here's the thing I haven't played it in over a year and a half so I know it's going to be a new experience for me as well.

Stay tuned.. ..

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