Sometimes, it’s easy to find yourself at a loss for words when talking about music.

Why?

Because so much of music is really about indescribable feelings.

This week at Musical U, we’re embracing the ineffable side of music, just in time for Valentine’s Day. We explore the unique vibe that the augmented chord lends to music, interview a man who teaches by encouraging students to feel the music they’re hearing and playing, introduce you to 20 jazz standards to set the mood for your Valentine’s day, and explore the musical concept that gives different rhythmic feels to different music.

Raising the Fifth

Most often, what we talk about when we talk about chord progressions is our classic and beloved major and minor chords.

However, if you switch just one note of a major chord, it is transformed into a tonally-ambiguous, almost “spacey” chord that is found peppered across popular music to add a bit of interesting flavour to the song.

Understanding augmented chordsBecome acquainted with the augmented chord in Raise the Fifth! Listening for Augmented Chords. By the end, you’ll understand how they’re built, how to listen for them, and their unique role in the world of chord progressions.

The augmented chord is prominent in many of the greatest Beatles songs. The color and interest that the chord adds to progressions is part of what makes these songs so memorable. As Alek discovered in this video, a chord chart for “She Loves You” neglected to notate the augmented chord, selecting a more common chord instead. See how Alek transcribes the chord progression by singing the melody!

So many chords… so little time! With so much to learn, it is helpful to adopt little tricks that we can incorporate into our practice. Dan Forshaw teaches a neat exercise that you can begin using in the practice room to move between major, minor, augmented, and diminished chords.

As we learned, the augmented triad is a great way to add interest to your chord progressions. In addition to the popular music examples featured in the article, the augmented triad occasionally makes its way into jazz music. Fundamental Changes explores jazz chords and demonstrates how the augmented chord is typically voiced in jazz music.

Feeling the Music

What better way to learn music than to feel music?

Enter the Dalcroze method, a system of learning music that engages the senses and encourages the student to physically experience the music through kinesthetic activity.

Jeremy Dittus DalcrozeThis week, the Musicality Podcast interviews Jeremy Dittus, founder and director of one of the most prominent Dalcroze music schools in the United States. In More Ways of Knowing Music, with Jeremy Dittus, he shares his transformative with the Dalcroze method, why he teaches it now, and the incredible benefits this method holds for musicians of all levels and ages.

After you feast your ears on that fascinating interview with Jeremy, we’re sure you’ll want to know more about the Dalcroze Method! Music Arts has put together this brief history of the method and some of the core elements that you can begin implementing right away!

One thing that really appealed to us was the use of Dalcroze Eurhythmics during music lessons. Naomi Burrell unpacks this concept in an interview with the Greenwich Music School. By using your entire body to feel the music, learning becomes engaging and enjoyable. The foundation of aural training, improvisation, and creativity will give any music learner a great start!

Whoever thought that your musical journey could take you through so many magnificent experiences? The teachings of Dalcroze Eurhythmics are not only good for learning music, but can be applied to a discipline that you may not have thought of. Learn how Yo Re Mi Kids uses this method to teach… Yoga?!

Love & Jazz

Love and jazz: the most perfect couple you’ll encounter this Valentine’s Day!

Lyrics about love both lost and found. Stirring, enchanting instrumentation. There’s no better way to put romance in the air than with a good ol’ jazz standard.

Romantic jazz standardsThis week, we’ve rounded up the 20 Most Romantic Renditions of Jazz Standards for you and your loved one’s listening pleasure. With everything from Latin-inspired covers to folksy interpretations of the classics, these beautiful tunes will stay in your heart and mind long after the lovers’ holiday has passed.

Noel Gallagher of Oasis once said that writing a love song “is one of the best things I ever did”. With an endorsement from the man behind “Wonderwall”, we bet you’re itching to get started. Demo My Song is here to show you the basics to writing a love song.

Jazz standards are the tunes that anyone wanting to play jazz needs to get acquainted with. They’re fun to play, catchy, and will instill in you a deep appreciation for the genre! Matt Warnock shares the 10 steps for learning jazz guitar standards on Guitar World.

Now that you understand a bit more about approaching jazz standards, how can you go about arranging them for a solo instrument? Aimee Nolte, a noted jazz pianist from Los Angeles, teaches how she arranges jazz standards. You’ll be striding along in no time with her expert tips!

Mastering Meter

It’s rare that rhythm bounces and skitters all over the place – there’s a puppetmaster at play, reigning in the beat and making sure that the song stays on track rhythmically.

This underlying rhythmic structure is called meter.

The concept of meterIn this episode of the Musicality Podcast, we introduce you to the concept of meter, how it relates to beats and measures, and how it can alter the rhythm and flow of a song. Head over to About Meter in Music for a crash course in this essential musical concept!

Rhythm is how music is structured through time, and consists of three components: beat, meter, and duration. Frary Guitar discusses each of these components, and how they relate to one another.

If you want to improve your sense of rhythm, there are some easy exercises that you can incorporate into your practice! Our friends at the Didge Project put together three exercises that will help you feel the inner beat – and all you need is a metronome to get started!

Once you have mastered simple meter, are you ready to mix it up? Here at Musical U, we love to talk about polyrhythm and syncopation – these elements play a major role in enhancing and diversifying music! Check out Dave Wall Music’s great exercises to get you “off” the beat.

Once More, With Feeling

This week, we put our brains aside to focus on the heart of music – or, the emotions it stirs up.

Now that you’ve read about the fascinating augmented chord, the kinesthetic Dalcroze approach, the concept of meter, and some poignant jazz standards, we hope you feel inspired to pour even more of your heart into your music!

Challenge yourself to think deliberately about meter, melody, chords, and lyrics. How can you evoke a specific feeling or emotion in your music?

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