I want to talk a little bit about a
system of composition which I have been developing for many years now, which
has helped me and many other people to reach breakthroughs and understandings
about music – harmony, improvisation, and all areas of playing and writing
music. It’s called the Triune System of Composition.
I think of the most important parts
of music as being divided into three’s. For example: rhythm, melody and harmony
are the three essential elements that make music. In fact the word triune in
music means music that has a threefold function.
All music that is played in keys is
called key center, diatonic, or tonal music. The definition of music in keys
is: Major-Minor-Triadic Modality. That means that all music played in keys can
have only two harmonic functions: Major or Minor. This is the basis of
harmonization in key centered music.
Because Dominant chords are so
distinct in their sound, I think of them as a third harmonic function. So when
we play music in keys, which is the majority of the music we play, everything
we play must function as a Major, Minor, or Dominant harmony.
The secret, however, is that they
are all interchangeable. One may use a Major chord for a Minor or a Dominant
chord, or a Minor for a Major or a Dominant chord, or vice versa. You just have
to know which ones to use.
Well here’s the trick: when I play
a Dominant chord, which Major or Minor chord can I substitute for it? Or, in
other words, what Major and Minor chord are the equivalents of that Dominant
Here it is:
C Major is equivalent to A Minor
and D Dominant. Try playing any kind of A Minor or C Major chord or lick
against a D Dominant chord.
Try these variations and play, for
example, a blues scale in A Minor over a D 7th chord or a C Major 7th arpeggio, which is C, E, G, B over a D 7th chord.
So let me know if you have
questions, and some of the things you come up with and I’ll continue next week.
See you soon,