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This web site can never be a complete music theory text book, but I think, I have written down the most important basics. After learning some chords from the chord charts and knowing about the chord voicings, you will be able to accompany most jazz pieces (or other pieces with "chords with numbers in them") in a way that works. Sure, the "professionals" can do way more like chord substitutions etc., but finally you have to start some way.

You'll find some pieces to practice in the "Real Book". This is a collection of over 500 jazz standards. It's pretty hard to find a piece played on a jam session, that isn't in the real book.

The most important thing is to listen to music and pay attention on how the other musicians play. If you want to learn how to improvise, it's even more important. Playing the solos of some famous jazz players to develope a vocabulary. You shouldn't choose the most complex stuff in the beginning.I was playing some Wes Montgomery solos and some of Joe Pass. There are some of those "books with CD" that contain fractions of solos (staff + tabulature + the real music), which are useful too.

There are some CDs like the Abersold recordings that contain some jazz pieces without the solos. It's good to play along with them because you get used to kinda band environment without bothering other musicians when you try out your own solos. Today those recordings are getting obsolete! If you have a soundcard with wave table (midi flies sound like real music with real instruments) you could get a program like "Band in a Box". IMHO this is the greatest program available. You can type in the chord progression "in letters" like "Cm7 F7#9 Bbmaj9...", then choose a style and voila... you have a whole band to play along with. A friend is a professional musician and he was so enthusiastic when we tried out that program for the first time and he still is. BTW: PG Music doesn't pay me for this statement!!! There are many BiaB enthusiasts and I'm just one of them.

There are some really good books about music theory on the market. I don't know any to recommend since I only have some in German.


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Last modified on Friday, 2. January 2009