Chord Progressions Chords Composition Tools Harmonic Motion Permutations & Combinations Uncategorized

Practice Tools

The link below leads to a Google Colab notebook that randomly generates musical structures for improvisation practice and composition, components of a larger project I’m working on called the Musical Schema Generator


Click the link below. Press the play icons to generate material. Please leave comments or requests!–aMep?usp=sharing

Composition Tools Permutations & Combinations

Orchestrating Possibilities

I’m studying Mozart’s late symphonies and piano concertos these days and thinking about what makes his music extraordinary.

Of course, there are many aspects – taste, harmonic sophistication, lyricism, humor, a sense of inevitability peppered with surprises, and so on.

The incredible variety in his orchestration got me thinking about the possibilities for sub-ensembles within the classical orchestra:

(01 solo)
02 duet
03 trio
04 quartet
05 quintet
06 sextet
07 septet
08 octet
09 nonet
10 dectet
11 undectet
(12 duodectet)

I’ve made a PDF (see below) that lists all of these possibilities within the classical (Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, etc.) orchestra; it’s helped spark my imagination, and also as a prompt for inner-ear “visualization” exercises.

Take a look at the lists and imagine (hear in your head) what music made from these groups would sound like – its density, timbre, etc.

The Greek composer Vangelis said in a 2008 interview that the classical orchestra was the first synthesizer. Mozart, particularly in the later symphonies (after #25) and piano concertos (starting with #17), uses a great number of the possible instrumental combinations, mixing colors with gradient, chiaroscuro, transparency, and opacity, across the full sound spectrum.

I’ve used parentheses to indicate the possibility of employing solo instruments or divisi within sections; take these into account and the true number of instrumental combinations becomes astronomical.

Books Composition Tools Melodic Construction Tetrachords Uncategorized

Three New Books!

Tetrachords for Guitar (also Bass & Flute): A Thesaurus of Four-Note Patterns for Improvisers & Composers

Tetrachords, or four-note patterns, offer various advantages over scalar or modal approaches to improvising and composing melodies through chord changes. 

A tetrachord-based linear approach is indispensable for navigating modern improvisational styles due to the general complexity, challenging tempos, and fast-moving harmonic rhythms involved.

Tetrachords: A Thesaurus of Four-Note Patterns for Improvisers & Composers, a comprehensive 219-page resource, offers clear solutions and stimulates creativity through:

  • An introduction to using four-note patterns (tetrachords) for melodic improvisation in the style of John Coltrane
  • A highly-organized 24-day practice plan for mastering 144 of the most common tetrachord permutations, in every key, and across the entire range of the instrument
  • Four etudes based on John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” and “26-2” chord progressions
  • Advice on tetrachord-based melodic improvisation, including detailed resources for creating variations in rhythm and contour
  • The book’s six appendices include comprehensive lists of all of the tetrachords possible within the altered and chromatic scales, as well as suggestions for applying tetrachords to extended harmony and “upper-structures.” 
  • (Please note: this book does not include TAB; it is presented in standard notation only.)

Price: $21.99

Available exclusively from Please click here to view samples and purchase on