Big Band Charts and Big Band Arrangements

How to Quickly Learn Major and Minor Chords – Video

I recently ran a poll on the home page of this site, asking readers if they would be interested in learning how to arrange for small groups and big bands. The response was an overwhelming “YES”, so I thought I would look into some tools that would allow me to make some videos and help you guys learn some jazz arranging and composition skills – using bite sized informational videos that I can make right at my desktop.

While in high school, I was fortunate enough to take 2 years of music theory, with my senior year being an independent study class where I basically worked out of a college theory book. I then ended up getting a college degree in music theory too. No big deal there, except for the fact that I often forget how many things there are to learn BEFORE you can actually sit down to write a chart. A good knowledge of music theory, and especially jazz theory is essential before attempting to write voicings, reharmonize tunes, etc.

Below is a simple video that will help you learn your major and minor chords. I used this technique all the time to teach my piano students how to quickly learn major and minor chords (in all keys) and it always worked like a charm. It is simple and just takes a few minutes.

Obviously, this video is for people who are just starting out with this stuff, but I wanted to start simple and experiment a little with the “white board” you will see in the video. I also have a little keyboard hooked up that runs into my computer to produce the sounds.

If you are a total newbie at harmony and music theory, this video should help you learn what is really the most basic foundation for jazz harmony – major and minor chords.

If you have any questions, please leave them by making a comment below. I’m working on making a bunch of these short videos that will cover from simple to complex jazz theory.

17 Responses to “How to Quickly Learn Major and Minor Chords – Video”

  • Ray Rutter says:

    Jim: I am very much interested in learning further basics. Please keep me posted as you progress.

    Ray R. Rutter

  • JIM DEPALO says:

    I will be happy to participate

  • Sam Rinella says:

    Hi Jim
    I am an arranger myself, however I am looking
    forward to listen and follow your method of arrenging and scoring and learn from you.



  • Jeremiah says:

    Hi Jim thanks for putting this up. I will be looking forward to seeing and hearing from you.


  • Myron says:

    Thanks to this information as it simplifies what the books make complicated.

    Couint me in on this and I hope you will go onto diminished and augmented chords etc.


  • Delphine says:

    Yes please Jim. This revision will certainly help me ‘speak the language’ fluently again. Many thanks for your time, effort and huge generosity.


  • José says:

    Thank you very much for the vital information,
    I´m sure everything is going to be very useful.

  • porty111 says:

    Hi Jim-
    Thank’s for taking the time to educate those that don’t know and a simplified review for those of us that that are too old to remember!

  • Dick Forde says:

    Jim, this is great, I can really use what you are doing here!!! Please keep up the good work and the theory lessons

  • peram says:

    Thanks Jim.

    This saved my day. I’ve been playing for a number of years, but never managed to get this “under my skin” until now. Thanks !

    I’m keeping an eye in this blog from now on :-)

  • Psychodog says:

    Thanks for taking this on! I’m looking forward to following this series. This is stuff I wish I’d been exposed to way back when I was in high school and have only recently started learning on my own. I’m anticipating the time when I can put it together and actually use it to do some arranging!!

  • trmptdan says:

    I would be interested in learning to transpose from piano (C) to trumpet (b flat).
    Another topic. Supose I have learned to play a song by ear, not literally, but I have pecked out the keys on the piano and now I want to determine what chords to use at which points. How is that accomplished?

  • chykensa says:

    Thanks Jim, just what we all need. Please keep up the great work, and keep me posted when new resources appear.

  • Dave says:

    What a great site for anyone. I’ve gotten my
    horn out after several years, and it’ like almost like starting over. They are putting together a community concert band in the town
    i live in…so it will be awhile till we have
    the appropriate instrumentation to do big band
    charts. But I’m looking forward to use some of
    your great charts.
    Thanks for your wonderful site. It’s full of
    so much great information.

  • Richard Rybiak says:

    Good stuff! I am very interested in the next lessons. Please keep me informed as they become available.


  • Dan says:

    Could not view the video.

  • WilliamTek says:

    Hello all!

    Please look this good blog:


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