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Thelonious Monk and Harnessing Dissonance

Today, Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) would have been 100 years old. Happy birthday, brother! To celebrate a century of Monk, here’s a video from our free course exploring the roots and musical extensions of the American musical language of the blues called A Conversation with the Blues.

In it, instructor Vince Di Mura explains how Monk is able to coax a sense of normalcy out of the inherent dissonance of notes not appearing in a particular scale together, in a few different ways: raising the ninth in order to “reference” both the minor and major thirds of a chord, so that throughout the progression they both feel right, and by punching the wrong notes into pivotal places in his melody.

Di Mura examines Monk’s 1967 piece, “Straight No Chaser” below.

Check out A Conversation with the Blues for free today for tons more videos just like this!

Vince Di Mura
Musical Director, Princeton University

Vince is a veteran jazz pianist, composer, arranger and musical director; appearing on concert stages and theatres throughout North America, Canada, and Latin America. He currently serves as the Resident Composer and Musical Director for the Lewis Center of the Arts at Princeton University.

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Soundfly is a new kind of music school for today's musician. We create creative courses and daily articles for the curious musician. Meet the whole Soundfly Team here.

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