Thelonious Monk and Harnessing Dissonance

Bridge the worlds of theory, improvisation, and jazzy hip-hop, and improve your piano chops with Grammy-winner Kiefer in his course, Kiefer: Keys, Chords, & Beats.

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, and for tons more videos just like this, sign up for Soundfly’s all-access subscription today.

Keep learning about theory and harmony, composing and arranging, songwriting, and more, with Soundfly’s in-depth online courses. Subscribe for access to all, like The Creative Power of Advanced HarmonyOrchestration for Stringsand our exciting new course with Grammy-winning pianist and producer, Kiefer: Keys, Chords, & Beats.

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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