Thelonious Monk and Harnessing Dissonance

+ Soundfly’s new course with painterly pianist Elijah Fox will teach you how to compose, improvise, and produce modern-sounding impressionist music — sign up here to be notified when it launches.

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.

Don’t stop here!

Continue learning with hundreds of lessons on songwriting, mixing, recording and production, composing, beat making, and more on Soundfly, with artist-led courses by KimbraCom TruiseJlinRyan Lott, and the acclaimed 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.

Join our Mailing List

We offer creative courses, articles, podcast episodes, and one-on-one mentorship for curious musicians. Stay up to date!


Office Listening — April 2023 Spotify Playlist

Check out April's playlist featuring new music, tracks from Soundfly's subscriber community, and recommendations culled from our Discord.


Student Spotlight: Misticeti on Adding Latin Grooves to Tycho-Style Synths

In this edition of Student Spotlight, we chat with Juan Manuel Vasquez on the inspiration behind his hybrid electronic/organic sound.


How a Pipe Organ Makes Sound

In this highly detailed explainer, you'll learn how air passes through the perfectly shaped tubes in a pipe organ to create tuned tones.