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4 Music Theory Concepts for Jazz Improvisation

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"Zero to Improv"

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One of the biggest miss I hear about jazz improvisation is that you need to know a ton of music theory. And personally, I couldn’t disagree more. 

In fact, I know some musicians that don’t know any music theory and can’t even read music, yet are incredible jazz improvisers. I think learning things by ear and learning jazz standards and all these stuff is probably more important. 

However, I do think knowing music theory is very important and can be helpful and so, I want to simplify things in today’s video and go over the 4 music theory concepts that I think you need to know.

Important Links and Resources

Suggested Resource:

If you need more help with music theory and improv, check out my basic jazz theory eBook “Zero to Improv” by clicking here.

Further Reading:

Jazz Improvisation Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. Can you explain the lydian chromatic concept of tonal organization of George Russell? The book is pretty theoretical, but I do find his music very convincing (especially ezz-thetic)

  2. Well done!…I couldn't agree more!…If you get these things down what's left will be far ore vious and come almost naturally!


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