The Diatonic Cycle
Just as the color palette is to art, there is an analogous "spectrum" comprised of twelve major keys, twelve harmonic minor keys, and their corresponding chords. The Diatonic Cycle is a tool that will enable the student to master this musical spectrum - an essential skill for music students of all styles of music - in a simple, enjoyable way.
Because our personal teaching experience has demonstrated that it is often difficult for a student to become fluent beyond the keys of A major and Eb minor, and because most methods do not introduce the minor keys until all of the majors keys have been learned, the approach taken in The Diatonic Cycle instead introduces each key in specific order - which produces immediate results! Each section focuses on one tonal center(key), each of which is introduced using only one new sharp or flat. The relative minor keys are then introduced at the same time, along with each new major key. This approach not only saves time, but relieves the boredom of practicing scales and arpeggios the same way, over and over.
The format used in The Diatonic Cycle goes like this; the first key introduced is C major, which contains no sharps or flats. The second key is its relative minor key, A minor, which features one new sharp: G#. The third key is G major, which contains one sharp: F#. Next is its relative minor, the E minor, which adds an accidental: D#. the subsequent key of F major introduces one flat: Bb. Its relative minor, D minor, then introduces one more accidental: C#. Because of the order in which the keys are presented herein, after playing through six fairly easy keys, the student has experienced all twelve chromatic tones.
The melodic exercises in each section remains the same throughout; however, the harmony and chords drop in and out of the melodic line as the tonal center changes. The rhythms of the melodies change throughout the book as well, which not only increases the student's fluency in playing each new tonal center - an essential skill whether the student is performing, composing, or improvising - but it also makes the execution of the exercises more interesting.
The chord progressions at the bottom of each new section are demarcated by Roman numerals, which indicate the quality(major or minor) of the chord, its root position, and step of each tonal center. Each chord is also labeled with letter symbols: for example, in the key of C major, the I7 is also denoted as Cmaj7, which indicates that it is the chord starting on the first step(degree) of the scale in the key of C major.
After playing through the entire book, the student will have successfully mastered the twelve major and minor(harmonic) keys and increased his or her fluency in playing. Students of both jazz and traditional music will benefit from The Diatonic Cycle because it encourages the student to play melodically and rhythmically in all keys.