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  • Maxwell Casazza

The Lydian Chromatic Concept in Music Education

Some of the greatest musicians in history have studied with a teacher. Especially musicians that seek to break boundaries and reveal new avenues. It is no coincidence that jazz music contains many innovators, including Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman, for the genre's freedom allows for individuals to find their own path.


The four master musicians mentioned above all had the same teacher: George Russell. Russell's life's work was to develop a theory that would account for all possible harmonic possibilities, or a unifying palette of note combinations that work well together, so a musician may have all "colors" at his disposal.


In contrast to most music theories, which tend to be prescriptive, Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept acknowledges all possibilities in an intuitive order. After learning the unique organization of the Concept, a musician may proverbially "have something to say," regardless of the situation. This was groundbreaking for master composer Miles Davis, as he claimed to be limited by the curriculum at Julliard. This prestigious school was indeed teaching the music of the groundbreaking composers of history, but not necessarily teaching how they personally thought about composition.

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