Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/Expert Profile

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D C DowDell


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D C DowDell will answer questions about Jazz improvisation, composition, chord voicing, scales and modes, practice techniques and ear training. Professor DowDell also enjoys discussions on Jazz musicology and the evolution of style.

D C DowDell is a professional Jazz pianist/composer who currently teaches online Jazz studies at A Passion for Jazz!. Professor DowDell has been teaching music for over 30 years at 2 major universities, several community colleges as well as accepting students for private study.


American Federation of Musicians
National Music Teachers Association
International Association of Jazz Educators


Bachelors of Music Education from UCLA
Masters of Music Composition from UNT

What do you like about this subject?

"My creed for art in general is that it should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise... a part of yourself you never knew existed." - Bill Evans

Something interesting about this subject that others may not know:

Students ask, "So how do I improvise?"
There is no 'big secret' to improvisation. Ultimately, one plays what one hears. Listening is key to opening up these endless possibilities. What you hear is comprehensive of what you've heard others play (live or recorded), what you've played before, what your mentors have suggested, what your proficiency allows you and what your heart tells you.

Something controversial or provocative about this subject

Music and all Art is an essential part of the "human experience." A basic understanding and appreciation of Music can only serve to broaden ones character and deepen the connection between ourselves and those around us. As public schools are forced to cut back their programs, the private music lesson experience will not only supplement the school, but may eventually replace it in many areas.

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Recent Answers from D C DowDell

2017-02-26 chord voicings:

Hi Hank and thank you for contacting me through    It's not "bad" to use the 5th in the chord. It all depends on the sound you want.     If playing with a bassist, many piano & guitar players

2016-11-03 chord voicings:

Hello Anders and thank you for contacting me through    G7(#9) is different from Gm7 because the G7(#9) contains a B natural in addition to the Bb.      The G7(#9) is a Major chord that

2016-05-26 2-5-1 progression:

Yes, that is correct but be careful not to get too occupied with the terminology. Be more focussed on how it all sounds and how the chords change the direction of the harmony. That's what it's all about

2016-05-23 2-5-1 progression:

Hello Hank and thank you for contacting me through    Not all 2-5-1s include a secondary tone center, but they often do. These are added for color & diversity.  When the 6 chord (G7 in

2016-03-13 modal jazz:

Hello Andrew and thank you for contacting me through    While there are certain notes or scales that work best in some places, a player can use any note really; it depends on what the player


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