Archive for November, 2010


Diminished 7th Chords – How They Are Formed & What They Do

Monday, November 29th, 2010
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Diminished 7th chords
One of the most useful chords of all is the diminished 7th chord, often notated as “dim7” as in “Cdim7”, “Dbdim7”, “F#dim7” and so on. They can be used for so many different things, from transitions to transposing to modulation to increasing the emotional intensity of a song. If you listen to “Moonlight Sonata” you will find an entire section of the piece where Beethoven toggled back and forth between a diminished 7th chord and a minor triad, then back to a dim7, then a minor, etc, etc. Watch this short video on dim7th chords and you’ll catch on quickly:

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False endings: Deceptive cadences

Saturday, November 20th, 2010
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Sometimes in piano playing it’s nice to play a little trick on the listener by moving to a chord they don’t exepect. In this piano podcast I demonstrate several ways to surpise your listeners though the use of false endings, known in music theory as “deceptive cadences”.

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7th chords: How many are there?

Friday, November 19th, 2010
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7th chords are wonderful and satisfying, but at the same time they can be kind of confusing since there are so many different types of seventh chords. The most common type is the dominant 7th chord — usually just refered to as a “7th”. Then there is a major 7th chord, a minor 7th chord, a diminished 7th chord, a half-diminished 7th chord, an augmented 7th chord, etc, etc.

Watch this short video and hopefully it will clear up the confusion somewhat:

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Diminished 7th chords: Doorways to everywhere

Thursday, November 18th, 2010
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Diminished 7th chordsDiminished 7th chords are wonderments that do so many different things in music — they are nearly inexaustible. There are only 3 diminished 7th chords because all the rest are simply inversions of those 3.

You can use dim 7th chords to modulate to a different key, to locate clever chord progressions, and as doorways to get you to dominant 7th chords, minor 6th chords. major 7th chords, and on and on.

There are 4 notes in each diminishted 7th chords, each a minor 3rd away from the previous note. Any note in a dim 7th chord can be the root of the chord, so every dim 7th chord can function as 4 different chord names.

Listen to this podcast and you’ll get the idea:

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Improvising on the piano: Arranging songs on the spot

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
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Improvising on the piano involves several factors, but the most notable factor is the creation of a new melody while using the same chord progressions. In essence you are composing a new song, but the new song uses the same chords in the same order as the original song. Improvising is used in all genres, but it is most used perhaps in jazz, where a new melody is created several times in one song. Typically the lead sax or trumpet player will improvise for a period of time (on the same chord changes), then another member of the group will improvise for a period of time, and so on.

Arranging a song is somewhat different: you might keep the same melody, or alter it to some degree, but you might use different chords and different styles in the process. It’s a little bit confusing at this point, because the same type of thing could be happening in improvisaion. One musician will see it one way, and another musician another way, but that’s as it should be — it creates an endless flow of new and exciting music.

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