Archive for May, 2012


How to play piano in the key of Db

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Playing in the key of Db involves basing your playing on the scale of Db which contains five flats – B, E, A, D, and G. The primary chords in the key of Db are Db (tonic chord), Gb (sub-dominant chord), and Ab (dominant chord).

The seconary chords are Ebm (supertonic chord), Bbm (sub-mediant chord), and Fm (mediant chord).

Watch this short video on how to play in the key of Db.

For a complete course on How To Think In The Key, please click here.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Strange Fruit & Other Impactful Jazz Songs

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

It’s hard to list the most popular jazz songs of all time, since jazz is a wide-ranging style of music. To make things simpler, this list includes songs that are considered jazz standards. Some have vocals and some are instrumental.

Considered by many to be the classic voice of jazz, Billie Holiday recorded many songs which were either established hits or songs that became classics after she released them. One of these songs, Strange Fruit, details that grim reality of the racially divided South.

Written by a Jewish high school teacher from the Bronx named Abel Meeropol, Strange Fruit was inspired by a lynching in Indiana. Horrified by a photograph of the event, Meeropol wrote the words as a poem. He set the poem to music and began singing it as a protest song.

The owner of a New York nightclub heard the song and introduced it to Holiday. She had to convince her label to allow her a one-song release from her contract in order to record it. Even though it became a live staple, Holiday would break down emotionally every time she performed the song.

Though racial tensions in the United States have changed drastically since then, the song is an important reminded of the country’s history. It is an effective warning against the unbridled villainy of which people are capable. Its lesson still applies.

A popular jazz song that was also written with racial tensions in mind is What a Wonderful World. It was written in the late 1960s by a Bob Thiele, a highly successful jazz record producer. The first recording of the song was by Louis Armstrong and remains the standard by which all other versions are judged.

Amidst the tension of the time, the song contained an optimistic lyric about the miracle of birth and the beauty of nature. Armstrong’s version, recorded in 1968, was a hit in the UK but was not a hit in the United States until 1971. Armstrong’s death brought a revival of interest in his work.

Since then, the song has been featured in films and documentaries as a pivotal piece of music. In the film Twelve Monkeys, it’s used as a reflection on a natural world that is inaccessible to mankind because of his actions. Whenever the song is played, it’s amazing lyric and melody cause the listener to appreciate the beauty of everyday living.

La Vie en Rose is a song by French chanteuse Edith Piaf. Though Piaf’s friends and writing partners initially dismissed the song, it became her biggest hit. The melody was written by Louis Gugliemi.

The lyric are about being completely in love to the point that the world appears to be a better place. The title phrase means to see life through rose colored glasses. It’s a fitting song for a singer who had a life full of drama and misfortune.

The musical Babes in Arms by Rodgers and Hart produced one of the most popular jazz songs, My Funny Valentine. Though it took a while for the song to become a hit, it has endured the test of time well. Originally released in 1937, the song has been recorded by over 600 artists through the years.

The first version of the song to be a hit was recorded by Hal McIntyre and Ruth Gaylor in 1945. Their version only reached number 16 on the popular charts. After this, it nearly disappeared into obscurity.

In the 1950s, the song became a true jazz standard. Many popular jazz vocalists and instrumentalists released their own variations of the song. Chet Baker recorded the most influential version of the song. He left out the first verse of the song, a change which became the standard way to perform the song.

There are many more popular jazz songs to add to any musician’s repertoire. These are a few that everyone should know if they want to explore the world of jazz. Whether you sing, play an instrument, or do both, these songs are a great beginning to your knowledge of popular jazz songs.

Here is Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ZyuULy9zs

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Key of C: What does it mean to “play in the key of C”?

Friday, May 25th, 2012
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

What does it mean to play in the key of C? It means you are basing your playing on the scale of C which has no sharps or flats in the key signature. To play proficiently in any key you need to know not only the scale of that key, but the primary and secondary chords in that key.

Watch this short video on how to play piano in the key of C:

For an entire course on How To Think In The Key click here.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Am I Too Old To Learn To Play Piano?

Thursday, May 24th, 2012
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Here’s an interesting question that many have asked: Why should I bother learning a musical instrument at my age? Let’s look at why.

We could end this article with a real bang if we were to save this reason until the end but it deserves to be at the top of the list: Because you want to. In your lifetime, how many times have you heard somebody say, or you said it yourself, “I’m tone deaf and that’s why I’m not musically inclined.”? You’ve surely heard it or said it at some point and it’s time we give you a well thought out, academic response to that statement:

HOGWASH!

The facts are that only a very small percentage of the population is tone deaf. If you were to put 100 people in a room, no more than 4 of them would be tone deaf. If you can listen to the radio and hear different pitches in a song, you aren’t tone deaf and even if you were, you could still play some musical instruments. Let’s not forget that Beethoven was deaf towards the end of his life and was still able to compose music.

The human mind is wired for artistic expression. Each one of us have a desire to be creative, think about things that have no borders, boundaries, or walls, write a book, paint a picture, or make music. The chances of you having no desire for the arts is about as likely as your tone deafness. If you think your desire to learn to play a musical instrument is the result of some short lived mid life crisis, let us assure you that it has always been there but the other parts of your life probably put it on the back burner until now. “Because you want to” is the most important and valid reason to learn a music instrument and no scientific studies or expert opinions can change that. That’s one of the great things about music. Everybody, regardless of who they are or how talented, can participate.

For you factual people out there, let’s look at a few more concrete reasons why learning a musical instrument as an adult is a good idea. First, it stimulates the mind. That big organ that sits between your ears doesn’t get the same amount of respect as the heart. You’ve heard about exercising your heart to keep it strong but few people tell you that the brain needs exercise to keep it strong and healthy.

It does and when you challenge it to think and process in different ways, you’re helping to fend off neurological issues. Learning a music instrument will make your mind sharper and your brain more healthy. We’re not saying that it’s the secret to avoiding neurological problems in the future any more than a cardiologist could say that running assures you a disease free heart. Scientist have proven that it helps.

In children, those who study a musical instrument score higher on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT because music using a certain area of the brain that isn’t used as much in more objective based activities.

Next, fine muscle movement. Again, the heart gets all the fitness love but how about your fingers? Using those smaller muscles in the body keeps them lose, strong, and functioning properly. There aren’t many other activities out there that can exercise your fingers and other associated little used muscles.

Finally, it brings people together. Although there is a lot of music meant to be played alone, music builds communities. People like to play music together and if you’re one of those adults that has trouble meeting people, music might help to solve that problem. Play at church, in a local band, with a friend, or with family members that you haven’t connected with in a long time. The options are virtually endless.

Why learn to play a music instrument as an adult? Because until now, you’ve missed out on a whole world of art and the art world has no boundaries. Maybe somebody told you that music doesn’t make any money so it’s not worth your time. For most people, that’s true but either does football, golf, boating, scrapbooking, or whatever hobby you enjoy. Not everything has to make money. It’s ok to just have fun and find fulfillment.

Start with a few lessons at PlayPianoCatalog and see how much you like it!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Music Notes: How They Work On a Musical Staff

Thursday, May 17th, 2012
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

A note’s pitch is represented by where it is located on the musical staff; it will appear on one of the five horizontal lines, on one of the spaces between the lines, or on the ledger lines above or below the staff. When looking a the treble clef staff, the first line represents an E, the first space represents an F, the second line represents a G, and so on. When looking at the musical staff (the music in written form), the notes have higher pitches as they go up and lower pitches as they go down. Those particular notes are played together in order to create chords or played apart to create a melody.

The notes of the musical scale are notated with letters of the alphabet, A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, beginning again with the letter A when playing an octave higher or lower. The naturals are not the only notes; there are also the sharp notes (A#, C#, D#, F#, G#) and the flat notes (Ab, Bb, Db, Eb, Gb). A sharp is a note that is one half step, or a semitone, higher than the natural note that it affects; a flat note is a semitone below it. For example, the note G# is played one semitone, or half step, above a natural G, and a Bb will be played a semitone below a natural B.

Each note or chord is played for a certain count, which is represented by the appearance of the notes on the musical staff. A whole note is held for the entire length of a measure and is represented by an open oval that has no stem. A whole note with a stem is known as a half note, and it lasts for half of a measure. A quarter note is held for one beat in the measure and is depicted as a blackened oval with a stem on it. The stem is connected to a note, and will either point upward or downward on the musical staff, depending on the placement of the note. An eighth note counts for one half of a beat on the staff, and it looks like a quarter note that has an extra flag or tail on its stem. The stems of sixteenth notes have two flags. Eighth or sixteenth notes occasionally appear one right after the other.

If that is the case, they will be joined together with a solid bar that connects the stems where there would otherwise be flags. There are other ways to tie notes together, including ties, slurs, glissandos and triplets. The sound of the music is influenced by them. A note depicted with a slur should be played or sung smoothly, like a solid stroke of a violin’s bow or a singer singing the notes without breathing in between. A glissando refers to a smooth glide through a sequence of notes. When ties are written into music, this adds the time value of two or more notes, while triplets indicate three notes that should be played all in one beat, or in some cases two or more beats. Triplets are often denoted by the number three; this means the three notes should be played so that each note takes the same amount of time.

This is a guest blog (not by Duane)
Further information on music notes and how they work can be found on Wikipedia.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)