Archive for October, 2012


How Can I Go About Transposing from One Key to Another?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
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When you first start playing the piano you will probably think that you have no need to acquire this particular skill of transposing music from one key to another.

As you progress with your studies however, you may find a time when you want to play the same music with another musician whose instrument isn’t in the same key as yours (such as a B flat clarinet or even a guitar), in which case you will need to transpose the music so that the harmonies work when you play together. It’s also possible that you wish to accompany a singer who has a vocal range that doesn’t fit the key in which the music is composed. Or it could also simply be that you want to improvise a little and therefore need an understanding of how chords and keys work together in order to create great harmony.

Transposing music from key to key
Each musical key is like a color all it’s own – each key has it’s own personality and feel.

The first thing you need to do when transposing from one key to another is to identify the key in which the original music is set. Is it a major or minor key? You will be transposing the music note for note so this doesn’t really matter for anything other than for key identification purposes.

Next decide which key you are transposing the music into. Are you taking it up to the key of D from the key of C for example? Place the new key signature at the beginning of your manuscript line. In practical terms for this particular transposition you will simply move each note up one tone – your tonal note being D. So C becomes D, D becomes E, E becomes F sharp/G flat and so on up the scale. You can do this in your head as you become more proficient but at first you might find it helpful to write out the transposed manuscript, or at least put it into a musical software program where you manually make the changes and can see the transposition taking place.
Having made most of the changes, you need to check for any accidentals that appear in the music. For example if you have some additional sharps or flats. What is the intent of the accidental – to raise or lower the tone? Use the right accidental to raise/lower the appropriate notes in your transposed composition.

If you are transposing the entire piece of music from one key to another then once you’ve reached the end, you’re done. If you are transposing only part of the music for improvisation purposes or to create a vocal effect, then you need to listen to the entire piece of music original into transposition and back to the original again to see if you need to add any kind of additional linking harmony or passing tones. It could be that the transposing creates a musical bump that with a few additional notes can be made to flow fluently again. This process of flowing naturally from one key to the next is known as modulation.

Transposing is a skill that can be used to create dramatic effects, make you look as though you really understand the music theory business, and yet takes very little effort to learn. Really all you need is a good understanding of key signatures and a little patience, and you’ll be able to transpose anything to any key you choose!
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For over 300 free videos on piano playing click here: http://www.youtube.com/chordsgalore

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Piano Chords — Learning The Basics

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
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(Guest post)

When learning to play the piano like most other instruments piano chords

begin to play a vital role. Instead of playing single notes such as melody

notes you place your hand into a certain position that allows you to play

three notes at once with the melody as the top note. Any combination of three keys produces a

triad but pressing only certain groups of keys at once will produce nice sounds that

are musically correct and will sound good to the ear. Most music is written

containing three elements which are melody, harmony and rhythm. Harmony is

produced when a person plays two or more notes at the same time. To master

playing the piano learning chords becomes vital to playing great sounding

music.

In musical theory many different types of chords exist, some are used more

frequent than others depending on the style of music that the person is

going to play. A triad called the major triad is derived from the major

scale. To play a major triad the first, third and fifth degrees of the major

scale are played together. Using the c major scale the notes played would

be c, e, and g, This would produce what would appeal to the ear as a “happy” or normal

type sound.

In piano chords the minor triads are taken from the minor scale and are

built using the same degrees, the first, third and fifth and are played at

the same time. Looking at the c minor scale these notes are c, e flat and

g. And with minor scales the third note is one half step lower. Playing this

combination of notes produces a sound that appears sadder.

Augmented and diminished are the triads you will run into least often as

they are like the salt and pepper of music. Looking at the fifth degree of the scale where

they are played these are recognized by seeing augmented is raised a half

step while diminished piano chords are lowered half a step (along with the lowered 3rd).

Many other piano chords exists that include combinations that use scale

degrees such as seventh, ninth, and thirteenth that appear across various

styles of music. Country and jazz songs frequently use sevenths while

ninths and thirteenths commonly appear when the blues and jazz are being played. When it comes

to scales they are only made of seven notes and the idea of ninths and

thirteenths may strike you as odd and in this case remember a ninth as

well as a second are one and the same as the notes are counted by not

repeating one each time the root note is struck.

It does not matter what type of piano chords you are playing or what scale

it is based on, you can make what is called a inverted chord. Using the c

major scale the first inversion would be to move the root note to the top

while e becomes the bottom note making the notes to be played e, g and

c. Doing this changes what the tone sounds like and the impression it has

on the music being played. Turn it upside down again and you have second

inversion – G, C, E.

Learning to play piano chords will make your music more enjoyable and will

allow you to become more comfortable as you will recognize the variations

more quickly making it easier when you are learning a new piece of music.

This post is NOT written by Duane, but by a guest poster.
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Songs About America

Monday, October 29th, 2012
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The Making Of America The Beautiful: A Beloved National Song
American songs

America the Beautiful is a beloved national song in the United States. In fact, it is so well loved that visitors to one of the US’ most famous natural monuments, Pikes Peak, will find an excerpt of the song in homage to its composer, Samuel A. Ward, a choir director and church organist, and writer, Katherine Lee Bates, posted on a commemorative plaque to be read while viewing the purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain. It is interesting to note that the two did not write the song together, nor did they even know each other.

In fact, Ms. Bates originally wrote the words the famous American song as a poem named Pikes Peak as a celebration of our great nation. The words originally appeared in her church bulletin “The Congregationalist” on July 4, 1895 under the title “America”. Meanwhile, Mr. Ward had written the music in 1882. It was originally entitled “Materna” and intended to be used with the words of an existing hymn called “O Mother Dear, Jerusalem”. When Ms. Bates poem and Mr. Ward’s composition were combined, an unforgettable and cherished national song was born.

What inspired Katherine L. Bates to write the words to America the Beautiful?

In 1893, Chicago hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition. This was a fabulous display that was actually the predecessor for theme parks such as Disney Land. The White City, as it was called, was incredibly inspiring to the many thousands of people who visited it. Its exhibits and wonders gave Americans tremendous hope for a future of ease, plenty and joy. Katherine Bates was one of those visitors. In her poem, she wrote of the wonders displayed at the exhibition, the seemingly never-ending views of golden wheat fields seen from the window of her train on her trip to the eposition, and the majestic view from the apex of fabulous Zebulon’s Pikes Peak. When she visited the peak, the beautiful view and the many sights and sounds of her trip to the Columbian exposition began to culminate in the words that would become one of America’s most beloved songs, and she rushed back to her hotel room to begin writing. Two years later, her church bulletin published her poem to commemorate the 4th of July. The popular poem spread like wildfire, and within two decades, several versions of it had been published.

What inspired Samuel A. Ward to write the music for America the Beautiful?

It was obvious to all that the beautiful poem would make an excellent song, and many people tried to adapt the words to a variety of compositions. The one that finally won out and is still used today is a piece composed by Samuel A. Ward. Much like Ms. Bates experience, Mr. Ward was struck by sudden inspiration after visiting an American icon. He took a trip to Coney Island by ferry in 1882. After spending the day enjoying this early theme park, Mr. Ward ferried back to New York City. On the way he was struck with a tune that he intended to use with the words for an existing hymn entitled “O Mother Dear, Jerusalem”. He intended to retitle this song as “Materna”. Like Ms. Bates, Mr. Ward was so suddenly struck with inspiration that he couldn’t wait to get his thoughts down. Legend has it he jotted his original notes on his hapless traveling companion’s shirtsleeve while still on the ferry! Ward was never to know that his music was coupled with Ms. Bates lyrics. He died in 1903, and the words and music were initially combined in 1904.

Is America the Beautiful an official American song?

Although many attempts have been made, America the Beautiful has never attained the official status of the Star Spangled Banner as a national anthem. Nonetheless, this melodic, easily sung and highly adaptable piece of music holds a special place in the hearts of Americans. Surely, this hopeful and forward looking song will continue to hold America’s beacon aloft as we continue to strive to crown our good with brotherhood across our great nation and around the world.

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Learn piano the fastest & easiest way – simple piano chords

Saturday, October 27th, 2012
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For those people who have no desire to become polished pianists, but just want to play for their own amusement and amazement and maybe entertain their family and friends, there is no faster or easier way to reach that goal than to learn three basic chords and then match them with a simple melody you pick out by ear.

There are tons of songs that are like that – they only use 2 or 3 or 4 chords, and the melody (tune of the song) is simple so that most anyone can pick it out on the piano just through trial and error.

For example, I have a doctor friend who likes to sit down at the piano he inherited from his parents when he gets home from the hospital or office and spends about a half-hour plunking on the keyboard, picking out tunes he has heard. He says that enables him to unwind and relax after a day of thinking about medical issues. By the time dinner is ready, he is able to sit down with the family and talk about normal stuff without thinking about patients and drugs and treatments.

Watch this 10-minute video where I demonstrate how easy this is to do on a familiar song:

(Please don’t misunderstand – I have been a piano teacher all my life and I am not in favor or shortcuts that damage long-term progress on the piano. This method does NOT apply to kids or to adults who want to become good piano players – they should take piano lessons – it is for those adults that just want to play for fun and have no desire to become really good.)

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To watch this video on YouTube please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-qHKvnP_bY

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How To Form A 13th Chord In One Hand On The Piano

Monday, October 22nd, 2012
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A thirteen chord, by definition, contains the 13th note of the diatonic scale along with the basic chord notes and some of the extensions. Most musicians leave the 3rd of the chord out because it clashes with the 11th, and most musicians include the 9th and the dominiant 7th in the chord.

Having said that, there is no universal way of voicing a 13th chord – every musician will voice it differently, at least to some degree, and that’s as it should be.

Here is a way to voice a 13th chord all in the left hand. It’s a two-part voicing, but it works great. Have a look:

For a complete course in voicing chords click on Super-Chords Made Super Simple

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