Archive for January, 2013


Passing Tones In Music & Piano Playing – How To Use Them

Friday, January 25th, 2013
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Passing Tones In Music & Piano Playing – How To Use Them

Listen to my podcast on passing tones by clicking the button below:

Here is a transcript of the podcast:

Hello again. This is Duane and this is more good stuff you really ought to know.
One thing you really ought to know is how to use passing tones. Passing tones are tones that are not part of the chord, they pass through the chord. You live in a house and the family members of that house belong in that house but there’s other people that just pass through that house, maybe the refrigerator repairman, he passes through the house, or the mailman passes through the house or the guy that works on the stove. They’re passing through.

That’s the way these tones are. They’re passing through but what they do is they beautify the chord. I don’t think that can always be said of plumbers and mailmen that go through the house but it certainly be said of these non-chordal tones.

Let’s play the C-chord [Duane playing piano]. Anything that I pass through that C-chord would be called a passing tone. In other words, if I played a melody that went like this: [Duane playing piano], we would have to say that D and F are passing tones. C, E, and G, that I played, they’re chord tones; they’re not passing tones but D is a passing tone, F is a passing tone. D and F are passing tones. If I play: [Duane playing piano] a chromatic scale then all those half-steps are passing tones, as well.

Not every passing tone sounds good with chords. I want to point out the most usable passing tones. The most usable passing tones are the ninth also known as the second. Sometimes in pop music you’ll see that, the ninth notated as the second. In the key of C, that would be D. Whether you call it the second or the ninth, we’re talking about the same note and it’s a D.

[Duane Playing piano] If you did something like that, that would be a passing tone, the ninth passing to the root. You’ve heard that kind of thing. Listen. [Duane playing piano]. Remember several Olympics ago, if you’re old enough to remember that. There was an athlete, Olympic athlete from Russia known as Nadia Comaneci, I believe, and this song, which she had play during her performance came to be known as Nadia’s Theme.

Anyway, what’s going on is we’re having a passing ninth to the root. Remember the Carpenters? Karen Carpenter and her brother? They used a lot of that kind of thing. [Duane playing piano] You’ve heard that kind of thing. That’s simply the ninth passing to the root.

Now, there’s other kinds of passing tones that will work also. That probably the next most used or the next best would be the seventh, the major seventh, [Duane playing piano] passing to the sixth or the sixth to the fifth. On C that would be the C chord with B passing to A or A passing to G or any combination thereof. In other words, you could have B to A to G.

Quite often, this will be on the bottom of the chord. For example, if I played the C-chord and I had B on the bottom and then A and then G, it adds a lot of … a lot of interest to it because it’s changing the chord all the time. You see, the chord, the C-chord remains standard, doesn’t it? It remains steady [Duane playing piano] but those inside passing tones make a lot of interest. You can just experiment and do them at random. You don’t have to go down incidentally the way I did, you could come up. You could go: G … A … B … C or G … A … B … A … G … A … B … A or D … C … B … A … D … C … B … A or A … B … C … D … D … C … B … A …. You see that?

Can you move more than one note at a time? Sure. If you had the C-chord: [Duane playing piano] I’m playing E on top, C in the middle and G on the bottom. Now, instead of C in the middle, put in D and B. That’s the ninth and the seventh, isn’t it? Now, move D and B down to C and A [Duane playing piano]. See that? That makes it interesting. Could you move it down chromatically? Sure. Move from D and B down to D-flat and B-flat and C and A. [Duane playing piano and humming].

On this song I could do that. With G on top, I’d have E under it. The C-chord but also D and B [Duane playing piano], the color tones, and then passing down to D-flat and B-flat, then C and A. Listen: [Duane playing piano and humming] that’s a passing ninth right there. I have the A-minor chord but I have B passing to A, that ninth passing to A. There I had the C-chord with the D passing to C.

Also, you can pass it gently or you can do it like that: [Duane playing piano]. If you pass it kind of like so, that’s called a grace note or a twang. It can provide a little bit of a twang. Twangs are used in Western music but they’re also used in New Age music [Duane playing piano] and certain kinds of jazz and fusion, as well. It comes from getting off that passing tone quickly and then resolving it. For example, I’m playing D, E and G together but I’m letting D up and then playing C. See that? [Duane playing piano] Those are all passing tones that you are hearing, passing sixth, passing seventh and passing ninth.

There’s some ideas about passing tones. How do you proceed from here? You use the scientific method. It’s called trial and error. Any song you’re playing, you plug in a ninth and pass it to the root or you plug in a major seventh and pass it to the sixth or you plug in a sixth and you pass it to the fifth or you combine them like I did on some of that, that I just played for you. Experiment around and you’ll discover some neat things. In general terms, the more emotion you can get under the melody, the better because the melody can kind of be static, can’t it? Because quite often, it’s held for long periods of time.

For example, if you were playing this song: one, two, three, four; one, two, three, four. You see, I’m playing A-flat for four beats and then D-flat for four beats. What can I do to make that more interesting? I can use passing tones [Duane playing piano]. Pretend you didn’t hear that error. Remember how the song goes. Ninth, seventh, sixth, fifth. Major seventh to the sixth; ninth, root, seventh, fifth. You see that? You just make it so much more interesting. Instead of sitting one, two, three, four, in a set of that, but you create some motion.

That motion can be in quarter notes like that: [Duane playing piano] one, two, three, four; one, two, three, four or it can be in eight notes: one, two, three, four; one, two, three, four; one, two, three, four; one, and two, and three, and four; and one, and two, and three, and four; and one, and two, and three, and four; and one, and two, and three, and four; and one, and two, and three, and four; and one, and two, and three. You see that? I was using eighth note, which eighth notes on the passing tones, under the melody, which made it a lot fuller and a lot flowing.
There’s some more good stuff you really ought to know. Combine that with the other things I’ve been sharing with you over the last few months and anything else you can do to make your playing more interesting.

We’ll see you again next month. Bye-bye for now.

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For a complete course in creating passing tones in your piano playing, click on the link below:

“Passing Tones To Add Motion & Interest To Your Songs!”

Passing Tones

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Right Hand Piano Fills – What To Do When The Melody Pauses…

Thursday, January 24th, 2013
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Right Hand Piano Fills – What To Do When The Melody Pauses…

Most average piano players just play the melody with their right hand and let the left hand take care of the rest, but that’s a shame, because there are many places in any song where the melody pauses for a few beats. So why not “fill in the empty spaces” with something interesting – right hand piano fills?

This video demonstrates 3 or 4 possible right hand fills you can use out of hundreds of possibilities:

For a complete course in Runs & Fills that covers MANY MANY runs and fillers, click the link below:

“Piano Runs & Fills Galore!”

Piano Runs and Fills

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Locked Hands Block Chords Style of Piano Playing

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
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Locked Hands Block Chords Style of Piano Playing

Here is a transcript of the podcast:

Hello. This is Duane with more “Good Stuff You Really Ought to Know.”
Today we are going to look at the locked-hands-block-chords style. Locked-hands-block-chords style.

Why do they call it a thing like that? It’s because your hands move parallel, it’s like your thumbs are locked together. They’re really not, but they’re going to run closer together.

What happens here is that you play the left hand in the melody, let’s say that you are playing “Danny Boy,” listen (Duane playing), you see that’s the melody. You are playing the melody in the left hand, but you’re also playing the melody in the right hand. Look at the top note. (Duane playing). You’ve got a melody in the left hand and a melody in the right hand.

Under the right hand melody, we put in the chords. Either you’ll see it written that way, or once you know how to do this, you can do it yourself. Just put in whatever chords are appropriate for the song, and to do that, you have to know what the primary chords are and what chord substitutions are, and so on.

You have to know quite a bit of stuff, but you’re learning that, so (Duane playing). That’s the sound that you get. The goal is to make that left hand stand out. There’s two ways you can do that. You can think about the left hand. Just focus on the left hand. Think about it. As you think about it, it will naturally stand out.

(Duane playing) I hope you can hear it standing out there. It is, in this room, I hope the tape recorder is picking it up.

The second thing you can do is you can emphasize it by sliding up to certain notes. You can do a slide into some of those notes. You can do G/A/B very quickly. Third, second, first (Duane playing) Hear it?

As I hit that E, I play D, D sharp, D (Duane playing) Oops! (Duane playing).That gives it a little (Duane playing) impetus to it. If you slide up to that bottom note. I wouldn’t do it all the time because (Duane playing) you could overdo it and it will sound sloppy.

Does this style stand alone? Not really, not unless you have the luxury of playing with a group. If you play with a group you do, because the drummer and the bass player and so on are going to fill up the gaps, but if you’re playing solo piano, which most of us have to do, it doesn’t really stand alone, so you have to do some other things. That’s not the subject of this particular little hint. You could use all of your other arranging styles and just use this for part of it. Let me show you. (Duane playing).

I used it that far. (Duane playing) I am going to go back to it, but I (Duane playing) now I’m using another style. (Duane playing) I’ll come back to it here in a minute. I’m right back to it, and inject a run into the middle of it. I’m using the style now (Duane playing). Maybe I ought to … forgot how the song goes. (Duane playing) What kind of teacher am I anyway, forget how the song goes as I am illustrating?

(laughs) You get the idea. That’s the locked-hands-block-chords style. More “Good Stuff You Really Ought to Know.” You had another lesson there, too, and that is no matter how advanced you get, you can make mistakes. We’re all human. I’m going to leave that on just so you can enjoy the fellowship of mistakes. Bye-bye for now.

For a course on Block Styles, please click here: “Block Chord Styles”

Block Chord Styles

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Chord Progressions: How 7th Chords Progress

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
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Chord Progressions – What are they and why 7th chords progress as they do

Chord progressions are simply the way two or more chords behave in a predictable pattern. For example, the most common chord progression of all is the V7 to I progression. That means that the chord which is built on the 5th degree of the scale and contains a 7th “wants” to move to the I chord. It’s like there is an invisible magnetic force that pulls it back to “home base” in that key – the I chord.

The V7 to I chord progression in the key of C is: G7 to C.
In the key of F, it would be: C7 to F.
In the key of G, it would be D7 to G.
In the key of E, it would be B7 to E.
In the key of Db, it would be Ab7 to Db.
And so on in every key.

Watch this short video on chord progressions and how consecutive dominant 7th chords “want” to move around the circle of 5ths:

For a GREAT course on Chord Progressions, click on the link below:

“Chord Progressions and The Riffs and Runs That Flow Out Of Them!”
Chord Progression Course

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Please leave your comments and suggestions below – I read them all! Thanks.

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Chromatic Scales, Whole Tone Scales & Pentatonic Scales

Monday, January 14th, 2013
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Three Types of Music Scales

Click on the button below to listen to this podcast:

Here is a transcript of the podcast:

Hello again. This is Duane with “More Good Stuff You Really Ought to Know.” Today, I’d like to take a look at the three kinds of music scales. Undoubtedly, you know all about major scales (Duane playing piano) and minor scales (Duane playing piano).
Today, I’d like to look at chromatic whole tone and pentatonic scales. First of all, what’s a major scale? It’s a succession of notes that goes from the root (Duane playing piano) to the octave. It’s made up of whole steps and half steps. Some are whole steps (Duane playing piano), some are half steps (Duane playing piano).
In a major scale, there is whole step (Duane playing piano), whole step (Duane playing piano), half step (Duane playing piano), then whole step (Duane playing piano), whole step (Duane playing piano), whole step (Duane playing piano), half step (Duane playing piano). If we broke that down further, we’d say it had a lower (Duane playing piano) tetrachord and an upper tetrachord (Duane playing piano).
A major scale (Duane playing piano) is a ladder of notes that runs from the root to the octave, it’s like, it’s a ladder from the word “La scala”, the ladder. That ladder runs (Duane playing piano) the gamut of eight notes and returns to the root.
A minor scale, there’s three kinds of minor scales. There’s a natural minor, which uses the same notes as the major scale, just doesn’t start on the same note. In other words, if I play the C scale from (Duane playing piano) A to A, that would be the A natural minor scale. It’s related to C. Why is it related? Because we just used the same notes. Exactly the same notes. Just starting in in a different place.
There’s a (Duane playing piano) harmonic minor, which raises the seventh degree at the scale. In other words, we’ve been in a sharp, an accidental sharp of the seventh degree of the scale, and there’s the melodic minor (Duane playing piano), which raises the sixth and seventh on the way up, ascending, but (Duane playing piano) restores them to their natural state, descending. In other words, it’s like the natural minor descending. Just a quick review of major and minor scales.
A chromatic scale is all half steps. There’s no whole steps in it at all. Therefore, you can start at any point (Duane playing piano). In the example, it starts on E (Duane playing piano) and goes to F and then F sharp G (Duane playing piano), G sharp (Duane playing piano). It’s the simplest of all scales. You don’t have to wonder about what comes next.
Fingering-wise, sometimes it could be a problem. Here’s what you do. You use your thumb all the time on white keys, and your third finger, all the time on black keys, except when you have two white keys in a row. You can play any chromatic scale that way.
For example, if we start on–, in our example, it starts on E (Duane playing piano), our second note is F, so we have two white keys in a row, so we have to use thumb (Duane playing piano) second. Now we can use our third finger (Duane playing piano) on the black key. Now bring our thumb under to G (Duane playing piano), third finger on G sharp, thumb on A, third (Duane playing piano) finger on B flat. This is in the key of F.
Then thumb under to B (Duane playing piano), and then we have two white keys in a row, so use (Duane playing piano) your second finger. Third finger thumb (Duane playing piano), third finger thumb (Duane playing piano), second finger, third (Duane playing piano).
You can play any kind of chromatic scales starting any note using that formula. What’s the formula? Just use your thumb on white keys and your third finger on black keys, except when you have two white keys in a row, and of course you do (Duane playing piano) in two instances between B and C, and E and F.
Whole tone scale is what it says it is. It’s just all whole steps (Duane playing piano). In other words, if you start on C (Duane playing piano), go up to D, then up to E (Duane playing piano), because that’s a whole step. What’s a whole step above E? It’s not F. You got to go up to (Duane playing piano) F sharp, whole step is G sharp (Duane playing piano), whole step is A sharp (Duane playing piano), and a whole step above that is B sharp (Duane playing piano) or C.
As we go from C to C (Duane playing piano), we have that kind of sound. It sounds spacey. Like you’re lost in space.
Let’s come up a half step, by the way. Let’s start on C sharp (Duane playing piano) and form a whole tone scale (Duane playing piano). Whole tone above C sharp is D sharp (Duane playing piano). Whole tone above that is F (Duane playing piano) and G (Duane playing piano), A (Duane playing piano), B (Duane playing piano), C sharp (Duane playing piano).
What do we do? We use the two black keys (Duane playing piano) together, then we use four white keys and then we’re back to the black keys. In the first scale (Duane playing piano), notice we use three white keys, and then we use the set of three black keys.
In one chromatic scale, we use the three black keys (Duane playing piano), and the other whole tone scale, we use (Duane playing piano) the two black keys that are together, C sharp and D sharp.
My point is that there’s only two whole tone scales, because if you start on D (Duane playing piano), it’s the same scale as (Duane playing piano) the C whole tone scale. You’re just starting a note higher. If you start off on E flat (Duane playing piano), it’s the same as the C sharp (Duane playing piano) whole tone scale. You can see there’s only two possibly whole tone scales.
Can you make chords out of those (Duane playing piano)? Yes, just take every other note and you have that kind of feeling (Duane playing piano). You make some real spooky music that way.
The last scale I’d like to look at is called the pentatonic scale. The pentatonic, penta of course, means five. This is kind of an Oriental scale. This is used in a lot of the (Duane playing piano) Eastern cultures, and has been for years. It’s like the first (Duane playing piano) three notes that are major scale, and then you skip the fourth and you play the fifth (Duane playing piano) and the sixth (Duane playing piano).
Think of it that way. One (Duane playing piano), two (Duane playing piano), three (Duane playing piano), five (Duane playing piano), six (Duane playing piano), and of course the octave (Duane playing piano). There’s no fourth and there’s no seventh (Duane playing piano), so you have that kind of sound.
Go up a half step (Duane playing piano), and you could play that on all the black keys. You don’t have any white keys at all, it’s just all the black keys. If you want to (Duane playing piano) improvise on just the black keys, play them at random. What you’re doing is you’re improvising on the pentatonic scale, and if you get in a little bit of an Oriental sound, that’s why. If that reminds of a Japanese tea garden or something, that’s why.
That’s “More Good Stuff You Really Ought to Know.” We’ll see you next month with a little more.

For an excellent course in scales click here: “All About Scales, & How To Use Them — Major, Minor & Modal Scales”

Scales

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