Archive for April, 2013


Simple Piano Notes & Simple Piano Chords…

Monday, April 29th, 2013
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Simple Piano Notes & Simple Piano Chords…

Here is a transcript of the video if you would like to follow along:

Good morning, this is Duane, and today we’re going to do something a little different with simple piano notes and simple piano chords. You’ve heard me talk in the past about how simple things can become complex, and I’m going to give you an example of this today, but I’m not going to tell you where it’s from. You can probably guess where it’s from. In the days to come, where going to develop this simple tune, this simple little chord progression, and see where it goes, okay? So here it is. It’s a simple melody.

It starts on F#, E, D … in other words, the first three notes of the D scale, all right? Third second, root. And then it goes down a half-step to C# and then B, and then A. In other words, we’re coming right down the D scale.

[Duane playing piano]
If we were in the key of C, we’d be …
[Duane playing piano]
See, it’s very simple, okay? So back to the key of D.
[Duane playing piano]

Got that? Very, very simple, okay? Now, I’m going to put a chord with it. We’re going to have a D chord, [Duane playing piano] and then we’re going to have an A chord, [Duane playing piano] then we’re going to have a B minor chord, [Duane playing piano] then we’re going to have an F# minor chord, [Duane playing piano] and then we’re going to have a G chord, [Duane playing piano] then we’re going to have a D chord, [Duane playing piano], and G chord, [Duane playing piano] and an A chord, and then we’re going to do it again, okay?

This time, I’ll put the melody on top that I just played, which the melody goes like that. [Duane playing piano] All right, with the chords under it, here we go.
D, A, B minor, F# minor, G major, D major, G major, A major, back to D, okay? Let’s count how many chords.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and then we start over again, okay, so it’s just eight chords progression. I want you to learn and memorize this chord progression. It’s the one chord, we’re in the key of D. [Duane playing piano] I should have said that first of all. [Duane playing piano] We’re in the scale of D, which means we’re in the key of D, which has two sharps. F sharp and C sharp, [Duane playing piano] based on the scale of D, remember? The scale comes from the latin word ascala, the ladder. It’s the ladder of notes that runs from D up to D, okay?

So the one chord is D. So this is the one chord. Then it goes to the five chord, which is A. And then the six chord, which is B minor, that’s a secondary chord, and then F# minor, which is the three chord, again the secondary chord in the key of D. And then the four chord, which is G, and then the one chord, which is D, back to the four chord, which is G, and the five chord, which is A. Okay, and then back to D. So again, I’ll take it slow.

[Duane playing piano]

Okay, some of you are probably recognizing that by now, okay? Now, let’s take it from the key of D to the key of C and see if we can keep the same chord progression, okay? Chord progressions, the wonderful thing about chord progressions is that they’re movable, aren’t they? They’re movable concepts. Once you learn it in one key you can play it in any key once you learn the formula. The formula was one, five, three, six, four, one, four, five, and then back again. There’s eight chords in that sequence, right?

So let’s do it in the key of C. The melody, instead of being [Duane playing piano] in the key of D, it would be this. [Duane playing piano]

Here we go, one, five, six, three, four, one, four, five, one, five, six, three, four, one, four, five, and then back to one. Okay? So, I would like you to memorize that. Memorize that chord progression. It’s very, very useful because it belongs to one of the greatest tunes ever written, but not only that, you can use it to create your own songs by improvising on it, creating different patterns of notes, different melodies, based on that same chord progression, and we’re going to explore that the next few lessons, and we’re going to do it in severe different styles, so we’ll see how that goes in the days to come.

Meanwhile, learn that progression really well. I’ll go over it one more time. It’s the one chord, followed by the five chord, the six chord, the three chord, the four chord, the one chord, the four chord, the five chord, and back to one. Okay?

That’s it for today, so we’ll see you tomorrow with another extension of this same idea. Meanwhile, if you’re not signed up for my free newsletter, be sure and come over to play piano.com and sign up for that free newsletter on piano tips, because there’s loads of videos and instruction about chords and all kinds of stuff, so come on over and sign up for, and tell your friends to do it too, okay?

See you tomorrow with another video on the same subject, so see you then. Bye-bye for now.
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Piano notes and piano chords combine to make a great song!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_notes

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12 Piano Recordings You Should Listen to and Why

Friday, April 26th, 2013
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12 Piano Recordings You Should Listen to and Why

Whether you are just beginning to play the piano or have been at it for a while, it’s important to listen to piano recordings of professional pianists in a variety of musical styles – even if it’s not a style of music you are personally interested in learning to play.

There are a number of reasons to listen to great artists on the instrument you play. Listening to them helps you understand and appreciate what good playing sounds like. It also helps to hear how various musicians interpret great works of music. And, finally, listening to music in a variety of styles helps you learn about music in general.

The following list is not necessarily the best list or the only list. It’s a list of recordings of great music, played by great musicians, in a variety of musical styles.

As to where you can find these recordings, you have a number of options. Borrowing CDs from your local public library is an excellent way to listen to a lot of music free. You may also have a friend or family member with a large collection who will let you borrow from them. And of course, if you’re up on the latest trends, find them on Spotify or iTunes.

Piano recordings

Etudes/Preludes/Polonaises – Chopin
Performer: Maurizio Pollini
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
This large multi-CD set may be all the Chopin you need to hear. Chopin’s piano music helps you understand music of the Romantic period in a way the music of other composers never will. Chopin was considered a genius for getting the most out of each and every note. Listen carefully and enjoy.

Sonata, Op.27,No.2 – Beethoven /Prelude, choral et fugue – Franck/Paganini Variations – Brahms
Performer: Evgeny Kissin
Label: RCA
Kissin is a technical wizard at the keyboard and these selections definitely require wizardry. Each of these selections is considered part of the core repertoire for serious pianists.

The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I – Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Glenn Gould
Label: Sony
Glenn Gould is famous for his clear, authoritative, musical, and sometimes eccentric way of playing Bach. If you want to know what the keyboard music of J.S. Bach should sound like, go no further.

Images 1 & 2 – Debussy; Children’s Corner – Debussy
Performer: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Considered one of the top 10 Debussy keyboard albums of all time. If you must listen to Debussy – and you must – this is the one.

Concerto No.1 – Tchaikovsky/Concerto No. 5 “Emperor” – Beethoven
Performer: Vladimir Horowitz
Label: RCA
This recording features two of the most famous piano concertos of all time performed by one of the great virtuosos of all time. As a bonus, world famous conductors, Arturo Toscanini and Fritz Reiner lead two of the finest orchestras you will ever hear.

Piano Concerto, Op. 54 – Schumann/Misc. Selections – Schumann, Schubert, Liszt, Grieg
Performer: Evgeny Kissin
Label: Sony
Carlo Maria Giulini conducts the Vienna Philharmonic. Evegeny Kissin plays with emotional sophistication well beyond his years. This is a nearly perfect, imperfect performance. That is to say, it is not Schumann played as if it were Mozart. It is Schumann played as if it were (and it is) Schumann. Romantic music as it is meant to be heard.

Piano Concerto No. 2 – Rachmaninov/Piano Concerto No. 1 – Tchaikovsky
Performer: Sviatoslav Richter
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Sviatoslav Richter is magnificent in his interpretation of both of these classic piano concertos. The Vienna Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, is musically sensitive and spot on. The Warsaw Philharmonic, under the baton of Stanislaw Wislocki, is less inspired, but does not detract from the overall value of this recording.

Horowitz Plays Liszt
Performer: Vladimir Horowitz
Label: RCA
Considered by many to be a controversial recording, first-time listeners will probably not hear that in the music. The controversy comes from the fact that pianist, Vladimire Horowitz had recorded some of the music many years
earlier, and this time his interpretation had changed considerably. For most listeners, it’s enough to know you are hearing some of the best piano music ever written, performed by one of the greatest piano players in history.

The Trio – Oscar Peterson
Performer: Oscar Peterson
Label: Ojc
Recorded in a club in Chicago, this CD explains why Oscar Peterson is the greatest jazz pianist who ever lived.

Complete Capitol Recordings – Art Tatum
Performer: Art Tatum
Label: Blue Note Records
In order to understand traditional American jazz music, you must be familiar with Art Tatum. And, in order to be familiar with Art Tatum, you must hear his original Capital recordings. Tatum’s rhythmic shifts and ability to carry an entire piece of music must be heard to be believed.

18 Original Sun Greatest Hits – Jerry Lee Lewis
Performer: Jerry Lee Lewis
Label: Rhino
The truth is, Jerry Lee Lewis was so important in the early days of rock and roll that nearly every piano player of the era, and since, copied at least part of his style. There is no small amount of “gospel soul” in the man’s playing and this collection, made between 1956 and 1963 in Nashville, has it all.

The Very Best Of Dr. John
Performer: Dr. John
Label: Elektra
This recording is a gumbo stew of New Orleans jazz, rock, gospel, and blues. To appreciate the joyous uplifting instrument the piano can be, you must listen to Dr. John. This recording really is the “very best” of an accomplished piano player.
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How To Make Musical Chords Sound More Complex

Thursday, April 25th, 2013
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How To Make Musical Chords Sound More Complex

Here is a transcript of the podcast in case you want to follow along:

Hi, this is Duane again. Back with some more good stuff you really ought to know about musical chords. This is so embarrassingly simple that I hesitate to mention it and I wouldn’t except I have people come up to me all the time when they watch me play and they say, “What chord are you playing?” I’ll say, “It’s a C chord.” They’ll say, “My C chord doesn’t sound like your C chord.” I’ll have to explain that’s because I play it inverted and I add a color tone to it. I can see the light bulb come on in their head when about 30 seconds later I show them how easy it is to do that. It’s amazing the change in sound you get when you just do something simple like that.

I’ve titled this little card, “How to Make any Square Chord Sound Cool.” (Not available anymore – sorry!) A lot of people play like this. (Duane is playing piano) That’s fine except it doesn’t really sound like (Duane is playing piano) that. The only difference between that (Duane is playing piano) and that (Duane is playing piano) is that I’ve inverted the C chord, I broke position in the first version I’ve added a sixth and a ninth. Big difference right?
Music chord
If you use some techniques such as arpeggio where you break up the chord or some blue notes (Duane is playing piano) and a little dynamics, I’m peddling (Duane is playing piano). A few techniques like that and it’s amazing you can go from (Duane is playing piano) to this (Duane is playing piano).

I was using a whole bunch of different techniques but each one of them was simple in itself. If you’re where a lot of people that ask me that question are, if you want to start making your chords sound a little more complex, start with just turning them upside down, getting them out of root position immediately makes them sound better. (Duane is playing piano) Makes them sound different anyway. They’re not so square.

Turn your chord up into first inversion or second inversion, then add a sixth or a major seventh or a ninth or if it’s a bluesy situation, a seventh, maybe a seventh and a ninth. (Duane is playing piano) Sometimes I play sixth, seventh and ninth all together. It’s kind of a (Duane is playing piano) tone cluster but you see how much it adds to it.

That’s more good stuff you really ought to know. We’ll see you again. Bye. This podcast is also available on YouTube – go to musical chords.

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Canon in D by Pachelbel: One Of The Greatest Compositions Ever!

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
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Canon in D by Pachelbel: One Of The Greatest Compositions Ever!

Canon in D by Pachelbel is incredibly beautiful music that is often used in wedding ceremonies frequently as a processional. It was written by Johann Pachelbel.He was a German composer, organist and teacher. Pachelbel composed during the time of the German Baroque period. Pachelbel studied under some of the German Master’s. The Canon in D Major was the only canon that Pachelbel ever wrote. It is truly not a Canon in the strictest sense, but is what is known in Music circles as a passacaglia. The Canon is not a cannon in the gun sense, but is a style of music categorized by imitation and repetition.First one instrument starts the melody and then after a time delay another instrument starts the melody.

Pachelbel was influenced by the popular composers of the day. He wrote in the tradition of what is known as Nuremberg style.Pachelbel received a great deal of acclaim in his day and he was well regarded in music circles. In fact, the canon may have been composed for and played at the wedding of Johann Christoph Bach in 1694. Pachelbel was a friend of the Bach family, and was a teacher of J. Christoph Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s older brother.

The Canon in D major was originally composed as a piece of chamber music for violins, cello and basso continuo. This piece of music underwent a big resurgence in the 1970’s. This was probably due to a recording by John Francois Paillard. There is no direct information when the music became extremely popular as wedding music, but the music was used a theme song for the hit movie Ordinary People, and its popularity increased, It seems as though the Canon has been in vogue for weddings since the early 1980’s, but as mentioned previously, it was played at Christoph Bach’s wedding in the 1600’s.

Wedding

Many people enjoy Pachelbel’s Canon due to its simplicity. Although it was orignally composed as chamber music several versions of the Canon exist and some are used with guitar. It is arguably one of the most recognized pieces of classical music today. The slightly haunting and melodic repeating theme is a favorite of many. It is one of the most used pieces of music today, and although many people would not be able to mention this piece by name, they certainly recognize the music as it has gotten extremely popular particularily since 1970. Paillards recording made this piece widely recognized the world over.

It is a beautiful peice of music, but its popularity for wedding processionals is a bit curious, as the strains although peaceful are not particularily joyful. The 1970’s also saw new ways to use the music, rock, new age, ambient and pop versions of the music were created. The music has also been used in some popular pop songs. “Cryin” by Aerosmith, “Tunnel of Love” by Dire Straits, as well as “Let it Be” by the Beatles. Movie and TV series have also” been based on the Canon inspired or inspired by it, “13 going on 30, and “Runaway Bride” has also used the Canon. Commercials have also used the music like the Coca Cola TV ad for the World Cup in 2006, as well as a GE commercial in 1980’s.

This music has been immensely popular during the modern era. It is most often played as processional music for the bride and groom. Canon in D by Pachelbel is often included in wedding music that has a traditional feel. This is the most common wedding music played as well as Trumpet in Air, which is also routinely played at wedding processionals.
Some brides and grooms that wish to have tradtional music, with a different sound may choose to have a Celtic version of the Canon played. There are different arrangements currently being used which give the music a completely different sound.

Versions of the new sound of the Canon are available online on various music sites. Some of the new age, piano, guitar and techno versions of the canon are being played in weddings today, for those who favor the use of the Canon as a processional song.

Many of the modern versions of the Canon are available for wedding music. Enough versions of Pachelbel Canon in D exist that one is sure to find something that will make the music to your wedding be the best it can be, and something you will be happy with.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_in_D

Chord progressions

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Play Piano With Expression: Use ALL Of Your Abilities In Your Piano Playing!

Monday, April 22nd, 2013
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Play Piano With Expression: Use ALL Of Your Abilities In Your Piano Playing!

Here is a transcript of the video in case you would like to follow along:

Good morning. This is Duane and today I’d like to talk about how to play piano with expression using all of your abilities – with your fingers, but with your brain and with your ear, and with your heart, not just with your fingers. Most people just play the piano with their fingers. We all play the piano with our fingers, when we learn to play piano, we have to play the notes of course, but most people stop there. They learn how to read music and they can play. [Duane is playing the piano.] Or whatever. [Duane is playing the piano.] They get good at playing things like that, but they can even play things like this. [Duane is playing the piano.] Or maybe. [Duane is playing the piano.]

If the music blows off the stand, what happens? They’re lost because they don’t understand what the structure of music is and so, in addition to your fingers, you really need your brain and in using your brain, you need to know form of music. The form of music and chords and chord progression, how songs are locked together in various forms and then how chords are made and how chords progress. For example, let’s take a very simple example. Let’s play, say you’re playing Heart and Soul, or maybe Blue Moon. [Duane is playing the piano.]

Remember this. [Duane is playing the piano.] Chord progress. That’s a very common chord progression called 1, 6, 2, 5 that countless songs follow that chord progression. Once you learn it, then you don’t have to relearn it because it applies to lots of songs, for example, I just mentioned Blue Moon and Heart and Soul, they use that very same progression. Not only that, they have the same kinds of forms. Let me just play a little bit of Blue Moon. [Duane is playing the piano.]

The section I just played was eight bars, eight measures. Now, it does it again. [Duane is playing the piano.] Exactly the same eight measures. You have two sections of eight measures. We’ll call the first section A and the next section is A also because it’s the same thing. Now, the middle section is called section B. [Duane is playing the piano.] That’s section B because it’s different then section A. Now we come back to section A. [Duane is playing the piano.]

So on, and we play the last eight measures, so you have A, A, B, A. That’s very easy to learn but most people will go through lives, with their whole lives never knowing and understanding form and it’s so easy because if you just use your brain about form and chord progressions and chord formations, then you can understand music. In other words, if I play this. [Duane is playing the piano.] I don’t have the slightest idea what chords I’m playing, I don’t know if that is C-sharp minor just turned upside down or Moonlight Sonata. [Duane is playing the piano.]

That’s C-sharp minor also and then there’s the five seven chord, in other words, we all need to use our brain in piano playing as well as our fingers. Then we also need to use our ears. There is only three things that a melody can do. Have you ever thought about that? A melody can only go up. [Duane is playing the piano.]

Go higher, or it can go lower or it can stay the same. [Duane is playing the piano.] That’s a melody and it just is made up of moving up and moving down and your ear can be trained to hear those motions very easily and all you need to do is train yourself. There are many courses you can take on ear training and I recommend you do that but you don’t need to, you can sit at home and plunk out. [Duane is playing the piano.] Notes like that and teach yourself that, that’s a second and so anytime you hear that sound, that’s an interval of a second. [Duane is playing the piano.]

Anytime you hear that, tell them it’s an interval of third. [Duane is playing the piano.] That’s an interval of fourth. You can just play those over and over again and get use to the sound of them. [Duane is playing the piano.]

That’s a fifth, that’s a sixth. I used to do that endlessly when I was a teenager learning the different sounds and so pretty soon I could begin to recognize what a sixth was and what a seventh what, and what a fourth was and so on. Once you start integrating your ear what you’re hearing with your brain, what you know about chord progressions and form and music and your fingers, then it starts to make sense. The whole package doesn’t come together until you learn to play piano with your heart. In other words, many people just play it mechanically. [Duane is playing the piano.]

You have a heart, everybody has different feelings and so you ought to learn to express those feelings on the piano through dynamics. [Duane is playing the piano.] Get some expression into your playing through dynamics. You get louder, you get softer, you use the pedal more, you use the pedal less. You get faster, you get slower. Let your heart dictate how the music floats. Yes, fingers are important. You’ve got to have finger dexterity. [Duane is playing the piano.]

To play any kind of music, whether it’s classical or jazz, or whatever. You have to be able to have those chops. But then you have to train your ear too, to hear what you’re playing and you have to know what the guts of music are through chords and chord formations, and intervals, and form and music as we were talking about and then you have to apply your own feelings and your heart to it. If you do that, then you’ll be a complete piano player and I hope that will be your goal in life.

Thanks for being with me and we’ll see you again soon. Bye, bye for now.

Play piano with expression

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