Archive for May, 2013


How To Modulate From Key To Key

Friday, May 31st, 2013
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How To Modulate From Key To Key

Good morning. This is Duane and today I’d like to talk about the subject of modulation. Modulation means to get from one key to another key. In other words, if you’re playing in the key of C [Duane playing piano] and you want to play it in a different key, let’s say you’re playing for a singer and she wants it up a little bit so that’s the process of getting from C, up to D flat is called modulation. You have to know how to modulate from key to key so that you can play in the key the singer needs.

Transposing is different. Transposing is related, but it’s different. It means to take a song that’s in one key and play it in another key. So it’s related, but modulation is the process of getting from one key to another key, and so it’s a really simple process because what you need to do is find the V7 chord of the new key. Let’s say that you’re playing in the key of C and you want to transpose to the key of , oh let’s say, F. Well that’s real simple because all you need to find is the V chord, the V7 chord in the key of F. Here’s the F scale. [Duane playing piano] What’s the V? One, two, three, four, five, so C is the V of F, and so we build a C seventh chord. So if we’re playing in the key of C, and we want to go to F, all we need to do is add that seventh and then we can [Duane playing piano] All we need to do then is play that V7 chord and that takes us right in to the new key. So, that’s the easiest key to transpose in, I mean to modulate to.

So what if we want to transpose to the key of G? You’re playing in this key of C and you want to be in the key of G. Well, you find the V7 chord of G which is what? Start on G and go up five notes; one, two, three, four, five, and so D seventh is the V chord of the key of G. So we need to get from C [Duane playing piano] to the V7 chord of G which is D seventh, and I just did and then we’re in the key of C. [Duane playing piano]

Let’s say that we want to go up a half-step from C to D flat. That’s real easy too because let’s figure out the five chord of D flat; one, two, three, four, five. It’s A flat isn’t it? The A flat seventh chord. Now notice that the A flat seventh chord has C in it, and we’re playing in the key of C so we can keep that C on top and just move to A flat seventh, and that takes us to the key of D flat. Watch. [Duane playing piano] I’m in the key of C, right? And I just need to get to A flat seventh to take it up to D flat so I’ll end this song. [Duane playing piano] There’s the C chord, and there’s A flat. Then I’m ready to play the same song in the key of D flat. So remember that. All you need to do to modulate is find the V7 chord of the key you want to go to and that’ll take you right there. That’s the key. That’s the key to the next key. So remember that. The key to finding the next key is to find the V7 chord of the new key.

That’s it for today and tomorrow we’ll take up a different subject. So, we’ll see you then, and if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter at playpiano.com you’re missing a lot. So come on over and do it if you haven’t. Thanks. Bye Bye.

If you haven’t taken my course in transposing and modulating, click here to learn about it: http://www.playpiano.com/musical-courses/transpose-modulate.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uETSUxwjEP4

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What you Should Know about Gospel Music

Thursday, May 30th, 2013
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What you Should Know about Gospel Music

Classical music is an unfortunate term used to describe music usually played by orchestras, or using orchestra-type instruments. It’s an attempt to use a blanket term for many different styles of music. It’s not much different from coining the term, “radio music” for any type of music that you can hear on the radio.

The reason it’s important is because many types of music receive blanket labels. Jazz, pop (or popular), and Eastern are just a few. Today, let’s look at gospel music—another victim of the blanket label.

Gospel music generally refers to Christian music written for or about God. Gospel does not refer to music of other religions like Buddhist or even Judaism. Like all of these musical labels, the exact definition largely depends on who you ask. Within the category of gospel, there are many different styles. Here are a few:

Gospel Music
Gospel music is often considered music played in churches predominantly made up of African-American attendees. It’s written for live, praise and worship settings and is largely influenced by R&B and modern jazz. Gospel music might be charismatic, involve large choirs, and some of the genre’s artists are also known by secular music fans. Notable gospel musicians include CeCe Winans and Yolanda Adams and the incredible Take Six group.

Christian Metal
Every type of pop music genre also has a Christian based equivalent. In the 80s, when “hair band” heavy music was popular, Christian heavy metal which, at that time, was referred to as Christian Rock, was popular. Bands like Petra and Stryper brought heavy metal to the mainstream for Christian music fans.
Today, the genre is no longer as popular as it was in the 80s but some metal bands still exist. Keith Green was dominant in this era, and understandably so.

Contemporary Christian
Contemporary Christian music is inspired by today’s mainstream pop music. It has a simple chord structure, memorable and recognizable lyrics, and a similar and predictable form. The secular equivalent of the style might be Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, or Maroon 5.

Popular contemporary Christian artists include Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, and Big Daddy Weave.

Contemporary Worship
Contemporary Worship is similar to contemporary Christian except that it’s written primarily for use in church worship settings. (Although many churches record studio albums) The two genres sound much the same although worship music often has simple lyrics and melodies so listeners can easily sing along, and the lyrics more overtly speak to praising God.
Popular Contemporary Worship names aren’t often artists, but instead, Churches. The most notable is Hillsong Church but others like Gateway, and Bethel are also well known. Michael W. Smith produced two wonderful worship CD’s that define the style.

Other Genres
Others include Christian Bluegrass, R&B, Children’s gospel, and, of course, the more traditional hymns. Each of these genres has notable artists who may not be in the mainstream but have a following nonetheless. And of course George Beverly Shea singing with the Billy Graham crusades for 50 years must be included in any list of gospel music singers.

Finally…
Categorizing music is difficult and subjective and is often based on the knowledge and experience of the person categorizing. If you’re a music lover, move out of your comfort zone and listen to a new style of music. Regardless of the genre, you might wonder what you were missing for so long.

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Piano Technique: Getting Your Piano Fingers in Shape For Piano Playing

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
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Piano Technique: Getting Your Piano Fingers in Shape For Piano Playing
Hans

Hi this is Duane and today I would like to talk a little bit about piano technique, developing piano technique. After all you need to know how to get from here [piano playing] to do what you want to do [piano playing]. How do you get from there to there?

I started out and I remember my first lesson very well. I went to Mrs. Graham’s house in Auburn, California. I was seven years old I believe, six or seven and she sat me down and said, “We’re going to play Up We Go with three fingers,” up we go and down we go. I remember very well that I tried to play them like this [piano playing] and she said, “Duane you can’t play with flat fingers” and that’s true of course. You ought to do an experiment, lock your knees in place and try to run. It just doesn’t work, does it? You can’t play with flat fingers; you have to have your fingers curved.

The first step is to get your fingers in a curved position like that. I call it parachute position, if you jumped out of an airplane and you floated down you’d land on the keys about like that. See how my fingers are curved like so and that allows you to play like that [piano playing]. You can’t play like that it just doesn’t work [piano playing], so make sure your fingers are curved.

Another thing you’ve got to do is point your bellybutton right at middle C. Some people set way off to the side and they’re doing themselves a disservice because it fouls up the orientation of your hands. Point your bellybutton right at middle C and make sure you’re sitting high enough so you have a slight downward slant to the keyboard. I’ve seen some kids practices and their parents don’t realize they should have a downward slant so they practice like that or they’re too small.

There was a famous story about Earl Gardner the great jazz pianist and whenever he’d travel and didn’t have a piano bench that was tall enough he would use a Chicago telephone book to sit on because he was a short guy. It’s important to get your body up high so you can kind of slant, not extremely so but so you can slant down at the keyboard.

Once you’re in the position, how do you develop finger technique? There are a number of things you can do. One thing I was taught and one thing I have always taught my students was to get a Hannon book, a book of Hannon techniques. They look like that, it’s an old book, and it’s been around forever and ever. This is the first of three books, there are 20 exercises in this book and you can see they look like that.

Let me give you an example. I’ll just turn to the first one here. The first one goes like this [piano playing]. The next one goes like this [piano playing] and each one has a different pattern so when you play through those 20 exercises you’ve learned 20 different patterns. Songs happen in patterns, don’t they? There are pieces that have patterns in them like these so you’re training your fingers in advance for those patterns.

Now if you go on to book two you’ll get into scales [piano playing] and you’ll learn to play all the scales like that [piano playing], the major and minor scales. Then [piano playing] you’ll learn arpeggios like that and so on. That’s how you get from here to there by practicing through a Hannon book like that, preferably with a teacher. If you don’t have a teacher it makes it tougher but you can still, I know people that have done it without teachers. It’s still doable.

After you get your body in position with your hands curved and your bellybutton pointed at the middle C, you’re high enough, and your practicing some exercises. There’s another book called Czerny and there are others too, anything will work but I like Hannon particularly. Then what you actually need to do is play lots of different songs, every song creates a need for a slightly different technique. For example in some songs [piano playing] there may be octaves like that, that’s called an octave third. Playing an octave and then a third under the top octave [piano playing] like that [piano playing].

Then there are some songs that call for a run like that [piano playing] that’s a four-note run [piano playing] so you’d practice that. All I’m saying is play a variety of songs; classical, popular, and so on that develop different techniques. The very best thing you can do is get a good piano teacher and I urge you to do that but if you’re an adult that doesn’t have that luxury you can still develop some pretty good techniques on your own.

That’s my tip for today, thanks for being with me and we’ll see you tomorrow with another piano tip. Bye-bye for now.

Hanon exercises

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlujz1cuhCo

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Some Songs For Memorial Day

Monday, May 27th, 2013
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Some Songs For Memorial Day
Memorial Day
For some people, Memorial Day might simply just be another day off from work, or the beginning of summer. However, for the millions of men and women that served our country and were stationed around the globe, it is a day of celebration and commemoration. Memorial Day is basically a federal holiday dedicated to honoring soldiers that fought for our country. It is also a holiday that is observed on the very last Monday of the month of May. It was formerly known as the Decoration Day, and it commemorates all the U.S. soldiers that passed away or got injured while fighting in the military. It first enacted to the honor Union and the Confederate of soldiers that follows the United States Civil War, and was extended right after the World War I so that the community can honor Americans that fought for our country.

This nationwide holiday originated in the North and by the twentieth century it became a holiday to further honor all Americans troops. If you’re throwing a party to honor this holiday, consider to celebrate with to honor our troops through songs all about Memorial Day. Singing songs all about our countrymen troops will really help bring out the true spirit of the holiday. In this article, learn about all the best songs for Memorial Day. The list is filled with songs all about attendant suffering of troops and are in all sorts of musical genres.

– Till The Last Shots Fired by Trace Adkins
This meaningful heartfelt song is all about the life that soldiers go through during war, starting from the America’s Civil War continuing to the current conflicts they are facing in the Middle East. Adkins has greatly conveyed the soldiers’ fervent wished that their job can at one point be eliminated and stopped for good. He also delivers the song in such a beautiful country tone.

– American Soldier By Toby Keith
This song really depicts the daily life that soldiers go through, from not getting to take a break when they’re sick or take a break during the holidays. Toby does not fail to bring justice on what soldiers do for this country and how hard working they are just to keep America safe.

– Angel Flight By Darius Rucker and Radney Foster
The title of the song refers specifically to the flight where a soldier was killed after war coming home. Radney personally wrote this song with the help of Darden Smith, and asked if Darius Rucker would have to sing a bit with him. It is a song inspired by numerous Angel Flights that continuously brought home groups of men popular known as a Red River Four. All the proceeds from sales of this song then benefit these groups that help many families in crisis.

– Letters From Home by John Michael Montgomery
John Michael has created a song that will touch Everyone’s heart. “Letters From Home” has touching lyrics about a soldier that loves to receive letters from his family members, even when his buddies tease him about it. The song has chilling words that will get everyone to see how hard it is to be a soldier.

– Galveston by Glen Campbell
Galveston is one of the best songs that best represents the Vietnam War. It was written by the great Jimmy Webb who has delivered such a beautiful and meaningful song. The guy in the music video is far from home and away from the girl he loves. The song never says the word war or Vietnam, though when he references the cannons and being totally afraid to die, listeners can tell that the song talks about a soldier fighting in Vietnam.

– Sink The Bismark by Johnny Horton
This song is a history lesson, where Johnny recounts a story on how great German battleships in Bismark were sunk, but not right before she brought down the Allied ships such as the American ships in the Hood. The singer is known for all his story songs where he delivers a song all about the foes of being a soldier. All of these songs are all about Memorial Day and how soldiers live life everyday at risk of injury and losing their life.

There are many other suitable songs for Memorial Day from other wars, dating back to the Revolutionary War and Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and of course the World Wars as well as Korea. Some of those songs are:

Battle Hymn of the Republic
America
America the Beautiful
Eternal Father Strong To Save
God of our Fathers

And many more.

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Nora, the piano-playing cat

Friday, May 24th, 2013
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Some cats know how to play the keys, man.

This is a cute video about a cat that love to play the piano. Sometimes I wish my students were that persistent!

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