Archive for October, 2013


The Laws Of Music Theory: Can You Answer These Questions?

Thursday, October 31st, 2013
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Did You Know That Music Is Based On Natural “Laws” – Music Theory?

How many of these facts do you know about music & piano playing?

Test yourself and then check the answers at the bottom of the page:

  • Did you know that by learning just 3 chords you can play hundreds of songs?
  • Did you know that there are only 12 major keys you can play in, but you only really have to master one key to play most popular songs?
  • Did you know that it is possible to easily match any melody note (tune) to a chord, so you can harmonize any note?
  • Did you know that Beethoven’s Fur Elise and the blues song “Summertime” uses the exact same chords for the theme of the song?
  • Did you know that it is quite possible to predict what chord comes next in a song with accuracy approaching 85%?
  • Did you know you can use the same chords to play boogie, blues, new age, gospel, pop, rock, jazz, country – anything except classical music? (And even some classics!)
  • Did you know that guitar chords are the same as piano chords — the only thing different is the instrument and the resulting sound?
  • Did you know that hundreds of songs use exactly the same form, so by learning that form you can know what’s coming next in a song?
  • Did you know that by coming in through the backdoor of piano playing — chords — you can start making wonderful and satisfying sounds on the piano in just a few days instead of a few years — even if you don’t know Middle C from Tweedle Dee?

Answers to  music theory questions:

  • True. That’s because there are just 3 primary chords in any key — like family members: Mom, Dad, Child. Get to know those 3 and you’ve got it.
  • True. It’s like languages. It’s great to be able to speak several, but you can get by with just one. I’d love to speak other languages, but I can get by with just English.
  • True. Every note is part of several different chords. So it is easy to harmonize any song once you know the secret.
  • True. Yep. They both use the A minor chord and the E7 chord  in their themes.
  • True. I know that’s hard to believe, but remember that music is based on math. Once you understand a thing called the “Circle of 5ths” it’s a piece of cake. In fact, I can tell you right now that 85% of the time the G chord comes directly after the D7 chord. So next time you run into the D7 chord, you have an educated guess of 85% that the next chord will be some form of the G chord. (G, G7 etc.) If you’re into amazing your friends, that’ll do it!
  • True. Apply different rhythms to the same chords, and you have many styles of music! With the very same chords I can play boogie, jazz, rock, pop, gospel, new age, ragtime.True. Chords are chords. Once you know them, you can apply them to any instrument.
  • True. Musical forms such as “AABA” and “ABA” are the basis of thousands and thousands of songs.
  • True. Understanding chords and how they form the “skeleton of music” accelerates the learning curve exponentially.

The bottom line is this: music is based on natural law and is mathematical in nature. Understanding is the key to both rapid learning and getting more enjoyment out of the process. Click here for a great and low-cost course in Music Theory.

Here is the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7JozWZClGI&feature=youtu.be

Here is an article on Wikipedia about the laws of music (music theory): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_theory

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Please click on the photo-ad below to learn all about this great course!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Music of the American Revolution

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Music of the American Revolution

The American Revolution has been one of the most studied events in world history. It is, after all, an inspiring story of the fight for liberty, freedom from tyranny, and the somewhat radical (at the time) notion that “All men are created equal.”

Fife and Drum Corp

Music of the American Revolution

That said, one of the most complete examinations of Revolutionary War music was done by Richard Crawford in the form of liner notes in a set of collected recordings entitled Music of the American Revolution: The Birth of Liberty.

The CD is available from Amazon.com and for fans of early American music, is a real treasure trove. Knowing the truth behind music of that time in the colonies makes listening to the recordings even more compelling.

Not Much to Brag About

Crawford notes that the American Revolution inspired only a small number of new musical compositions. Colonists, including those who were musicians, it can probably be assumed, were too busy fighting the British to sit down at the harpsichord and write songs about their struggles.

Crawford points out that James Fuld’s Book of World Famous Music lists only three tunes associated with the American war for independence: British Grenadiers, God Save the King, and Yankee Doodle. As Crawford notes, the first two are British in origin and the third is unknown.

Perhaps, more importantly, Yankee Doodle wasn’t exactly flattering to the American side since it was used by the British to poke fun of American soldiers.

As ThinkQuest points out, “He stuck a feather in his hat and called it Macaroni” meant that Americans were stupid and thought that a feather was macaroni, which was actually a hairstyle in England.

Professionals Need Not Apply

The vast majority of music played and sung in colonial America consisted of tunes imported from England including church music, mostly psalms which were sung without accompaniment as a way of praising the Lord.

Most of the music performed in early America was performed by amateurs in everyday settings, not by professional musicians. In Europe, music of the classical composers was being performed in churches and in concert halls by paid musicians for paying customers. In America, music was less performance based than event based – showing up at community gatherings, pubs, and of course, churches.

Music of the American Revolution was more functional than artistic. Instrumental music was mostly played for dancing and for marching. Solo songs were most often parodies of British songs with new lyrics aimed at protesting the King or members of Parliament.

Music performed in church was the most functional of all, typically performed by members of the congregation and designed to move the worship service forward.

An Oral Tradition

In addition, much of the music performed in Colonial America was not written down. It was passed on from one person to another in oral tradition or with the lyrics only printed in the newspaper. For that reason, harmonies were simple – or non-existent – and the melodies were accessible to almost anyone who could carry a tune.

When music was written, it often appeared in the form of publications like the Bay Psalm Book, in which the lyrics (text) appeared in the front of the book and the 13 included tunes appeared notated in the back. Parishioners were instructed to fit the words to whichever tune they chose to sing.

Original Published American Music

The first real publication of original music in America happened in 1759 when Francis Hopkinson set the poem, My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free, to music. At the same time, James Lyon composed a song to be sung at his graduation from Princeton.

Later, in the early 1760s, Lyon compiled Urania, a collection of sacred music with a full 198 pages containing 98 separate compositions. Urania represents the earliest American printing of anthems. Most importantly, 28 of the anthems that appeared in Urania contained music and text together, the first time this had ever happened in American music.

Then, in 1770, William Billings, an American leather tanner from Boston, published the New-England Psalm-Singer, the very first collection of entirely American music containing 126 pieces in all.

Billings, who is best known for the hymn Chester, is important because he composed music celebrating events of the American Revolution. Almost no other composer did that.

Billings, like many of his contemporaries created music – especially music for the church – designed to be sung without accompaniment. This was not just due to a lack of instruments. It was also because Calvinists opposed instruments in church in the first place – dating back to the Protestant Reformation.

Martial Music of the Revolution

Bands or ensembles made up of fifes and drums provided music for military occasions. The music fifes and drums played was published in books called tutors or tune books written by the musicians themselves.

A good example of a tune book is one written out by Giles Gibbs, Jr. in 1777 called, His Book for the Fife. Both the fife and the drum came to America from Europe and were used in much the same way they were used there.

In a town drummers played to summon men to take up arms. The combination of fifes and drums signaled the start of a battle and as the fighting continued provided sound clues for soldiers so they would know what their commanders wanted them to do.
Over time, additional instruments were added until the military bands we know today were created.

Songs of Freedom

Although much of the music played and sung during the American Revolution was not original, songs were used in original ways. ThinkQuest lists a number of those popular songs of the day, along with the stories behind them.
Perhaps the best way to think about how the colonists viewed music is to remember the words of early American poet and diplomat, Joe Barlow, who said, at the beginning of the War for Independence, “One good song is worth a dozen addresses and proclamations.”

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

Here is the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMmouP3TM9g
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

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)

7 Piano Tips That Will Help Any Piano Player Sound Better

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

7 Piano Tips That Will Help Any Piano Player Sound Better

Good morning, this is Duane. Today
Now let me say this first. There are certain people that are so talented that don’t need these tips. If you see Billy Joel violating these tips, that’s okay. Billy Joel could probably play the piano upside down. That’s true of lots of stars that you recognize, recording artists and so on. For the 99% of the rest of us which certainly includes me, here are some tips that will help you and me and everyone else.

1 – First of all when you’re seated at the piano, make sure that your bellybutton is pointed at middle “C”. Some people sit off center so that they’re too low or too high and that puts them at a distinct advantage. Also, make sure that your piano bench is high enough that your hands can come down naturally like this. See it’s kind of a slant from my elbow down to my fingers. If you’re reaching up then you’re going to play with flat fingers and it’s really awkward so make sure that you’re high enough, but make sure that bellybutton is pointed at middle “C”. That way you have access to the whole keyboard. That’s tip number one.

2 – The second tip I’d like to share with you is when you’re reading music don’t crank your head to the left or the right. When you’re looking down, when you have to look down away from the music and down at your fingers perhaps, we all have to do that now and then. Use eye flips, in other words flip your eyes down. Don’t move your head at all. Keep your head pointed straight ahead at them music. Otherwise, you’re much more likely to lose your place. That’s the second tip, use eye flips instead of moving your head up and down or back and forth.

3 – The third tip I’d like to share with you is to keep your hands like I have them now, in parachute position when you play. I call it parachute position because if you parachuted out of an airplane and landed like that your hands would be curved, your fingers are nicely curved. Nobody can play with flat fingers. It just doesn’t work that way. You need to have your fingers curved. Can you visualize a runner in the Olympics running without bending their knees, just running with stiff legs? No, that’s not possible. Same way in piano playing; you have to have your fingers curved. That’s the third tip that I have for you. Keep your fingers in parachute position.

4 – The fourth tip that I have for you is use dynamic variation. You don’t have to play normal all the time. In other words, you don’t have to play the same sound like that same level of loudness. How about doing this? You see, it’s much more interesting to get loud and to get soft and to modulate between the two. It’s like a speaker. You don’t like to hear a speaker that speaks like this all the time, it’s a monotone. No, you like a speaker that raises his voice, lowers his voice, and so on. That makes it just more interesting to follow. The same with piano playing so use dynamic variation.

5 – The next tip I’d like to share with you is after you learn to play the piano and if you do play the piano now, develop a repertoire. There are too many piano players around that they play the piano, but when somebody asks them to play the piano they say, “Well I don’t know what to play. I don’t have any pieces memorized or I can’t play all of them all the way through.” I advise you to develop a repertoire and you can do that by simply writing down the songs that you master.

For example, if you master let’s see… if you master Music Box Dancer then write it down so that you have access to it in the future. Develop a repertoire of I would say ten or more songs.

6 – The sixth tip I’d like to share with you is that you should massage the keys. I’m talking about the piano touch. The piano is not a drum. You can play it hard at times, but massage it. In other words, treat it as you would a massage. You don’t bang, bang; you hear too many players play like that, all one level and percussive. You have much better results and you can sound a lot more advanced is you use massage, if you massage the keys instead of bang on them.

7 – The last tip I’d like to share with you is to stretch your fingers naturally. When I used to play in public, I don’t do that much anymore. When I used to, I used to soak my hands in the basin of water, with warm water not scalding water, but warm water. I stretched them like that. Pretend this is the bottom of a basin. I held them underwater for maybe 60 seconds or so. Then when you take them out and dry them they feel so relaxed and supple. You can’t always do that, but what you can do is you can stretch fingers, just like that.

When a cat wakes up they stretch like that. Stretch your fingers often like that. When you’re sitting around watching television in the evening, I used to tell my students to take a rubber ball, a small rubber ball and squeeze it as they’re watching television. After a while you don’t even think about it anymore, you just do that. That exercises your fingers and it stretches your fingers. Stretch your fingers, okay?

Now there are seven tips that apply to every piano player and that will help you to sound better eventually. Hang in there and develop those seven tips, okay? Thanks for being with me today and if you enjoy this kind of thing come on over to playpiano.com and sign up for our free newsletter about chords and chord progressions. Then come back tomorrow and I’ll probably have another video for you. Till then I’ll say goodbye.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtRVqNORdfE&feature=youtu.be

http://www.wikihow.com/Improve-Your-Piano-Playing-Skills
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
Please click on the photo-ad below to learn all about this great course in piano playing!

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)

Chord Straddles: How To Straddle Your Way To An Exciting Piano Sound!

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Chord Straddles: How To Straddle Your Way To An Exciting Piano Sound!

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

Good morning. This is Duane. Today I’d like to show you how to straddle your way to an exciting piano sound. First of all, let’s define what chord straddles are. You can take any three-note chord, let’s take D minor, and you can straddle it by leaving the middle note out.

Leave the middle note out, but then move to another inversion of the D minor chord.
(Duane playing examples on the piano)
For example, I’m playing the root and the fifth of D minor, and leaving the third out, the F. Okay? But now I’m going to play the F with

The other note of the D minor chord, A.

You see that? That’s called a straddle, because you’re straddling the middle note. It’s like you’re on a highway and you’re avoiding the white line there. Okay? You’re straddling it. Let’s do it on the C chord. It may be easier to see.

There’s a C chord. Okay? If I play the root and the fifth, then I can go to the alternate note, the note I’m not playing, the third and the fifth down here.

So I’m always leaving one note out. Okay?

And I can go down the keyboard or up the keyboard that way by leaving the middle note out. Okay? Let’s do that on a four-note chord. Let’s take C minor 7th, or C 7th.

Let’s keep it major, keep the white keys. Okay? So I can take two notes of the four,

And then play the other two notes.

Okay, you recognize that from the middle part of Over the Rainbow. Okay? So you can take any four-note chord and straddle it. There’s a D minor 7th chord.

You can even do a 9th chord, like five different notes.

Let’s take … I’m playing two of the five notes, and then two more.

Like so. Let me illustrate.

You see, I went from the D minor chord and straddled the D minor 7th, and then just took it up the keyboard like that, and then I played another chord just illustrate it.

Okay? So you can take any three-note chord and make a straddle out of it, any four-note chord, make a straddle out of it, any five-note chord, make a straddle out of it. Now let me give you an illustration. I’ll play an actual song. Let me think. How about Moon River?

I did a straddle right at the beginning.

I was playing a four-note chord there, which is a C major 9th.

Playing the C in my left hand.

See that?

Took the C chord.

That’s a different kind of thing.

That was a five-note run that I took up the keyboard like that.

Here’s a straddle.

Oops. Forget how the song goes.

And then you can do it again and play the song. Now, I played way too many straddles, because I was illustrating how to do a straddle. But in an actual, if I was actually playing Moon River, I wouldn’t use that many straddles, because it kind of … It was just too much. So use it in moderate. But it’s a wonderful tool. So that’s how to straddle your way to an exciting sound, exciting piano sound.

If you like this kind of stuff, come on over to PlayPiano.com, and sign up for my free newsletter on chords and chord progressions, and tune in again, same time, same station, tomorrow and I’ll probably have another video ready for you on YouTube. That’s it for today. Bye-by for now

Here is the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0AOZpSHT7k&feature=youtu.be

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_chord
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
Now please click on the photo-ad below:

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Piano Chords: How Many Do I Need To Know To Play a Song?

Monday, October 28th, 2013
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Piano Chords: How Many Do I Need To Know To Play a Song?

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 ask you a question. How many piano chords do you have to know to play a song? People have asked me that over the years; have many chords do I have to learn, it’s like they don’t want to learn that many chords. They think the chords are scary or something and they don’t want to tackle something bigger than they can chew off. I can kind of understand that feeling; I think I felt that way when I started learning chords as well. But the answer is, if you’re just starting, all you need to know really is 3 chords and those 3 chords are called the primary chords in any key.

For example, there are various keys you can play as. You can play in the key of C, you can play in the key of D flat, you can play in the key of D; you can play in the key of E flat and so on. There are 12 different keys you play in. Most people like to play in keys where they just have white keys. If you want to stick with the white keys for a while then you’d pick the key of C because it’s based on the scale of C which has nothing but white keys. The 3 chords you need to know are the 1 chord, in other words the chord built on the first degree of the scale, that’s the chord. 2 notes is an interval, 3 notes; it takes notes to make a chord; 3 or 4.

I mean, it takes 3 notes to make a chord but it could have 4 or 5 or 6 or any number actually. Let’s start up with 3 note chords and we just need to know 3 chords, 3, 3 note chords. The 1 chord is C because it’s the first note on the scale, the fourth chord is F, the fourth note of the scale and the fifth chord is G, fifth note of the scale. The reason for that is; those are the chords that will harmonize any note in that scale. In other words, you can’t play any note in that scale where these chords don’t harmonize. In other words, if you’re playing G it will harmonize at the C chord because it’s in the C chord. It will also harmonize with the G chord because it’s in the G chord.

It doesn’t harmonize too well with the F chord but it’s not terrible either, you can get by. For example if the melody was A; it doesn’t harmonize too well with the C chord or with the G chord although that’s alright. It harmonizes best with the F chord because A is in the F chord. The 3 chords you need to know to start off with are, 1, 4 and the 5 chord and you generally play chords in the left hand, you can play them in the right too. Most people start out just playing the melody in the right hand and chords in the left hand.

Let’s take a simple song, let’s take, “Oh when the saints,” C chord. “Oh when the saints go marching …” so far all we’ve had is the C chord. This note D doesn’t go too good with the C chord but it’s in the G chord, so I would go to the G chord. “Oh I want to be in that number,” what chord do you think you’d put with F? Well, it’s in the F chord isn’t it? That’s logical. (Piano playing) I harmonized all of “Oh when the saints go marching in,” with just C, F and G didn’t I? The 3 primary chords in the key of C; let me play it all the way through. (Piano playing)

I missed the second class chord which is G and then C. Let’s take another chord, another song. Let’s try “Happy birthday.” (Playing piano) Let’s try “Silent night.” (Playing Piano) Any simple song I can play in the key of C by just matching it with the 1, 4 and 5 chords. If I learned some additional techniques based on the same chords, I’m not changing the chords, I can make it sound a lot smoother. In other words, instead of just holding that note what if I played … if I broke up the chord like this and I played the chord in the right hand; listen to this. (Piano playing) Does that sound a little [inaudible 00:05:23] than, (piano playing)? Yes it sounds a lot [inaudible 00:05:27] and yet I’m playing the very same chords. I just played the C chord in the right hand, (piano playing) G chord in the right hand, C chord. In the left hand I played the notes of the C chord but I spread them out into; it’s called an arpeggio.

You’ve heard of archipelago, series of, well an archipelago is a series of notes like that. I just pushed down my [inaudible 00:05:56] I rolled them like that. Then I echoed the melody up here; if I do it exactly, listen. (Piano playing) You see that, just by expanding your knowledge just a little bit, I wasn’t actually adding any color tones or anything like that; I could add a lot more and I could add fills. Let me just take it a step further but I want you to know that I’m not changing any of the basic chords, I’m going to put in a color tone; I’m going to put in 9th and the 7th here, listen. (Piano playing)

Just by putting in some 6th and 7th and so on and changing the root a little bit, of the chord, I can add or get a much [inaudible 00:07:29] sound but that’s where you start. You start with those 3 basic chords and then build on that. It depends on the song you want to play as to how many chords you need to use. For example, there are lots of songs where you can’t, you have to use more than 3 chords and that mean learning more chords obviously. If I wanted to play; let’s say; “Green Dolphin Street.” (Piano playing) Now it’s terribly sloppy but I’d have to learn on the C chord, C minus 7th chord. Then I’d have to learn D minus 7th, D flat and C. A 7th, D minus, that’s a flat 10th, C. I have to go to F minus 7th, B flat, E flat; G 7th to the flat 9th and so on.

Knowledge builds on knowledge and so you learn 3 chords and then you learn a 4th chord and then you learn 5th chord and then you add 7th to those chords and 6th, 9th, 11th and so on; and gradually you get up to where you want to be. But it all starts with those three basic chords. What’s the answer to my initial question? How many chords do you need to know to play a song? You need 3; there are some songs you can play with 2 but not may, it’s 3 or more. Then after that, the sky is the limit as to what you want to do.

That’s my little tip for today, if you like this kind of thing come on over to Play Piano and sign up for my free newsletter on chords and chord progressions and everyday you’ll get something from me; probably in a way of a new chord progression or a new chord or a new video or something like that. I invite you come on over. That’s it for today, we’ll see you tomorrow with another tip; bye, bye for now.

Here is the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jtlkkZPa2Y&feature=youtu.be

Wikipedia article on piano chords: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Piano/Chords_(and_pop_examples)
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
Please click on the photo-ad below for full information:

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)