Archive for March, 2014


How to Re-harmonize Chords In Piano Songs

Monday, March 31st, 2014
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Change the harmony in your songs for a fresh sound – Re-harmonize piano chords!

Today, I would like to share with you four different re-harmonization techniques that will keep you busy for a lifetime – How to re-harmonize piano chords in songs. Don’t feel bad if you don’t get these all at once because it’s taken me a lifetime to get them all down.

The first principle is for any major chord, you can substitute the relative minor chord as long as the melody will tolerate it. That is true of any chord substitution, any re-harmonization, the melody has to tolerate what you are doing if it clashes with what you are doing then you can’t use that. For any major chord, you can substitute the relative minor chord.

Now, what is the relative minor chord for C major? If you count up six degrees, one, two, three, four, five, six, that becomes the root of the relative minor. A minor is relative to C major. I can substitute A minor for C major. Listen. You see that sounds fine, too. I could have played C, but I went to A minor. That is the first principle. For any major chord, you can substitute its relative minor.

The second principle is for any dominant seventh chord, any seventh chord, like that; not a major seventh chord, but a dominant seventh chord. You can substitute a chord that is a fourth below and build a minor seventh on it. In other words, for C seventh, one, two, three, four, you can build a minor seventh chord in place of C seventh as a substitute for it. Often to what you do is then you resolve back to the original chord. Let’s take Silent Night.

Now, here is C seventh. I am going to make G minor seventh before it resolves to C seventh and then go on. The second rule is for any dominant seventh chord, you go down to the fourth and build a minor seventh. For G seventh, what would you do, go down a fourth from G and build a minor seventh; that would be D minor seventh.

The third rule of chord substitutions is to ask yourself into what other chord this note fits. In other words, if your melody is G, what other chord will G fit in? It will fit in the G chord. Everything won’t sound good, but you can try them. This is a trial and error kind of thing. What else is G in? It’s in the A minor seventh chord. What else is G in? It’s in the E five chord, like so. You can ask yourself, into what other chord will this note fit? It’s a major seventh, an A flat.

Let’s review a little bit. Our first rule was for any major chord, you can substitute a relative minor chord. The second rule was for any dominant seventh chord, you can go down to the fourth and build a minor seventh. The third rule was for any chord at all, you can ask yourself into what other chord this melody note will fit. Say your melody is E, what else will E fit in beside C? It will fit in A. It will fit in A minor. It will fit in F major seventh, F minor seventh; lots and lots of chords.

The fourth rule of chord substitution is to do a half-step slide. In other words, let’s say you are on G minor seventh going to F. You’ll just slide down and up. You see I am going by half steps. For example, if I am going from G seventh, I can do a half-step slide into C; not going up or down a half step. What’s a half step above C? D flat. I can go. Like so. Now I’m going to play Silent Night all the way so you can hear all these techniques and I’ll call them out.

Relative Minor. Ask yourself what other chord this fits. That chord should be G seventh, so I will substitute a D minor seventh for that because I will go down four notes. Then, I will go back to it. Then for C seventh I will substitute a G minor seventh. Then go up a half step, a half-step slide. I will ask myself into what other note will this fit and E minor came to me; E minor, G minor to E minor and E minor; G minor, B flat. Now, how did I get B flat? F the melody fits into B flat chord; E minor, G seventh, C. Now I could end in C, but I am going to end in A flat for variety and then D flat and C.

Now you’re going to say, “Good grief. How am I going to learn all of those?” You’re not. You’re not going to learn them for a while, but you can begin the process can’t you? It took me a whole lifetime to master those four re-harmonization techniques. Go to it and let’s review them once more. For any major chord, you can substitute its relative minor. For any dominant seventh chord, you can substitute a chord that is a fourth below a minor seventh. You can do a half-step slide and the fourth one is to ask yourself into what other chord this melody note fit. That’s it. Thanks for being with me. See you again soon.

Here is the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmG8F-hLSN8&feature=youtu.be
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Do You Know How To Form & Use Major 7th Chords?

Thursday, March 27th, 2014
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A beautiful 4- note chord – the major 7th chords

Good Morning. This is Duane. Today, I’d like to take up Major 7th chords. The last time took up Minor 7th chords, and there’s those very mellow chords. Those are Minor 7th chords, but Major 7th chords have a different feeling. Instead of sounding like that, it sound like this, and I really like that kind of … I love both of them, but I really like that, too. That’s an unbalanced chord, that is it’s a Major 3rd, followed by a Minor 3th, followed by a major 3rd. No. I mean, it’s a balanced chord. It’s a balanced chord, because you’ve got Major 3rd, a Minor 3rd, and a Major 3rd. It’s not unbalanced. That’s why it sounds like that.

Unbalanced chords are like diminished 7th chords where you have a stack of all minor 3rds or an augmented chord, which is all major 3rds, but this is a stack of major, minor, major.

Okay. So to form a major 7th chord is very easy. You simply take the major chord and add the major 7th. The major 7th being the 7th degree of the scale, wherever that is. In case of C, it’s B. If we go for half step to D flat. That’s a D flat major chord forward at the 7th B, where we got to know the D flat 7th scale, but it’s not one, isn’t it?

Here’s the D major chord, and if we know the D scale, we find that that’s the major 7th, so that’s D major 7th. Here’s E flat. There’s a major 7th. By the way, the major 7th’s always a half step down from the octave, so it’s really easy to find if you’re struggling with that.

Here’s the E major chord at a major 7th. Here’s the F major chord at a major 7th. Here’s a G flat major chord at a major 7th. Here’s the G major chord at a major 7th. Here’s the A flat major chord at a major 7th.

Now, let me show you. That’s major 7th chord of course, but you can also use a lot of techniques to make that chord sound interesting. For example, you could break it up like this, and then you could tuck your thumb under, tuck your thumb under, and you could come down like that, too. Little finger goes over, little finger rolls over. If you’re new to making runs, just take that really slow. Just do one octave over and over again. Until you can do that. Okay? Then when you can do that, then tuck your thumb under, and go up another octave and come back down. See that how that works? You just take it step-by-step.

Or you can use with the straddle. I like to use a straddle a lot. Remember, straddle is where you leave out one of the chord as you play two chord notes at a time and leave one out, and then you straddle down to the next one. If you hear the straddling, just do that at first. Just take one octave. Okay?

Let’s put it in a context to the song, say you’re playing this song. I think it’s called “Ebb Tide.” See now how it went, and on with the song. Okay? After you establish the melody, then you take that major 7th chord, the melody. Take that same Major 7th chord, and run it up.

Now, the Major 7th chord there becomes an A Minor 9th chord, because the root of the Chord is A at that point, but you can still use that same Major 7th on top of it, and it becomes A Minor 7th. See how that works? I think it’s … Now it goes like that. That’s a F Major 7th chord. You can run that up. I can remember how the song goes.

The next chord is G 7th. I’m putting it flat 9 fin. You see that? So you can build on that Major 7th chord in lots of different ways. Use a run like that or straddle like that of some sort. Those are straddle. Okay?

I’m very sloppy this morning. Forgive me for that. Anyway, you get the idea of Major 7th chords. That’s it for today. If you enjoy this sort of thing, come on over to Play Piano dot com, and sign up for a free newsletter. You get something like this most every day, and knowledge accumulates, of course. Knowledge builds on knowledge, so you learn little by little every day, and you can get somewhere someday. Thank for being with me. We’ll see you tomorrow. Bye, bye for now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZSrla_Emlw&feature=youtu.be

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Do You Know How To Use the Beautiful Minor 7th Chord in Your Piano Playing?

Monday, March 24th, 2014
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One Of the Most Beautiful of Chords – the minor 7th chord

Good morning. This is Duane and today I’d like to take up one of the most beautiful of all chords, the chord that’s really a workhorse chord because it’s used so much in music, because it’s such a mellow chord, and that’s the minor 7th chord. Minor 7th chords sound like this. See that? Beautiful sound.

So let’s take it from the beginning here. If we’re playing it in the key of C then we’re basing our playing on the scale of C which is eight notes that runs from C to C. Following our rule of whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step. Okay?

So a major chord is the root, third and fifth of that scale. To make it minor, I simply lower the third a half step and then to add a 7th, I don’t use the seventh note of the scale, I use the lowered 7th. That’s why it’s called … well, it’s not why it’s called a minor 7th but it is called a minor 7th. The interval here is called a minor 7th, but the chord is also minor so that name kind of has a double entendre, okay? Which is fine.

Minor 7th, that’s how it’s formed. And notice it’s a stack of minor third, major third, minor third. Okay? Minor third, in other words, not a major third there but a lower third, a step and a half. Then for the next interval, is a major third and then the next interval is a minor third. So it’s minor third, major third, minor third. In other words, it’s well balanced and I think that’s why it’s so beautiful. It’s just a well-balanced chord.

Later we’re going to take up the minor 7th with the 9th. That’s also a beautiful chord. I need two hands to play because my hands are smaller. It sounds like that and that’s a beautiful chord. I think even very, very beautiful because it’s so well balanced too. That’s a minor third, a major third, minor third, major third. I mean it’s totally balanced, that minor 9th.

Okay, let’s go through the twelve possibilities, the twelve minor 7th chords and form them one by one. We form the C minor 7th chord by making a minor chord and then adding the 7th. So let’s do it with that. That’s F major, F minor we lower the third, that’s the dominant 7th or the lowered 7th. If you get this sound, you know you’re playing the wrong chord. That’s a major 7th. If it sounds like that, kind of hm-hmm, then that’s not the chord you want. You want the lowered 7th.

Here’s G major. Let me move it down here. G major, G minor, G minor 7th. Again, we don’t want that. That would be a major 7th. It would be a minor chord with a major 7th which is also a chord but it’s not much used. So that’s what we want, G minor 7th.
Now D major is like that, isn’t it? D, F# and A. Again because of our rule of whole steps and half steps. To make that minor I lower the third a half step. Then I add the 7th degree, not the 7th degree but the lower 7th so that’s D minor. D minor is all white. I’m sorry, D minor 7th is all white. E minor 7th is also all white and A minor 7th is all white.

So let’s come back to E now. That’s an E major chord, E minor, E minor 7th. Now here’s A major, A minor, A minor 7th. Here’s D flat major, D flat minor, D flat minor 7th. E flat major, E flat minor, E flat minor 7th. Notice that’s all black. All the notes are black. All the keys are black in that chord. Notice too that it’s halfway between D minor 7th and E minor 7th so there’s a lot of possibilities to do like slide down by half steps.

Quite often when we improvise we improvise on the chord notes. For example, if improvising on D minor 7th. If you’re just starting to improvise, by the way, it’s a good idea to just start with chord notes like that in various rhythms and get the feeling of being loose and kind of fun. Then you can use some other scale notes. You don’t have to use just those notes but you want to kind of center your improvisation around them. In other words, I might take those three notes but I might slide off D flat. See that? Easy to do.

All right. We were on, let’s see, D flat, E flat. A flat now. A flat major. That’s the root, third and fifth of A flat major scale. We lower the third a half step. By the way that’s C flat. You can’t call it B, you’ve got to call it C flat. And then the 7th.
G flat major is all black as you know. We lower the third a half step, add the 7th so that’s G flat minor 7th or you could call it F# minor 7th chord. Same chord. It’s enharmonic. Here’s the B major chord, B minor, B minor 7th. B flat major, B flat minor, B flat minor 7th.

There’s tons of songs that use that chord. In fact, the theme of our little band that I was in when I was in high school and early college, junior college, was Moonglow and it starts out with that minor 7th. One of the first chords I learned was D minor 7th. I sent away for a chord chart when I was 14 or something like that, that I saw advertised called the Dean Ross Chord Chart, and the first chord I learned was C 6, then I learned D minor 7th so I could play, “Frankie and Johnny Were Sweethearts” and I was thrilled. I was off and running because I had learned two chords.

If you are getting started, then get excited about those chords, chords you love, and just take it one step at a time. It’s possible to get from here to there by mastering one thing at a time and it’s a lot of fun on the way. Piano playing is a lot of fun so I don’t see it as work at all. I see it as just fun exploration.

All right. We’ll see you there. Meanwhile if you haven’t signed up for our free piano tips at playpiano.com, please come over to playpiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips. They’re free piano tips and I think you’ll enjoy them. We’ll see you there.
Bye-bye for now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjXY9xFXJAM&feature=youtu.be
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Do You Know The PRIMARY CHORDS & The SECONDARY CHORDS In The Keys You Play In?

Friday, March 21st, 2014
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What are the Primary Chords & Secondary Chords In Your Favorite Keys?

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

Good morning, this is Duane, and one of the most important things that any piano player can learn are the primary chords and the secondary chords in any key, the key they’re going to play in. In other words, you don’t need to play in all 12 keys. There’s 12 major keys you can play in, 12 minor keys you can play in, but you don’t necessarily need to know all those, although it would be helpful to do that.

But, let’s say that you play in a group, and your group plays in the key of F a lot. Well, it’s absolutely necessary for you to know what chords are going to occurs the most in the key of F. Doesn’t matter what the song is. If you take all the songs in the world and put them in a computer and blend them all together, you’ll find that in 90% of the cases, the most used chords in any key are the one-chord, the four-chord and the five-chord.

For example, if you’re playing in the key of C, since the key of C is based on the scale of C, isn’t it? So, the one-chord in the key of C, therefore it’d be built on the one degree of the scale, the first degree of the scale which is C, and a chord is made out the root, third, and fifth. That’s the most important chord by far in the key of C. It’s used more than any others. It usually starts and end a song. Okay? Doesn’t have to, a composer can do anything they want, but usually it is. That’s the most used chord in any key, I mean the key of C.

What’s the next most used chord? Well, it’s probably the five-chord. One, two, three, four, five. The second most used chord is the five-chord, followed by the four-chord, and those are all major chords. In fact, they’re the only three chords that are organically major in the key of C, that is without adding any accidentals. So, in the key of C, those are all white, aren’t they?

So, anything you want to play in the key of C … It’ll involve those three chords, or could involve those three chords. They’re the most likely to occur. But, then after those three chords, the next most likely after that are three minor chords. The two-chord, which is minor; the three-chord, which is minor; and the six-chord, one, two, three, four, five, six, which is minor.

Now, if you know all six of those chords, you’ve gone a long ways towards mastering tons of songs, because most songs will only have those three primary chords, one, four, and five, and some of the secondary chords, which are two, three, and six. So, master those six chords in the key that you want to play in. So, I just play in the key of C.

But, let’s say that the group that I play in likes to play in the key of F. That means that basically they’re playing on the scale of F, which goes like that. I won’t review why that … why the key of F has a B flat, but it does. So, the one chord in the key of F, therefore is F, isn’t it?

The five-chord in the key of F is what? One, two, three, four, five. C; and the four-chord is what? B flat, so again, most everything that I want to play in the key of F … involves one of those three chords. I’m playing the B flat now, [inaudible 03:29]. Now, C, F, I mean B flat, and then back to F. I was just playing the blues there, but you can play … most any song will include those three primary chords.

If I want to play in the key of G, if I want to master the key of G, then it’s based on the scale of G, and the primary chords are G, the one-chord; D, the five-chord; and C, the four-chord. So, G, C, and D. So, if I have a song in the key of G, it’s most likely going to have those three chords. G, C, D’s, G. G, C, D. Now, of course, it can have any other chords as well, but those are the ones that are going to occur the most.

What are the secondary chords then in the key of G? Well, if the primary chords are one, four, and five, then the secondary chords are two, which would be A minor, three, which would B minor, and six, which would be E minor. So, if I master those six chords in the key of G, I’ve got a huge handle on the key of G.

I didn’t cover the secondary chords in the key of F, did I? The primary chords are one, four, and five. F, B flat, and C. So, what are the secondary chords? They’re the two-chord, which is G minor, the three-chord, which is A minor, and the six-chord, which his D minor. So, whatever key you want to play in, master the one, four, and five chords first, and then the secondary chords, two, three and six.

Remember that the one-chord, four-chord, and five-chord are major. I’ll play in B flat now, and that’s the one-chord. Here’s the four-chord, E flat. Now, back to B flat. E flat. B flat, and now F. B flat, and then as you advance you’ll learn to put other notes in it. I was putting seventh-chords in the one, four, and five. You can do a lot of connective chords as well.

Let me just give you an example what I mean. I was playing the B flat chord, with the seventh in it. Then I was playing the E flat chord with the 7th in it. Then I was playing the F chord with a seventh in it; but it’s still one, four, and five, but it has a seventh in it.

Now, I think what I did is when I got to the four-chord, or when I got to the five-chord, I think I went down by half steps to the four-chord. Yeah, you hear people do that. They slide down between keys, but that’s just a connective chord. Okay, if this makes sense and you enjoy this kind of thing come over to playpiano.com and sign up for our free newsletter on tips, piano tips, because you get a lot of them. Something most every day like this. You can learn a lot over the course of time. Thanks, and we’ll see you there. Bye-bye for now.

Here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_DLwBXUmcw&feature=youtu.be

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Arranging Amazing Grace On The Piano…

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
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Arranging Amazing Grace On The Piano

Good morning. This is Duane and today I’d like to talk about arranging Amazing Grace using triplets and octave walk-ups. I think we’ll do it in the key of F, I think it’s usually played in the key of F so we’ll do something like this. Now let me stop right there. You’ll notice in the right I was doing a lot of triplets, for example. Instead of Amazing … instead of eight notes I went … that’s a triplet. One, two, triplet … see that? I was playing a B flat cord and I went triplet, triplet, triplet, triplet … that’s a triplet, triplet, triplet, triplet. See I’m playing F cord, triplet, C seventh cord, triplet, F cord and the left hand I’m walking up from F to G to A and land to B flat and including the seventh.

If you don’t like that just leave it out. Sounds kind of bluesy and sometimes I use it and sometimes I don’t. If you like that sound … and notice like sometimes slide off the black key. There I did a little flip from F up to B flat and back to F. Take the top two notes of the F cord, move it up to B flat and D and then back down. That’s a triple then at the end I did a triplet down, triplet, hold okay. Now let’s take a look at the left hand walk-ups okay. I play like this. Amazing … Flat up to B flat. I’m walking up from F to B flat by way of octaves. F G A B flat and I’m going to walk up from G to C, G A B C. Triplet, triplet, triplet … see my right hand is pulling the triplet thing.

My left hand is walking up F G A to B flat. D minor, G triplet now F C seventh and then A flat and then triplet and hold to F. As I play B flat A G F for the left hand, I’m playing B flat cord F cord B flat cord F cord. It’s really an [inaudible 00:03:41] instead of amen, you just lock down the amen like [inaudible 00:03:50] amen walk down. Okay. Now you can do that in any key of course, let’s do it in G. Now I certainly don’t want to give the impression that that’s the only way to play Amazing Grace. I very solemn do it that way but I just thought you’d like to see how it’s possible to do it with octaves and triplets. Let me play it in a more traditional way.

There’s a zillion ways to play okay I just didn’t want you to get the impression that’s the only way to do it. I’m just teaching triplets and walk-ups. Hope that helps a little bit and we’ll see you tomorrow with another piano tip. If you haven’t signed up for my free newsletter please go down to the the bottom, under this video you’ll see my web address or just playpiano.com click on that and sign up for my free newsletter. Because there’s a ton of great things you can learn. There are a lot of videos and articles and so on. We’ll see you tomorrow with another idea. Thanks for being with me and bye bye for now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_LFNFgV7mM
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