Archive for May, 2014


How To Play The Blues In a Minor Key

Friday, May 30th, 2014
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Minor Key Blues – How Is It Different Than Major Key Blues?

Good morning, this is Duane. The last few videos we’ve been talking about the blues, the 12-bar blues that follows that format of 12 measures progressing to the 1 chord, the 4 chord and the 5 chord. We talked about the blues scale, that sort of thing and how we would voice it and so on.

Can you play the blues in a minor key? It’s a question a lot of people ask and yes, the answer is yes you can but becomes a different animal because the blues in essence is the juxtaposition between a flat third and a major third, a major third and a minor third.

(singing example) “I woke up this morning.”

That sort of thing. That’s what the blues sound like.

When you change it to a minor, you’re already there on that minor key. You already have a somber sadder sound, okay? It’s not halfway between happy and sad. It’s, I shouldn’t say sad but serious or somber or whatever it is, whatever feeling you get from the minor.

When you play a minor blues, you have an entirely different feel but that doesn’t you can’t make a beautiful composition made out of the blues pattern. Once again, the blues pattern is four bars of the 1 chord, two bars of the 4 chord, two bars of the 1 chord and then two bars of the 5 chord or one of the 5, one of the 4 and then a final two bars to the 1 chord. Let me just play it through the blues quickly to illustrate that.

(keyboard demonstration) 1, 2, 3, 4. Here we are on the 4. Here’s a 5 chord. Now to the 4 chord. 1 chord.

And back through the blues again. That’s two bar blues and that’s major of course.

Minor would retain the same format. Four bars of the 1 chord, two bars of the 4 chord, two bars of the 1 chord, one bar of the 5 chord and one bar of the 4 chord and then back to the 1 chord. In any minor key, the 1’s minor, the 4 is minor but the 5 is major and I want to explain the reason for that. It has to do with the form of the minor scale, harmonic minor scale, okay?

In any case, that would be the format. Like I say, it’s a different animal because you lack the juxtaposition of those two notes so you have that. You can create an entirely different, let me play a little bit. I’m going to put sevenths and so on and voice it a little bit.

(keyboard demonstration) That’s a 4 chord back to a 1 chord, 5 chord, back to the 1 chord and then through again, okay?

When you play the 12-bar blues in minor, again you have 1 that’s minor, 4 that’s minor, and 5 that’s major. You can voice the chords a little differently. There’s a lot of opportunities to use suspensions, for example. You can use a suspension like that and resolve it. You can use a lot of sevenths. You can minor sixth if you want. You can use a ninth, I like that chord a lot, it’s a ninth chord, a 7, 9 chord, like that.

(keyboard demonstration) And so on, okay? It can sound a little bit like the major blues but not a lot.

The answer to that question is yes, you can play the blues in minor but it’s a different animal. Hope that helps and thanks for being with me. If you enjoy this free piano tips, come on over to playpiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips because they’re free. They’re pretty much daily which means you can learn a lot about a lot of stuff if you just listen to them everyday and it only takes three to five minutes something like that.

Thanks for being with me and we’ll see you tomorrow. Bye-bye for now. Here is the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xeHcIAdSrk

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Love Music? Then Join An Adult Music Performing Group!

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
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Joining An Adult Music Performing Group – The Many Opportunities Open To You

Music group

If you are an adult who wants to sing or play an instrument with other adults – here are some tips on finding and joining an Adult Music Performing Group near you.

First, a couple of important considerations:

1. Level of Musicianship
Most community groups welcome musicians at multiple skill levels. That said, the ability to play or sing at a high school level is required for most established community groups.
There are adult groups for beginners, but that is a separate category and not part of this discussion.

2. Amateur Status
If you play or sing professionally, you would almost certainly be welcomed into just about any community or church group around. Chances are, however that you would not be paid for your services. Community and volunteer church groups exist because people give of their talent freely – for, as Leonard Bernstein said, “the joy of music.”

Orchestra

Finding Community Groups to Join
A number of ways exist to find out about music groups in your community:

1. Look for concert or performance announcements in your local newspaper’s “Arts” section. Attend a concert or two and judge for yourself if the group plays or sings at a level with which you feel comfortable.

2. Contact your local Parks & Recreation Department to see if your city sponsors any music performing groups. Even if they don’t, someone there might know who the contact would be for groups in your community.

3. Check with the local high school or college music department. Music teachers and professors are usually tuned in to what is going on in their town and will be happy to help you find a musical home.

4. If your town has a music store (or two) check there. One place all musicians eventually end up is the local music store. Sales people in music stores will know about – and probably participate in any number of local community music ensembles.

5. Finally, conduct a Google search for the type of ensemble you are interested in coupled with the name of your state, town, or region.

Play music

Church Music Groups
Church music groups are a little different. Even if you attend a church regularly, you may not know the ins and outs of specific music groups in your congregation.

If you are “church shopping” for a congregation that includes music performance opportunities, obviously you will have no idea what is available.

The best way to find out what church music groups welcome amateurs is to speak to the minister of music (or whoever heads up music in that congregation). You can speak to the head minister – although he or she will likely send you to the minister of music.

In addition to a traditional choir, many churches today include a wide variety of music service opportunities. These include praise team or worship band, small ensembles, and even orchestra or concert band. Each will have its particular membership guidelines.

The position of organist or pianist for most churches is a paid and demanding (time-wise) position.

Choir

State Level Information
Many state music education organizations provide information about adult community music groups. Check out the Wisconsin Music Educators Association for an example of a state music teacher’s group that provides information about community music.

To find out if your state provides such a service, conduct a Google search of [your state] Music Educators [or Education] Association.

Community Music Email List
One website deserves special mention. That is the Community Music Email List. It’s been around since 1955 and acts as a portal for all manner of volunteer community bands and orchestras. The site is self-explanatory and is a great place to look for information by group name, type, and locale.

ChoralNet Community Choirs
The choir equivalent of the Community Music Email List is run by the American Choral Directors Association. It consists of an area of the website dedicated to community choral groups.

Groups are only listed alphabetically, however if you use the search function at the top of the page you can narrow your choices by city or geographic area.


Don’t Be Shy
Once you have identified one or two groups in which you are interested, attend a concert, as suggested above and if all looks good – dive in. Music is meant to be shared and there is no better way to share it than in a group.
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What Is The “Blues Scale” & How Can I Use It?

Thursday, May 15th, 2014
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Is there more than one blues scale?

Here is a transcript of the video: Good morning, this Duane, and today I’d like to answer the question of a very intelligent young fellow about the blues scale. He was watching one of my You-Tube videos on the theory behind the Blues. If you haven’t watched that video, you’d probably be wise to watch it. It’s important that you know the form behind the Blues, and the theory that goes into it.

Once you know that than his question was, when I’m playing the Blues in the right hand playing the melody, do I play just the Blues scale of the tonic chord, or can I use a Blues scale in the 4-chord and the 4-chord as well? First of all let’s define a Blues scale. Let’s say we’re playing in the key of F. When you’re playing in the key of F we’re basing our playing in the scale of F which goes like this. There’s just one flat in the key of F, so you’re basing you’re playing on the scale of F.

The Blues scale is a little different. The Blues scale is an imitation of the human voice sagging down a bit. In other words, “I woke up this morning …” Okay, that sound is somewhere between a flat third, I mean a third and a flat third, a piano player can’t play it. A singer can sing it. He can sing in the quarter steps. He or she can sing in the quarter steps. A trombone player can do it, and certain other instruments can sag down a quarter of a step, but a piano player can’t.

What he has to do is simulate that note that lies between there and there, by playing both at the same time, or off setting them some. Sometimes they can do it like that, by glancing off one and then to the other. By playing them close together, see you get that … You get that quarter tone. It’s not really a quarter tone, but it’s an implication of a quarter tone. Another way to do it is to play the flat 3rd and the major 3rd at the same time, with a seventh in between it, like so.

You’ve heard that kind of … That kind of thing. A Blues scale in F then would be the root, the 2nd, the flat 3rd, and the 3rd, the 4th of course, and the flat 5th, and the 5th. Again, you’re imitating the Blues is a sad … You know, if I lost my dog and my girl went away, then I’ve got to be a little sad about it, so I’m imitating that quarter step there. Then the flat 7th and the root. All those [inaudible 00:02:32] notes are part of the Blues.

His question was if I’m playing in the key of F, and that’s the F chord, I know I can use that scale, but when I change to the 4-chord, the b-flat chord, do I keep using that scale, or do I go to the Blues scale in the key of b-flat? When I change to the C-chord, do I use the F Blues scale or do I use the C Blues scale, which goes like that? The answer is, yes. You can do both, you can do both. There’s a very famous jazz tune that goes something like this … (Music playing) … And so on.

That’s the 12-Bar Blues. It goes by fast but that’s 12 bars, and the theme, the tune went like this … That’s obviously the Blues scale in F. I use that when I play the F chord, but I use it when I’m playing the b-flat chord, and when I play the C-chord … And it fit fine okay, but am I limited to that? The answer is no. The answer is no. You can use the Blues scale of the other chords as well. For example, when you go to b-flat, the b-flat-seven chord, you can use a b-flat scale, the b-flat Blues scale like that … Certainly. Back to the f-scale … Then when I go to C see I’m playing the C Blues scale there … B-flat Blues scale, and then back to F.

The answer is you can use both. Hope that helps and thanks for being with me. If you enjoy these little short videos, these are all free. They’re video tips. Come on over to play piano and sign up for our series of free piano tips. If you watch these most every day, you’re going to learn a lot about a lot of stuff relative to piano playing and music. Hope you do that and we’ll see you tomorrow with another free video. Bye, bye for now.

Here is the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfjpewgBLsA&feature=youtu.be
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Piano Chord Triplets: Great As Fillers!

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
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Can You Use Piano Chord Triplets In Your Piano Songs? Here’s How:

Good morning. A good way to fill up the empty places in your songs is to take the chord that you’re playing at that moment and break it up, break the chord up in fillers, triplet fillers. There’s other ways to break up chords of course, but are a nice change. Let’s first define what triplets are. They are three notes in the place of one beat. For example, as I count one, two, three, four, if I take one of those beats and put three notes in the space of one, I have this trip-e-let, trip-e-let, trip-e-let, see that? Three notes are taking the place of one in this spot. One, two, three, four, one-pe-let, two-pe-let, three-pe-let, four-pe-let. I like to break up the work triplet into three syllables.

Of course, it doesn’t have three syllables, but I like to break it up into three syllables just for the sake of helping people understand how to count those triplets. Triplets, by the way are like when you’ve got a rock in your tire and it clicks every time it revolves. Say you have three rocks in the tires and they’re a third of the way around, 33-1/3 way around. You have a rock here, a rock here, and a rock here. Every time your tire revolves once, you hear three clicks. That’s what a triplet is, trip-e-let, trip-e-let, one-pe-let, two-pe-let, three-pe-let, four-pe-let, like that. Whatever the chord is, you can take the chord and break it up in triplets and you can do it going up the keyboard or going down the keyboard.

Let me take it very slowly, maybe on, I’ll play Moon River. One trip-e-let, trip-e-let, one, two, and three, and one trip-e-let, three-pe-let, one, two, three. On the section beat, I broke up that triplet, didn’t I? I broke up that chord in triplets. There’s different places to break it up. Usually I wouldn’t break it up that soon. I would wait till a break in the song, when there’s a pause. Typically songs have phrases, so in Moon River, Moon river wider than a mile or when you get through saying mile, then that would be a place to insert a fill of some sort. By the way, some chords are made out of four notes, aren’t they? Like a seventh chord. There’s A 7th. How would you break that up in triplets since there’s four notes?

You just pick any three of the notes, it doesn’t matter which three. You could take those three or those three. You could arpeggiate it as you go up from then. Let’s take the D minor chord. If I broke that up in a triplet, I’d play one-pe-let, two-pe-let, three-pe-let. I’m playing the same three notes in each octave, one-pe-let, and then I tuck my thumb under and play the next D, F, A, and play the next D, F, A. However, I could do it this way, D, F, A, and then invert the chord and play F, A, D, A, D, F. You see I’m turning the chord up sdie down. I’m playing inversions like that. Let me do it slowly, one-pe-let, two-pe-let, three-pe-let, four-pe-let, you see that? Or you can come down, one, two-pe-let, three-pe-let, four-pe-let. Any combination. There’s no right or wrong about that.

It’s just that you’re filling up the empty spaces, so however you want to do that is your choice. You don’t have to do what I do naturally. In fact, you shouldn’t do what I do because you need to learn on your own, but fill in those empty spaces sometimes with triplets. You don’t always want to use triplets. For example, sometimes I just want to use a regular chord, I mean a regular run. I just played that fill up the keyboard. There’s a triplet, one, trip-e-let, trip-e-let. One, trip-e-let, trip-e-let. Trip-e-let, trip-e-let, one, two, and three and one, trip-e-let, trip-e-let, one, two, and three. I’m doing this way too much just for the sake of showing you how it works, but you’d never use it that much in a song, but that’s one option.

Triplets are one option you have for breaking up chords for fillers in a song and again, it doesn’t matter what the chord is, you can go straight up or you can go straight down or you can arpeggiate it by breaking up the chord in inversions or any combination thereof. I guess that’s all I need to say about that, so I hope that helps and we’ll see you tomorrow with another piano tip. If you enjoy these little piano tips, come on over to playpiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips. WE have tips like this most every day, so come on over and sign up for it, playpiano.com. Also, if you’re not already subscribed to my blog, be sure and do that. You can go to www.playpiano.com/wordpress and that’s my daily and blog and you’ll see a lot of these videos on my blog plus the transcription, the words written out of the text of the video, so you can follow it that way as well. In any case, thanks for being with me see you tomorrow. Bye, bye for now.

Here is the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn2Oce8aGd8&feature=youtu.be
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Turns & Grace Notes In Music: How To Use Them On The Piano

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
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How To Make Your Songs “Sing” By Using Turns & Grace Notes

Here is a transcript of the video if you would like to follow along: Good morning. This is Duane. Today, I’d like to share a simple concept with you, and that is making the melody stand out by simply adding turns & grace notes in music now and then. A grace note and a turn, very simple concepts. A grace note is where you hit 1 note and you glance off 1 note as you approach another 1 like that.

Often, they’re on black keys like that but they can be on white keys as well. That would be a whole step grace note. That would a half step grace note. A turn is where you turn around the note like that. You can have a 3-note turn, 1, 2, 3 or you can have a 5-note turn, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1. Do further this. So many [inaudible 00:01:05] G that I learned years ago and you probably played it too. That’s a simple turn but just to make a simple 3-note turn. Let me just illustrate it in a pop song.

This song is called You Are Too Beautiful. This 1 I want you to notice. Instead of just going … That’s a simple grace note and here, I used the turn. If you’re just beginning that, just try that. Just 2 things. Slide off an occasional note. Now, don’t do it too much. It gets old if you do it too much and then just a turn. I like to use my index and third finger for a turn but you need whatever fingers working, whatever worked the best for you. You can use them on chords too like I played that D minor 7th chord and I slid off D flat to that. There, I applied 9th chord and slid off the E flat to E.

Now, watch me do it again. Very, very simple. Let’s take another tune. Let’s [inaudible 00:03:30] playing Moon River. That’s a … I started off with a turn. By the way, use your thumb on white notes whenever you can on your long fingers on black notes. There’s a grace note. I was a playing a third so I slid off the B flat and the D flat going up there. Again, turn, 5-note turn, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and then I played the G chord and I slid off the middle black. There, I used a whole step grace note. I played … Instead of playing just a third, I played 3 notes but they led up on the bottom note. That’s called a crash note actually like a crash grace note.

Sometimes, you can do a tremolo. You start off with a tremolo and a chord and then just run it up. You see, I’m sliding off those black keys with chords or octaves or just a single note as well as turn. Very simple concepts but it’s 1 way you can beautify a melody, make it more interesting but again, I kind of overdid it there because I was illustrating how you could do it but don’t do it that much but put then and now and it’s like salt and pepper, you don’t want to pour it all over your meat, potatoes. Just accent it.

Thanks for being with me and if you enjoyed these piano tips, come on over. Do 2 things. Actually, sign up for our … Hit the subscribe button on YouTube if you’re on YouTube watching this and then come on over to playpiano.com and sign up for our free newsletter of piano tips. It’s free and you get it most everyday so you can learn a lot that way so thanks for being with me. We’ll see you tomorrow with another free piano tip. Bye-bye for now.

Here is the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6VEghLwmuo
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