Archive for June, 2014


How to get started improvising on Canon in D

Thursday, June 26th, 2014
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Can you improvise on Canon in D?

Good morning. Today I would like to discuss how to get started improvising on Canon in D.

The last few videos we’ve talked about the chord progressions in Canon in D. Let me just review that for you quickly. We actually transposed it from the key of D to the key of C, just so it would be easy to visualize. I’ll call out the chords. There’s the one chord, the five chord, the six chord, the three chord, the four chord, the one chord, the four chord and the five chord. That’s an eight bar chord progression. Each chord gets the same amount of time.

In the key of D, or course it would be one, five, six, three, four, one, four, five, and then back to one, of course. If you’re in the key of E flat it would be one, five, six, three, four, one, four, five, and so on.

We’re doing in the key of C just so it will make it a little easier to visualize. Last time I pointed out that you can create a counter melody by just going down the scale. The melody basically goes like that. In the left hand we can make a counter melody that goes like this. In other words, the left hand is just exactly a tenth below the right hand. It’s easier to visualize that way. We have this.

Of course we don’t have to do that, we can stick with the route in the left hand and we could just go like that. It certainly has a different feel. Either is fine, it just depends on what you want to do.

Now, to start improvising, I’m … Improvising, of course means to make up as you go along, to create a melody, okay? It’s not so mysterious. Every melody that any song writer has written was improvised by that composer. In other words, he made that up, didn’t he? Whatever the tune was, whether it was (singing) Take me out to the ball game, or Moon River, whatever it is, somebody made that up, that tune. You’re doing the same thing when you improvise.

What I’m going to advocate that you do to start out is simply this, play it in thirds … woops … And like so. Okay? Basic are easy. Okay? So we played it, played that in thirds, just improvising on the melody a little bit. Now I’m going to take it a step further and change the right hand melody just a little bit. Let’s say we’re ending up the first time through.

What was I doing there? I was playing a note with my little finger that’s in the cord, and then I was breaking up the cord. See, just breaking up the chord as in the left hand. That’s, of course, what I’m doing in the left hand. I’m playing an arpeggio in the left hand, in other words breaking up the chord in the left hand. You see, you can do it in a variety of ways, but you break up those chords.

If you’re a beginner than you can do something like this. In other words, just break up those chords. Now, the more advanced you are the more creative you can be in both hands, okay? The sky’s the limit, and the genre’s the limit, too. If you want to play that in a new agey kind of way you could do that. Lots and lots of different ways to begin to improvise on Canon in D.

That’s it for today. We may have more to say about it tomorrow, but we’ll see. That’s it for today. If you enjoy these little piano tips, come over to playpiano.com and sign up, because you get these free tips most every day. Thanks. Bye-bye for now.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2f_c0SQOLBM&feature=youtu.be
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You Can Use Chord Inversions To Make Chord Progressions Smoother

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
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Chord Inversions Make Changes Much Smoother

Good morning this Duane Shinn. Today I’d like to talk about using chord inversions to smooth out chord progressions. The last few days we’ve been talking about the chord progressions of Canon in D. You know the Canon in D how that goes, and we’ve been going through the chords saying that the chords, it’s an eight bar progression which goes one, five, six, three, four, one, four, five and then it repeats; and so on, right?

Now I transposed it to the key of “C” just to make it easier to visualize. We’ll do the same thing in the key of “C” and it’s like this. One, five, six, three, four, one, four, five and then back to one. There’s an eight bar chord progression.

Now what my subject is today, to smooth that out. I already showed you parallel tens a few days ago; how we could use parallel tens in that. Now I want to explain it. Because the first chord is “C” and the second chord is “G”. Now we could go to “G” as the root, but what I’m going to do is use a note out of the “G” chord which is “B”. Then the next chord is “A”, and of course we’ll use the “A” root. The next chord is “E” minor, but “E” minor has a “G” in it. We’re going right down the scale aren’t we?

The next chord is “F” so we’ll use an “F” as a root. The next chord is “C”, and “C” has an “E” in it. So far we’ve gone “C”, “B”, “A”, “G”, “F”, “E”; again. And now we’re going to go back up to “F”, “G”. But you see we have a smooth baseline. If you’re a jazz player you’re used to jazz lines like that. We’re creating a very smooth line to go along with the melody, and so on, okay?

We could take that down further. When we got to “F” and then went down to the “C” chord and then back to the “F” chord, we could set that to “D” as a low note for the “F” chord. Why, because what’s the minor chord that’s relative to “F” major. It’s “D” minor isn’t it? So you play a “D” minor seventh there and that would make it very smooth so you go… Then we have to go back to “G” at that point.

A little hint on how to use inversions to smooth out chord progressions and we’re not just talking about, we used Canon in D as an example, but you could use that on any song to smooth out your chord progressions.

Okay, that’s it for today. Thanks for being with me and if you enjoyed these tips come on over to playpiano.com and sign up for a free piano trips. Trips, we should take a trip shouldn’t we? We should take a cruise together. Sign up for the free piano tips and I hope to see you there. Bye, bye for now.

Here is the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAMqNbFgLSM
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Does Piano Playing Really Help Your Brain?

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
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Does blood flow to the brain increase after musical training such as piano playing?

Read this interesting article titled “Music Impacts Our Brains: Blood Flow Increases After Musical Training” at http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/14609/20140510/music-impacts-brains-blood-flow-increases-musical-training.htm
Does piano playing help your brain ?
There are many skeptics that don’t necessarily believe that piano playing helps brain function. The reality is that music in general whether playing it or listening to actually has many benefits to the brain and overall cognitive function as well as emotional and mental health.

Playing Piano Helps The Brains Ability to Process Information

Nina Kraus’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University has conducted a series of studies over the past few years on how music ultimately affects the brain. Their research and experiments presented objective quantifiable evidence that “neural timing” or the amount of time it takes for the human brain to process auditory signals, is superior within musicians than non-musicians. Piano playing or taking up any musical instrument throughout one’s life has a crucial impact on retaining hearing and memory as one get’s older.

Because musicians can isolate and interpret complex and important information and details at any given moment, it gives them an advantage in processing all information more quickly and being able to retain it. This is why many musicians tend to do well academically.

Musicianship Improves Academic Potential

The primary method of education revolves around auditory learning in the form of lectures, memorization and reading comprehension. These are all skills that are reinforced through musicianship. In learning to pull out the meaningful components from sound and distinguish them, one improves the brains capacity for isolating sound and recall. This is very well suited to auditory learning styles.

Beyond that being able to read and memorize sheet music has many benefits as well. The ability to associate the symbols of music with the sound they are supposed to produce is a very good basis for working with and interpreting variables within higher level math. Counting notes, rhythms and learning music theory over a number of years have a cumulative effect on mathematical skills.

In addition the high level of memorization required of musicians and the fact the process and performance reinforce that capability is why many cultures and societies incorporate it into the general education system.

Musical Training Can Improve Motor and Reasoning Skills

Studies by Marie Forgeard,Ellen Winner and Andrea Norton demonstrate that children with three or more years of musical training perform significantly better than those without, in the areas of fine motor control and auditory discrimination. They also have a tendency to test better in non-verbal reasoning skills. Playing piano and other musical instruments over a number of years also has the capacity to enhance one’s cognitive abilities as well as reading comprehension. Studies by Joseph M Piro and Camilo Ortiz from Long Island University indicate positive associations between music education and mathematical, linguistic and spatial intelligence aptitudes.

Playing Piano and Musicianship Has Clear and Lasting Benefits

Between the ability to improve long term memory and obvious benefits of enhancing various potential aspects of learning and even cognitive function and fine motor control, it is very clear that learning a musical instrument such as the piano has a positive impact on the brain. It is something that should be encouraged early in order to reap the maximum benefit from it. It has the capacity to dramatically improve one’s life and individual potential.
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How To Use Parallel 10ths In Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”

Monday, June 23rd, 2014
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How To Use Parallel 10ths In Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”

Good morning. This is Duane. Today let’s take a look at How To Use Parallel 10ths In Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”. Last week, I recorded a video where I played an eight-chord, eight-measure chord progression. I’m going to do that again right now. I played the one chord and the five chord and the six chord, three chord, four chord, one chord, four chord, and a five chord. That’s the eight-bar progression, one of the greatest progressions ever written.

I ask people to identify what that progression was. Lots and lots of people got it correct. It’s Pachelbel’s Canon in D. It’s played lots of places, but typically it’s played at weddings nowadays as the bride comes down the aisle.

You’ve heard this: (plays piano) and so on. That’s Pachelbel’s Canon in D.

Today, I’d like to show you … we’re going to start improvising on it. I thought we were going to do that today, but I think we’ll wait until tomorrow on that because I want to show you a parallelism in 10ths that’s a natural.

The melody, by the way, is — you got the eight-chord progression that I just played. One, five, six, three, four, one, four, one. If you need to review that, go to my last Youtube video. You can find that progression. I won’t go over it more than that right now. The melody, it basically goes like this: (plays piano). I say melody. It’s kind of the implied melody, because the melody does some interesting things.

Incidentally, a canon is kind of like a round. You know, “Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,” and then, when you play “Brother John,” another part comes into “Are you sleeping, are you sleeping, Brother John?” It rhymes like that. That’s what a canon is. It can get really involved.

The melody basically goes like that: (plays piano) right down the scale, and then back up. What you can do in the left hand is, you can play a tenth below that. (plays piano) Not with index fingers. I’m not showing the correct fingering here. Let me do that a little fuller here, down here. (plays piano) Now it’s full chords. (plays piano)

Doing it, playing it in C now. I just [laid 00:03:57], so you can follow it. (plays piano) And so on and so forth. Okay?

Did you catch that parallelism? The melody moves down like that, so in the left hand, you can just go down like that. Straight down, just like the right hand went down, but a 10th below. It’s called a 10th because it’s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten — ten notes’ difference. Then, when you fill in the chords, then it makes it sound very full.

Incidentally, I’m playing it too fast. It doesn’t go this fast. I’m just playing it to illustrate the chord progression here.

Okay. Try to get that under your belt. Tomorrow, we will begin to improvise on it a little bit, okay? I don’t know if that will take one session or several. In any case, we’ll begin that process. Obviously, you can improvise in any genre. It doesn’t have to sound like that. It could sound like lots of things.

That’s it for today. If you enjoy these little tips, come on over to PlayPiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips. They’re free, and you can learn a lot from them. Thanks, and hope to see you there. Bye-bye for now.

Here is an article in Wikipedia on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachelbel’s_Canon

And here is the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdKDF1erMiM&feature=youtu.be
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Can You Identify This Famous Chord Progression?

Friday, June 20th, 2014
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This chord progression is one of the greatest of all time!

Good morning, this is Duane Shinn, and today I’d like to talk about the 1 5 6 3 4 1 4 5 chord progression. It’s one of the most famous chord progressions of all times, in fact, some people have referred to it as the greatest chord progression ever written. Well I’ll let you judge for yourself. We’re just going to play that progression today and learn it, and then tomorrow, I’m going to teach what it is and how to improvise on it. Meanwhile, you can guess what this chord progression is. It’s a famous, famous piece.

The 1 chord is played for one measure, and then the 5 chord is played for one measure, and then the 6 chord is played for one measure, and then the 3 chord is played for one measure, and then the 4 chord is played for one measure, and the 1 chord is again played for one measure, the 4 chord for one measure, and the 5 chord for one measure, and then it repeats, and each measure is exactly the same length, so it’s an 8 bar, 8 measure chord progression.

1 5 6 3 4 1 4 1 and so on, it repeats. Now you can do that in any key, so if I did it in the key of D for example, it would be 1 5 6 3 4 1 4 5 and then back to 1. If I did it in the key of F, what would it be? 1 5 6 3 4 1 4 5 and 1.

I want you to memorize that chord progression because it’s very very important, and we’re going to improvise on it tomorrow after identifying what it is. Meanwhile, can you guess what it is? You’ve heard it a million times I’m sure. If you have, then in the area below the video where you can comment, write what you think it is, would you? I’d appreciate that, I’m just curious to see if you can recognize it from the chord progression itself without any of the melody or the tune, OK? That’s it for today, that’s the chord progression. I’ll do it once more and then we’re done. Let’s do it in the key of D flat this time. 1 5 6 3 4 1 4 5 1. OK that’s it for today, if you enjoy these little tips, come on over to playpiano.com and sign up for our series of free piano tips and I hope to see you there, so bye bye for now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Am_AFaKsvZs
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