Archive for April, 2015


What Is The Blues Scale?…

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
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Do All Musicians Agree On The Blues Scale?

Good morning. This is Duane. We’ve been doing a series on music theory called “Good Stuff You Really Ought to Know About Music!”  Today I’d like to take up a hybrid blues scale. Yesterday we took up the five main types of scales: major scales, minor scales, chromatic scales, whole tone scales, and so on. Today I want to take up a hybrid. You know what a hybrid is. For example, I drive a hybrid car; it’s partly electric and it’s partly gas. Maybe you do, too.

In any case, the scale I’m going to describe is a hybrid scale. It’s made out of more than one part, more than one section. Let me tell you this, too: that there’s not wide agreement at all about what notes are in the scale. This is the blues scale I’m talking about. Let me what it usually is. Here’s a tonic scale, a diatonic scale. The blues scale is this for sure, a flatted 3rd, the flatted 5th, the 5th, the flatted 7th, and the octave note.

However, a lot people put that note in, too: the major 3rd. I’ll explain why in a minute. A lot people put in the major 7th as well as the flat, so there’s not widespread agreement. If you look down below this video I will have a link in there that you can go read a Wikipedia article about the blues scale. You’ll see there’s several opinions or several varieties. That’s as it should be, because everybody plays it a little different.

I use the notes of that scale I just described, but I also use a couple other notes. I’ll show you why right now. The blues originally happened … it was sung. It had a melancholy or a sad sound to it. The sound that was created was somewhere between the major 3rd and the minor 3rd. It wasn’t the minor 3rd; it wasn’t the minor 3rd; it was somewhere in between there. Trombone players can do it. A lot of instruments can get that quarter step but on a piano you can’t do that because you either have to play that or that, or you can play it together. That gets a little bit of a sound.

What I like to do is to play the major 3rd there and the minor 3rd there, that kind of sound. Or there’s a D 7th with a minor 3rd on top and a major 3rd there. That’s why I’m including the E natural in the blues scale, which a lot of people don’t. Everybody seems to agree that there should be that note included in the blues scale. It’s the raised 4th or lowered 5th. Everybody agrees that there’s a flatted 7th, because there’s almost always a 7th sound in the blues. The 7th is in agreement.

However, when I get to the V7 chord I might want that sound. There I’m creating a major 3rd and a minor 3rd. The 7th is also in the scale. Here’s the notes I use in the blues scale: the root, the 2nd, the flatted 3rd, the 3rd, the 4th, the raised 4th or the flatted 5th, the 5th, the 6th, the dominant 7th and the major 7th. All those are used when I play, and certainly with tons of other musicians as well.

That’s the hybrid scale. That’s the blues scale made out of several components. Hopefully that helps a little bit in understanding that area of music theory. Thanks for being with me. If you enjoy these little tips, come on over to PlayPiano and sign up for our free tips series because it’s all free. Thanks. Bye bye for now.

***For lots more good stuff on piano playing come on over to my website at http://www.playpiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips – “Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions!”

Here’s a great little book on chords and chord progressions on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Chords-Chord-Progressions-Exciting-ebook/dp/B0076OUGDE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404158669&sr=1-1&keywords=piano+chords+duane+shinn

Here is the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZ4pYYTR_mY&feature=youtu.be

Here is an article on Wikipedia about the blues scale and all the varieties: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blues_scale

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What Are The Most Common Types of Musical Scales?

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015
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Musical Scales – How Many Are There?

Good morning. This is Duane, and we’re doing a series on music theory called “Good Stuff You Really Ought to Know About Music.” We’ve covered a lot of different areas but we got a lot of different areas yet to go. Today I’d like to briefly cover the five main types of musical scales. Within those main types there’s subdivisions. I’ve done specialized videos on those subdivisions before, so you can look those up on YouTube if you’d like, but I’d just like to cover the five basic types today.

The first kind of scale is major. That’s a familiar sound to you. If you’ve taken piano lessons you’ve had to do that endlessly, of course. This is the C scale, and it’s based on a formula of whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step. If you started on D flat, for example, you’d go up a whole step, and then another whole step, and then a half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step. The D flat major scale would be like this. Therefore the D flat scale has five flats in it. If you play in the key of D flat you’d have five flats; whereas if you play in the key of C you would have no sharps or flats.

If you start on B, a whole step above B is C sharp, whole step above that is D sharp, half step is E, whole step is F sharp, whole step is G sharp, whole step up is A sharp, and a half step up is B. There’s a B major scale. It has five sharps, doesn’t it? You can see why the key of B has five sharps in it, because it’s based on that scale. There’s 12 different major scales you can play in, so there’s 12 different major keys you can play in.

Likewise, there’s 12 minor keys you can play in. Every major key has a relative minor. You find that relative minor by going down a step and a half from the major key. For example, if you are in the key of C and you want to know what the relative minor is to C major you go down a step and a half, so the scale of A minor would be from A to A using the C scale. That’s called a natural minor.

There’s three variety of minor scales. I won’t get into that because, like I said, we have other YouTube videos that teach that, the three varieties. That’s a natural minor scale. Then there’s the harmonic minor scale that raises the 7th degree of the scale. There’s a melodic minor that raises the 6th and 7th on the way up, that lowers them on the way down. That’s a different subject. There’s three subdivisions to minor scales.

Then the third type of scale after major and minor is a chromatic scale. A chromatic scale of course is it skips no notes. It’s just all the notes. It’s all half steps. That’s all you need to know. Incidentally, fingerings is logical you use your thumb whenever you can on white keys because your thumb’s shorter obviously. Then you use a long finger on the black keys. I like to do this: thumb, 3rd, thumb, 3rd, thumb. Now we have two white keys together so I use my 2nd finger, then back to 3rd, thumb, 3rd, thumb, 3rd, thumb, 2nd. That’s a chromatic scale.

We have major scales, minor scales, chromatic scales. Then there’s the whole tone scale. Whole tone scale is what it says; it’s all whole steps. Whole step, whole step, whole step, whole step, whole step, whole step. If you build the chords on it it sounds like that, kind of a otherwordly kind of sound. That’s the 4th kind.

Then the 5th kind of scale are called the modes or the church modes. I won’t get into those because I have a separate YouTube video on that. The Dorian scale, you’ve heard of that, and the Aeolian scale and the Lydian scale and the Mixolydian scale and so on. There’s varieties to that, subdivisions to the modal scales. The five basic types of scales you remember are major, minor, chromatic, whole tone scales, and the modes. That’s it for today. If you enjoy these little educational videos, come on over to PlayPiano and sign up for them. They’re all free. Hope to see you there. Bye bye for now.

***For lots more good stuff on piano playing come on over to my website at http://www.playpiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips – “Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions!”

Here’s a great little book on chords and chord progressions on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Chords-Chord-Progressions-Exciting-ebook/dp/B0076OUGDE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404158669&sr=1-1&keywords=piano+chords+duane+shinn

Here is the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHXxJe6ISkg&feature=youtu.be

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Right Hand Piano Fillers

Monday, April 20th, 2015
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Right Hand Piano Fillers – Exciting Stuff You Can Add To Your Playing

In many of our videos we have covered things such as straddles, 2-1 breakups, 3-1 breakups, blues runs, etc. In this short video I cover a few right hand piano fillers that you can use in places in a song where nothing is going on. Maybe a note is being held, or the chord is changing, or similar situation. Watch as I demonstrate each technique close up and in slow motion.

***For lots more good stuff on piano playing come on over to my website at http://www.playpiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips – “Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions!”

Here’s a great little book on chords and chord progressions on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Chords-Chord-Progressions-Exciting-ebook/dp/B0076OUGDE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404158669&sr=1-1&keywords=piano+chords+duane+shinn

Here is the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3K1FTCizvE

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Piano Shortcuts – 7 Ways You Can Drastically Improve Your Piano Playing

Thursday, April 16th, 2015
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    7 Piano Shortcuts You Can Take To Make You Sound MUCH Better On The Piano!

Good morning. This is Duane, and if you play the piano but want to play it in a more exciting way, then this is the video for you to watch because I’m going to outline seven piano shortcuts to more exciting piano playing.

Let’s say you learned to read music and you can play written music, but you don’t know chords. The first step then to be be a more exciting piano player is to learn chords. Make sure you learn chords because music is made out of chords. If I play a song like that, those are all chords, aren’t they? Those were broken chords and I was playing the C major 7th chord. All of music is like that. It’s made out of chords, or broken chords, or chord fragments. Learn chords; that’s the first step.

You want to start with major chords. I’m not going to teach that today but find a video. There’s a lot of free videos on the net, including mine, that teach major chords and then minor chords and diminished chords and augmented chords. Those are the four basic kinds of chords. Let me just quickly review it. A major chord is made out of a major scale. A major scale goes like that. If I take the 1st, 3rd, and 5th of the scale, that’s a major chord for that scale. Then to make it minor I simply lowered the 3rd a half step. To make it diminished I lower the 3rd and the 5th a half step. To make it augmented I raise the 5th a half step, and that’s really all there is to it. Step number one is learn chords and master those chords.

The second step is to learn chord color magic. What do I mean by chord color? I mean adding color tones to the basic chords. I just outlined the four basic chords: major, minor, diminished and augmented. But they’re a little bit vanilla, aren’t they? You can make them a lot more interesting if you add, say, a 6th or a major 7th, or a dominant 7th. There’s a minor chord. If I add a 7th that sounds a lot more interesting. That has a 7th and a 9th in it. That’s how you get those close harmonies by adding chord color magic to your piano playing. That’s a matter of just learning the basic chords and then adding 6th, 7th, major 7th, 9ths, flatted 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, that sort of thing. You can learn that, again, from lots of free videos on the net that will teach you that.

The next thing you can do is to learn inversions. You learn chords but you got to learn to turn chords upside down. You need to know the C chord not just like that, but also like that, and like that, and like that. That’s the same chord, just turned upside down. Now why is that? Because that happens in music all the time. Besides, music is often made out of broken chords, chords turned upside down like that. I just played three chords there: the C chord, the F chord, and the G chord, and I just broke up the notes. You run into that in music a lot.

Learn to invert chords. Turn them upside down. There’s a root position, there’s a first inversion, and there’s a second inversion. I’m just standing the chords on their head. See that? I take the bottom note, put it up an octave higher, and that’s first inversion. Take the bottom note, put it up an octave higher, and that’s second inversion. In a four note chord, then you have three inversions, don’t you? You got root position, first inversion, second inversion, and third inversion. It depends how many notes are in a chord as to how many inversions there are.

The fourth thing you can do to make your piano playing a lot more exciting is to learn chord voicing. After you learn chords and after you learn chord color magic, then learn to voice chords. Voicing means to position them on the keyboard in a unique way. There’s lots of ways to do that. Let me just play that. I’m going to play the C chord but I’m going to voice it. I’m going to use two hands. In the right hand I’m going to play C and G, an octave C and a G in the middle. In the left hand I’m going to play a low C and G, and then I’m going to play E, A, and D. Those are color tones; that’s the 6th and the 9th. When I play all those together we have a much bigger sound. Learn to voice chords. You see, the way you voice chords gives that unique sound to it.

Let’s review so far. You learn chords, the basic chords: major, minor, diminished, augmented. Then you learn chord color magic: how to add 6ths, 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, 7ths, and so on. Then you learn to turn chords upside down. You learn inversions, all kinds of inversions. Not just basic chords but chord color magic turned upside down. Then you learn chord voicing like that.

Then the next step is to break up those chords into runs and fills. Let me just give you an example. I think I did it earlier, but if I was playing “Misty,” I took that chord, C major 7th, and I ran it up the keyboard like this. We talked about inversions and voicing; well, that’s just the C major 7th chord in root position but I’m breaking it up like that, one note at a time. Now I could come down the same way. See that, I broke it up going up, and then coming down I broke it up in a different way.

There’s lots of ways to break up chords. There’s 2/1 breakups like this where you hit two notes and then one, 2/1, 2/1, 2/1. There’s 3/1 breakups where you play three notes and then 1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1. There’s straddles where you leave the middle note out of the chord and then play the other two notes like so, so you get an open sound. You can do that with four note chords like that. You’ve heard that, that sort of thing.

Now you may be saying “Oh, you’re going way too fast. I can’t master that.” That’s right, you can’t. I’m just giving you the outlines of what you need to learn. You can search out other videos, other courses, that deal with these individual things. Just to review so far, we need to learn chords; we need to learn chord colors, adding color notes to the chords; we need to learn inversions, how to turn the chords upside down; we need to learn voicing; and we need to learn how to break up chords like so.

Oh yes, then we need to learn to improvise. We need to learn to improvise. improvise simply gives you some liberty with playing the melody. In other words, let’s say I’m playing … Well, I’ll play “Moon River” again. Instead of playing the melody like that, like you’d expect me to do, if I could learn to improvise I might go … See, I’m creating a different melody over the same chord progression. That’s a wonderful field that you’ll really enjoy once you get into it. Learn to improvise. Again, my purpose today is not to teach you to do that. I couldn’t do that anyway because that’s a big field. Each one of these is a big field. I’m outlining what you need to do to make yourself a more exciting piano player.

Then the last thing you need to do is to learn to read chord symbols out of a fakebook. Get a fakebook and then learn to read chord symbols like so. I hope you can see that. Here’s a fakebook. There’s lots and lots of fakebooks and they got a ton of songs, but they’re all unique in that all they have is the melody, the tune of the song. Then they have chord symbols above the line of music. It starts out with E flat 6th, A 9th, F minor 7th. All I’m reading is the chord symbols there and that tells me what to do. I play the chord and the melody is given to me like so. Then by knowing inversions and breakups, then pretty soon I have an arrangement like so.

There’s seven shortcuts to more exciting piano playing. It’s not easy but it’s very rewarding, so I urge you to get going and master all those steps. Some of you have already mastered steps one through three, say. Well just don’t stop there. Just keep mastering it until you have all those seven down. Okay, thanks for being with me and I hope you enjoy this little piano tip. We’ll see you next time. Bye bye for now.

***For lots more good stuff on piano playing come on over to my website at http://www.playpiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips – “Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions!”

Here’s a great little book on chords and chord progressions on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Chords-Chord-Progressions-Exciting-ebook/dp/B0076OUGDE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404158669&sr=1-1&keywords=piano+chords+duane+shinn

Here is the video on YouTube:
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSSOeRVV4Yk&feature=youtu.be

 

 

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The b3, 2, b2 Chord Progression Turnaround

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
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What Is a Chord Progression Turnaround?

Good morning this is Duane and today we’re going to take a look at the bIII to II to bII  chord progression turnaround . It’s both a chord progression but it’s also a turnaround and that’s how it’s usually used but you can use it both senses. What it is is say you’re playing in a key in C and you come to a break in a song. Let’s say you’re playing Blue Moon, that’s the turnaround.

When I came to the end of the phrase, “Someone I really could care for,” now we turnaround, we go from the I chord to the bIII chord to the II chord to the bII chord.  Let’s just take it in basic triads. If I’m in the key of C it will be like this, C, E flat, D, D flat, and it could use any form of those. It could be C,  E flat minor, D minor, D flat minor – it just depends on the sequence.

Now, that’s the basic turnaround, the one, flat three, two, flat two, but when you voice it in fuller chords it sounds more interesting. See that, one, flat three, two, flat two, one, okay and you can use it anytime you have a turnaround. Let me explain a turnaround first of all. What is a turnaround? It’s where you have a dead space in the music where you have to come back to the same chord.

For example in Blue Moon after the first phrase we have a pause.  That’s the one chord, the  flat three chord, the two chord, the flat two turnaround chord progression. It’s a mouthful but it’s something you probably ought to know. Thanks for being with me. If you enjoy these tips come on over to playpiano.com and signup for a whole series of tips because they are free and you’ll learn a lot. Thanks and bye-bye for now.

***For lots more good stuff on piano playing come on over to my website at http://www.playpiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips – “Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions!”

Here’s a great little book on chords and chord progressions on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Chords-Chord-Progressions-Exciting-ebook/dp/B0076OUGDE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404158669&sr=1-1&keywords=piano+chords+duane+shinn

Here is the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05j_mSL8p7U&feature=youtu.be

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