What Is The Melody Of A Song Made Of?

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015
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Melody Of A Song – How Is It Made?

Good morning. This is Duane and we’re doing a series called “Good Stuff You Really Ought to Know About Music,” all related to music theory. We’ve talked about the various kinds of scales, and today I’d like to point out the fact…it’s an obvious fact…but I think I didn’t get it for years but the melody of a song is made out of scales or scale fragments or broken chords of some sort.

Today, I’d like to look at songs that are just made out of scales. For example, let me take this blue tune…now, that was pretty awful but it’s made out of just nothing like the blues scale. That’s played over and over again. That’s all there is to it.

If you knows the blues scale, the blues scale uses not only the Major third but it uses a minor third too, and then it uses the flat fifth which, in the key of F, would be C flat. Then it uses a flat seventh. In a blues scale, you’re always looking for a flat third, a flat seventh and sometimes a flat fifth. That particular tune uses all of them.

Now, another tune that uses nothing but the C scale, listen…what tune is that? Did you recognize it? It’s just a C scale, isn’t it, but if I put rhythm in it, we have (playing “Joy to the World”). It’s nothing but the C scale from the top down. If I did it in the key that George Frederick Handel wrote it in, it would be nothing but D scale, right? If I played in E flat, nothing but the E flat scale, and so on.

I just want you to think about that. All songs are made out of scales or scale fragments, or broken chords. It’s breaking up the G chord, isn’t it? You’ve heard many songs that go like that, made out of broken chords. Just three possibilities then: scales, scale fragments, or broken chords.

That’s it, okay? If you enjoy these little music theory tips, come on over to playpiano.com and sign up for our free newsletter. 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=uHO2c9Nwu1o&feature=youtu.be

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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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What In The World Are Pentatonic Scales?

Monday, February 23rd, 2015
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Pentatonic Scales: A Very Harmonic Type of Scale

Watch this 5 minute video from YouTube on Pentatonic Scales – 5 note scales.

Here is an excellent article on Pentatonic Scales from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentatonic_scale

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

***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

You’ll learn piano chords galore and how to apply them when you play piano – major chords, minor chords, augmented chords, diminished chords, 6th chords, 7th chords, 9th chords, 11th chords, 13th chords, suspensions, alterations and more. Chords are the “missing link” in most piano lessons and you can learn them all easily. Learn piano playing and music theory at the same time – it will make your progress faster
and you will understand music like you never have before.

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The Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Ionian, Phrygian, Locrian Scales

Monday, January 19th, 2015
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The Church Modes: Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Ionian, Phrygian, Locrian Scales

Back in the period between roughly 1150AD and 1400AD there developed scales called “modes”. (Actually deriving from the Greeks some thousand years before.) And since music was centered in the church during that period (I’m sure there was plenty outside the church as well, but we don’t have much in the way of records of that period) they came to be known as “church modes” – Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Ionian, Phrygian, Locrian Scales

These modes haven’t been used very much for about 500 years, but now many contemporary musicians are using them as a basis for their compositions or improvisations. Listen to any “fusion” musician, such as Donald Fagan or Dave Sanborn or Dave Grusin or Russ Freeeman of the Rippingtons, etc, etc., and you’ll hear many of these ancient scales being used.

While these modes can be played in any key, you can get a feel for them by just playing the white keys on your piano at first, noting the relationship of half-steps and whole-steps and listening to the distinctive sound of each mode.

Here are the church modes and their intervals:

  • Dorian: WHWWWHW (like playing the C scale from D to D)
  • Phrygian: HWWWHWW (like playing the C scale from E to E)
  • Lydian: WWWHWWH (like playing the C scale from F to F)
  • Mixolydian: WWHWWHW (like playing the C scale from G to G)
  • Aeolian: WHWWHWW (like playing the C scale from A to A — also known as the A natural minor scale)
  • Locrian: HWWHWWW (like playing the C scale from B to B)
  • Ionian: WWHWWWH (Does that look familiar? It ought to — it’s just a major scale!)
PS Can you find the error in the Phrygian C scale shown above? (It should be G natural, not Gb).
The thing that makes these modes so appealing and distinctive now is that now they are being used in the context of a harmonic setting — in other words, with chords in the background. That wasn’t the case back in the middle ages — only melodies were used, and as those melodies interfaced with one another through the use of counterpoint, harmonies were created, but only incidentally — there was no “tonal center”, as there is when chords are used.So by using these modes to improvise in, along with a chordal background based on more-or-less traditional harmony, these fusion musicians create exciting new sounds by juxtaposing various scale degrees against the backdrop of semi-standard chord progressions.How can the average piano player take advantage of this knowledge?By experimenting with the modes in the right hand melody while playing chords in the left hand.For example, try improvising using the Lydian scale in your right hand. That will mean playing a raised 4th, rather than the usual scale 4th. That will give your improvisation a sound that is certainly different than what we are all used to, but it will also be refreshing!Try it. I think you’ll like it!

Here is information from my “Piano Tips” newsletter on the Modes: http://www.playpiano.com/101-tips/46-modal-scales.htm

Here is the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IStu2ubAid8

***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

You’ll learn piano chords galore and how to apply them when you play piano – major chords, minor chords, augmented chords, diminished chords, 6th chords, 7th chords, 9th chords, 11th chords, 13th chords, suspensions, alterations and more. Chords are the “missing link” in most piano lessons and you can learn them all easily. Learn piano playing and music theory at the same time – it will make your progress faster
and you will understand music like you never have before.

______________________________________________

 

 

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