Creating Rhythm With Right Hand Chords Under The Melody
Here is a transcription of the video if you would like to follow along:
Good morning. This is Duane. Today I’d like to talk about rhythmic undertones in your right hand. Rhythmic undertones with right hand chords under the melody. What do I mean by that?
We’re going to use chords in the right hand. You can use them in the left hand too, but I’m going to use chords under the melody. Listen.
(Duane is playing) And so on, okay?
What we’re going to do is focus on the chords. I’m playing the melody. The melody goes like this.
Under it, I’m putting the chords … like I’m using the C major 7th nine there.
I’m playing the note, and then on the offbeat …
Okay, really slow now.
You can get into an improvisation after that. The point is to use chords in the right hand, so that frees your left hand for a little more rhythmic. In the left hand, I’m kind of playing a baseline, like a bass player would play.
(Duane is playing the piano.)
See that? Okay. So, you hold the melody down, and under that you use rhythmic chords. I guess I’d call them under-chords.
(Duane is playing)
To do that, you have to know your chords really well, of course. You’d have to know what chords are coming. Then you play the melody with your little finger for the most part, and then on the offbeat play those chords.
That’s it for today. Just another idea about rhythmic under-chords in your right hand.
We have lots of tips like that over at playpiano.com, so be sure and sign up for my free newsletter and that will get you in on the free stuff that I’m doing all the time.
Thanks for being with me and we’ll see you tomorrow with another piano tip. Bye-bye for now.
Hello again, this is Duane with some more Good Stuff You Really Ought To Know.
You know what a tremolo is. It is a rapid alternation of a group of three or more notes. A trill of course is two notes, but a tremolo would … you’d plug in three or four notes, probably the way your hand works is the best … it’s probably easiest with four notes. Grab any four notes that you want, doesn’t matter what they are, could be all white notes or black notes, does not matter. I have F, A, B, and D. This is with my right hand. I can tremolo all those and then I can shoot up piano runs out of that tremolo. I have my damper pedal depressed, by the way and all I do is break up the bottom, middle to the top.
I’m using 1, 2, 3, 5 in fingering, by the way, then I pivot my hand so that my thumb comes under my fifth finger and I play the next the same notes, and then I go on up as high as I want to go and I could come back down, and then I can stop anywhere I want and tremolo some more, in other words, if I start as tremolo, I can go up here and tremolo then go up there, and tremolo, come down and tremolo, I can pause, you see that, at will. I am just going up and down based on those four notes.
What do you do with the left hand? You can do whatever you want, you can play the melody of the song, say the melody goes B, A, G. “Mary Had a Little Lamb ,” whatever, or if it is appropriate, you can play an octave in your left hand on the root of the chord. This is a G7th chord, G9th chord, which it is. I’d probably play a G octave, so I can do that sort of thing. My right hand can do all the running and the tremoloing, and my left hand can just function as a bass or my left hand could create rhythm. You see that?
There are some ideas, some more Good Stuff You Really Ought To Know, tremolo-fired runs. See you next month with another idea.
It’s going to happen. More so than most other instruments, pianists are required to know a little bit about everything. There’s no doubt that at some point you’ll be asked to play some obscure song that you’ve never heard before and sometimes, you have to play it tomorrow or even worse, in an hour. Anybody who gains a reasonable amount of skill will run in to this problem at some point.
If you’ve progressed beyond beginner status, your teacher likely started working with you on playing songs or accompanying other musicians. Although any music can be written down using traditional notation, styles like jazz, pop, and contemporary religious music may come with chord symbols or numbers instead of notes and rhythms.
There are two ways to express music without writing down every note and rhythm – chord symbol notation. The first is called figured bass or in modern day terms, “the number system.” This system assigns a number to each chord and is expressed in roman numerals. Let’s assume we’re playing in the key of C Major. A chord that starts on C and includes the 3rd and 5th scale degree (the basic triad) is called a “one” or “I” chord. A chord that starts on D is called a “two” or “ii” chord. (lower case because it’s a minor chord.
Figured bass: I IV V7 etc.
By assigning a number to each chord in the scale, the player knows which chord to play over top of the melody. This works well because once you learn the number system, you can accompany a song in any key. If a singer decided that they wanted their song in the key of D instead of C, you don’t have to rewrite the chords because the numbers remain relative. A “I” chord is the first chord in the key regardless of what the key is.
The only problem with this system is that it’s not often used in modern music. You’ll see it in older music but rarely with songs or other music outside of the orchestral realm.
The other system is a chord symbol. You might hear it called tablature but tablature is actually a system used primarily by guitar players to denote finger positions instead of chord names. Chord symbols replace roman numerals with letters. If you’re supposed to play a C major chord over the melody, you’ll simply see a “C”. If you’re supposed to play a C Major 7 chord, you’ll see “CMaj7”. You don’t have to figure out the name of the chord—you only have to figure how to spell the chord.
In Jazz as well as popular music, these types of symbols are the most common but they have a drawback. If that same singer who now wants to sing the song in the key of D tells you to change it, you’re going to have to do some fast writing to change all of the chords or your transposing skills better be sharp. When the key changes, so does the whole chord chart and that can get confusing.
Which is better? Classically trained musicians insist that the number system is better and often, once a person masters it, they believe that as well but for those without a strong music theory background, the chord system gets you up and running fast. Although it’s a lot of extra work, learning both is the best way to assure a worry free gig.
Diminished 7th Chords: The Magic Door To Other Keys
Good morning this is Duane and today I’d like to talk about the amazing diminished 7th chords and the secret door that leads to everywhere. Now I know that sounds mysterious kind of like Alice in Wonderland but it’s absolutely true. The diminished 7th chords are an amazing kind of chord and I’ll show you why right now.
There are only three of them [piano playing]. Diminished seventh chords are like that. If you start on C [piano playing] that would be a diminished seventh chord. It’s diminished, the triad is diminished and that’s a double-sided 7, that’s what defines a diminished seventh chord. It looks like six but it technically in music theory it’s called a double-flatted seven.
That’s one diminished seventh chord, now go up half a step to C sharp, E, G flat and that’s another diminished seventh chord. Now go up another half step D, F, A flat, and B and that’s another diminished seventh chord. We have three diminished seventh chords so far. Now let’s go up another half step, what do you have? You have C, E flat, G flat, and B double flat. Does that right a bell? Yeah, that was our first chord wasn’t it? It’s just upside down, in other words that’s the same chord just turned upside down.
You’ve heard the kind of thing [piano playing] in scary situations, maybe in old movies. It creates a sense of anxiety. There are only three diminished chords [piano playing] that one, [piano playing] that one which you can turn upside down any way you want, and [piano playing] that one which you can turn upside down again til the cows come home. Only three diminished seventh chords.
That’s all you need to learn about diminished seventh chords. They’re members of one another and the turn upside down. Now let’s define what a diminished seventh chord is. They’re a stack of minor thirds, here’s a major third [piano playing] and I go three notes up the C scale that’s a major third [piano playing] one, two, three. That’s a minor third, here’s a fifth [piano playing], here’s a diminished fifth you come down a half step [piano playing]. Here’s a seventh [piano playing], there’s our flat of seventh and [piano playing] there’s a double flat of seventh.
It’s a stack of thirds isn’t it? A stack of minor thirds, [piano playing] it’s a minor third there to there, [piano playing] a minor third from there to there, [piano playing] a minor third from there to there, and if you want that’s a minor third up to there. It’s a stack of minor thirds and what’s true of that chord is also true of that chord, it’s a stack of minor thirds. [piano playing]
The next chord is s a stack of minor thirds D up to F, F up to E flat, A flat up to C flat. Remember that, diminished seventh chords are a stack of minor thirds. Now that’s find of amazing enough but [piano playing] did you know that just by lowering one note in any diminished seventh chord leads you to a dominate seventh? That’s why I call it a doorway to everywhere. If I lower the bottom note of that chord from C to B, what do I have? F, I’ve got B seventh and that puts me right between D and E.
One of the principles of transposing, the main principle of transposing is to find the sway of seven key, five seven chord the new key. If I’m playing in the key of C when I play C diminished and then I move the bottom note down one that’s B which is the five seven chord in the key of E [piano playing] so it goes right to E. I’m back to the diminished seventh chord, we lowered the bottom but now let’s lower this note. What do we have? Right, D of seven. If you want to get to the key of G from the key of C, you’re playing along on the key of C [inaudible 00:04:03] [piano playing] and then lower that middle note to D and then you’re over to G [piano playing].
Now let’s cut to this note, we’ll lower it a half step from F sharp or G flat to F. What do we have now? F seventh [piano playing] B flat, right? If we want to get the key of B flat we just do that. One more, the top note is B double flat if we lower it a half step it comes to A flat and that is A flat seventh. If we [piano playing] want to get to D flat that’s how we do it [piano playing].
Now the same things is true on the next chord there isn’t it? If I lower D a half step we get to D flat [piano playing] that’s D flat seventh and that leave us with the key of G flat or if you want to call it C sharp that leaves you with that note [piano playing]. Again, harmonic notes in harmonic keys [piano playing].
Let’s lower this note a half step, what do we have now? We’ve got E seventh covered [piano playing]. Whenever you see two notes together, in this situations its always true but it’s usually true too when you see two notes together you’re probably dealing with the root and the seventh. Not always but you can make a good guess and that’s the case. E seventh leads to A’s and we want to get to the key of A then you do that. Let’s take this note and lower it a half step, what’s that? [piano playing] That’s a G seventh and that leads right back to C doesn’t it [piano playing]. The last note is C flat and we lower it to B flat, what chords that? B flat seventh and that leads right to B flat.
You can see that there are doorways to everywhere; there are doorways to every single of the 12 major keys or 12 minor keys for that matter by just lowering one of the notes of the diminished seventh cord. Now what happens if you take the two middle notes and move this one up and that one down? [piano playing] You’ve got a major seventh, that’s a major seventh [piano playing] that kind of feel.
What if you lower both the top note and the bottom note? [piano playing] That’s a sixth, turns into B six. What if you go up with your little finger and down with your thumb, what’s that? I can barely reach it but that’s a B major seventh. I want you to experiment around by moving two notes, move one note first and see what happens, then move any two notes, and you’ll find literally that it is a secret doorway to everywhere.
That’s it for today, thanks for being with me. If you haven’t let come over and sign up for our free newsletter or play piano be sure to do that. We’ve got a lot of good free stuff over there, so come on over and sign up, and don’t miss it. Thanks, bye-bye for now.
One of the most important things that a piano player can know is the primary chords, the three major chords that are used in most every song. They are way more important than any other chords at all in any key. They are called the primary chords. I have a chart that I’d like to show you, and it slips right behind the keyboard. This chart is not for sale by the way. I just want to show you how it works here. It shows, if you line it up C to C. Put C on the C note, the next C on that note. Then it shows you all the notes of the I chord. All the notes of the I chord are in red. You can’t see that, but you’ll see it better in a minute. All the notes of the IV chord are in blue, and all the notes of the V or V7 chord are in green. Then it shows the secondary chords, the II chord, the III chord, and the VI chord. The II chord is in a brown, and the VI chord is in a silver, and the III chord is in a gold. So we can learn to play piano using the most-used chords in any key.
Those six chords will take you a long way in your piano playing. In fact, the first three chords are the primary chords, the main chords you need to know. You can’t live without those chords. I would just like to show you how those work. In any given key, there are three chords that are more used than any others, and they are based on the scale of that key. This chart has to do with the scale of C. So if I take the C scale and build a chord on the first degree of the scale, then that’s the C major chord. If I build a chord on the fourth degree of the scale, that’s called the IV chord. If I build a chord on the fifth grade of the scale, that’s called a V chord. It is traditional to add a seventh to the V chord. It’s called a dominant seventh. This is called the tonic. This is called the subdominant. This is called the dominant or the dominant seventh. Those are the three most important chords in the key of C.
What’s true in the key of C is true in every other key as well. In other words, if you figure out the scale of D, and I think you probably know the formula for a major scale. It’s whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step. So if you play the D scale, you’ll see that the chord built on the first degree of the scale using the third and fifth as the other notes is the D chord. That’s the I chord. Four notes higher up the D scale, one, two, three, four, is the G chord. Five notes up higher is the A chord or the A7 chord. Those are the most important chords in the key of D: D, G, and A7. Far and away.
If you pick the key of F. Let’s play the scale of F. It goes like that based on whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. If I take the chord on the first note of the scale, it’s called the I chord. If I build a chord on the fourth degree of the scale, it’s known as a IV chord. If I build a chord on the fifth degree of the scale, it’s called a V chord or the V7 chord. Those are the three most chords in the key of F. If I’m going to play [Duane playing piano]. Almost anything you want to play in the key of F, you have those three chords. Now you may have a lot of others, but those are the basic three. So get acquainted with the I, IV, and V chords in all the keys that you want to play in. There are 12 possible major keys. If you want to play in all 12 keys, then you need to learn the three primary chords, the three main chords, the three family chords of every single key that you want to play in.
This chart, as I said, is not available for sale, but it’s available free in two courses that we have. One is the course called “How to Play Chord Piano.” That is for beginners or for people that play but don’t know chords. This chart comes free in that course. It also comes free in our crash course which is a year long course, and it is a wonderful course if I do say so myself because it takes you through all sight reading chording techniques and music theory and technical [inaudible 00:04:30], you know technique and things like that. You may want to take a look at those too. Anyway, if you want that chart, that’s how you get it. Thanks for this little time with me, and we will see you again soon. Bye-bye for now. [Duane playing piano]
Good morning this is Duane and today I’d like to talk about a style that’s referred to as a block chord style piano. Actually, there are several block chord styles. You could play like this [piano playing], that’s a block style. Another kind of block style is like this [piano playing] where you play the chord in the rhythm of whatever the right hand melody is. If the right hand melody goes [piano playing] like I just played then you’d play the left hand at the same time [piano playing].
Today I’d like to talk about a kind of mellow block chord style where you play the chord under the melody, whatever the tune is but your left hand plays the melody too. For example if I was playing the C scale [piano playing] then I might play it like this [piano playing]. You see my left hand is playing the melody but it’s kind of standing out over the right hand. Let me put it into a song here [piano playing]. You see part of the time I was playing that block style that you can’t use it through a whole song of course but you can use parts of it.
Let’s take a close look at that part that I used [piano playing]. You just need to focus on that. The melody is [piano playing] just ring out C-A-G-A-C [piano playing] and the chord is G minor seventh [piano playing] so I’m playing all the G minor seventh chord after that A my left hand is playing the melody [piano playing]. Now the chord changes to C seventh, now the melody is going to go like this [piano playing] so my left hand follows along [piano playing] and I kind of set the table [piano playing]. Now I have a pause so I can [inaudible 00:02:38] [piano playing].
I used a straddle there then [piano playing] and then maybe a black [piano playing]. The point is whatever the melody is you play the left hand melody too so it’s a two handed melody [piano playing] see that but under the right hand you’re playing on the chord [piano playing].
Along with that style you have to play a low note once in a while to establish the root feeling or you can go into some other style. As you notice I did with this from the second I didn’t use a block chord style I just played the chord progression that existed at the time, which is interesting declension by the way. You start to redeminish then we’ll add minor seventh and then you can call that A minor I guess except it’s got an F in it so I call it an F 9th [piano playing] and then an A flat minor seventh [piano playing] and then minor seventh [piano playing] and then after that eventually home to F.
My point is that block style, the right hand plays the chords under the melody, left hand plays the melody and you want to make that left hand stand out whenever you can.
That’s it for today. Maybe tomorrow we’ll take up another kind of block style that’s different than that but it’s still called a block style. We’ll see you then and if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter be sure to do that. Go over to playpiano.com, lot of good stuff over there so we’ll see you there. Bye-bye for now.
Good morning. This is Duane. Today I’d like to talk about the three kinds of minor scales on the piano and how they affect songs that are written in minor keys. There are three kinds of minor scales. One is called the natural minor [piano playing], which is just the notes of the relative major. For example, the key of C, as you know, the C scale goes like that. [Piano Playing] The relative minor to the key of C is the key of A minor. Just go down a step and a half to find the relative minor key, or I can go up six scale notes and that’s the relative minor key.
Every relative minor key can be found by going down a step and a half from the major key or going up six scale notes. For example, what’s the relative minor key to the key of D major? Here’s the key of D major. [Piano Playing] A step and a half below that is B, right? The key of B minor is relative to D major and has exactly the same notes.
The relative minor key always shares the same notes as the major key. Let’s come back to the key of A minor. [Piano Playing] That’s the relative minor. That’s the natural minor scale. Now, there are two other kinds of scales that you need to know about. One is called the harmonic minor scale. In the harmonic minor scale, we raise the seventh a half step. One, two, three, four, five, six, and instead of playing the seventh, we raise it a half step. So it’s [piano playing]. There is that step and a half here. [Piano Playing] It’s kind of a snake charmer kind of sound.
That’s a harmonic minor. Here’s the melodic minor. [Piano Playing] The melodic minor raises the sixth and seventh on the way up and then lowers them on the way down. Now, let me tell you the melodic minor scale is not used very much in the western hemisphere. You don’t really need to think about it. It’s not going to come up very much. It’s used basically in melodies, not harmony so much.
You do need to know about the harmonic minor scale with a raised seventh because that changes the feel of a song. I’m going to play a song in A minor based on the natural minor scale. In other words, it doesn’t have that raised seventh. Listen. [Piano Playing] It has that mystical feeling because the five chord is minor. Now listen to another song that’s based on the harmonic minor scale. In other words, a raised seventh. Listen. [Piano Playing] Can you hear the difference?
It’s that raised seventh that makes the difference. As you know, the primary chords in any key are one, four, and five. In A minor, the one chord is the A minor chord. The four chord is D minor. The five chord is E minor. That’s in the natural minor mode of the A minor scale. However, in the harmonic mode, the one chord is there, and the four chord is there still, but the five chord is what? Is major isn’t it?
Why is that? Because of that raised seventh. [Piano Playing] The seventh scale is raised. That means the five chord is major instead of minor. It changes the feeling entirely, doesn’t it? Let me play the first song, and I’ll make that major in the five chord. [Piano Playing] See, it just ruins the song, doesn’t it? That’s the difference between the natural minor and the harmonic minor. The natural minor has a one, four, and five chord that’s minor. The harmonic minor key has the one chord and four chord are minor, but the five chord is major, and that’s the difference. It makes all the difference in the world sound wise, doesn’t it?
Okay. That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow, and we’ll have another little piano tip for you. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter at www.playpiano.com, please come over and sign up for it because there is lots of good stuff there. Tons of stuff you need to know about piano playing. I teach a tip daily and sometimes more. We’ll see you there. Bye-bye for now.
Playing Piano In The Keys of Db and B – Why Are They Similar?
Here is a transcript if you would like to follow along:
Good morning. This is Duane and today I’m going to give you a little quiz. I’m going to play two scales and I want you to tell me how they’re related. At first glance they don’t seem to be related at all. One scale is the key of B, and I’ll play it for you, the scale of B. [Duane playing piano] And another scale is the key of D flat. [Duane playing piano]
Now how in the world can a flat key like D flat be related to a sharp key like that? [Duane playing piano] They seem to be totally unrelated, but for example the key of B has five sharps doesn’t it? And the key of D flat has five flats; entirely different five flats against five sharps. So how could they be related? Well, the way in which they are related is that both of them use all the black keys, and they’re the only two keys that use all the black keys, the only two scales that use all the black keys aside from the enharmonic scales.
An enharmonic scale is a scale that has the same notes but has two names. [Duane playing piano] That’s the scale of F sharp that I just played, but it’s also called the scale of G flat so those use all the black keys too, but they’re enharmonic scales and we’ll talk about those another time.
But today we’re talking about the key of B, the scale of B which has five sharps, and the scale of D flat which has five flats. That’s what makes them sister scales, and they’re easy to play in because you don’t have to worry about what flats are being used or what sharps are being used. All of them are being used. All the black keys are being used in the key of D flat. [Duane playing piano] In the key of B, all the sharps are being used so it’s very, very easy because of that. They’re not easy at first, of course, but once you get acquainted with them they’re very easy because of that factor. So, those are two sister scales that you should know about and sister keys and by knowing that it’s easier to learn those keys. That’s my point.
We’ll see you again tomorrow with another little tip about piano playing or music theory, and there’s lots of good stuff over at playpiano.com. Be sure and sign up for my newsletter over there. It just takes a second and then I’ll send you all kinds of good stuff day by day about piano tips, and learn all kinds of things about chords, and progressions, and so on. So, I hope to see you there. We’ll see you tomorrow with another idea. Bye Bye for now.
Simple Piano Chords Can Make Your Piano Playing More Interesting and Exciting
Here is a transcript of the video in case you want to follow along:
Good morning, this is Duane, and today we’re going to do something a little different. Even simple piano chords can make your piano playing more interesting and exciting. You’ve heard me talk in the past about how simple things can become complex, and I’m going to give you an example of this today, but I’m not going to tell you where it’s from. You can probably guess where it’s from. Then in the days to come, we’re going to develop this simple little tune with a simple little chord progression, and see where it goes. Okay? Here it is.
It’s a simple melody, starts with an F sharp, E, D, in other words the first three notes of the D scale. All right?
Third, second root, and then goes down a half step to C sharp, and then B, and then A. In other words, we’re coming right down the D scale.
Duane is demonstrating on the piano.
If we were in the key of C, it would be … see it’s very simple, so back to the key of D.
Duane is demonstrating on the piano.
Got that? Very, very simple, okay? Now I’m going to put a chord with it.
We’re going to have a D chord, and then we’re going to have an A chord, then we’re going to have a B minor chord, then we’re going to have an F sharp minor chord, then we’re going to have G chord, then we’re going to have a D chord, then a G chord, and an A chord, and then we’re going to do it again, okay?
This time, I’ll put the melody on top that I just played, which … the melody goes like that. All right? With the chords under it, here we go.
Duane is demonstrating on the piano.
D, A, B minor, F sharp minor, G major, D major, G major, A major, back to D. Okay? Let’s count how many chords. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Then we just start over again? Okay. It’s just eight chords.
Here’s the chord progression. I want you to learn, to memorize this chord progression. It’s the one chord, we’re in the key of D. I should have said that first of all. We’re in the scale of D, which means we’re in the key of D, which has two sharps, F sharp and C sharp, based on the scale of D.
Remember the scale comes from the Latin word, la scala, the ladder. It’s the ladder of notes that runs from D up to D. Okay?
The one chord is D. This is the one chord then it goes to the five chord, which is A, then the six chord, which is B minor, that’s the secondary chord, then F sharp minor, which is the three chord, again a secondary chord in the key of D, then the four chord, which is G, then the one chord, which is D, back to the four chord, which is G, and the five chord, which is A. Okay? Then back to D. Again, I’ll take it slow.
Duane is demonstrating on the piano.
Okay, some of you are probably recognizing that by now. Okay? Okay, let’s take it from the key of D to the key of C, and see if we can keep the same chord progression. Okay?
Chord progressions, the wonderful thing about chord progressions is they’re movable, aren’t they? They’re movable concepts. Once you learn in one key, you can play it in any key, once you learn the formula. The formula was one, five, three, six, four, one, four, five and then back again. Okay? There’s eight chords in that sequence, right?
Let’s do it in the key of C. The melody, instead of being … in the key of D, it would be this.
Duane is demonstrating on the piano.
Here we go. One, five, six, three, four, one, four, five, one, five, six, three, four, one, four, five, and then back to one. Okay?
I would like you to memorize that. Memorize that chord progression. It’s very very useful, because it belongs to one of the greatest tunes ever written, but not only that but you can use it to create your own songs by improvising on it, creating different patterns of notes, different melodies based on that same chord progression. We’re going to explore that in the next few lessons. We’re going to do it in several different styles, so we’ll see how that goes in the days to come. Meanwhile, learn that progression really well. I’ll go over it one more time.
It’s the one chord, followed by the five chord, the six chord, the three chord, the four chord, the one chord, the four chord, the five chord and back to one. Okay?
That’s it for today, so we’ll see you tomorrow with another extension of this same idea. Meanwhile, if you’re not signed up for my free newsletter, be sure to come on over to playpiano.com and sign up for that free newsletter on piano tips, because there’s loads of videos and instructions about chords and all kinds of stuff. Come on over and sign up for it, and tell you friends to do it too. Okay? See you tomorrow with another video on this same subject, so see you then. Bye bye for now.
Pianists have to deal with two clef signs in music, treble and bass (pronounced base). Most musicians know that there are clef signs – and their names – but, do you know what they actually do? And where they came from?
Treble (G) Clef
In piano music, this clef appears at the beginning of the top line (usually played by the right hand). There are two reasons why it is called the G clef. First of all (and you might have to use your imagination) originally it was a very fancy letter “G.”
Second, look at where it begins with a tapered line that circles around the second line of the staff, touches the bottom line, then proceeds upward. That happens to be – you guessed it – G. The treble clef is also called the “G” clef because it locates G on the staff.
From a practical sense, most people don’t need to remember where G is. When they see a treble clef, they know which notes go on which lines and spaces. Mostly they use the image of the treble clef to help them distinguish it from the bass or F clef.
Bass (F) Clef
Yes, the bass clef also has a letter name. You have probably figured out (if you didn’t already know) that it is used to locate the note “F” on the bass staff. It’s not terribly hard to decipher. The two dots to the right of the clef sign fall on either side of the F line and tell you where the note F is located.
The bass clef is also called the F clef because it was originally a fancy letter “F.”
As with the treble clef, the clef sign isn’t really needed to locate the note F. When you see it, you know instantly that it is bass clef and you already know where the notes are located.
However, there is a reason why clef signs aren’t just drawn on the staff randomly – why they actually do locate certain notes – and that is part of the history of clef signs.
The Grand Staff
Before we get into music history, however, let’s do one more thing. Let’s put both clefs together the way piano players see them.
This is called a Grand Staff and it’s how music for piano and some other instruments is written. A Grand Staff consists of both a treble and a bass clef, joined together. Low (left-hand) notes are written on the bass clef part and higher (right-hand) notes are written on the treble clef part.
History of Clef Signs
Guido of Arezzo was a music theorist (and monk) of the medieval era. He was born around the year 991 and is regarded to be the inventor of modern musical notation, including clef signs.
Guido is also credited with the invention of the Guidonian hand , a well-known mnemonic device (among musicians) where note names are mapped to parts of the human hand.
Although clef signs developed at the same time as the stave (musical staff), in the 10th century, the symbols we know today are not the ones originally used. Today’s clef signs developed over time as monks (who wrote most of the music in those days) became more and more ornate when writing musical notation.
It’s important to know that Guido of Arezzo and others of his time were not so concerned about notating rhythm. The primary goal at that time was to show where the notes were. Rhythmic notation, for the most part, came late.
Other Clef Signs in Use Today
Pianists have to deal mostly with the treble and bass clef signs when playing. However, sometimes piano players are asked to transpose and play orchestra or other music that uses some additional clefs. These commonly include the alto and tenor clefs – both of which are forms of the C Clef, so named because it locates middle C on the staff.
It is ometimes (rarely) used for the alto singing part because it places middle C on the middle line and makes it easier to write the music without ledger lines. More commonly, alto clef is used for viola music and sometimes music written for bassoon, trombone, or even English horn.
The middle or curved parts of the clef straddle the 3rd line, which indicates middle C.
Tenor Clef The Tenor Clef locates middle C on the fourth line of the staff. It is commonly used for trombone music. It is also sometimes used for bassoon, cello, and rarely, tuba music.
We tend to take clef signs for granted today. Back when music was first being written down, however, clef signs served as reminders to help singers and other musicians know which notes belonged to which lines and spaces.
Clef signs in music serve the same purpose today, but since there are only two in common use, we do not rely on clef signs as much as early musicians did.
What Do All Those Flats & Sharps At The Beginning Of A Piece of Sheet Music Mean?
Each piece of music contains a key signature. This is written immediately after the clef (on the staff) and is represented by a number of sharps (#) and flats (b). If you look carefully at the beginning of each line of music, you will see a group of sharps or flats (they are never used at the same time). These are placed individually on either a line or a space of the music staff and are placed on the notes they affect. In other words, if a sharp (#) is placed on the top line of the music staff, the note F is played as an F#. And all occurrences of the note F, whether on the top of the staff, the first space of the staff, or above or below the staff (marked by ledger lines), are played as an F#.
If a note that is dictated as sharps & flats by the key signatu re is to be played as natural, an accidental is placed before the note. For example, if an F (natural) is to be played in the key of G, an accidental has to be placed before it so it is not played as an F#.
The main purpose of the key signature is to limit the number of flats & sharps noted in the music. In other words, rather than placing a # by the note F every time it occurs in the music, it’s much easier to indicate to the musician that all Fs are to be played as F#s. Without key signatures, written music would be cluttered with sharps and flats making it very difficult to read.
Here are some common key signatures and the notes they affect:
Key of C: No sharps or flats Key of G: One sharp (F#) Key of D: Two sharps (F# and C#) Key of A: Three sharps (F#, C# and G#) Key of E: Four sharps (F#, C#, G# and D#) Key of F: One flat (Bb) Key of Bb: Two flats (Bb and Eb) Key of Eb: Three flats (Bb, Eb, and Ab)
Each key also has it’s own relative minor. Though a major and its relative minor are similar in almost every way (their scales are the same though started in different places), they are thought of separately. A relative minor is named by the note that is a minor third down from the major (key). Another way to think of it is the relative minor is named by the sixth note in the major scale. For example, the note A is the six note of a C major scale, so an A minor is the relative minor to C. The use of a particular key’s relative minor is very common in music and knowing them goes a long way in understanding a song’s chord progression.
Here are some keys and their relative minors (keys).
The relative minor for C is A minor The relative minor for D is B minor The relative minor for A is F# minor The relative minor for Bb is G minor
An experienced musician playing in a non-formal setting (not using written music) simply needs to know the key to a particular song to be able to play the chords and scales (melodies) for that song.
Finally, it’s not unusual for a song to be written in more than one key. Such key changes can be a challenge even for the most experienced and talented musicians.
Great Low-Cost Piano Book On Amazon About Piano Chords & Chord Progressions
Hi – I’d like to tell you about a piano book I wrote a little while ago that’s called “piano chords and chord progressions”. I think it’s a great book and it sells for 11 bucks at Amazon. Amazon handles it all. You can’t get it through me, so don’t call or try to order through me. Amazon handles it all.
You can find it by just going to Amazon and typing in ‘piano chords and chord progressions.’ In fact, let’s do that. Type in … okay, there’s ‘piano chords and chord progressions,’ and you see out of 151 results, my book comes up first here. So all you need to do is click on that, on the title, and you go to the book. You see it sells for a little over 11 bucks.
It’s also available f on a Kindle format for portable readers, and you can find that here as well. It’s 100-page book and it covers chords very, very thoroughly … major, minor, diminished, augmented, 6th, 7th, and so on … a little description right here. Learn piano chords, how they’re formed, learn to link chords together in progressions … you can read all about that.
I thought you’d like to know about that because there are lots of books available on the subject, but mine is ranked the best on that … see, it says 100 pages. Just look at a couple of the reviews here. That’s my biography, of course. Look at a couple of them. Most helpful customer reviews: Exciting piano. This guy says, “I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven.” Apparently he’d been a sax player. It teaches you a dozen of chords in a short period of time and you understand them. Use them immediately. The author makes it fun with humorous, real-life, practical approach.
This fellow had been a jazz drummer. He said, “Man, I’ve been playing in jazz combos over 50 years. Hearing all those tunes, called standards, listening to all those baselines of songs and rhythm … but I never understood the rhythm for all the changes until I bought this book. Now I understand how important a 1-4-5 chord progression is. It’s used in playing the blues all the time.” Yeah, if he’s played for 50 years, he must have played the blues 100,000 times … and apparently didn’t understand that it was just following that chord progression. That’s great insight for somebody that plays … well, for anybody.
This guy says, “A great book that makes learning chords fast, fun and easy.”
There are 33 customer reviews, and you can check them out there. I just thought I’d … here, this guy says, “A perfect book. What a great book. Small and to the point.” Satisfied customer. Just little ideas about that.
If you’re interested in getting a good, cheap book on piano chords and chord progressions, go to Amazon, type in ‘piano chords and chord progressions’ and then order that book.
Click on the button below to hear this episode about syncopation:
Here is a transcript of the podcast in case you want to follow along:
Hi there. This is Duane. There are so many things in music, just little items that you really ought to know over the years. I like to share some of the things with you from time to time, just little bits and pieces. None of these tips that I’m giving you is monumental in itself, but they add up. When you know just lots and lots of different little things like this over the course of years and a lifetime, they really add up into a cumulative amount, which enables you as a musician to advance in ways that just isn’t possible if you don’t know things like this, unless you’re blessed with the talent of Mozart, which I’m not. Guys like me who don’t have an abundance of talent, we have to struggle with concepts. The more concepts we learn and the tools we add, the more they help us to live up to our own potential.
Syncopation in music is very much similar to humor in literature or in spoken, oral tradition as well. It’s a surprise, is what it is. In music it’s where a heavy beat … a long note happens where you expect a short note. That creates a sense of surprise or syncopation. It’s like a big guy sitting in a little tiny chair. You almost have that kind of sense.
When a long note … think of a long note as a big heavy guy and he sits down in this little chair, in other words, he sits down on an and where you expect an eighth note to occur. You have that sense of surprise. In this illustration here, (Duane Playing Piano). Right? You have that da DA, t’DA, t’DA, right? It’s not, (Duane Playing Piano) and it’s not (Duane Playing Piano). There, the beats are where you expect them to be right on one or on a heavy beat, but when you get into syncopation, the beats are on the off-beats. One and (Duane Playing Piano).
When the heavy beats happen on the ends, that’s where you get syncopation.
Does syncopation only apply to Ragtime or Jazz or the Blues? No. Syncopation applies to lots and lots of music. If you look through some of Bach’s stuff, you’ll find that sometimes he used quarter notes or half notes on ands, and that created a surprise. We think of syncopation as a product of the Blues or some pop music, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s just a sense of surprise where a long note happens on a weak beat.
Well, think about that and look for examples of that in your music. That’s just one of the many zillions of things you need to know as you grow as a musician. Thanks for being with me and we’ll see you next month. Bye bye for now.
Music Of The Bible: Musical Instruments of the Old Testament
You may not think so, but one of the oldest books ever written, the Bible, is filled with references to music. Music of the Bible was played by many different musical instruments.
The book of Psalms, for example, is really a book of songs or musical poems. Even though most people read them as verses, almost all of them have become actual songs with musical accompaniment.
But, that’s not all. The Old Testament is also chock full of references to the playing of music using instruments that were popular in biblical times. Some of these instruments are no longer used. Some are still in use today. Others have evolved to more modern versions.
Here are a few, along with references to them from the Bible.
Frame-drum – “And Miriam (the prophetess, the sister of Aaron) took the frame-drum in her hand; and all the women went out after her with frame-drums and with dances” – Exodus 15:20
A Frame-drum is a large, thin drum, mostly played in biblical times by women. The drum was mostly used to accompany dancing and in secular (non-religious) celebrations.
The drum was held with the left hand played by striking the head with the thumb and forefingers of the right hand.
Bells – “And they made bells of pure gold and put the bells between the pomegranates on the hems of the robe round about, between the pomegranates:” – Exodus 39:25
These bells were more decorative than they were a musical instrument. The ones mentioned in Exodus (see above) were made of pure gold.
The bells were sewn into the hem of a garment and had a clapper or small pebble inside them that would make a ringing sound when the wearer moved.
Trumpets – “And YAHVEH spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Make two trumpets of silver. Make them out of a whole piece of beaten silver and use them for the calling of the assembly and for sounding the order to break camp’” Numbers 10:1-2
The trumpets mentioned in the Book of Numbers were used to signal the breaking of camp, for assembling people and for various rituals.
They did have a mouthpiece, much like a trumpet today, but no valves or buttons, so the number of notes they could play was limited.
Reed Pipe - “After that, you are to come to the hill of the God, where the garrison of the Philistines is. And it will occur as you come into the city, that you are going to meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place, harp and frame-drum and reed-pipe and lyre before them …” – 1 Samuel 10:5
What this instrument was, exactly, isn’t known but most scholars believe it was a type of woodwind similar to a modern oboe. The reed pipe was a popular instrument and used often in celebrations.
Several Instruments – “And David and all the house of Israel rejoiced before YAHVEH with all kinds of cypress wood [instruments] and with lyres and with harps and with frame-drums and with shakers and with cymbals.” – 2 Samuel 6:5
This verse actually has references to a whole “band” full of instruments.
Finger Cymbals – These were, most likely the small cymbals attached to the fingers of dancers in the Middle East.
Cymbal Clappers – Probably the same size and type of cymbals used in finger cymbals, but in this case, the cymbals were attached to a u-shaped handle that was shaken to produce a sound.
Wooden Clappers – Originally, wooden clappers were used for hunting. Later they became a rhythm instrument for dance. They were boomerang shaped, held, one in each hand, and struck together to make a clacking sound. Hunters used the sound to scare birds into flight, then threw one of the sticks at the bird to bring it down.
Rhythm Bones – Rhythm bones were made from wood, bone or ivory, held in one hand and played the same way “spoons” are played today by “slapping” them against the leg.
Shakers/Rattles – These simple instruments were probably made of a clay shell and hand pebbles or nuts inside that would rattle when played.
Melodic Cymbals – “and David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to them appoint some of their brothers as singing men with instruments of song; harps, lyres and melodic cymbals for lifting up with the voice for joy” – 1 Chronicles 15:16
These tuned cymbals were very similar to modern Crotales. They were tuned to A and C, which correspond to the name YAH and an a minor triad. They provided starting notes for singers and were also used to praise YAH (God).
Lyre – “Play to YAHVEH with lyre and the sound of a melody” – Psalm 98:5
The lyre was an ancient seven or 8 stringed instrument used to accompany singers.
Harp – “Oh God, a new song I will sing to You. With a harp of ten [strings] I will play to You” – Psalm 144:9
The harp, on the other hand, had ten strings and was used to accompany the voice. It was actually played much the same as today’s harps are played.
Shofar - “My heart moans within me! I cannot keep quiet for I have heard the voice of shofar, the shout of war.” – Jeremiah 4:19
A shofar is an animal horn that has been cut and pierced so that the player can buzz his lips and produce a sound. It was not a very musical sounding instrument and mostly used for signaling.
The following links provide much more detailed information about musical instruments mentioned in the Bible, including artwork and pictures of many of them.
Learn the Key of Eb – 3 Flats in the Key Signature: Bb, Eb, and Ab
Here is a transcript of the YouTube video in case you want to follow along:
Good morning, this is Duane, and today I’d like to talk about the key of E flat. The key of E flat has three flats, as you probably know, if you’re looking at the key signature at the beginning of a line of music you’ll see three flats, B flat, E flat and A flat. Those are the three flats that occur in the key of E flat. To play in the key of E flat means we’re basing our playing on the scale of E flat, that’s what it means to play in the key of E flat, based on the scale of E flat which is : E flat, F, G, A flat, B flat, C, D, E flat. Like so. If you’re new to the key of E flat, get that established in your mind. When I’m learning a new key I like to play it over and over again, the scale, just so I can visually see what notes are flat and so on. Then, the next step is to learn the primary chords in that key. As you know, the primary chords in every key are: the one chord, the chord built on the first note of the scale; the chord built on the fourth note of the scale, which is A flat; and the chord built on the fifth note of the scale, B flat. Okay?
Now, if you’re wondering why I skip black keys and so on is because of that rule of whole steps and half steps. Every major scale has to have, starting on whatever note the route is, you go up a whole step, then another whole step and then a half step, then whole step, whole step, whole step, half step. There’s two half steps in the series; the rest are whole steps, okay? That’s the ladder, la scala, meaning the ladder, the ladder of notes that runs from E flat up to E flat. That’s what we base the key of E flat on. The primary chords again being E flat, A flat, and B flat. Okay? Let me just play a little bit in the key of E flat.
[Duane playing piano]
That was an old hymn called, ‘Come Now Found of Every Blessing,’ and doesn’t the key of E flat have a delightful ring to it? I love the key of E flat. Now every key, by the way, has a different feeling. The key of D, is very bright. They key of D flat is just the opposite, it’s mellow as can be, just so mellow. I think, of all the keys, I like the key of D flat, maybe because of its mellowness. Like that…
Of course, most people play in the key of C, the key of F and the key of G. You’re used to hearing those. It’s delightful to discover other keys because they do different things, they have different sounds. I encourage you to learn every key thoroughly so that you can be able to play in every key.
Now, the key of E flat has a relative minor as do all major keys. The relative minor key is always found by taking the root note of the major scale and going down a step and a half. Another way of looking at it is taking the sixth degree of the major scale, 1-2-3-4-5-6. C minor, is relative to E flat major. What do I mean by relative? They use the same keys. If I start on C, but play the E flat scale, so not starting on E flat, but starting on C, I’d be using the same notes. That’s the key of C minor and it has that same feel, that same resonance, as the key of E flat. So get acquainted with the key of E flat, three flats: B flat, E flat, A flat.
I’ll be back tomorrow with another tip on piano chords, and piano styles, and so on. Be sure to come on over to my website, playpiano.com, and sign up for my free newsletter on piano chords and chord styles and so on. A lot of good stuff there, so come on over. Thanks. Bye-bye for now.
Here is a transcript of the video if you would like to follow along:
Good morning, this is Duane, and today we’re going to do something a little different with simple piano notes and simple piano chords. You’ve heard me talk in the past about how simple things can become complex, and I’m going to give you an example of this today, but I’m not going to tell you where it’s from. You can probably guess where it’s from. In the days to come, where going to develop this simple tune, this simple little chord progression, and see where it goes, okay? So here it is. It’s a simple melody.
It starts on F#, E, D … in other words, the first three notes of the D scale, all right? Third second, root. And then it goes down a half-step to C# and then B, and then A. In other words, we’re coming right down the D scale.
[Duane playing piano]
If we were in the key of C, we’d be …
[Duane playing piano]
See, it’s very simple, okay? So back to the key of D.
[Duane playing piano]
Got that? Very, very simple, okay? Now, I’m going to put a chord with it. We’re going to have a D chord, [Duane playing piano] and then we’re going to have an A chord, [Duane playing piano] then we’re going to have a B minor chord, [Duane playing piano] then we’re going to have an F# minor chord, [Duane playing piano] and then we’re going to have a G chord, [Duane playing piano] then we’re going to have a D chord, [Duane playing piano], and G chord, [Duane playing piano] and an A chord, and then we’re going to do it again, okay?
This time, I’ll put the melody on top that I just played, which the melody goes like that. [Duane playing piano] All right, with the chords under it, here we go.
D, A, B minor, F# minor, G major, D major, G major, A major, back to D, okay? Let’s count how many chords.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and then we start over again, okay, so it’s just eight chords progression. I want you to learn and memorize this chord progression. It’s the one chord, we’re in the key of D. [Duane playing piano] I should have said that first of all. [Duane playing piano] We’re in the scale of D, which means we’re in the key of D, which has two sharps. F sharp and C sharp, [Duane playing piano] based on the scale of D, remember? The scale comes from the latin word ascala, the ladder. It’s the ladder of notes that runs from D up to D, okay?
So the one chord is D. So this is the one chord. Then it goes to the five chord, which is A. And then the six chord, which is B minor, that’s a secondary chord, and then F# minor, which is the three chord, again the secondary chord in the key of D. And then the four chord, which is G, and then the one chord, which is D, back to the four chord, which is G, and the five chord, which is A. Okay, and then back to D. So again, I’ll take it slow.
[Duane playing piano]
Okay, some of you are probably recognizing that by now, okay? Now, let’s take it from the key of D to the key of C and see if we can keep the same chord progression, okay? Chord progressions, the wonderful thing about chord progressions is that they’re movable, aren’t they? They’re movable concepts. Once you learn it in one key you can play it in any key once you learn the formula. The formula was one, five, three, six, four, one, four, five, and then back again. There’s eight chords in that sequence, right?
So let’s do it in the key of C. The melody, instead of being [Duane playing piano] in the key of D, it would be this. [Duane playing piano]
Here we go, one, five, six, three, four, one, four, five, one, five, six, three, four, one, four, five, and then back to one. Okay? So, I would like you to memorize that. Memorize that chord progression. It’s very, very useful because it belongs to one of the greatest tunes ever written, but not only that, you can use it to create your own songs by improvising on it, creating different patterns of notes, different melodies, based on that same chord progression, and we’re going to explore that the next few lessons, and we’re going to do it in severe different styles, so we’ll see how that goes in the days to come.
Meanwhile, learn that progression really well. I’ll go over it one more time. It’s the one chord, followed by the five chord, the six chord, the three chord, the four chord, the one chord, the four chord, the five chord, and back to one. Okay?
That’s it for today, so we’ll see you tomorrow with another extension of this same idea. Meanwhile, if you’re not signed up for my free newsletter, be sure and come over to play piano.com and sign up for that free newsletter on piano tips, because there’s loads of videos and instruction about chords and all kinds of stuff, so come on over and sign up for, and tell your friends to do it too, okay?
See you tomorrow with another video on the same subject, so see you then. Bye-bye for now.
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————– Piano notes and piano chords combine to make a great song!
Whether you are just beginning to play the piano or have been at it for a while, it’s important to listen to piano recordings of professional pianists in a variety of musical styles – even if it’s not a style of music you are personally interested in learning to play.
There are a number of reasons to listen to great artists on the instrument you play. Listening to them helps you understand and appreciate what good playing sounds like. It also helps to hear how various musicians interpret great works of music. And, finally, listening to music in a variety of styles helps you learn about music in general.
The following list is not necessarily the best list or the only list. It’s a list of recordings of great music, played by great musicians, in a variety of musical styles.
As to where you can find these recordings, you have a number of options. Borrowing CDs from your local public library is an excellent way to listen to a lot of music free. You may also have a friend or family member with a large collection who will let you borrow from them. And of course, if you’re up on the latest trends, find them on Spotify or iTunes.
Etudes/Preludes/Polonaises – Chopin
Performer: Maurizio Pollini
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
This large multi-CD set may be all the Chopin you need to hear. Chopin’s piano music helps you understand music of the Romantic period in a way the music of other composers never will. Chopin was considered a genius for getting the most out of each and every note. Listen carefully and enjoy.
Sonata, Op.27,No.2 – Beethoven /Prelude, choral et fugue – Franck/Paganini Variations – Brahms
Performer: Evgeny Kissin
Kissin is a technical wizard at the keyboard and these selections definitely require wizardry. Each of these selections is considered part of the core repertoire for serious pianists.
The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I – Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Glenn Gould
Glenn Gould is famous for his clear, authoritative, musical, and sometimes eccentric way of playing Bach. If you want to know what the keyboard music of J.S. Bach should sound like, go no further.
Images 1 & 2 – Debussy; Children’s Corner – Debussy
Performer: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Considered one of the top 10 Debussy keyboard albums of all time. If you must listen to Debussy – and you must – this is the one.
Concerto No.1 – Tchaikovsky/Concerto No. 5 “Emperor” – Beethoven
Performer: Vladimir Horowitz
This recording features two of the most famous piano concertos of all time performed by one of the great virtuosos of all time. As a bonus, world famous conductors, Arturo Toscanini and Fritz Reiner lead two of the finest orchestras you will ever hear.
Piano Concerto, Op. 54 – Schumann/Misc. Selections – Schumann, Schubert, Liszt, Grieg
Performer: Evgeny Kissin
Carlo Maria Giulini conducts the Vienna Philharmonic. Evegeny Kissin plays with emotional sophistication well beyond his years. This is a nearly perfect, imperfect performance. That is to say, it is not Schumann played as if it were Mozart. It is Schumann played as if it were (and it is) Schumann. Romantic music as it is meant to be heard.
Piano Concerto No. 2 – Rachmaninov/Piano Concerto No. 1 – Tchaikovsky
Performer: Sviatoslav Richter
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Sviatoslav Richter is magnificent in his interpretation of both of these classic piano concertos. The Vienna Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, is musically sensitive and spot on. The Warsaw Philharmonic, under the baton of Stanislaw Wislocki, is less inspired, but does not detract from the overall value of this recording.
Horowitz Plays Liszt
Performer: Vladimir Horowitz
Considered by many to be a controversial recording, first-time listeners will probably not hear that in the music. The controversy comes from the fact that pianist, Vladimire Horowitz had recorded some of the music many years
earlier, and this time his interpretation had changed considerably. For most listeners, it’s enough to know you are hearing some of the best piano music ever written, performed by one of the greatest piano players in history.
The Trio – Oscar Peterson
Performer: Oscar Peterson
Recorded in a club in Chicago, this CD explains why Oscar Peterson is the greatest jazz pianist who ever lived.
Complete Capitol Recordings – Art Tatum
Performer: Art Tatum
Label: Blue Note Records
In order to understand traditional American jazz music, you must be familiar with Art Tatum. And, in order to be familiar with Art Tatum, you must hear his original Capital recordings. Tatum’s rhythmic shifts and ability to carry an entire piece of music must be heard to be believed.
18 Original Sun Greatest Hits – Jerry Lee Lewis
Performer: Jerry Lee Lewis
The truth is, Jerry Lee Lewis was so important in the early days of rock and roll that nearly every piano player of the era, and since, copied at least part of his style. There is no small amount of “gospel soul” in the man’s playing and this collection, made between 1956 and 1963 in Nashville, has it all.
The Very Best Of Dr. John
Performer: Dr. John
This recording is a gumbo stew of New Orleans jazz, rock, gospel, and blues. To appreciate the joyous uplifting instrument the piano can be, you must listen to Dr. John. This recording really is the “very best” of an accomplished piano player.
Here is a transcript of the podcast in case you want to follow along:
Hi, this is Duane again. Back with some more good stuff you really ought to know about musical chords. This is so embarrassingly simple that I hesitate to mention it and I wouldn’t except I have people come up to me all the time when they watch me play and they say, “What chord are you playing?” I’ll say, “It’s a C chord.” They’ll say, “My C chord doesn’t sound like your C chord.” I’ll have to explain that’s because I play it inverted and I add a color tone to it. I can see the light bulb come on in their head when about 30 seconds later I show them how easy it is to do that. It’s amazing the change in sound you get when you just do something simple like that.
I’ve titled this little card, “How to Make any Square Chord Sound Cool.” (Not available anymore – sorry!) A lot of people play like this. (Duane is playing piano) That’s fine except it doesn’t really sound like (Duane is playing piano) that. The only difference between that (Duane is playing piano) and that (Duane is playing piano) is that I’ve inverted the C chord, I broke position in the first version I’ve added a sixth and a ninth. Big difference right?
If you use some techniques such as arpeggio where you break up the chord or some blue notes (Duane is playing piano) and a little dynamics, I’m peddling (Duane is playing piano). A few techniques like that and it’s amazing you can go from (Duane is playing piano) to this (Duane is playing piano).
I was using a whole bunch of different techniques but each one of them was simple in itself. If you’re where a lot of people that ask me that question are, if you want to start making your chords sound a little more complex, start with just turning them upside down, getting them out of root position immediately makes them sound better. (Duane is playing piano) Makes them sound different anyway. They’re not so square.
Turn your chord up into first inversion or second inversion, then add a sixth or a major seventh or a ninth or if it’s a bluesy situation, a seventh, maybe a seventh and a ninth. (Duane is playing piano) Sometimes I play sixth, seventh and ninth all together. It’s kind of a (Duane is playing piano) tone cluster but you see how much it adds to it.
That’s more good stuff you really ought to know. We’ll see you again. Bye. This podcast is also available on YouTube – go to musical chords.
Canon in D by Pachelbel: One Of The Greatest Compositions Ever!
Canon in D by Pachelbel is incredibly beautiful music that is often used in wedding ceremonies frequently as a processional. It was written by Johann Pachelbel.He was a German composer, organist and teacher. Pachelbel composed during the time of the German Baroque period. Pachelbel studied under some of the German Master’s. The Canon in D Major was the only canon that Pachelbel ever wrote. It is truly not a Canon in the strictest sense, but is what is known in Music circles as a passacaglia. The Canon is not a cannon in the gun sense, but is a style of music categorized by imitation and repetition.First one instrument starts the melody and then after a time delay another instrument starts the melody.
Pachelbel was influenced by the popular composers of the day. He wrote in the tradition of what is known as Nuremberg style.Pachelbel received a great deal of acclaim in his day and he was well regarded in music circles. In fact, the canon may have been composed for and played at the wedding of Johann Christoph Bach in 1694. Pachelbel was a friend of the Bach family, and was a teacher of J. Christoph Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s older brother.
The Canon in D major was originally composed as a piece of chamber music for violins, cello and basso continuo. This piece of music underwent a big resurgence in the 1970′s. This was probably due to a recording by John Francois Paillard. There is no direct information when the music became extremely popular as wedding music, but the music was used a theme song for the hit movie Ordinary People, and its popularity increased, It seems as though the Canon has been in vogue for weddings since the early 1980′s, but as mentioned previously, it was played at Christoph Bach’s wedding in the 1600′s.
Many people enjoy Pachelbel’s Canon due to its simplicity. Although it was orignally composed as chamber music several versions of the Canon exist and some are used with guitar. It is arguably one of the most recognized pieces of classical music today. The slightly haunting and melodic repeating theme is a favorite of many. It is one of the most used pieces of music today, and although many people would not be able to mention this piece by name, they certainly recognize the music as it has gotten extremely popular particularily since 1970. Paillards recording made this piece widely recognized the world over.
It is a beautiful peice of music, but its popularity for wedding processionals is a bit curious, as the strains although peaceful are not particularily joyful. The 1970′s also saw new ways to use the music, rock, new age, ambient and pop versions of the music were created. The music has also been used in some popular pop songs. “Cryin” by Aerosmith, “Tunnel of Love” by Dire Straits, as well as “Let it Be” by the Beatles. Movie and TV series have also” been based on the Canon inspired or inspired by it, “13 going on 30, and “Runaway Bride” has also used the Canon. Commercials have also used the music like the Coca Cola TV ad for the World Cup in 2006, as well as a GE commercial in 1980′s.
This music has been immensely popular during the modern era. It is most often played as processional music for the bride and groom. Canon in D by Pachelbel is often included in wedding music that has a traditional feel. This is the most common wedding music played as well as Trumpet in Air, which is also routinely played at wedding processionals.
Some brides and grooms that wish to have tradtional music, with a different sound may choose to have a Celtic version of the Canon played. There are different arrangements currently being used which give the music a completely different sound.
Versions of the new sound of the Canon are available online on various music sites. Some of the new age, piano, guitar and techno versions of the canon are being played in weddings today, for those who favor the use of the Canon as a processional song.
Many of the modern versions of the Canon are available for wedding music. Enough versions of Pachelbel Canon in D exist that one is sure to find something that will make the music to your wedding be the best it can be, and something you will be happy with.
Play Piano With Expression: Use ALL Of Your Abilities In Your Piano Playing!
Here is a transcript of the video in case you would like to follow along:
Good morning. This is Duane and today I’d like to talk about how to play piano with expression using all of your abilities – with your fingers, but with your brain and with your ear, and with your heart, not just with your fingers. Most people just play the piano with their fingers. We all play the piano with our fingers, when we learn to play piano, we have to play the notes of course, but most people stop there. They learn how to read music and they can play. [Duane is playing the piano.] Or whatever. [Duane is playing the piano.] They get good at playing things like that, but they can even play things like this. [Duane is playing the piano.] Or maybe. [Duane is playing the piano.]
If the music blows off the stand, what happens? They’re lost because they don’t understand what the structure of music is and so, in addition to your fingers, you really need your brain and in using your brain, you need to know form of music. The form of music and chords and chord progression, how songs are locked together in various forms and then how chords are made and how chords progress. For example, let’s take a very simple example. Let’s play, say you’re playing Heart and Soul, or maybe Blue Moon. [Duane is playing the piano.]
Remember this. [Duane is playing the piano.] Chord progress. That’s a very common chord progression called 1, 6, 2, 5 that countless songs follow that chord progression. Once you learn it, then you don’t have to relearn it because it applies to lots of songs, for example, I just mentioned Blue Moon and Heart and Soul, they use that very same progression. Not only that, they have the same kinds of forms. Let me just play a little bit of Blue Moon. [Duane is playing the piano.]
The section I just played was eight bars, eight measures. Now, it does it again. [Duane is playing the piano.] Exactly the same eight measures. You have two sections of eight measures. We’ll call the first section A and the next section is A also because it’s the same thing. Now, the middle section is called section B. [Duane is playing the piano.] That’s section B because it’s different then section A. Now we come back to section A. [Duane is playing the piano.]
So on, and we play the last eight measures, so you have A, A, B, A. That’s very easy to learn but most people will go through lives, with their whole lives never knowing and understanding form and it’s so easy because if you just use your brain about form and chord progressions and chord formations, then you can understand music. In other words, if I play this. [Duane is playing the piano.] I don’t have the slightest idea what chords I’m playing, I don’t know if that is C-sharp minor just turned upside down or Moonlight Sonata. [Duane is playing the piano.]
That’s C-sharp minor also and then there’s the five seven chord, in other words, we all need to use our brain in piano playing as well as our fingers. Then we also need to use our ears. There is only three things that a melody can do. Have you ever thought about that? A melody can only go up. [Duane is playing the piano.]
Go higher, or it can go lower or it can stay the same. [Duane is playing the piano.] That’s a melody and it just is made up of moving up and moving down and your ear can be trained to hear those motions very easily and all you need to do is train yourself. There are many courses you can take on ear training and I recommend you do that but you don’t need to, you can sit at home and plunk out. [Duane is playing the piano.] Notes like that and teach yourself that, that’s a second and so anytime you hear that sound, that’s an interval of a second. [Duane is playing the piano.]
Anytime you hear that, tell them it’s an interval of third. [Duane is playing the piano.] That’s an interval of fourth. You can just play those over and over again and get use to the sound of them. [Duane is playing the piano.]
That’s a fifth, that’s a sixth. I used to do that endlessly when I was a teenager learning the different sounds and so pretty soon I could begin to recognize what a sixth was and what a seventh what, and what a fourth was and so on. Once you start integrating your ear what you’re hearing with your brain, what you know about chord progressions and form and music and your fingers, then it starts to make sense. The whole package doesn’t come together until you learn to play piano with your heart. In other words, many people just play it mechanically. [Duane is playing the piano.]
You have a heart, everybody has different feelings and so you ought to learn to express those feelings on the piano through dynamics. [Duane is playing the piano.] Get some expression into your playing through dynamics. You get louder, you get softer, you use the pedal more, you use the pedal less. You get faster, you get slower. Let your heart dictate how the music floats. Yes, fingers are important. You’ve got to have finger dexterity. [Duane is playing the piano.]
To play any kind of music, whether it’s classical or jazz, or whatever. You have to be able to have those chops. But then you have to train your ear too, to hear what you’re playing and you have to know what the guts of music are through chords and chord formations, and intervals, and form and music as we were talking about and then you have to apply your own feelings and your heart to it. If you do that, then you’ll be a complete piano player and I hope that will be your goal in life.
Thanks for being with me and we’ll see you again soon. Bye, bye for now.
Duane-known as the headless piano teacher because his videos only show his hands instead of his shiny bald head.
Duane has good news for you if you want to play the piano. He (me) has little fat hands & stubby little fingers - not at all suited for playing the piano - more suited to making mud pies or some such.