Archive for April, 2008


Have you ever seen a chord chart like this?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008
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It was a piano chord chart that got me started in piano playing when I was about 14 years old, and over the years I probably have purchased a couple dozen more chord charts of all kinds, from simple to complex.

In this short video you’ll see a chart that shows the most-used chords in the key of C — known as the primary chords — as well as the secondary chords as well. I think you’ll find it facinating.

Here are links to the two courses mentioned in the video: Chord Piano Crash Course

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I called it a “half-step slide from above” until I found out its real name…

Saturday, April 26th, 2008
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I used the tri-tone substitution for years before I knew the name of it, and perhaps you do also. It makes sense, because it allows you to “slide in” to the target chord for a smoother transition. In fact, I always refered to it as a half-step slide from above when moving from a V7 chord to a I chord.

A tri-tone substitution is the use in a chord progression of a 7th chord that is three whole steps (in other words, a tri-tone) away from the original 7th chord. For example, if you were moving from G7 to C, you would substitute a Db7 for the G7 chord before you land on the target chord C.

The reason these chords may be substituted for each other is that they have two notes in common — and the two notes are always a tri-tone (3 whole steps) away from each other. In a G7 chord, the third is B and the seventh is F. In the Db7 chord, the third is an F and the seventh is Cb (same sound as B, but written enharmonically).
Watch the short video, and I think you will understand.

Click here to go to the Play Piano Catalog of piano courses.

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Would you go to a doctor who couldn’t tell your liver from your heart?

Thursday, April 17th, 2008
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Would you go to a doctor who couldn’t tell your liver from your heart?

I don’t think so.

So why do millions of people take piano lessons from teachers who are great at sight-reading, technique, and all the other areas of piano playing that we all need to learn, but don’t have a clue about chords and progressions?

Oh, many of them “know chords” in an intellectual way, but do they know why chords are used when, and why they progress the way they do, and what to do with them and how to improvise and create piano styles out of them?

There are a few, but not many.

Just make sure when you select a piano teacher that he or she is strong on music theory, musical form, and chord progressions. Then all the traditional stuff that piano teachers teach makes sense.

(This is NOT an argument against sight-reading or technique or memorizing — all those are important elements of piano playing. Just make sure that the other elements mentioned above are included too.)

Weekly piano lessons by DVD in your home.

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Harmony — The Tonal Environment In Which A Melody Exists

Monday, April 7th, 2008
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Students sometimes become confused by the language of music — I know I was confused sometimes as I was learning music in the early days. Language is like that: it sometimes complicates reality. It’s not that the thing itself is so complicated, but the words that are used to describe it are either not well defined, or have somewhat different meanings for different people.

“Harmony” is one of those words. Some view harmony as just another word for “chords”, but chords are really a sub-set of the subject of harmony. For example, a 2-part Bach Invention contains no “chords” as such, but as the two independent melodies interface, they create a harmonic sound, however brief.

For a more complete explanation of harmony, please go to my article on the subject by clicking on the word HARMONY.

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A serious head injury leads to amazing talents on the piano

Sunday, April 6th, 2008
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Do you remember the movie Phenomenon staring John Travolta? He played the part of a car mechanic who gets struck by lightning and wakes up possessing unusual mathematical and linguistic skills. Later he discovers he has a massive tumour of the right side of his brain, causing the left side to compensate. (By the way, that movie which came out around 1998 as I recall was shot in old town Auburn California — my home town.)

That was fiction, of course, but based on experiences of a wide variety of normal people who became geniuses when something traumatic happened to them.

Here’s a news story that is not fiction. You’ll find it facinating! Man’s piano talents develop after serious head injury

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