Diminished Chords: How Quickly Can You Learn All 12?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
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Diminished Chords: How Quickly Can You Learn All 12?

Good morning, this is Duane, and today I’d like to take a look at diminished chords, diminished triads. We’ve been taking a look at chord formations such as major chords, and minor chords, and augmented chords, and now I’d like to take the fourth kind of chord which is called a diminished chord, or a diminished triad, triad meaning a three note chord, like a tricycle. If a major chord is like that, and it is, the root, third, and fifth of a major scale; and if a minor chord is like that, by lowering the third, which it is; then a diminished chord or triad is like that. We lower not only the third, but the fifth as well, so the third and fifth are both lowered. You’ve heard this kind of thing. Well that’s a diminished chord going to a major chord, that kind of sequence. You hear that in boogie and so on, in ragtime, I think.

Major chord is root, third, and fifth, so a minor chord is root, flat third, and fifth, diminished triad is root, flat third, and flat fifth. Let’s go onto the F chord now. That’s the F major chord, that would be F minor, and F diminished you’d flat that C and call it C flat, you can’t call it B, you got to call it C flat for reasons of music theory. That’s the G major chord, G minor chord, G diminished chord. D major chord, D minor chord, D diminished chord. E major, E minor, E diminished. A major, A minor, A diminished. D flat major, D flat minor, remember we lower F to F flat, can’t call it E, got to call it F flat, and we lower A flat, the fifth, to what looks like G but we got to call it A double-flat, that’s A double flat, so that’s D flat-diminished.

E flat major, E flat minor, E flat diminished by lowering B flat to B double flat. A flat major, A flat minor, A flat diminished by lowering the E flat to E double flat. G flat major, G flat minor, G flat diminished by lowering D flat to D double flat. B major, B minor, B diminished. Now that’s the only diminished chord that’s all white. Can you remember that? B diminished is the only diminished chord that’s all while. Then B flat major, B flat minor, and B flat diminished. If you recall, when we covered major chords, there were three major chords that were all white. What were they? That’s right: C, F, and G. There was three minor chords that were all white: D minor, E minor, and A minor.

There’s no augmented chords that are all white, but there is one diminished chord that’s all white and that’s B diminished. We have 12 major chords, 12 minor chords, 12 diminished chords, and 12 augmented chords, so let’s go through those 48 chords. You know 48 chords, and of course you can play them all over the keyboard. Once you know C major you can play it here, upside down, you can break it up. Once you know C minor you can play it all over the keyboard. Once you know C diminished you can play it over the keyboard. Once you know C augmented you can play it all over the keyboard.

Let’s go through the 48 chords right now. C major, C minor, C diminished, C augmented. F major, F minor, F diminished, F augmented. G major, G minor, G diminished, G augmented. D major, D minor, D diminished, D augmented. E major, E minor, E diminished, E augmented. A major, minor, diminished, augmented. D flat major, minor, diminished, augmented. E flat major, minor, diminished, augmented. A flat major, minor, diminished, augmented. G flat major, minor, diminished, augmented. B major, minor, diminished, augmented. B flat major, minor, diminished, and augmented.

When I was teaching in my studio, I had little kids, young kids that could play all those 48 chords in just a matter of seconds. Maybe, I don’t remember what it is now, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, something like that, but they could whiz through them. They had better reactions than I did. They were going like this. I can’t even keep up with that, but they learned the chords. They got them under their fingers and then we broke them up into arpeggios like that and so on, so you can do the same by mastering chords. You don’t have to wonder about it your whole life. You know 48 chords now, so if you rehearse those 48 chords over and over again, you’re going to know those for a lifetime.

Tomorrow we’ll take up diminished seventh chords. That’s a different animal. It’s a diminished triad with a double flatted seventh, and that’s what it is. That’s an amazing chord that we’re going to take up tomorrow. It’s amazing because you can do so much with it. You can go many places with it, and we’ll cover those … I think there’s at least seven different things you can do with that chord, so we’ll talk about that tomorrow. If you like this kind of thing, come on over to playpiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips. You get a tip like this most every day, and I think you’ll enjoy it. Bye-bye for now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFkEnKNliTE&feature=youtu.be
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Learning Augmented Chords On The Piano Is Easy

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
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Learning Augmented Chords On The Piano Is Easy

Good morning, this is Duane. Today, I’d like to take a look at augmented chords. We’ve been looking at the chord formation, such as major chords and minor chords. The next in the series is augmented chords. An augmented chord is made up of a major third. In other words, one, two, three four half steps, from there to there, and then another major third, one, two, three, four.

C-augmented is like that. Notice, it’s easy because once you know a C-major chord you just raise the fifth a half step … whatever that position that chord is in though. In other words, it could be upside-down. You wouldn’t raise the top note. You would raise the fifth which is right there. That’s an inversion of that … or if you’re playing C up there, where would C-augmented be? Yes you’d raise the fifth. It’s always the fifth that is raised a half step no matter what inversion you’re in.

Let’s go through the 12 major chords and make each one of them augmented. C, C-augmented, F, F-augmented, G, G-augmented, D, D-augmented, E … now, where is E-augmented? There’s no black key to the right of B so we have to play what looks like a white key. It is a white key, but that’s known as B-sharp. You’re raising a half step from B to B-sharp. You can’t call it C. That would confuse other musicians. You’ve got to call it B-sharp.

Here’s the A-major chord. Where is A-augmented? Right, you raise E up to E-sharp. Not F, E-sharp. Here’s the E chord. How do you make that augmented? Sure raise the B up to C. I guess I already did that didn’t I? All right, the next chord is F-sharp major or you can call it G-flat major. That’s an inharmonic note. In other words, you call it F-sharp or G-flat. There’s the chord, the major chord.

To make it augmented, you raise the fifth a half step. You raise it from C-sharp to … What do you call that? You can’t call it D. What do you got to call it? You got to call it C-double sharp. If you’re not familiar with the notation for a double sharp, it’s like a fat X. You’ll see that in music sometimes a fat X. That is G-flat augmented. Here’s the B-major chord. You’d raise F-sharp up to … Is it G? No F-double sharp. Raise the fifth a half step … and you can’t call it G. You have to call it F-double sharp.

Finally, the B-flat chord … You raise F up a half step to F-sharp. This time, let’s go through it, and let’s play the major chord, the minor chord and the augmented chord. Remember, a major chord is a root third fifth of a major scale. To make it minor you lower the third. To make an augmented chord you raise the fifth.

I’m going to go through all 12 major chords now and do that. C-major, C-minor, C-augmented … F-major, F-minor, F-augmented … G-major, G-minor, G-augmented … D-major, D-minor, D-augmented … E-major, E-minor, E-augmented … A-major, A-minor, A-augmented … D-flat major, D-flat minor, D-flat augmented … E-flat major, E-flat minor, E-flat augmented … A-flat major, A-flat minor, A-flat augmented … G-flat major, G-flat minor, G-flat augmented … B-major, B-minor, B-augmented … B-flat major, B-flat minor, B-flat augmented.

There’s 12 major chords. There’s 12 minor chords because you make a minor chord out of a major chord. That’s 24. How many augmented chords are there? That’s right 12. 3 times 12 is what? 36 so we’ve learned 36 chords so far. Tomorrow, we’ll take up diminished triads and we’ll have 48 chords that should be under your belt. Practice those with your left hand as well as your right hand. Major, minor augmented, major, minor augmented, major, minor, augmented and so on. Just go through with hands alone and then hands together.

Okay, that’s it for today. If you enjoy these tips, come on over to Play Piano and sign up for our Play Piano tips. You get something like this every day. We’ll see you there I hope. Bye-bye for now. Thanks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4Rbra47jLA&feature=youtu.be

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Learn All The Major Chords Right Here, Right Now!

Thursday, February 13th, 2014
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Learn All The Major Chords Right Here, Right Now!

Good morning! This is Duane, and I have a question for you: why not learn all 12 major chords in the next few minutes so that you’ll know them forever? If you don’t believe it’s possible, just stick with me for five or seven minutes, something like that, and you’ll see that it is indeed possible to learn those chords, to know what they are. Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll be good at playing them necessarily, but you’ll know what the chords are, and if you learn them well right now, you’ll know them forever. You never have to learn them again.

First of all, there’s 12 different major chords because there’s 12 different notes you can build a chord on. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. I don’t go on to C because that’s the same as that. In other words, if I build a chord on C, it’s the same as that, it’s just an octave higher. So there’s 12 different chords. Now you may think, “Well, how in the world am I going to remember 12 chords?” Well, watch, it’s easy.

The C Chord is every other note up from C—a root, a third, and a fifth. That’s the definition of a major chord. Take the root, third, and fifth of a major scale. So it’s all white, isn’t it? Now, go up 4 notes. 1, 2, 3, 4. That’s the F chord, and it’s all white, too. Now, go up 5 notes from C. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. That’s the G chord. It’s all white, too. Okay? So there’s 3 major chords that are all white, and only 3 major chords that are all white, so learn those well. C chord, the F chord, and the G chord. Now, by the way, they’re the C chord whether you turn upside-down or not. That’s the same chord, you see? If I take the bottom note off this chord and put it on top an octave higher, it’s the same chord. It’s just upside-down. If I take the bottom note and put it on top again, it’s the same chord, just upside-down. Okay? So don’t let that confuse you. It’s like if I picked you up and turned you upside-down, you’d still be the same person. You wouldn’t change from Suzy to Mary, right? You’d still be Suzy. You’d just be Suzy upside-down. So, the C chord is all white, the F chord is all white, and the G chord is all white. Okay? So there’s 3 chords that are all white.

Now, there’s 3 chords that have a black third. That’s the D chord—D, F sharp, and A. A black third. I won’t get into the reason right now. You can look up other of my videos about that. But if you take the root, third, and fifth of the D major scale, that’s what you get, a D major chord. E major chord is like that, too—white, black, white. And the A major chord is white, black, white. Okay, again, D, E, and A. They have a black third. Now let’s review before we go on. There’s 3 chords that are all white—C, F, and G. There’s 3 chords that have a black third—D, E, and A. Got that? Okay, you’re half-done right now. If you learn that, you know 6 chords, and you can know them for the rest of your life. Because that’s 6 of the 12 major chords right there. And by the way, if you just managed to those 6 chords, you’d go a long ways towards being able to play, okay? Because those are probably the most used. We just covered the most used chords.

The next set of 3 is D flat, and that has a black note on the bottom and the top, a black key on the bottom and top with a white key in between. D flat. Now there’s 3 that have that shape, now, there’s black, white, black: D, E flat, and A flat. Again, D flat, E flat, and A flat. Does that ring a bell? Yeah, the 3 chords with a black middle note, a black third, are D, E, and A. Isn’t there a government agency named the DEA? I think there is. Anyway, remember D, E, A are 3 chords that have a black third, while D flat, E flat, and A flat are 3 black… 3 chords… 3 major chords that have a black root and fifth with a white third. Okay, let’s review that much. There was 3 chords that are all white. What were they? C, F, and G. There’s 3 chords that had a black third. What were they? D, E, A. There’s 3 chords that have a black root and fifth. They’re not D, E, and A, but D flat, E flat, and A flat.

Now, you’re 75% done. You’ve learned 9 of the 12 major chords. Okay, let’s go on to the last 3. The last 3 are easy to understand because one is all black. G flat is all black—G flat, B flat, and D flat. And then there’s 2 left over, a B chord, which is white, black, black, and a B flat chord that is black, white, white. It’s kind of like the Aflac duck. White, black, black, black, white, white, black, white, white, black, white, white, white, black, black, black, white, white, okay? So the last 3 chords are G flat, which is all black, the B chord, which is white, black, black, and the B flat chord is B flat, D, and F, okay? Now that’s the 12 major chords. There’s no more. You’ll never have to learn any more.

Now, one explanation, though, that this will come up. That chord, D flat, it could be called C sharp because that note can be called D flat or C sharp, but it doesn’t make any difference in the sound. In other words, if I call that the D flat chord, it sounds the same as if I call it the C sharp chord. The word for that is enharmonic. There’s two names for the same pitch. And so this chord, in addition to be E flat, could also be called D sharp, and so on, okay? So there’s certain enharmonic work, but don’t let that destroy you, all right?

So, let’s review. 3 chords that are all white, what are they? C, F, and G. There’s 3 chords that have a black third. What are they? D, E, A. There’s 3 chords that have a black root and fifth: D flat, E flat, A flat. And there’s 3 chords left over. One’s all black, G flat, or F sharp, if you prefer, B, which is white, black, black, and B flat, which is black, white, white. Now, if you were my student, I would give you an assignment to play those over and over and over again. Back when I had a studio, and I used to teach, I used to have my students play that rapidly until they could play it in… One gal got I think 6 seconds, but most were around 10 seconds. In other words, C, F, G, D, E, A, D flat, E flat, A flat, G, B, B flat, okay? If you’ll drill on them that way in both hands, C, F, G, D, E, A, D flat, E flat, A flat, G flat, B, B flat. Or hands together, C, F, G, D, E, A, D flat, E flat, A flat, G flat, B, B flat. Now, that will take you a while to learn to get your fingers on the right notes of the song, but you can eventually do it.

And don’t forget that a chord is still a chord if you turn it upside-down. That’s still the C chord whether you play it that way, or that way, or that way. It’s also the C chord no matter how you break it up. If you break it up like this, it’s the C chord. That’s a C chord. I’m playing just nothing but C chord here, and nothing but the F chord here. C chord, G. You see what an advantage you have if you know your chords really, really well?

And so I urge you… I can’t make you because you’re not sitting on the bench alongside me, but I urge you to practice those major chords repeatedly until you have them down. And then you can build them forever. Okay, that’s it for today, and tomorrow, we’ll take up another piano tip of some sort, so if you enjoy this sort of thing, come on over to PlayPiano.com and sign up for our free series of piano tips. You’re going to love it! See you there. Bye-bye for now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWx4hx2afpE&feature=youtu.be

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How Chords Relate To Melodies (The Tune of a Song)

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
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How Chords Relate To Melodies (The Tune of a Song)

Good morning. This is Duane, and I’d like to talk today about the way chords relate to the tune of a song. You know that in every song there’s a chord structure; a chord progression that moves from one chord to another to another and so on. They’re usually in repetitive fashion, but they’re always chord progressions of some sort. The melodies, the tunes that are created, wrap themselves around or through the chords. Let me just give you an illustration. You know this a C chord. I’m going to play that … okay. A little song; something about row the boat ashore. Notice it goes right through the C chord, doesn’t it? The C chords in force, so it just climbs through the chord, doesn’t it? I call it climbing through chords. Out of the first one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine; out of the first nine notes, they’re all members of the C chords except that one.

Okay, so melodies do wind themselves through chords. Let me give you another example. Maybe this is a better example. Here’s that Rainy Day, this song. And so on. I want you to look at the first part. That’s the F chord, then it changes to A flat. Now, watch this. Those are the three notes of the A flat chord. The A flat chord is A flat, C, and E flat, and it just goes up; C, E flat, A flat, C. Nothing can be simpler once you understand the structure. You see, by knowing that melodies do that, you can watch out for things like that, and it makes learning music a whole lot easier. It makes reading music a whole lot easier. In other words, if you can look at a piece of sheet music and see the structure of notes breaking up a chord, you say, “Oh, okay. That makes sense now.” Let me do it again. Here’s the F chord. Then, it goes to the A flat chord; A flat seventh actually. Right up the A flat chord. That’s D flat.

The next note is C. That’s G minor seventh suspended, but watch this. That’s the C seventh chord now. It goes right up the notes of the C seventh chord. You see that? By the way, if melodies are not going through chords, not breaking up chords, they’re going through scales. In fact, that’s the only possibility. Just understand that. Melodies are made out of scale fragments and chord. That’s all there could be. It’s got to be some sort of scale no matter what the chord does. I’ll go back to the first example. See now, I’m not only playing a melody, but I’m playing the whole chord, because why not? I can play into the melody. Okay, so just remember that melodies are made out of broken chords and scales. There’s really no other possibility. That’s it for today. If you enjoy these kind of musical tips, come on over to playpiano.com and sign up for my free educational newsletter.

You’ll get tips like this most every day about a wide variety of things; mostly about chords, but sometimes a lot of other stuff too related to music theory. Music theory, by the way, is just a fancy word for understanding what you’re doing. Okay, understand what you’re playing. The more you can understand about what you’re playing, the better off you are. Thanks again, and we’ll see you next time. Bye-bye for now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfCg8CLA9ok

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/melody
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Piano Chords: How Many Do I Need To Know To Play a Song?

Monday, October 28th, 2013
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Piano Chords: How Many Do I Need To Know To Play a Song?

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 ask you a question. How many piano chords do you have to know to play a song? People have asked me that over the years; have many chords do I have to learn, it’s like they don’t want to learn that many chords. They think the chords are scary or something and they don’t want to tackle something bigger than they can chew off. I can kind of understand that feeling; I think I felt that way when I started learning chords as well. But the answer is, if you’re just starting, all you need to know really is 3 chords and those 3 chords are called the primary chords in any key.

For example, there are various keys you can play as. You can play in the key of C, you can play in the key of D flat, you can play in the key of D; you can play in the key of E flat and so on. There are 12 different keys you play in. Most people like to play in keys where they just have white keys. If you want to stick with the white keys for a while then you’d pick the key of C because it’s based on the scale of C which has nothing but white keys. The 3 chords you need to know are the 1 chord, in other words the chord built on the first degree of the scale, that’s the chord. 2 notes is an interval, 3 notes; it takes notes to make a chord; 3 or 4.

I mean, it takes 3 notes to make a chord but it could have 4 or 5 or 6 or any number actually. Let’s start up with 3 note chords and we just need to know 3 chords, 3, 3 note chords. The 1 chord is C because it’s the first note on the scale, the fourth chord is F, the fourth note of the scale and the fifth chord is G, fifth note of the scale. The reason for that is; those are the chords that will harmonize any note in that scale. In other words, you can’t play any note in that scale where these chords don’t harmonize. In other words, if you’re playing G it will harmonize at the C chord because it’s in the C chord. It will also harmonize with the G chord because it’s in the G chord.

It doesn’t harmonize too well with the F chord but it’s not terrible either, you can get by. For example if the melody was A; it doesn’t harmonize too well with the C chord or with the G chord although that’s alright. It harmonizes best with the F chord because A is in the F chord. The 3 chords you need to know to start off with are, 1, 4 and the 5 chord and you generally play chords in the left hand, you can play them in the right too. Most people start out just playing the melody in the right hand and chords in the left hand.

Let’s take a simple song, let’s take, “Oh when the saints,” C chord. “Oh when the saints go marching …” so far all we’ve had is the C chord. This note D doesn’t go too good with the C chord but it’s in the G chord, so I would go to the G chord. “Oh I want to be in that number,” what chord do you think you’d put with F? Well, it’s in the F chord isn’t it? That’s logical. (Piano playing) I harmonized all of “Oh when the saints go marching in,” with just C, F and G didn’t I? The 3 primary chords in the key of C; let me play it all the way through. (Piano playing)

I missed the second class chord which is G and then C. Let’s take another chord, another song. Let’s try “Happy birthday.” (Playing piano) Let’s try “Silent night.” (Playing Piano) Any simple song I can play in the key of C by just matching it with the 1, 4 and 5 chords. If I learned some additional techniques based on the same chords, I’m not changing the chords, I can make it sound a lot smoother. In other words, instead of just holding that note what if I played … if I broke up the chord like this and I played the chord in the right hand; listen to this. (Piano playing) Does that sound a little [inaudible 00:05:23] than, (piano playing)? Yes it sounds a lot [inaudible 00:05:27] and yet I’m playing the very same chords. I just played the C chord in the right hand, (piano playing) G chord in the right hand, C chord. In the left hand I played the notes of the C chord but I spread them out into; it’s called an arpeggio.

You’ve heard of archipelago, series of, well an archipelago is a series of notes like that. I just pushed down my [inaudible 00:05:56] I rolled them like that. Then I echoed the melody up here; if I do it exactly, listen. (Piano playing) You see that, just by expanding your knowledge just a little bit, I wasn’t actually adding any color tones or anything like that; I could add a lot more and I could add fills. Let me just take it a step further but I want you to know that I’m not changing any of the basic chords, I’m going to put in a color tone; I’m going to put in 9th and the 7th here, listen. (Piano playing)

Just by putting in some 6th and 7th and so on and changing the root a little bit, of the chord, I can add or get a much [inaudible 00:07:29] sound but that’s where you start. You start with those 3 basic chords and then build on that. It depends on the song you want to play as to how many chords you need to use. For example, there are lots of songs where you can’t, you have to use more than 3 chords and that mean learning more chords obviously. If I wanted to play; let’s say; “Green Dolphin Street.” (Piano playing) Now it’s terribly sloppy but I’d have to learn on the C chord, C minus 7th chord. Then I’d have to learn D minus 7th, D flat and C. A 7th, D minus, that’s a flat 10th, C. I have to go to F minus 7th, B flat, E flat; G 7th to the flat 9th and so on.

Knowledge builds on knowledge and so you learn 3 chords and then you learn a 4th chord and then you learn 5th chord and then you add 7th to those chords and 6th, 9th, 11th and so on; and gradually you get up to where you want to be. But it all starts with those three basic chords. What’s the answer to my initial question? How many chords do you need to know to play a song? You need 3; there are some songs you can play with 2 but not may, it’s 3 or more. Then after that, the sky is the limit as to what you want to do.

That’s my little tip for today, if you like this kind of thing come on over to Play Piano and sign up for my free newsletter on chords and chord progressions and everyday you’ll get something from me; probably in a way of a new chord progression or a new chord or a new video or something like that. I invite you come on over. That’s it for today, we’ll see you tomorrow with another tip; bye, bye for now.

Here is the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jtlkkZPa2Y&feature=youtu.be

Wikipedia article on piano chords: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Piano/Chords_(and_pop_examples)
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