Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Playing Songs On the Black Keys Only

When I was in high school I had a wonderful friend who played the piano, but mostly just using black keys. I was just the opposite -- at that point in my learning experience, I tried to avoid the black keys -- the dreaded sharps and flats!

But he got a great sound out of just the black keys, and in time I found out that he was playing the pentatonic scale -- a 5-note scale used a great deal in Asia and in Africa. Of course you don't have to play the pentatonic scale on black keys -- you could play it on any major scale just by leaving out the 4th and 7th degrees of the scale; for example in the key of C the notes would be C, D, E, G, and A -- leaving out F (the 4th degree of the scale) and B (the 7th scale degree).

Here are a few melodies you can play using a pentatonic scale:

Swing Low
Amazing Grace
I'm Just a Poor Wayfaring Stranger
Deep River
Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen
This TrainAmen (1 white key)
Kum Ba Ya (1 white key)
Were You There?
When the Saints Go Marching In
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