Monday, December 29, 2008

How To Hear Differences in Chord Types

Each type of chord gives off a mood of its own. By associating the mood, or emotion, with a specific chord type, you can soon learn to distinguish between the basic kinds of triads:

For example, minor chords sound more somber, more serious, than major chords. Why? Because of the way the intervals are "stacked" within the chord. A diminished chord sounds suspenseful, tense, nervous. An augmented chord has a distinctive sound, too. Learn how to hear, feel, and identify these chords, as well as extended chords (you'll learn how to listen for the "color tone" in any 4-note chord).

Here are the color tones we'll listen for:


Once you can identify the 4 types of triads, and then recognize the color tones, it is a short step to recognizing chords such as minor 7ths, minor 6ths, diminished 7ths, major 9ths, and so on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How To Predict Which Chord Comes Next In a Song

Wouldn't it be nice if you could predict which chord would probably come next in a song
That would be like having your own crystal ball.
I've got some GREAT news for you.
It is possible. Not 100%, but somewhere on the order of 75% to 85% accurate.
That's because music has FORM -- like the skeleton that holds your flesh, muscles, and skin up. If you had no bones -- no skeleton -- your flesh and all the other parts of you would fall in a heap on the floor. Not a pretty picture. But because you DO have a skeleton, you are able to walk around and pretty accurately predict which way your next step will take you.
It's the same in music. Music has FORM -- a skeleton to hold it up, hold it together. And that skeleton is made out of chords -- harmony -- the tonal center of the song or piece.
In any given key you can play in, there are PRIMARY CHORDS -- chords that occur way more than other chords. They are like family members of that particular key.
At your house, let's say you have 3 people in your family -- your spouse, your child, and you. On the same block, but down the street a few houses, lives your cousin and her family.
At any given moment, who are the most likely people to be in your house?
President Obama? George Bush? Kyle Singler?
I don't think so.
It's possible, of course, but not too likely. If I had to guess, I would say it would be either you, your spouse, or your child. It might be your cousin down the street -- there's a much better chance of that than, say, Michael Phelps -- but my best odds would be to guess that the family members would be there.
It's the same way with chords. In any given key, there are 3 "family members" that are residents of that key -- the I chord, the IV chord, and the V chord. They are far and away the most likely chords to occur in any given key.
For example, if I am playing in the Key of C, and the first chord is the C chord and I have to guess what the next chord is, I would guess that it would be either the F chord or the G chord. Why? Because those are the other "family members". So we have narrowed the odds a great deal just by knowing who the members of the family are.
What chord comes next?
So how could I tell whether it should be F or G?
If the melody is a "B", then the chord is probably a G chord. Why? Because "B" is in the G chord, but is not in the F chord.
If the melody is a "A", than I would guess that the chord is F. Why? Because "A" is in the F chord, but is not in the G chord.
Does that mean that there are always just 3 chords in a song? No, but there are literally hundreds of songs that are made of just 3 chords.
For more complete information see "How To Predict Which Chord Comes Next In a Song"

Monday, December 15, 2008

Are You Able To Think In Any Musical Key?

To speak Spanish or German or French well, you have to be able to "think" in the language. It's the same with music...unless you can "think in Bb" when you're playing a song in the key of Bb, you will leave out flats, miss chords, etc. that are just not necessary to miss.

.....what each scale degree is
.....what the primary chords are
.....what the secondary chords are
.....what the fingering for the scale of that key is
.....what the relative minor key is
.....patterns that work particularly well in that key.

If you need help in this area, check out "How To Think In All 12 Keys"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What is Rhythm?

Stupid question, isn't it?
/We all know what rhythm is -- at least we know if when we hear it and feel it. But what is it really -- what makes rhythm tick? Wikipedia defines it as "any measured flow or movement, symmetry" - in other words, it is the variation of the length and accentuation of a series of sounds or other events.
The sun, for example, has a rhythm. It comes up every morning and goes down every evening. Steady. The earth has a rhythm too, as it revolves around the sun. We call that rhythm a "year." Your heart has a rhythm too -- if you take your pulse you'll see it is quite steady. All of nature has rhythm, and so it is quite natural that music has rhythm as well.
We speak of that rhythm in terms of "beats", and we measure those beats using tools such as "time signatures", "quarter notes", "eighth notes", "syncopated notes", "steady notes", etc, etc, etc. Most music is in either 4/4 time or 3/4 time, although there are many other varieties that are not used nearly as music.
To master rhythm a person needs to have a "baseline" by which to measure the notes that are occuring in various patterns.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What does it mean to "Dress Up Naked Music"?

That's a strange phrase, isn't it? What in the world is "naked music"?

You've probably noticed that virtually NO professional piano player plays music exactly like it is written in sheet music (except for classical, of course -- that's a different matter).
Instead, they embellish and improvise and arrange the music that is on the printed sheet -- in other words, they "dress up naked music."

There is a great course on the subject at "How To Dress Up Naked Music On The Piano"

Check it out. It covers 101 things that pianists do to make plain old sheet music come to life in new and exciting ways.

Monday, December 01, 2008

What Key Are You Playing In?

What does it mean when you hear a musician say "this song is in the key of C" (or key of Bb or any key? Watch this short video:

What does it mean "to be in the key of C" (or any key)
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

If you aren't already a subscriber then please subscribe to our FREE e-mail newsletter on:
Piano Chords & Chord Progressions!