Saturday, January 31, 2009

What Is "Naked Music"?

Naked music is music that is plain vanilla. And there's nothing wrong with that. But most of us want to bring our own feelings to the piano and play MORE than just what is written. To do that, we need to analyze the structure of the score, including the chord progessions and form of the song, then improvise using a wide variety of arranging techniques. For help in that area, see

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How Many Chords Are Possible?

Have you ever wondered how many chords are possible? Have you ever added up all the major chords, all the minor chords, all the diminished, augmented, 6th, m6th, 7th, maj7th, m7th, half-diminished, 9th, m9th, 11th, 13th, etc, etc.?
I challenge you to do it sometime -- I think you will be astounded.

If you would like to explore all the chords, take a look at All The Chords In The Whole Wide World.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What is the "Backdoor of Piano Playing"?

There is more than one way into the world of piano playing. Most people take the front door -- formal lessons where you learn to read music, learn the correct technique, practice scales, memorize pieces, and so forth. That's great if you have the time, and certainly the best method for children, but if you are a busy adult with no time for scheduled lessons, there is a back door you can take -- learning chords and how to apply them to your piano playing.

There are many online courses you can take to get you into the backdoor of piano playing -- just use any search engine and type in something like "learn piano chords" and you'll find many courses to help you.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rootless Chord Voicing For Exciting Sounds!

Chord voicing refers to the way notes of a chord are arranged. The most basic voicing of a chord is in it's triad form in root position; root of the chord as the lowest note in the chord, then the 3rd of the chord, then the 5th. Any chord can be inverted, so the 1st inversion chord voicing would find the 3rd as the lowest note in the chord, then the 5th, followed by the root on top -- one octave higher. The 2nd inversion of the chord would find the 5th as the lowest note, followed by the root, with the 3rd on top -- one octave higher.
Rootless chord voicing involves leaving out the root of the chord but using other intervals and implying the root.  For example, you might voice the C major chord with the 3rd and 5th along with some color tones, such as a 6th or 7th, but leave the root note (C) out. But since the 3rd, 5th and 7th of the chord is being used, it implies a root -- C.

Rootless chord voicings from chordman on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Minor Chords

There are only 12 minor chords -- even though some of the 12 have more than one name, such as C# minor and Db minor. They are called "enharmonic" chords -- they sound alike but are written differently on a music score.

Here are the 12 minor chords:

C minor chord is C, Eb, G
F minor chord: F, Ab, C
G minor chord: G, Bb, D
D minor chord: D, F, A
E minor chord: E, G, B
A minor chord: A, C, E
Db minor chord: Db, Fb, Ab (Fb is enharmonic with E)
Eb minor chord: Eb, Gb, Bb
Ab minor chord: Ab, Cb, Eb (Cb is enharmonic with B)
Gb minor chord: Gb, Bbb, Db (Bbb is enharmonic with A)
B minor chord: B, D, F#
Bb minor chord: Bb, Db, F

Thursday, January 01, 2009

What is an octave?

The word "octave" is related to "octopus", "octagon", etc -- in other words, eight. In music, an octave is 8 diatonic scale notes  higher or lower than  the note of the same name.

For example, the "A" note is always 8 notes higher or lower than the previous "A". The "A" above middle C vibrates 440 times per second, so the "A" an octave above it would vibrate 880 times per second, while the "A" below middle C would vibrate 220 times per second, and so on.

The human ear identifies these octave notes as being "the same" -- only higher or lower, so if a soprano sang A440 and a bass sang A110, the human ear would hear it as the same note -- just separated by pitch. That's why there are only 7 distinct diatonic pitches and only 12 distinct chromatic pitches, despite the fact that the piano keyboard has 88 keys. Each note is repeated over and over again, but at a higher or lower octave.

What is an octave?

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Piano Chords & Chord Progressions!