Category Archives: Piano Lessons

May update

Current news

I’m always looking for subjects to write about here or tutorial to do on YouTube. Please use the comments section to give me some ideas.

I’ve not shown a map of where people are buying and performing my sheet music for some time, so here’s the latest (as of Mar 31, 2018)

I’m making some changes to the music catalog. Rather than offer individual keyboard arrangements, I’m only selling collections. I have 8 piano solo collections available. As time permits I will remove organ solos from the catalog and only offer collections. It is easier to manage collections.

I have no plans for anything on YouTube at the present time. This is for two reasons: 1) Nobody who watches my videos on YouTube has bothered to let me know what they want to see and 2) YouTube no longer allows me to monetize my channel and nobody who watches my videos has donated anything to keep it going.

As always, check the sheet music catalog for new titles. At least once a month, sometimes more often there are new titles.

After 15 custom arrangements for a single client I must be doing something right. If you have a beginner/intermediate instrumental group or a church orchestra in need of arrangements, let me know so I can write it for you.

I’m always “playing around” with my various sound libraries and live instruments in my home studio. Look for at least one new album out this summer, if not two.

I continue to teach piano lessons locally and via Skype. So, no matter where you are in the world I can teach you. I can also tutor on composing, arranging, music theory and more. Drop me a note if you are interested.

 

Playing from a Leadsheet (revisited)

Playing from a Leadsheet

for solo pianists

 

Back in 2014 I did a tutorial video on YouTube titles How to play a Leadsheet on solo piano. A followup to it is below.

The video pretty much tells all you need to know to get started playing a leadsheet. One correction is that the D7/F chord on the first line should be a D7/F#. The following description and addition may help in learning to play a leadsheet.

The video shows three different renderings in addition to the original sheet music. The 1st, with just the bass root note in the LH can be a starting point for a walking bass. Imagine a scale based on that root note but not changing any notes from those already in the key signature. Play the 1, 2, 3 & 5 notes or 1,3,5,7 in a measure with one chord. For example, “F G A C” or “C E G B or Bb depending on taste.”

The 2nd sheet music simply shows the block chord with all the notes we could use to harmonize the leadsheet. It is mainly for illustrative purposes. I would never play a leadsheet with just root position block chords.

The final example is the most like one might play. The examples, with the harmony spread between both hands and with rhythmic variation show various rhythmic possibilities for the accompaniment/harmony. However, there’s too much rhythmic variation going on. The last two lines could be played “as is” but the first two lines have, because it is illustrative and not practical, a variety of rhythmic styles.

The next step in leadsheet playing is to listen or look at sheet music of various styles of music similar to the one you are learning. Try and use the rhythmic patterns and harmonic voicing in those examples in your own playing. Leadsheets, after all, are not meant to be a final arrangement. They are there to remind you of how the piece goes and give you just enough information so you can play it such that a listener is reminded of the song.

This is just a starting point to playing from leadsheets.

Bonus points if you recognize what the featured photo shows (besides a leadsheet).

Year 2017 in Review

Goodbye to 2017

To start the blog being moved to this location, I thought I’d start with an article reviewing the past year, 2017, and my musical efforts.

Personally, two things impacted me more than anything else.

First, Hurricane Irma impacted where I live more than other hurricanes in the past have. (I went through Andrew in Miami in 1992 and 3 storms in 2004 here in North Florida). Took probably a month to two to get back to normal. Even now, at least one major highway is impacted due to flooding.

Secondly, I had a USB hub short-circuit or something. It ended up frying the USB ports in my desktop. I had to replace the computer and go through the tedious process of reinstalling software and customizing things to my liking. Of course, the unexpected expense was not welcome.

Most exciting for me (or terrifying I suppose) was one day when I was practicing before my piano students arrived at the church in Micanopy. I saw police go by outside. The short story is that there was a credible bomb threat against two churches in town and a device was found by the propane tanks at the opposite end of the church from where I was. I left the building. A few of my students got to review theory down the street at the library. The crude device would never have gone off let alone caused any serious damage.

Throughout the entire year I released 51 new arrangements or compositions. I performed as a solo pianist three times. Once for a public concert featuring TV & Film music. The other two were for private parties. I played the organ for several funerals this year – more than usual and for at least 3 of them I knew the deceased.

I continue to play for church services at an Episcopal church in Micanopy, FL. It is a good, steady gig at a church that actually sings, sometimes in 4-part harmony, and appreciates music from Gregorian Chant to praise/worship music. (Although they lean more toward the older music than newer).

I continued to coordinate the Concert Series for the above mentioned church. The 2017/2018 series will have 8 concerts, all high-quality performers.

My piano lessons locally and via Skype continued to go well, although I am always wanting more students.

My parent’s cat, featured some years ago in a YouTube video with original music died. He was around 15 years old.

A review of all my music compositions and arrangements follows:

January through March

I released 2 new arrangements and adapted 2 original compositions.
I did one arrangement for a Toronto, Canada church/school for a Reformation celebration.

I’ve also been working with a church in Houston arranging material for their all-volunteer band/orchestra that consists of mostly 12-18 year olds.

Abide With Me — A 12/8 flowing arrangement for solo piano of this familiar piece with large ending. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20407440?aff_id=104230

Was Lebet, Was Schwebet (O Worship The Lord in the Beauty of Holiness) — This was originally a custom arrangement for a Canadian school as they planned to celebrate the anniversary of The Reformation. A hymn accompaniment for Brass Quintet and organ. Suitable for any accompanying of congregational singing. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20407433?aff_id=104230

Missles of October — An original piece, originally for instrumental ensemble. Here adapted for solo piano. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20407445?aff_id=104230

Christ is Made The Sure Foundation — An original piece, originally for choir. Adapted for solo piano. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441509?aff_id=104230

April through June

During this period I released 19 arrangements or compositions.

All People That On Earth Do Dwell — An unaccompanied setting of All People That On Earth Do Dwell for Soprano, Alto and Tenor or 3-part choir. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20456550?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

BROMLEY (O Trinity Of Blessed Light) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment of this hymn tune. It is intended to be played by any combination of instruments (with keyboard). It consists of two verses of the hymn, each in a different key with a modulation between the two. Parts provided for C, Bb, Eb, F, Alto Clef and Keyboard instruments http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20456546?aff_id=104230

Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross — A contemporary blues, jazz style arrangement of this gospel hymn, Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20456548?aff_id=104230

Amazing Grace, How Sweet The Sound — The popular tune NEW BRITAIN, best known as Amazing Grace here arranged for solo piano. This is a fun, upbeat piece with hints of contemporary and classical music. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441507?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

Celtic Postlude — When this piece was written, it was popular to have church services that focused on or used Celtic music. This piece is a modern interpretation of an Irish style of music. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441506?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

Piece in F minor — A piece for concert band in F Minor. An upbeat, almost dance-like piece. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441502?aff_id=104230

Praise The Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him    — The hymn tune HYFRYDOL has been set to many different lyrics. Besides this one “Praise The Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him,” the title “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” is well known. This is a fun, upbeat piece to play. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441508?aff_id=104230

Amazing Grace    — A setting of the hymn tune NEW BRITAIN, best known as Amazing Grace. For Orchestra. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441503?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

Nearer My God To Thee    — A setting of the hymn tune BETHANY, best known as Nearer My God To Thee. This is the song the band on the ship Titantic played as the ship slowly sank after hitting an iceberg in 1912. For orchestra. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441504?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

The Star-Spangled Banner — An arrangement of the US national anthem, also known as The Star-Spangled Banner. For Orchestra. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441505?aff_id=104230

Awesome God — For Woodwind Quintet. A full arrangement of this popular praise and worship piece.  http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20440218?aff_id=104230

Brass    Bridge Over Troubled Water — For Brass Quintet. An arrangement of this popular Simon and Garfunkel tune. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436729?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

Crazy — For String Quartet. A country, bluesy setting of this piece made popular by Patsy Cline. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436742?aff_id=104230

Day By Day — For String Quartet. A classical piece in the style of Mozart. Based on the hymn tune BLOTT EN DAG (Day by Day). http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436745?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

Fairest Lord Jesus — An arrangement for Brass Quintet of this classic hymn. Also known under the title Beautiful Savior. Hymn tune: ST ELIZABETH     http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436743?aff_id=104230

Halleljuah Chorus (from The Messiah) — A setting of the chorus from The Messiah, for woodwind quintet. A popular, highly requested title, great for any group. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436751?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring (Bach) — For Brass Quintet. This popular piece, often heard at Weddings or Christmas time is from BWV 147. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436744?aff_id=104230

Prelude in E minor (Chopin) For String Quartet. An arrangement of this popular Chopin piece. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436747?aff_id=104230

The Sound Of Silence — For Woodwind Quintet. A setting of this popular Paul Simon piece. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20440215?aff_id=104230

July through September

The God Of Abraham Praise — An arrangement of the hymn The God of Abraham Praise for SATB choir with piano accompaniment. Hymn tune name: LEONI. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20520291?aff_id=104230

Waiting and Watching — An original composition for orchestra. A minor, reflective piece. For Orchestra. Many parts are doubled so it can be played with a smaller than average group. Piano reduction provided. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20520293?aff_id=104230

LAUDATE DOMINUM (O Praise Ye The Lord) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment of this hymn tune. This is designed to be played by any combination of instruments with piano. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20520292?aff_id=104230

ST GEORGE’S WINDSOR (Come Ye Thankful People Come) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment of this hymn tune. This is designed to be played by any combination of instruments with piano. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20472175?aff_id=104230

There Is Power In The Blood — A new setting of this favorite gospel hymn. For solo piano. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20472177?aff_id=104230
Popular Title

There Is Power In The Blood — A fun to play arrangement of this audience favorite. For Orchestra. There are many doubled parts in this arrangement which means it can be played and sound just as good without all the listed instruments. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20470069?aff_id=104230
Popular title

A Mighty Fortress — A rhythmic piece inspired by the hymn tune EIN’ FESTE BURG. For orchestra. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20467078?aff_id=104230

Amazing Grace — For Piano Duet. An upbeat, rhythmic setting of this all time favorite hymn. Hymn tune: NEW BRITAIN. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20467079?aff_id=104230
Popular Title

Near The Cross — A blues, jazz setting of this lesser known hymn tune. A fun and very different setting for SATB choir with piano accompaniment. Small choirs can sing the piece in unison or two-parts. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20465376?aff_id=104230

October through December

Once In Royal David’s City — For Solo Organ. A favorite Christmas hymn arranged in a meditative style. Hymn tune: IRBY.

There’s A Voice In The Wilderness — For solo piano. For Advent and Christmas. This arrangement is a majestic and festive setting great for a Postlude or Prelude during Advent. Hymn tune: ASCENSION

Now Thank We All Our God — For Solo Organ. A contemporary, upbeat setting of this hymn. Hymn tune: NUN DANKET

SAGINA (And Can It Be) — For organ accompaniment of congregational singing. Hymn tune: SAGINA. Most common lyrics are to the title “And Can It Be.” Alternate harmonization and descant.

Thou, Who At Thy First Eucharist — For Solo Organ. The melody by Orlando Gibbons in the style of a modern chorale prelude. Hymn tune: SONG 1.

At Calvary — For Woodwind Quintet. This popular hymn arranged for woodwind quintet.  http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20666098?aff_id=104230

I Come With Joy — For solo piano. An arrangement of this popular tune. From the Southern Harmony collection, the hymn tune LAND OF REST is often set to the lyrics of I Come With Joy,  a piece often used for communion. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20666093?aff_id=104230

I Remember You — For Solo Piano. An original composition, arranged and adapted here from the original choral piece. This piece could be appropriate for any spot in a church service, school program or recital. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20666095?aff_id=104230

Irma’s March — An original composition for orchestra. A march like feel, a sense of forward motion throughout. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20666091?aff_id=104230

Kyrie from Missa De Beate Virgine — For Solo Organ. An arrangement of this piece by Josquin Desprez. From one of the earliest Renaissance settings of the Mass. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20666092?aff_id=104230

Rejoice, Ye Pure In Heart — For String Quartet. An arrangement of the popular hymn. Tune name: Marion. A fun, syncopated arrangement. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20666097?aff_id=104230

Amazing Grace — An arrangement of the hymn tune NEW BRITAIN – Amazing Grace – for SATB choir with piano accompaniment.    http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657604?aff_id=104230

Amazing Grace — For String Quartet. A lively, fun to play setting. Hymn tune: NEW BRITAIN. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657616?aff_id=104230

Amazing Grace — For Woodwind Quintet. An arrangement of the popular hymn. Hymn tune: NEW BRITAIN. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657617?aff_id=104230

EVENTIDE (Abide With Me) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment designed to be played by any combination of instruments along with piano (or organ). http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657609?aff_id=104230

NEW BRITAIN (Amazing Grace) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment designed to be played by any combination of instruments along with piano (or organ). http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657611?aff_id=104230

NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND (Savior of the Nations, Come) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment designed to be played by any combinatoin of instruments along with piano (or organ). http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657613?aff_id=104230

SLANE (Be Thou My Vision) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment designed to be played by any combination of instruments along with piano (or organ). http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657615?aff_id=104230

This Is My Father’s World — For SATB, unaccompanied choir. In addition to rich harmonies, the piece ends with a flowing descant. Hymn tune: TERRA BEATA. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657606?aff_id=104230

Please check back often. I plan to be more active with the blog than I was last year.

The piano is dead?

Just an article to get the mind thinking. I’d love to hear some insightful comments on this subject.

Are people learning to play the piano enough to keep the piano going as a popular instrument? Is it becoming like the pipe organ or electronic keyboards/synthesizers, all instruments played by a small percentage of musicians?

Is the future of music in technology? Is music moving to the point where one uses a midi controller (either a keyboard like instrument or a drum pad like Maschine) to produce a loop that is then played by pushing a button on a machine or computer (like an iphone/ipad)? Most music heard today by the majority of people is electronic based music. You may love classical music or live music without processing, but that’s the minority. Even if there is a live guitar player, it is unlikely that it hasn’t been processed by something, whether through an electric guitar amp or a foot pedal or computer based effects. Most TV & film music uses electronic samples (recordings) of instruments. Most live performances, like the large big-name touring artists give have pre-recorded elements as part of the performance. Even the voices are manipulated to make the singer stay in tune. One can half-way learn an instrument, record the bits and pieces, manipulate it in a computer and make it sound like a virtuoso. They then go on stage and play that recording – which I give them credit is something they created – while playing very simple parts. Is the need to learn an instrument really necessary?

If you can put together decent sounding material and play it back through a decent sound system while appearing to perform (like a DJ does), is that not sufficient? Over time as you create the raw material you would naturally become more proficient in your instrument. It would take much longer than in traditional lessons, but you’d still learn. Besides, you can rely on the technology to present a product that people like and that’s what matters.

I ask this because my main livelihood is as a piano teacher, apparently a career that is going the way of the dinosaur. I was shown an article in an actual printed paper (Gainesville, FL Sun 1/3/2015 issue) that said that Piano sales are way down and that fewer & fewer parents want their kids to learn piano. The reasons apparently vary between the appeal of learning computers and technology (eg video games) and the, in my opinion, misguided idea that team sports is preferable to music. I’ve lost many a student to sports and it always seems to be the ones that really should stick in music that go off to sports. It makes me wonder if I should switch to teaching how to use drum machines, music notation/composing software, home recording, etc? Would parents or potential students be more interested in that?

I could write volumes on why team sports is not as good for kids in the long run as taking music lessons. I can’t help but think of the quote from “1984” that goes “Films, football, beer, and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult….” I would paraphrase that to say “Entertainment, alcohol, gambling and above all else, sports captured everyone’s attention so controlling and manipulating, misleading, spying on and taking advantage of society was easy.” (Entertainment being things like Films, TV, YouTube, twitter, etc.). But much better authors than me have pointed out the fallacies of focusing on sports for children. Unfortunately, the parents making the decisions about music lessons don’t listen or don’t care about those facts.

Even if sports were not a big distraction for children & parents, would the side of technology that makes it far to easy to produce music that sounds good be sufficient reason for people not to take serious music lessons? What should a piano or music teacher do if the field of learning a specific instrument is dead or dying?

Comments, ideas? Please share.

Summertime

Summertime

It’s always slow in the music world in the summer, at least for me. Everyone’s out and about and the last thing they want to do is buy sheet music. I guess most people don’t buy CD’s to begin with, but even digital music (MP3) slows down in the summer. Even my piano students like to take off and disappear for a few weeks or even months. So, I’ve not had much to talk about in the blog.

The music workshop I talked about (see earlier post) came and went. I couldn’t get very many people to attend. Apparently, after the fact, everyone who should have told me, now decides to tell me that “oh, you need to start publicity & sign up way back in April.” Thanks for the help then. Not knowing any better, I started publicity in late May. Even with so much advance time, almost 2 months, I still couldn’t get the teens to come. As to the course, everything went quite well. It being a computer music workshop, the potential for technical issues was great. We had none. There were some issues with one person not having installed one of the software titles I required, but the next day they had done so.

Latest activity since May:

All 9 of my CD albums are now available in physical format in addition to mp3 or FLACC format. Check them out at my CD-Baby page.

If you don’t follow me on my SoundCloud page, please do. I’ve posted quite a few short pieces in a variety of styles. And go back and listen to previous tracks.

My Facebook artist page has doubled its number of followers. I’m now up to 7! (It does sound better if I just say that its doubled).

In addition to selling sheet music on my website, I’ve also partnered with Sheet Music Plus digital to sell selected titles on their digital download site. They are my go-to site if I need printed sheet music.

My YouTube channel has a few new tutorial videos about Battery 4 & Reaper as well as an introductory look at the new SampleTank 3.

For those that use GooglePlay, and why not?, I have several singles that are only available there and plan to add more exclusives later this year.

Of course, Spotify, which has an absolutely free version and lets you choose what you want to listen to (unlike Pandora, right?), all 9 of my albums are there. I hope to have a new album or two out later this year.

If you are at all interested in piano lessons from me over the internet, please get in touch via the website, JamesGilbertMusic.com. (I also teach composition, arranging, music software tutoring, etc. on any schedule or frequency you like).  Of course, I also continue to teach lessons locally (near Gainesville & Ocala, Florida).

Any suggestions for content here or on YouTube or SoundCloud or what type of music to put on my next album(s), drop me a note.

Thanks to those that subscribe and to all that read.

 

Update post & Christmas Album announcement

I’m not sure if anyone actually reads this or not, but I hope someone does.

I wanted to let those that are interested know that I’m still around & busy with music projects. That’s one reason I’ve not posted in a while.

The main reason I’ve not posted is that I’m not getting any feedback or comments on any of my articles. My iPad apps article gets a bit of feedback, but there’s really nothing more I can say about music iPad apps. What else would you like me to write about?

I’ve been working much of the summer on music for my first ever Christmas Album. I’m looking at 10 titles, maybe 11 or 12. The styles will range from traditional, almost classical orchestral settings of carols to some rather eclectic electronic sounds. One will be pretty close to an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) version of Jingle Bells. Wait till you hear that. What could go wrong with a classically trained pianist & composer doing EDM?

You can now listen to three of my albums on YouTube.

The website is back to how it was pre-July 2012. My experiment with giving away my music and asking for donations ended earlier in the summer. My music is commercially competitive enough that I should be charging for it. After all, making a living as a musician is what I’m trying to do. I can’t eat if I don’t make money, so I’m back to charging.

For those that would like to help me and get something back in return, it would be most appreciated. See the how to help me page for details.

I’m still looking for a publicist, manager or agent to help me promote my sheet music, 6 albums and me as a musician.

I also have openings for anyone who would like to take lessons via Skype or here in the Gainesville, Micanopy, Ocala area of North Florida.

Feedback, comments. I need it.

(Please ignore any ads on this page. I didn’t put them there. I don’t make money from them. I don’t endorse them.)

Introduction to Music, Conclusion

Introduction to Music

for those wanting to become musicans, or improve their musicianship

Conclusion

I hope this Introduction to Music series has been helpful. While it is obviously not a comprehensive look at all there is to music notation and music theory, if you know this stuff, you have a great amount of tools to help you as either a performer or composer, no matter the style of music.

I have a number of YouTube videos that cover a range of music topics, some duplicating what was in this series, but many that go beyond this series. Here are a few below for you to take a look at.

To see and hear how I’ve used my musical knowledge, you can download any of our sheet music for Free at the website. I also have six albums (as of January 2013) available on GooglePlay, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.

If you would care to make a donation to help in my efforts with free content – blogs, videos and sheet music – your Donation is most appreciated.

Introduction to Piano Lessons and general music theory
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRdYzYjxl5M]
Introduction to Chords
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmezVWK0Ex8?hl=en&fs=1&w=425&h=349]
A Review of iPad Apps of help for musicians
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7Ia92GaSrg]
12-tone, Dodecaphonic Composition Overview


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMayH_p5GS0]
Scales and Modes


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHhf7mB4180]
Some Sibelius (notation software) Tips
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OouCZ-Uz0zM?hl=en&fs=1]
Making another Arrangement using Sibelius
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yKV-GI-5KA?hl=en&fs=1]
Making an Organ arrangement in Sibelius
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B49i8EtmS-w?hl=en&fs=1]
I hope you enjoyed this. Your comments and questions are welcome here or via the contact page on the website.

 

Introduction to Music, Part 10 (Scales)

Introduction to Music

for those wanting to become musicans, or improve their musicianship

Scales and Modes

Scales

Rather than a long blog article about scales, I’ll point you to a video I did on YouTube about scales and modes. I’ve added a few things below the video, so come back here when you’re done with the video.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHhf7mB4180]
Types of scales and modes

There are basically 2 types of scales, Major and Minor that are used the most. The Minor scale has 3 variations. As to modes, which are used less often, there are 7, one for each letter used in music. The Major scale is also known as the Ionian mode while the Minor scale is also known as the Aeolian scale. There are of course, other scales, from blues to whole-tone that are used less often.

One of the easiest ways to remember the correct order of the various scales is by the half-steps, whole-steps order between the notes. Here’s a list:

Major:
whole whole half whole whole whole half
(C-D) (D-E) (E-F) (F-G) (G-A) (A-B) (B-C)

Minor:

Natural: whole half whole whole half whole whole
Harmonic: whole half whole whole half whole+half half (note augmented 2nd from 6 to 7)
Melodic: whole half whole whole whole whole half (Ascending ONLY)

Dorian:
whole half whole whole whole half whole

Phrygian:
half whole whole whole half whole whole

Lydian:
whole whole whole half whole whole half

Mixolydian:
whole whole half whole whole half whole

Locrian:
half whle whole half whole whole whole

Introduction to Music, Part 9 (Intervals & Chords)

Introduction to Music

for those wanting to become musicans, or improve their musicianship

Chords and Intervals

Intervals & Chords

Intervals

An interval is the distance between two notes. We describe intervals in numerical terms, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. From the note C to the note D is a 2nd. Although D is only one note away from C, we call it a second because two notes are involved. Think of intervals in terms of letter names. If you are on a G and the next note is a D higher, you have G, A, B, C then D, 5 letters. Thus, G up to D is an interval of a 5th. You can have major or minor 2, 3, 6 & 7ths. You can have perfect, augemented or diminished 4, 5 and octaves. More about these differences later.

We usually only count intervals from a 2nd to 8th. The 8th is called an octave. Once you get higher than an octave it is common to say ‘an octave and’ whatever the interval is. That being said, you will hear about 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and even 13th, particularly when talking about chord extensions. But you rarely, if ever, will see intervals beyond 13ths used.

Why intervals? When reading music, it is often easier to read intervals than specific note names, especially if you are trying to read multiple notes, as in keyboard music or chords. For example, on piano, rather than try to figure out the note name on the music staff then figure out where you play it, you can quickly figure out the interval, then play the finger that many intervals higher. So, if your thumb is playing a G and the next note is a 5th higher, just play your 5th finger. I would say most experienced musicians read music more by intervals than by reading actual note letter names.

Chords

Chords

(See the graphic at the top of the article for examples of chords). The basic definition of a chord is this: “Three notes or more, when played at the same time is a chord.” In the majority of the most popular music in the world, most chords consists of triads. For our purposes, we will only be talking about triads. That is, the notes in the chord are made up of intervals of thirds. A C major chord, for example, consists of the notes C, E and G, all intervals of 3rds.

To properly spell a chord (triad), each letter of the chord must be an interval of a third. For example, a C# major chord is C#, E#, G#. Although E# is the same note as F, it is not considered proper to spell the C# major chord with an F, it must be an E#. The reason being that from C to E (with or without a sharp) is a third. From C to F is a 4th. If you ever wondered why we have double sharps or double flats, this is one reason why. For example, a D# major chord is spelled D#, F-double-sharp, A#. A G-flat major chord is spelled Gb, B-double-flat, Db.

The four types of chords are major, minor, diminished and augmented chords. (Yes, there are ‘suspended’ chords but they aren’t triads). What’s the difference? This is where chords and intervals come together.

A major chord consists of 4 half-steps, which is also called a Major 3rd, between the lowest note (called the root) and the middle note. A Minor chord has three half-steps, also called a Minor-third, from the root to the middle note. From the lowest note to the top note in Major and Minor chords is always 7 half-steps which is better known as a Perfect 5th.

We haven’t talked about scales yet, but another way to think of chords would be using scales. For now, suffice it to say that a C major scale consists of all the letter names (without accidentals) from C to the next highest C: C D E F G A B C. If we assign numbers to each letter, the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the scale, the C,E & G make up the C major chord. We call the notes of the chord the root, 3rd & 5th (from bottom to top).

An augmented chord consists of a Major 3 from the root to the 3rd and an Augmented 5th from the bottom to the top note. An augmented 5th is 8 half-steps.

A diminished chord consists of a Minor 3 from the root to the 3rd and a Diminished 5th from the bottom to the top note. A diminished 5th is only 6 half steps.

A chord has to be 3 notes at a minimum, but there is nothing that says it can only be 3 notes. We can have chords with 7 notes. To add a 4th note, you guessed it, we add a note a 3rd higher. In a C chord, we would add a B. Then we could add a D, F, etc. I cover this and more about chords in my YouTube series.

For more on chords, see my YouTube series on the subject (shown below)

Next time: Scales and modes

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmezVWK0Ex8?hl=en&fs=1&w=425&h=349]