Here, you’ll get a basic overview of your piano keyboard, along with helpful hints for remembering the letter-names of the white keys. (The white keys are each named with a single-letter, taken from the seven-letter musical alphabet.)
Even among some good musicians, music theory is occasionally regarded as more of a “nice to know” thing. Interesting place to visit, but they don’t want to hang around too long.
By contrast, I am shameless enough – dare I say, proud enough – to put forth that I am a music theory GEEK. I like staying “all up in theory land,” and often.
Music theory teaches us WHAT works, and also what CAN WORK. And, if it AIN’T WORKING, it’s usually easier to know WHY, because you possess a systematic command of how rhythm, melody, and harmony work together.
Notice I put rhythm first. Too often neglected — but I put it first in my musical thinking. More on that in other posts.
OK…If you’ve read this far, I guess we have a quorum! Two geeks is always a quorum in my experience. Partly because it’s so hard to find a third geek, on short notice. Anyway welcome, can I get you some coffee? Orange Julius?*
Today’s video lesson was created especially for my new course, “Piano Chords 108.” In this lecture, students will learn how to visualize and play half-steps, whole-steps, minor thirds, and major thirds on the piano.
What’s in the video lesson below?
Half-steps and whole-steps are the two intervals that we use here to define minor and major thirds (which are also intervals). It’s the all-important thirds that we are especially focused on here, and we will construct them easily today, using just half-steps and whole-steps.
…Leading to Chords
In our chord speed-learning class called Piano Chords 108, you will achieve impressive memorization skills for chords by using the music theory concept of “stacking thirds.”
As prerequisite knowledge for that class, this lecture is basically the stuff you gotta know.
After this Lesson:
Before moving on from this lesson, please be sure you can play (or visualize) both a minor and a major third on piano, starting on any given note, without stopping to think. Even in the middle of a car chase, or a toddler’s birthday party at that pizza-and-games place, this should be something you can do without thinking.
Assuming maybe you’re not there yet, no worries! Today can be the day. It probably won’t take more than one solid practice session after this video, for you to OWN what’s covered in the lesson!
The minor pentatonic scale is a hyper-cool five-note scale. An extremely popular source of melodic and harmonic material in many cultures, this scale’s distinctive signature is heard “all the time” in improvisational genres like rock, pop, blues and jazz.
For those of you who like to put words to your music: The word “pentatonic” comes from the Greek word pente, meaning five, and tonic, meaning tone.
The purpose of today’s lesson is to give you an easy pattern to memorize, and to show you how to use that pattern to construct any minor pentatonic scale. By “construct,” I mean you will visualize the correct five notes for the minor pentatonic scale, starting on any given root note.
As a result you will have “memorized” all 12 minor pentatonics on the keyboard today.
Here’s a detailed tutorial on how to interpret slash chords on piano. This lesson includes insights into several ways that slash chords are used, such as indicating an inversion, implying a descending bass line, or a simply notating a fresh chordal sound.
Composers and songwriters can use the “slash chord idea” in their creative thinking. That is, the effect of playing any given chord over bass notes that are not the actual root of the chord opens up endless possibilities. Some of the thinking behind these possibilities is discussed in this lesson.