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.
Assuming that this one pattern is not forgotten (it won’t get forgotten, so long as you play any minor pentatonic scale now and then) , today will mark your permanent acquisition of all 12 of the minor pentatonics.
This lesson illustrates yet another example of how to avoid rote memorization of scales and chords. “Forget” that, I say! Discover and use their defining patterns instead. Patterns rule in music!
Slash chords in sheet music look like this:
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.
Continue reading “How to Read and Play “Slash Chords” in Sheet Music”
Wassup! Today I’m sharing my reply to a question from a student at Udemy.
This is a two part question; first off, is there anything you recommend (videos, specific techniques, etc) to improve my sight-reading that won’t make me want to shout profanities?
I’ve Googled it obviously, but I’m curious about your opinion, as I enjoy your method of teaching.
Secondly, do you find skilled sight-reading necessary for jazz and blues? In other words, in your professional opinion, can I learn to be a proficient jazz and blues pianist without tackling my fear/hatred of sight-reading?
Continue reading “Do you need to read music to learn jazz or blues piano?”
Hey there folks, I got some more theory for you today. Yipee!
The following is a question and answer thread from my YouTube channel, regarding my video about how to quickly visualize any major scale on your keyboard, by using something called the major tetrachord. First, the original video, and then the Q&A.
Hi everyone! I received a question online today (on my YouTube channel), an excellent one, and one which is subject to debate. The question is in response to one of my videos about using add9 chords on piano. (A link to the video is included below.)
I thought I would share the thread here:
VIEWER: Isn’t the D in Cadd9 supposed to be an octave higher? I guess I’m just confused as to why it isn’t Add2 instead.
Learn about the Major pentatonic scale, and its cousin, the “Relative Minor” pentatonic scale (a video lesson). The relationship between any major scale (or key) and its relative minor scale or key is explained here as well, in terms of traditional music theory.
Hello again, piano people!
Todays’ post is about learning “thirteenth chords” on piano. In this video, you will learn a good way to learn and retain all twelve of the standard 13th chords without resorting to rote memorization. In my experience, I discovered early on that learning scales and chords by rote — that is, note-by-note, without any understanding of the patterns they all have in common — is the worst way to go. Learning the underlying patterns that consistently define all scales and chords is absolutely where it’s at!
Ain’t life grand? As in grand piano?
Here’s a follow up to my recent post about “Fourth Chords.” I made this second video to give more insight regarding how “fourth chord” shapes can be superimposed over various roots, to create refreshing voicings for standard chord types, such as major, minor and dominant seventh chords. The goal here is to focus on the practical side of putting these shapes into use!
Video: Fourth Chords, Part Two
“Fourth chords” are chords built as a “stack of fourths,” rather than as a “stack of thirds.”An example of a “stack of fourths” would be: D, G, C, and F, where D is the lowest pitch, and the rest make up a series of fourths above that.
The greatest thing about these stacks is that any given stack can be superimposed above multiple roots, to create a variety of voicings for various chord types.
Using the stack mentioned above as an example:
A “Dmin7” chord using the stack D, G, C, and F, results in a nice open-sounding voicing, with an added 11th (the “G” note is the 11th).
D, G, C and F also sounds great over a B-flat root, creating a “Bb69” sound! That is, a B-flat major chord, with an added 6th and 9th. (G is the 6th, and C is the 9th).
And so on…my video here explains this in depth. (Check back soon for Part Two, with more insights on this.)
In order to understand tutorials on piano playing, it is essential that you know some basic terminology from the world of music theory. So here’s an important video on “major and minor thirds.”
If you aren’t clear about major and minor thirds, you might want to watch this. Afterward, you can read the rest of this article, using your newfound vocabulary!
Chords are often understood and learned as a series of “stacked thirds.” For example, a major seventh chord can be seen as the following stack:
Major third, Minor third, Major third.
Let’s look at the CMaj7 (C Major Seventh) chord as an example of stacking thirds to build a major seventh chord from any root. The notes of the CM7 chord are C, E, G, and B. Starting from the root C, we can stack thirds to create the chord. First we pile on the E, which is a major third above C. Then we put a G on top of the E. The musical distance (interval) from E to G is a minor third. Finally, we top off the stack with a B, which is a major third above the G. We now have a really tasty sandwich!
OK so here’s the vid with some tips on finding major and minor thirds on your keyboard, starting from any piano key.
Questions, comments? Please jump in. Let’s make this a community!