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Monday Notes

Nat King Cole plays and sings Mona Lisa, a song with an Italian flavour

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[Monday Note 36] Nat King Cole was a formidable jazz pianist, yet he had greater success as a singer. Songs such as Mona Lisa, Smile and Unforgettable made him popular and led to him to be the first African American to lead a television show.

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Music Lessons

Understanding music to improvise better: form in jazz standards

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Jazz standards tend to consist of repetitive harmonic patterns and sequences. It is important to understand how these chord patterns are organised and the structure of the pieces as a whole. This will allow you to play in a more relaxed, and consequently more creative, way. In this lesson we will therefore discuss form and structure in jazz standards.

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Monday Notes

Gassmann blues, Piero Umiliani’s music for I soliti ignoti by Monicelli

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[Monday Notes n.153] For the soundtrack of the film I soliti ignoti the director Mario Monicelli chose a young Florentine musician named Piero Umiliani. Monicelli wanted a completely jazzy soundtrack, an unusual choice at the time. Let us analyse the main theme entitled Gassmann Blues.

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Piano

June, from “The Seasons” by Tchaikovsky. Simplified version and piano tutorial

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June is part of Op. 37a written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875. The volume was commissioned by a music magazine that asked the composer for twelve pieces of music, dedicated to the twelve months of the year. The pieces were then published with the magazine, one per month.

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Music Lessons

Tonal and modal music: what is the difference?

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What is the difference between modal and tonal music? Often when analysing jazz standards we distinguish between modal and tonal pieces, and the same happens when we talk about improvisation: there is modal improvisation and tonal improvisation. So let's try to explain the difference between modal and tonal music by giving some concrete examples.

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Music Lessons

Modulation in music: what it is, what it is used for

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Modulation is a movement of chords by which a piece of music changes from one key to another. Modulation is most often used in the classical and jazz repertoire, while it is used less in rock and pop, where songs usually remain in the initial key throughout their entire duration.

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Music Lessons

Perfect cadence, plagal cadence and minor cadence

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What is a cadence in music? In this lesson, you'll find out what the three most important cadences are and where they are used: the perfect cadence, the plagal cadence and the minor cadence. We will also talk about a special type of cadence called a turn around.

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Music Lessons

Loudness and musical notation, how music dynamic works

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The loudness of a sound or noise depends on the amplitude of the vibration, which in turn depends on the force exerted on the body generating the vibration. From a scientific point of view, loudness is precisely measurable, whereas on the staff, loudness does not have an absolute but a relative value. This is why in music we don't speak of intensity of sound, but of dynamics.

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Music Lessons

Jim Grantham Jazzmaster Cookbook, a review and study guide

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The Jazzmaster Cookbook by Jim Grantham is a very comprehensive and ambitious book on jazz theory and improvisation. In this review I explain why I recommend reading and studying it, but also what are the limitations that can render even relatively simple concepts complicated and lead a beginner student to be even more confused than before.

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Piano

Piano chords, learn chords with a photo negative

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Learning chords on the piano is not difficult, but we can use different techniques and different ways of thinking. In this lesson I propose a simple and effective system for learning and remembering chords on the piano, we'll call this system the photo negative technique. We will also see how to perform chord arpeggios and you can download the .pdf with the correct fingerings.