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Monday Notes

A Whiter Shade of Pale, all in one scale, like Bach

[Monday Notes no.167] A Whiter Shade of Pale is a classic Procol Harum song, the song that launched the band in 1967. While American rock is mainly inspired by the blues, British rock has always maintained a close relationship with classical music. No wonder, then, that A Whiter Shade of Pale is largely derived from…

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Music Lessons

The blues: musical genre, blues scale, blues progression

What is the blues? The answer to this question is not as simple as it may seem, in fact the term ‘blues’ refers to many different things, all of which have to do with music, but the point of view can be very different. In this lesson we will discover different uses of the word…

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Monday Notes

Sharps, flats and circle of fifths. How to write alterations

My students often ask me when to use sharps and when to use flat when writing a note or chord. The answer to this question is not so simple, what is true for single notes is not always true for scales and chords. So let’s see how to use sharps and flats to write notes,…

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Piano

How to play songs on the piano. Adapting a song for the piano

How do you play a song on the piano? In this lesson we will see how to use the piano to accompany a singer, but also how to adapt a melody so that it can be played only with the piano, in an instrumental version.

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Music Lessons

Form in pop songs and jazz standards

Songs in general, and jazz standards in particular, tend to repeat patterns and repetitive harmonic successions. It is important to understand well how these chord successions are organised and the structure of the songs as a whole. You will then be able to play more relaxed, and consequently more creatively. In this lesson we will…

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Music Lessons

Tonal and modal music: what is the difference?

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

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

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

Jim Grantham Jazzmaster Cookbook, a review and study guide

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…

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Piano

Piano chords, learn chords with a photo negative

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…

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