How To Indentify Music Phrases

  • Identify Music Phrases

For a tune to make sense, it needs a structure, just as writing needs sentences and punctuations. Tunes are built from groups of notes that sound as though they belong together as an idea. These groups are known as PHRASES, and are usually separated by a tiny silence when the music is sung or played. (Great place to breathe!)

Musicians often disagree about where phrases start and finish. This is because there is often more than one possible INTERPRETATION. When you play music, try to hear which notes belong together. Phrases may be the same length, or start on the same beat of a measure. Songs may have a phrase for each line of the words.

  • IDENTIFYING PHRASES: Musicians often disagree about where phrases start and finish. This is because there is often more than one possible INTERPRETATION. When you play music, try to hear which notes belong together. Phrases may be the same length, or start on the same beat of a measure. Songs may have a phrase for each line of words.
  • ANSWERING PHRASES: In some music, pairs of phrases of the same length sometimes seem to match each other. The first phrase seems to ask a question, and the second phrase to answer it. (Does this sound like a pattern for the Blues?) For example, the second phrase may seem to answer the first by ending on the tonic when the first phrase did not.
  • RHYTHM PATTERNS: Phrases often have a strong rhythm structure. A pattern may be repeated or varied within a phrase, between phrases, or even throughout a whole piece.
  • MELODIC PATTERNS: Phrases often contain patterns of notes that are repeated exactly, or changed by transposing them to a different pitch or varying the intervals.
  • SHOWING PHRASES: Composers usually do not show phrases in their music. Instead, they show how to play notes within phrases, using signs such as SLURS and STACCATOS. It is up to each player to decide how to phrase the music. Signs such as BREATH MARKS or BOWING can help do this.
  • PHRASES THAT MODULATE: Sometimes a phrase may end in a different key from the one it began in, such as the relative minor or major key. This is called MODULATION. For a tune to modulate clearly, it has to use a note that is in the scale of the new key but not in the scale of the original key. The end result is very professional sounding to the listener’s ear.

Each artist has the unique gift of using dynamics in the song they are performing. What an incredible gift we have to color in the lines, to add our interpretation of musical phrases and give our audience a music idea to listen to. (Phrases that are smooth as glass or as crunchy as peanut brittle!)

For more information on music phrases and music resources that can benefit your playing, please visit my website. Thanks, LadyD

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Lightly Row

Productive People

Productive quotes:
" I hope that I may always desire more than I am able to accomplish." - Michelangelo
" In motivating people, you've got to engage their minds and their hearts. I motivate people, I hope, by example and perhaps by excitement, by having productive ideas to make others feel involved." - Rupert Murdoch
" I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison
" Having a great attitude is not the result of having a great life; having a great life is the result of having a great attitude." - Myles Gentzkow
Productive people share six common characteristics:
1. Have a strong sense of purpose, passion, conviction, a sense of wanting to do something important to make a difference.
2. Are capable of developing and sustaining deep and trusting relationships. They seem to be constantly caring and authentic with other people.
3. Are purveyors of hope and have positive attitudes about reality.
4. Have a balance in their lives between work, power and family or outside activities.
5. Do not tie up all their self-esteem in their position.
6. Have a bias toward action and while not reckless, do not resist taking risk.
Productive people always plant seeds that take root for success. (Jeremiah 17: 7,8)
Productive people eliminate weeds that eat up time and energy (negativity, worry, distraction, selfish ambition.)
Productive people allow God's pruning to meet their needs. (John 15:1,2)
Productive people reveal Christ-like character by deeds of kindness.
Work hard, pray harder. Look ahead not behind.
Productive people are not measured by what they possess; but by what they invest in others. Serve somebody. Build somebody up. GREAT THINGS MAY LAST A LIFETIME. PRODUCTIVE PEOPLE WILL LAST AN ETERNITY!

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You must be as automatic with chords as you are with words, to play piano!
If you have ever studied a foreign language, you will surely recall using vocabulary lists. Remember how many times you had to repeat each new vocabulary word in order to learn it?
Then, after a word became automatic, you felt comfortable anytime the word popped up - in a newspaper article, in conversation, or perhaps in your next lesson. This feeling, in turn, inspired even more confidence in your ability to learn new words. This systematic learning of a few words each day was important in learning that language.
Why not use this vocabulary approach in music? Why not begin your study of modern harmony by actually using some of the chords that you will soon learn to construct?
By memorizing ONE or TWO chords each day, you will soon become fluent in your new musical language, whether it be: Jazz, Pop, Rock R&B, Gospel, Hip Hop, or whatever!
Here's how it works...
Just imagine a typical practice session of SELF-TAUGHT (beginning) pianists.
First, they must HUNT for a chord (or a chord progression) that sounds good to them.
Then, because they're untrained, they must repeat every chord over and over in order to remember it. They must DEPEND completely on their visual, aural and tactile memory to find and use the chord the next day.
This is a valid, even necessary approach, but it provides very little intellectual control.
To summarize, you must repeat a chord, melody or chord progression many times! Take it slow at first.
Make sure you can remember how the chord is constructed (VISUAL); remember the sound of the chord (AURAL); remember how the chord feels to your fingers when you play the chord (TACTILE); and most important, remember the specific notes of the chord (INTELLECTUAL).

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Fake Books- How To Read From Them

A "fake book" is a collection of music - usually popular, traditional, ethnic and semi-classical tunes - arranged in skeletal form providing just the melody and the symbols for the accompanying chords.

They are presented in as abbreviated form as possible, with repetitions of sections and even slight variations not written out in full.

The actual playing of the song with full accompaniment is meant to be improvised or "faked" by the performer. Also, sight reading a song for the first time is usually a lot easier from a fake chart than from a full piano score, the latter having many more notes to read and pages to turn. They also give "pros" the freedom to stylize a song their own way, rather than to play it as arranged in a sheet music version.

Just what does one need to know to play from a fake book?

For one thing, how to read simple music notation. Fake books only print music in the treble clef.

There are two other things you need to learn to play piano successfully from a fake book. One is how to interpret chords symbols - that is, how to actually play all the various types of chords you will run across. This is not such difficult information to learn. Music tends to be fairly logical and consistent, and a chord type in one key will work the same way in another key.

There are, in addition, common chord progressions (chord "changes," in musicians' jargon) which will help you make sense of most of the music you encounter.

The other main thing you need to learn is how to make the accompaniment interesting - how to give some character to the chords and rhythms in order to add flavor and motion to your playing.

Merely fingering the correct notes of each chord is often not really satisfying - the total effect may be dull and amateurish.

Yet it doesn't take all the skill and dexterity of an advanced pianist to sound professional. It's amazing how pleasing the results can be using quite easy-to-play patterns.

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Tritone Xtravaganza

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Can You Harmonize The Melody?

Can you accompany "one-fingered" melodies with full sounding chords? Sure ... it's easy to play a one-fingered melody like "Mary Had a Little Lamb, but the hardest part is finding the right chords to accompany your melody.

To HARMONIZE a melody means to create a chord accompaniment for it. Since the I, IV & V chords contain all the notes of the major scale, many melodies in a major key can be harmonized with just these three chords.

To harmonize a melody with chords, there are 7 basic triad (3 note) chords one can use in a major key: I major, ii minor, iii minor, IV major, V major, vi minor, and vii diminished. In the key of C, these chords would be:

C major = C-E-G
D minor = D-F-A
E minor = E-G-B
F major = F-A-C
G major = G-B-D
A minor = A-C-E
B diminished= B-D-F

To determine the chords to be used, analyze the melody notes. Refer to the following chart to see which chord is generally used with each melody note of a major scale. When more than one chord can be chosen, your EAR should always be the final guide.

When melody note is: Simply play this chord:
C E + G + C (played all at the same time)
D F + A + D
E G + C + E
F A + C + F
G C + E + G
A C + F + A
B D + G + B
C E + G + C

Example: Mary had a little lamb

E D C D E E E (Ma-ry had a lit-tle lamb)

G+C+E (Ma)

F+A+D (ry)

E+G+C (had)

F+A+D (a)

G+C+E (lit)

G+C+E (tle)

G+C+E (lamb)

Notice that the original melody note is still on top! The song still sounds like "Mary had a little lamb", the melody is still obvious, but with the addition of full-sounding harmony!

Use this same harmonization scale technique in every key. The chord notes can also be used to harmonize a choir.

You now have a formula:

A) Determine a melody to any song

B) Replace the melody notes with harmonizing chords making sure to keep the melody note as the highest tone of each chord (see chart above)

C) Add bass (or left hand)

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