Monday Mail: Talk About Film Music

Moulin Rouge
Moulin Rouge (Photo credit: Pep_Parés)


Q: Watching late-night TV movies has made me aware of the background music written for each film. Can you tell me something about film music?

A: My mother and grandmother told me that in the old silent-film days the screen action was accompanied by a "live" pianist who improvised suitable sounds to match the action, or by a small orchestra that played popular tunes and operatic music.

Few people realize that the first original film music dates back to 1908, when composer Camille Saint-Saens (who wrote, "The Carnival of Animals") penned a film score for "The Assassination of the Duc de Guise."

By the 1920s, film companies began to provide pit orchestras with short mix-match descriptive pieces suitable for the screen action, with such helpful titles as "Help, Help" and "Love's Response," and by the late 20s some music was composed just for certain silent films. Well-known composers such as Erik Satie, Richard Strauss, and Arthur Honneger got into the act as well.

With the arrival of the "talkie," about 1929, an original soundtrack became possible for a whole generation of films, some rather routine, but many with genuine musical interest, written by "serious" composers willing to venture into the new (and well paid!) medium.

The list is long and wonderful but here are a few I've highlighted:

Sergei Prokofiev, "Alexander Nevsky" (1938)

Aaron Copland, "Our Town" (1940)

William Walton, "Hamlet" (1948)

George Auric, "Moulin Rouge" (1953)

Leonard Bernstein, "On the Waterfront" (1954)

By the 1950s and 60s, film composing became a distinct profession in itself, with a whole fleet of specialists providing music for all of the Hollywood and New York studios: Dmitri Tiomkin, Elmer Berstein, Miklos Rosza, and Bernard Herrmann (the chief composer for the Hitchcock films), naming a few here.

Today film music has expanded into new dimensions, combining electronic sounds with instrumental and vocal music (such as in the scores for "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the "Star Wars" series) becoming very much an art form in its own right. This fascinating subject is worth investigating at your local library because film making has indeed gone to a whole new level with 3D and all.



All the best,






"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Monday Mail: Why Didn't Schubert Finish His Unfinished Symphony?

Romanza Andaluza [Diptych]
Romanza Andaluza [Diptych] (Photo credit: pablofalv)


Q: No one's been able to tell me why Schubert didn't finish his "Unfinished Symphony." Do you have the answer?

A: I'm sorry to say that I don't think anyone knows the real reason why Franz Schubert didn't complete his Symphony No. 8 in B minor. There are all sorts of guesses and romance stories, but the composer didn't leave a clue behind. I guess all that we know is that Schubert completed two movements and he began sketches for a Scherzo movement. So, probably he either put it aside for other works (and died before coming back to it), or that he temporarily ran out of ideas that matched the high inspiration of the finished movements.

As fine a work as it is, the "Unfinished" waited for 46 years to be published! Schubert finished the two movements in 1822, sent the score to his friend Huttenbrenner, died six years later, got a first performance in 1865, and publication in 1868.

Dr. James Stevens

Many of my readers perform regularly with a worship band in a church service.  That means you know about lead sheets, improvisation, modulations and so much more. Looking back, when I was a moderator in the zone community at the Hear and Play website, I spoke with a wonderful musician and friend James Stevens, who is the Professor of Music at Welsh College. For more information   with tons of great music resources, like improvisation handouts and guides, you'll want to visit his website.  James covers a range of improvisation and arranging topics – from how to read a chord chart,  chords for modulation and walking bass lines.



Besides the free improvisational downloads, you'll find two volumes of original piano solos on his wonderful site that can be downloaded as PDF files. I was so surprised to hear from Mr. Stevens recently and so blessed to receive a copy of his latest book, Romanza of the Heart, a set of “romantic piano compositions for relaxation and contemplation.”  I have been playing through the songs and love the heart-warming compositions with such beautiful, flowing melodies.  It's difficult to have a favorite because all of them are beautiful and very enjoyable to play. They’re written for intermediate to early advanced level for young students and adults. Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes

Thank you, Dr. Stevens. Best wishes and much continued success.

If you have the time, be sure and head over to his site for Free Improv Downloads

Blessings,





"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Earth Moves for Carole and Daria Sings

daria sings for earth day

Earth Day Movement

The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it...  As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. For more information, read about Earth Day History
turtle shell rattle

 Daria's World Music

When I reflect on Earth Day, I always think of Daria's World Music and Carole King's "I Feel The Earth Move." Remember that one? If you're not familiar with Daria, please visit Celebrate Earth Day and Music from the Andes. She's always having a giveaway, providing coloring pages and tips on how to make beautiful musical instruments like the Turtle Rattle mentioned above.


Also, you can purchase her MP3s:
We've Got the Whole World In Our Hands
Daria Sings For Earth Day

I posted the chords to one of my favorite James Taylor songs awhile back. It was Carole King who wrote You've Got A Friend

I Feel The Earth Move
I feel the earth - move - under my feet
I feel the sky tum-b-ling down - tum-b-ling down
I feel my heart start to trem-b-ling -
Whenever you're around
  This song became a huge hit in 1971 from Carole King's Tapestry album.
I Feel The Earth Move

Chords and Lyrics

Intro: Cm7

         Cm7        
I feel the earth move under my feet

           Cm7
I feel the sky tumbling down

          F7
I feel my heart start to tremblin'

Cm7                   Bb7+
Whenever you're around

D#7+           Cm7
Ooh baby when I see your face

 F7                    G7
Mellow as the month of May

D#7+                Cm7
Oh darlin' I can't stand it

          F7             G7
When you look at me that way

         Cm7        
I feel the earth move under my feet

           Cm7
I feel the sky tumbling down

           F7  
I feel my heart start to tremblin'

         Cm7         Bb7      Ab     G7     /F F# G Bb /
Whenever you're around

Cm7    Cm7      

Cm7    Cm7
    
Cm7    

Cm7        GUITAR & PIANO SOLO

Cm7    Cm7




D#7+                Cm7
Ooh darlin' when I'm near you

         F7              G7
And you tenderly call my name

    D#7+                Cm7
I know that my emotions

     F7                    G7
Are something I just can't tame I just got to have you baby


Cm7    Cm7       מעבר

         Cm7        
I feel the earth move under my feet

           Cm7
I feel the sky tumbling down tumbling down 
         Cm7        
I feel the earth move under my feet

           Cm7
I feel the sky tumbling down tumbling down 

          Cm7
I just lose control
  Cm7
IN TO MY VERY SOUL
 Cm7
I GET HIGH AND FALL ALL OVER AL OVER ALL OVER AL OVER
 Cm7
I feel the earth move under my feet
           Cm7
I feel the sky tumbling down tumbling down
  Cm7
I feel the earth move under my feet

           Cm7
I feel the sky tumbling down tumbling down ... 
 
 
 
Learn TO Play: Shout To The Lord 

You may be interested in the worship song by Hillsong.  
Oh, how I have played it many times.
One of my musician relatives lives in Australia. He is on their team, so proud! 
Shout to the Lord

C        G 

         
my jesus  my saviour
Am              G        F
lord there is none like you
            C/E  F      
all of my days  i want to praise
Am                   B    F/A  Gsus G
the wonders of your might-y love 
C         G          
my comfort  my shelter
Am        G         F
tower of refuge and strength
          C/E      F         C/G
let every breath  all that i am
Am             B   F/A  Gsus  G
never cease to wor-ship you

   chorus
C             Am          F            F/G   G
shout to the lord all the earth let us sing
C         Am         F          Gsus   G
power and majesty praise to the king
Am                         F   
mountains bow down and the seas will roar 

And here is the song in the Key of A.

Verse
A            E
My Jesus my Saviour
F#m             E             D
Lord there is none like You
              A/C#  D            A/C#
All of my days   I want to praise
         F#m                 G  D/F#  E
The wonders of Your mighty   love

A              E
My comfort my Shelter
F#m          E              D
Tower of refuge and strength
                A/C#   D        A/C#
Let every breath   all that I am
F#m                G   D/F#   E
Never cease to worship   You

Chorus
A                 F#m
Shout to the Lord
           D              E
All the earth let us sing
A                F#m
Power and majesty
D                 E
Praise to the King
F#m
Mountains bow down
              D
And the seas will roar
            E      D            E
At the sound of Your name
A           F#m
I sing for joy
            D                  E
At the work of Your hands
     A          F#m
Forever I'll love You
    D            E
Forever I'll stand
F#m                               D
Nothing compares to the promise
    E         A
I have in You

Blessings to you,
 





"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Monday Mail: What Actually Happens to a C7 Chord Suspension?

suspension
Photo Credit: OldGreySeaWolf

Many readers ask for more information on chord suspensions.

Q: "What actually happens to a C7 chord suspension?"

A: Wikipedia says:

Suspended chords are commonly found in folk music and popular music... A suspended chord (sus chord) is a chord in which the (major or minor) third is omitted, replaced usually with either a perfect fourth or a major second,  although the fourth is far more common. The lack of a minor or a major third in the chord creates an open sound, while the tension between the fourth and fifth or second and root creates dissonance.

Actually, suspensions are used in two very different ways. The term "suspension" comes from a technique developed in early classical music (one associates its origins with the Baroque era). When a dissonant note is placed on a strong beat in place of an expected consonant one, and when that note then moves to a consonance, the result is a slight delay or "suspension" of the harmonic movement. We are forced to wait for a resolution of the chord progression, and feel temporarily "suspended."


DbEbGbAbBb
CDEFGABC
DbEbGbAbBb
CDEFGABC

 Dm7 = D/FAC

For example, here is a simple II-V-I chord progression. First, it resolves clearly and directly to a C chord. Next, it moves into a C suspension (an F is used instead of an E in the C harmony); this suspension then resolves when the F moves down to an E.


DbEbGbAbBb
CDEFGABC
DbEbGbAbBb
CDEFGABC

 G7 = G/FGB


DbEbGbAbBb
CDEFGABC
DbEbGbAbBb
CDEFGABC

C = C/EGC

So, you can repeat the same chords, Dm7 and G... then play:


DbEbGbAbBb
CDEFGABC
DbEbGbAbBb
CDEFGABC


Csus4 C = C/FGC then to C/E 

Sometimes this suspension-resolution formula appears in a form associated with hymn and gospel playing. Like, C/FGC, then single r.h. notes E, D, E.

But there is another type of suspended sound, and it doesn't follow these rules. It occurs in very contemporary pop and jazz pieces. Simply, this kind of suspension is a chord sound in which the fourth is used instead of the third. It is a sound enjoyed for its own sake, and it doesn't resolve or move in any particular way. Here it is in a V-I progression using dominant and seventh harmonies.


DbEbGbAbBb
CDEFGABC
DbEbGbAbBb
CDEFGABC

C11 = C/BbDF then C/BbDFG

DbEbGbAbBb
CDEFGABC
DbEbGbAbBb
CDEFGABC

F11 = FBb/EbGC, then F/EbGBbD

The best way to fully understand the way suspensions are used is to try them in as many situations as possible.



Suspended chords leave you hanging in mid air. They create suspense or anticipation. They sound and feel as though they should be resolved. And so they are used in endings. Also, they are perfect for extending the measure to do a run in your right hand. For more on this subject, visit How to Play Suspended Chords

A suspended chord (or a chord suspension) is usually made by holding one of the tones of a chord a tone higher, then resolving it to its resting place. This can be done with any tones of a chord, but one of the more common suspensions is to manipulate the third of the chord, by first playing the fourth, and resolving it to the third. So a C suspended chord has the tones of the root, the fourth and the fifth. More on suspended chords, here.

One of the best music resources that is a theory book is called 300pg Course Book. You'll learn about a common passing chord, the diminished7. Passing chords are simple and adding passing chords is a great way to spice up your progressions.

*some affiliate links in this post*

Have fun playing chord suspensions!

All the best,






"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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John Legend: Refuge (When It's Cold Outside)


John Legend: When It's Cold Outside l LadyDpiano


Words and Music by John Stephens, DeVon Harris and Paul Cho. Copyright 2004.

Key of D, Moderately, 4/4 Time Signature

Intro: 
D/F#  G  A  G/B (2 x's)


Verse 1:
D/F#               G
    I pray for better days to come
A                     G/B
    I pray that I would see the sun
D/F#               G
    'Cause life is so burdensome
A                   G/B 
    When every day's a rainy one
D/F#                G
    But suddenly there's no more clouds
A               G/B
    I believe without a doubt
D/f#              G         
    That heaven sent an angel down
A                        G/B
    And then she turned my life around
D/F#                 G
    You know and I know
A                     G/B
    Friends come and friends go
D/F#              G
    Storms rise and winds blow
A                 G/B
    But one thing I know for sure


Chorus:
          D/F#       G
When it's cold outside
   A                 G/B
There's no need to worry cause
    D/F#      G
I'm so warm inside
A              G/B
You give me peace
         D/F#       G
When the storm's outside
  A             G/B
Cause we're in love I know
      D/F#     G
It'll be alright
 A              G/B
Alright it's alright

D/F#  G  A  G/B
Oooh...

D/F#  G  A  G/B
Oooh...


Verse 2:
D/f#                   G
    Now peace is so hard to find
A                      G/B
    We're terrorized and victimized
D/F#              G
    But when I close my eyes
A                     G/B
    And think of you to ease my mind
D/F#                    G
    You take me to another place
A                           G/B
    There's no more war, just love and grace
D/F#              G
    Baby you restore my faith
A                   G/B
    I know the struggle's not in vain
D/F#                G
    You know and I know
A                 G/B
    Through all the battles
D/F#              G
    Baghdad to Israel
A                     G/B
    There's one thing I know for sure


Chorus:
          D/F#        G
When it's cold outside
 A                   G/B
There's no need to worry cause
    D/F#     G
I'm so warm inside
 A           G/B
You give me peace
  D/F#            G
When the storm's outside
 A              G/B
Cause we're in love I know
  D/F#       G
It'll be alright
 A              G/B
Alright it's alright


D/F#                G
    Alright it's alright
A                  G/B
    Alright it's alright
D/F#             G     A  G/B
    Alright it's alright


Chorus:
          D/F#    G
When it's cold outside
   A               G/B
There's no need to worry cause
    D/F#     G
I'm so warm inside
 A          G/B
You give me peace
         D/F#     G
When the storm's outside
  A             G/B
Cause we're in love I know
      D/F#     G
It'll be alright
  A             G/B
Alright it's alright

(Keep playing the same chords)
Cuz you give me peace
In the middle of the storm
When it's cold you're keeping me warm
It's alright
It's alright
I'm never gonna leave
You give me what I need
It's alright, alright

 D/F# G A G/B (2 x's and fade)

These chords are from the songbook:

John Legend - Get Lifted

More chord charts to some songs from John Legend.

Have a favorite song from this fine artist?

Best,





"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Monday Mail: What Is Absolute Pitch?



Q. My friend says she has "absolute pitch." What does that mean?
A. Wikipedia says:

Absolute pitch (AP), widely referred to as perfect pitch, is the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of an external reference.
For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_pitch

Absolute pitch is a certain kind of hearing ability that can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on the situation. It is a sense that some people have of the actual pitch of any note they hear. In other words they can identify any pitch you play (let's say "E" or "G#") without looking at the instrument. Some people claim they are born with this ability, but it is much more likely that they really have an excellent aural memory, and simply "remember" the name of a pitch once they've heard it and have been given its name. It really helps a string player in tune, but is very difficult to deal with if someone else is playing out of tune; what the rest of the folks can accept drives an "absolute pitch" person crazy!

However, anyone can develop "relative pitch" with practice. This learned ability allows you to identify a given pitch in relation to another note already played. If I tell you I'm playing a "C," for example, you would then be able to name a second pitch either above or below that "C" - and relative pitch won't drive you crazy.

I wrote an article awhile back on Relative Pitch. Here it is if you're interested.

Relative Pitch is the ability to be able to listen to music and identify intervals between pitches (and even chords). Having relative pitch is different from ideal pitch.

This is an article on how to listen effectively. There are various ways to harmonize the melody. For example, in the event you determined the one note melody to Jingle Bells, you'd be able to apply elementary chords in a matter of minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What if I don't require to play a chord on every melody tone?
2. How do I figure out the chord progressions that I'm hearing when the melody isn't as evident?
3. What if I require to play chords and not follow the melody?
4. What if I'm accompanying someone who is already playing or singing the melody?

Harmonizing the melody is more common for hymns, basic songs, nursery rhymes and melody-intensive tunes.

1. Ideal Pitch

When it comes to effectively listening to music to learn new songs, there's different ways to do it:
Some folks think you require ideal pitch to play by ear but that isn't true.

2. Relative Pitch

Ideal pitch is the ability to listen to exact tones without the use of a musical gizmo or reference. One out of 10,000 people have the ability to listen to a C tone & say that's a "C" without using the piano.
Now, some people with ideal pitch have a hard time with relative pitch (which is more practical for learning by ear).

Relative pitch does not depend on specific notes. It depends more on intervals & distance between notes. With relative pitch, you may not know specifically what chords or tones are being played (like "C" or "E") but you know what's going on(e.g. - You know that a song is beginning on a major chord & moving to the minor sixth keynote).

Someone with nice relative pitch would know that a melody line like C to E to G is utilizing the notes of a major chord, but might not know which major chord (because unlike ideal pitch, the exact note is unknown until you sit in front of a piano & determine it.) In the event you can listen to the changing chords in your head and can quickly transfer this knowledge to the piano (after determining the major key), then you have developed nice relative pitch.

Often times, it is going to the piano and matching up tones that allows you to play a song (literally in seconds because you already know what's going on -- you require a reference a reference point -- a major key. Let's say you've been studying intervals and by now, you know that a "2-5-1" progression is common at the finish of a song. Now, you're listening to a song & there you listen to it, a "2-5-1". You even know that it's a min9 chord because it sounds jazzy going to some kind of dominant chord (like a 13 chord) and then finally returning home to a pleasant major chord.

Most of "playing by ear" occurs in the mind. If you've gotten to the point where you can pinpoint 2-5-1 & 1-4 progressions in songs, then you're relying on relative pitch. You're doing well.
You may not know specifically that it's a Gbmin9 or an Fmin9 but you know it's a minor9 and it occurs on the second tone of the scale. The 'actual' note will be determined one time you actually figure out what major key the song is in. The major key usually brings everything together at the finish.

The missing factor is the major key the song is being played in. So the same person would go to the piano, hit a few notes & shortly determine that the major key is C Major.

Ask yourself a few questions:

1. What is the 2 of C major?
2. What is the 5 of C major?
3. What is the 1 of C major?

The answers to those questions would provide the keynotes for the chords you already know.

Apply the chords: Dmin9 -- G13 -- Cmaj

So, the keynotes of a 2-5-1 progression in C major would be: D to G to C.
This gets simpler as you play 2-5-1 progressions over and over. They become second nature as any other progression will. Ideally, if they call out, "play a 2-5-1, your response ought to be, "in what key?" That's what level you require to be at -- where you know all of your chords and progressions in all twelve keys and it literally takes seconds to play any chord progression in the event you know the key to play it in.

I know it's not that elementary but one time you get it, you'll be hearing music in your head and know what's going on before you get to the piano.

On a former post, I wrote about Things You Should Know About Sound

Some people can name the notes they hear. This is called Perfect Pitch. When people with perfect pitch look at a musical score they can hear in their mind what the pitches of the notes are.

Mozart had perfect pitch. He would listen to a performance of a long work and later write down every note. He could also instantly name any note played on the piano without looking at the keys.

Test yourself: Have someone play a note in the center of the piano. Without looking, guess what note it is. If you get good, try notes that are nearer the ends of the keyboard.

Pitch

Musicians use seven letters of the alphabet to name pitches: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, but there are many more pitches than just seven. There are some very low cs and very high Cs. This all depends on the octave in which they are located. Don't forget about the black keys. They are different pitches, too. (There are even pitches in between the keys. You can't play them on the piano, but imagine a violinist sliding his finger up the string and hitting every possible pitch.)

Try it: Play all the Cs on the piano. Their sound will match, but as you move up, each one is higher and higher.

Pitch is one of the most important parts of music. It tells us how high or low a note is. Without notes of different pitches, we couldn't have music.

To understand how this works, imagine hitting two sticks together. They make a sound, but you can't match it to a key on the piano. Some drums -like the sticks- do not have a pitch that can be matched to a note. They make a sound (and you can create interesting patterns and rhythms with them), but you can't play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or any other song.





"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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