It's been a little crazy around here celebrating my birthday today and our anniversary. Plus, tomorrow is the Super Bowl... Needless to say, a very busy time for me. I've been taking a look at some of your emails that have been pouring in and mostly many of you are requesting phat chords. Some want beginner tips on playing the piano. Perhaps short articles are better than the long ones. We'll see...
I was reading an article recently by Dr. Damani Phillips. He included some exercises that might help you build upon simple, rudimentary concepts in ways that may help you unlock refreshing new options.
"The careful manipulation of something as simple as a triplet can be used to significantly to expand the creative palette." -- Dr. Damani Phillips
Unlocking the Power of the Triplet
1. With the exception of appropriate treatment of eighth notes (swung or straight), notes should not be "stylized" and the prescribed rhythm of focus should not be altered in any way (with exception of making space to breathe). Also, all notes should be slurred together unless indicated differently. Removing these expressive aspects from the exercise allows the student to focus exclusively on the sound and feel of the rhythm being used, making quality note choices, and proper application of articulation (when necessary).
2. In the beginning, note choices should be primarily diatonic with only the occasional use of chromatic passing tones or leading tones. This forces you to consider both rhythm and harmonic/melodic content as equally important. Once rhythmic mastery and harmonic accuracy are demonstrated, this rule can be relaxed.
3. Avoid the use of digital patterns. Many popular patterns will work well in this context, but this concept works best when applied to lines that are based in linear melody.
4. Avoid repeated Notes
Step 1: First, establish a baseline comfort with the rules listed above (and your chosen tune) by working to generate a line of flowing quarter notes over your chosen chord progression. Chromatic approach tones are permitted, but should be kept to a minimum as you acclimate yourself to this process:
Am7 = C to G (octave above middle C). Then play A below the C back up to E above C.
D7 = F#, D, B, A (Descending)
Gmaj7 = G steps down to F#, reach up to D then down to C.
Gmaj7 = B, A, G, D
If playing running quarter notes initially proves to be difficult for you, it is also acceptable to start with half notes as your first step in the process and gradually work towards quarter notes.
To be continued! Part 2 next time...
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"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King