Practice Session 4: Rehearsing Past Chords

I’ve been trying to find a way to make a piece that uses a chord progression of a tritone. In music theory, there is basically no way to do this “correctly” without following a bunch of other rules.

I suppose you could say I’m trying to defy the system here. Let me know if you think my defiance has potential, or if the system knows better.

I used strings so the chords would be more defined

Gazelem (Simplified)

Gazelem is a piece that usually requires 3 pianos. Unfortunately I don’t have 3 pianos. So I did a recording with my keyboard of the main 2 parts.

The piece uses polyrhythm – 3/4 time and 4/4 time to get the effect I wanted. There is more going on than what can be seen just by watching, but I thought I’d do a simple video of a simplified version of Gazelem.

Obviously, this is a cheap recording, you can even hear the keys pounding, and I hit a couple wrong keys throughout the piece, but I think you’ll get the gist of it.

To hear the full version, go to http://willowrise.com/music.htm

Or, to download a free copy of the full piece, click here.

Practice Session 2: 21 Month Old Pianist

I sat down to record another practice session, and my 21 month old daughter decided she wanted to join me. I obliged. I didn’t help her with her part at all (she’s improvising!), but just played the left hand to accompany her.

What do you think?

The Comforter’s Fire

PlayPlay

Listen to Comforter’s Fire

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Mal. 3: 2-3
2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

The Lord is a refiner. He allows people to experience trials in order to sanctify and purify them, to make them strong, compassionate, and clean. Surely the crucifixion of the Savior acted as a refiner’s fire to his disciples.

Knowing that His time was at hand, Jesus Christ spent his last night before his imprisonment with his apostles. He knew the fear and terror His

disciples were about to face, so

He promised to send them a comforter.

John 14:26, 16-18

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

The fullness of that comfort did not come until they were baptized with fire and the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The refinement that came from the horrible experience of the crucifixion acted to consecrate the apostles for their pending calls to take the gospel into all the world. The baptism of the Spirit felt on the day of Pentecost completed that purification, and gave them all the strength, power, and comfort necessary to become powerful vessels of the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It truly was a baptism of fire, and it changed them forever.

One lesson we can learn from this is that when endured properly and well, the Refiner’s fire can become the Comforter’s fire.

Practice Session 1

People occasionally ask me how I come up with the music I write. In response, I have decided to start recording some of my music practice sessions, to provide a feel for what happens. This is a practice session, flaws and all. The fact that I have posted a tune does not indicate whether or not I like the stuff I’m playing – it simply means I thought the practice session was typical enough to post it.

Practice Session 1, 26 January 2008
With this piece, it is a first time improvisation. It has never been played before, so please excuse the mistakes. I may develop it later, or if I don’t like it, I may forget about it.Please comment and let me know if any of it is worth developing. This is a sample of a first time attempt at coming up with a brand new piece.

Play by Ear, Write by Heart – part 2

Click HERE to see the updated version of this entry

Introduction Continued…

When it comes to teaching people to play the piano, I have no teaching experience other than little bits of advice I’ve given to a few who have desired to learn to play by ear. I have only had a small taste of traditional piano lessons (probably less experience than most of the piano players you know). But I have great faith in the ordinary person to become a great musician. I believe that anyone – anyone who truly desires it, can become a great piano player. I have seen ordinary people who consider themselves completely “un-musically inclined” become so proficient at the piano that people ask them when they are going to publish a CD. People are surprised to hear that they have only been playing for a year or two.

Over the years, I have tried to notice things that could help me introduce others to the field, and to hopefully help them to know what to look for, so that they will not have to take as long as I did to learn what I have learned. As a matter of fact, it has taken me longer to learn to play by ear than it does for most people. I have been learning to play by ear for about 13 years, and there are a few things that, if I had known them earlier, would have gotten me further faster.

Let me also warn you up front that this is not a music theory discussion. It is not a method to replace piano lessons. If you truly desire to become a proficient piano player, you’ll need piano lessons. I have neither the expertise nor the desire to teach you how to read music. That is not my intent. If you are striving to become a well-trained piano player, this method is discussed as a supplement to your lessons, not a replacement. I have studied a lot of music theory, and I may use some few of its concepts, but I’ll probably use very little of the proper terminology, since that is not my purpose. Besides, musical terms tend to scare some people away. Some people are annoyed by musical jargon. Sometimes I am one of those people, even though I usually understand it. For the sake of the intent of this discussion, I’ll only use enough theory to assist in explaining a principle. But the bulk of the material in this book will be independent of traditional music theory.

I have structured this discussion to teach both those who have never even seen the face of a keyboard, and those who have had 20 years of piano lessons. Whether your intent is to become a great musician, or just to have a fun, new hobby, this discussion is for anyone who has ever had the desire, or just the mere curiosity, to learn to play music by ear. I also hope to go into as much depth as possible about learning to write your own music.

Play by Ear, Write by Heart

Click HERE to see the updated version of this entry

Introduction

Part 1

Often when I am speaking with someone about music, I mention the fact that I play piano by ear. Almost inevitably, their response is the same. In some form, they say: “That’s so cool! I wish I could do that, but there’s no way. A person has to have a special gift in order to be able to do that.” They speak of playing by ear as some incredible, mystical talent that must be granted or inherited, rather than developed like other talents.
Admittedly, I do believe it is a gift. But it is a gift that is given to nearly every person on earth, and must be developed more than discovered. There are also some who suppose the work and practice required developing this talent would take so much time and effort that it wouldn’t be worth it. That is simply not so. Most people who give it a sincere try find it is easier than learning to read music, and it for most, it doesn’t take as long.impressionist-playing-piano.JPG

Many people have come to believe that learning to play piano by ear is not possible unless you are some sort of genius. Because this misconception is so widely spread, most people never even try. There are relatively few who realize that an ordinary, unmusically inclined person can develop this talent, and it may even take them less time and effort to learn to play by ear than it would take them to learn to read sheet music. Some may try once, for a few minutes, find it difficult, and then put it away forever. This is a tragedy.

Let me say up front that I am no expert in the field. I have little if any credentials besides my own experience. I have no teaching experience other than little bits of advice I’ve given to a few who have desired to learn to play by ear. I have only had a small taste of traditional piano lessons (probably less experience than most of the piano players you know). So let me tell you why I decided to write this series. I have great faith in the ordinary person to become a great musician. I believe that anyone – anyone who truly desires it, can become a great piano player. I have seen ordinary people who consider themselves completely “un-musically inclined” become so proficient at the piano that people ask them when they are going to publish a CD. People are surprised to hear that they have only been playing for a year or two.

Over the years, I have tried to notice things that could help me introduce others to the field, and to hopefully help them to know what to look for, so that they will not have to take as long as I did to learn what I have learned. As a matter of fact, it has taken me longer to learn to play by ear than it does for most people. I have been learning to play by ear for about 13 years, and there are a few things that, if I had known them earlier, would have gotten me further faster. I would like to share these things with you so you can learn in a short time what took me many years to figure out.

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