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#1019811 - 07/27/06 01:33 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Hi Irish,
It is very common for accomplished musicians to create their own versions of pieces in the standard repetoire. Many of these 'alternate' arrangements have been published and are also in the standard repetoire. It is also very common to improvise in 'serious' (again, I mean no offense by the term) music. Not only do we love to hear live improvisations from great concert artists, but many pieces have sections in them (the cadenzas) that are left open by the composer for improvisation by the soloist. Music of the baroque era was written using figured bass which served a similar function to our modern lead sheets. Improvising was required to realise the figured bass. Each performer would use the information differently - adding his own embellishments based upon his interpretation of the piece and what was going on (musically) around him. Bach was famous for his improvising as was Liszt and more famous names than I could possibly mention.
I think that the general public has the mistaken idea that classical music must be performed in a very strict note-cast-in-stone manner because of the tremendous study involved. Mastery of the craft/art requires strict attention to becoming proficient in the details of technique, theory, musical style periods, and the master works of the repetoire. The student is required to strive for note perfect performance before being allowed to take liscence. And, there is much less forgiveness in the improvisation of 'Serious' music. Those who do so are expected to maintain a level of musical complexity that would otherwise be composed. Because it takes very gifted musicians to do this, the average person most often hears faithful renditions of the repetoire. But even when a performer attempts to perfectly interpret the specific notes of the score there is tremendous lattitude regarding note values, volume, realization of ornaments, and passages reserved by the composer entirely for the performer to display his abilities. No two renditions of a 'concert hall' (I hope this is less offensive than the dreaded 'serious' - although it's equally mis-leading) piece are the same. Some interpretations are readily accepted, some are very controversial. Best of all, there is no consensus and the debate is often heated.
I hope that, rather than offending anyone, my post may cause readers to re-think their concept that so-called classical music is stodgy. It is comprised of every imaginable concept regarding the organisation (and lack of organisation) of sound. Anyone who decides to explore the far reaches of it will be amazed at the vibrance and diversity of it.
Best musical wishes to all,
Walt

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#1019812 - 07/27/06 01:36 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Seaside,
I knew that you understood my intentions. Bottom line - it's all for fun! And it's more fun because we're able to share our differing views w/each other!!
Walt

#1019813 - 07/27/06 01:44 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Lee- don't you DARE go changing this topic around!!! LOL I like fun, but I do enjoy a serious conversation now and again and I think we are getting some good insights here! (But don't stop recoridng your "bloopers"- they are great!)


-Mak

1889 Mason & Hamlin screwstringer upright
Kawai MP-4 digital

---------------------------
When life hands you lemons, throw them back and add some of your own. Stupid life.
#1019814 - 07/27/06 01:46 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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I'm all for fun laugh ...Uncle Walt smile


Lee thumb

right...back to

"Bloopers Are Fun"!!


Twitter: @Seaside_Lee
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#1019815 - 07/27/06 01:53 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Walt-

You make some excellent points. And I did not mean to imply that I think there is no room at all for any sort of artistic interpretation or even improvisation in "serious" music (I don't like that term, either, but I don't have a better one!). Just as a quick example, in my own collection, I have 3 recordings of Tchaikowsky's 1st Piano Concerto (which has always been a favorite), and, yes, absolutley, all three are different. To the point that there is one I love, one I can listen to, and the third? Well, let's just say I listened to it twice- just to be sure- and haven't played it again... But that is just my taste- you may differ and that's perfectly ok.

It's that darned talking in generalities that gives the problems, I think. All I was trying to say was that there is a perception among a portion of people who are more grounded in popular music that classical IS stuffy and stodgy and "not to be messed with." It's not true in many ways, but it persists. And that all this serious music requires one to study and learn all about the technical ins and outs of music to appreciate it. Hogwash! The real problem is that so many people dismiss certain types of music (serious, jazz, whatever) because "I wouldn't understand it." So? If you listen and LIKE it, isn't that all that really should matter? If it inspires you to learn more, fine. But there is validity in just listening and enjoying.


-Mak

1889 Mason & Hamlin screwstringer upright
Kawai MP-4 digital

---------------------------
When life hands you lemons, throw them back and add some of your own. Stupid life.
#1019816 - 07/27/06 02:05 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Irish,
Absolutely! Hopefully our conversation will get someone curious enough to question their views and explore areas to which they weren't previously receptive. Finding music that intrigues you is the first step (and the tip of the ice-berg). How much one pursues the 'ins and outs' of it is needs based. However, in both popular and 'the other kind of music' (lol) the stories behind the music add enormously to the appreciation of the music itself.

#1019817 - 07/27/06 03:16 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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w_scott; thanks for all that great info! Where can a person learn this kind of information? My mind has been challenged. Great stuff.

#1019818 - 07/27/06 03:48 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Seaside

I'll take a few guesses on your secret.

It is that when you hit the wrong notes with the right feeling/rhythms they sound right?

How about this: The true "identity" of a song lies in its melody. If you play the melody there are endless ways to get creative with the harmony (chords). You may alter their rhythms, even changing the chord itself as long as it enhances and works with the melody.

Also, even if you forget and blooper the melody once in a while, as long as enough of it has been stated and the tune is familiar to the listeners, they will "listen through" the wrong notes because they are hearing them in their heads. It is almost like a kind of amnesia, since when asked afterwards most will reply they heard no noticable mistakes.

Also if you are playing in public, the more facial expressions of concentration and inner bliss you can make, the better everyone thinks you sound!

Oh yeah...MUSIC is flexible. It isn't just popular music, but all music. The main thing is that music has to be...well...musical. So you can't just make obviously unmusical mistakes...pounding wrong notes loudly and with poor rhythm is never OK. The ability for us to make music, to listen and be influenced, to stretch out with our imaginations and express ourselves is the essence of music, IMO.

People listening will always hear in a positive light any musician who does this.

Because piano music is so diverse, it offers many ways to enjoy making it, from a strict interpretation of Bach to Seaside Lee and others like him.

That's what's so cool about it.


"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx
#1019819 - 07/27/06 04:16 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Yeah not a bad guess Hobie (still you were actually barred form the quiz see-ing as you are a piano teacher bah )

the secret is this...

Once you have firmly established the melody in the ear of the listener and as long as you keep the rhythm and the chords going you can play lots of wrong notes as long as you are still speaking the rhythm of the words wink .

Kinda fun I think thumb


And really easy when you know how


spoil sport laugh


Lee smile


Twitter: @Seaside_Lee
#1019820 - 07/27/06 05:07 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Oh yeah and Hobie

You are right about the chords too (you're just too kool cool )

Yes, substitute and hidden chords can also be used to replace the correct chords to give a melody a different flavour laugh

The more you learn about this stuff the more freedom you have.

Playing loud and proud is also good if you goof up as it makes people think it was definitely deliberate.

And Hobie is quite right too about facial expressions wink


Just incase anyone missed the blooper file in question as it got lost in our wonderful debate about the flexibility of all music ....yes go on then!...even "fussy old classical" ((joke))...here it is again:-

Blue Moon with an unusual melody the further you go smile

Lee smile


Twitter: @Seaside_Lee
#1019821 - 07/27/06 06:21 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Seaside
I know...I'm cool.

You'll probably be reading this tommorow morning unless you are really a night-owl.

I listened to your Blue Moon and you are getting better since the last recording of yours I heard.

Why don't you play the break for that song...you know: "Then suddenly appeared before me..." and it goes through another chord change. Do you have that? I can PM you a chart if you don't. I think just going 'round and 'round with the Blue Moon melody can get old no matter how good you are at changing it up. Just my humble opinion. Also your fills are almost all chord rolls...why not throw a scale run in there with your RH? I would suggest the A blues scale which gives you a nice pentatonic feel with the slide off the flatted third. The notes for the A blues scale go: A, C, D, D#, E, G, A.

I hope you got that!

I love your playing and you are making amazing progress in a short time.

Spoil Sport....*snort* hahaha:)


"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx
#1019822 - 07/27/06 06:34 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Hey Hobie, great pointers! thumb

I'm curious, you called that a break... can you describe the difference between a break, a bridge, and a verse? Are they distinctly different somehow, or is it more vague and interchangable?

Also, you picked an A blues scale, is that because of the key Lee played the song in or is it just a generic scale to use for filler?

Thanks!

Bob

#1019823 - 07/27/06 06:59 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Regarding Classical as "serious" music and popular as everything else seems to me to make sense. Everytime we visit a friends home where one of the kids plays piano or at our house everyone has to stop what they are doing to listen little Mary or billy play "Fur Elise" or brag about the recent recital. When an adult plays something classical, it sounds like just want to show off. But at a party, when someone is playing some jazz or country music or whatever, at the piano, then everyone seems to not only be enjoying themselves, but are also taking part of whats going on by singing, dancing, or whatever.

#1019824 - 07/28/06 01:32 AM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Bob

I'll try to answer your question! It's not totally black and white, but here goes.

A break can be called a change as well. It describes situations like in the one in Blue Moon. 80% of this song is the well known melody section, "Blue moon....you saw me standing alone...etc." Then the song goes to a distinct chordal change for a short verse: "then suddenly appeared be-fore me...the one my heart would always..." it goes on to end with "and when I looked the moon had turned to gold!" then it walks back down to the main part again. I forget all the lyrics, but it is a nice change.

Many pop and jazz songs have this. In "Georgia on my Mind", the break is the part that goes, "other arms reach out to me....other eyes smile tenderly..etc." In Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" there's the main groove, "Very superstitious..." it goes for a while then get to the part, "If you believe in things you don't understand.." That is the change or break.

A bridges are similar, in fact sometimes used as a synonym to breaks. More often than not, bridges tend to be a series of chords that take the song to another section sometimes including a key change. For example, "Layla" by Eric Clapton there is the first instrumental section that sets the tone with guitar riffs. Right before he begins singing, "What will you do when you get lonely?" there are 3 really distinct chords that walk up and make the key change less abrupt. That is a bridge.

A verse is a lyric to be sung. If a song has a set of lyrics to start the song those are verses. Most songs use a verse-chorus-verse-chorus arrangement of some kind. A chorus usually uses the same words while verses change each time. Think about the song, "Midnight Train to Georgia" There's the verses...I think the first one is "LA..proved too much for the man" it goes on until the chorus, "He's leavin'...On a midnight train to Georgia" Then back to a different verse, "He kept dreamin'...that someday he'd be a star" etc. then back to the chorus. There are millions of examples, think, "Hard Rain's a-gonna Fall" by Bob Dylan. The verses are all start with a variation on the question, "where have you been my blue eyed son..." while the chorus is, "and it's a hard...it's a hard...it's a hard... it's a hard rain...a-gonna fall"

Regarding the A blues scale, no it is not a generic filler scale. I did not check but I assume Lee played that song in the key of C. If you use the A blues scale and instead of trying to center the scale on the key of A, you play those notes in the context of the key of C. Like this: play C, D, D#, E, G, A, then C again. That is basically a pentatonic scale with a little roll off of the D# to E, a nice move in lots of pop songs. I associate those notes with the A blues scale, since that's the same pattern.

This works for certain kinds of songs (like Blue Moon). I use this trick in all 12 keys...using a blues scale to replicate a pentatonic scale because I like the way my "little roll" creates fluidity in my riffs. You can locate these useful blues scales in the same way you find relative minor keys, by counting down 3 half-steps from the song's key. Therefore a song in G could use the E blues scale for this same effect. You will have to figure out what songs this works for, all I can say is that they are the "prettier" ones!

Damn you, Bob! You ask a simple question, and I wrote a frikkin' book!

Hope that helps.
Hobie


"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx
#1019825 - 07/28/06 01:59 AM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Thanks Hobie, books are frikkin' great! thumb However, even with a book, I'm still a little fuzzy on the difference between a bridge and a verse. So a verse would be if the song starts out with a verse and then goes to a chorus. While a bridge would be when a songs starts out on a chorus and then uses a single "bridge" between choruses, right?

For example, Misty is A-A-B-A, so the B is considered the bridge?

While Midnight train has something like A-B-A-B-A-and then some funky ending(C?)?

#1019826 - 07/28/06 09:05 AM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Hi Hobie

Quote
Seaside
I know...I'm cool.
To be honest Hobie...I wish you lived near me cause I'd definitely come to you for lessons...you're so flippin' kool cool I reckon I could pick your brains for hours and I'd never stop until you showed me every kool trick in your book smile


Quote
You'll probably be reading this tommorow
yup

Quote
I listened to your Blue Moon and you are getting better since the last recording of yours I heard.
I'll take it...I'll take it...thankyou laugh

Quote
Why don't you play the break for that song...you know: "Then suddenly appeared before me..."
1. I was only trying to show how a mistake can sound good and was comparing it over and over with the same line/s wink

2. I couldn't remember how that bit goes and if I can't remember how the melody goes? I can't play it...I shall listen to a recording and see if I can figure it out, thanks smile

Quote
Also your fills are almost all chord rolls...why not throw a scale run in there with your RH?
I'd never thought of doing it to be honest, (but...know you've pointed it out... I'll try it)

Please don't forget I've only been playing for 2 years and nine months (from absolutely nothing wink ) and I've even spent the last six months (since Mike kicked my butt and then *you*...erm...politely mentioned it and then Mike went and kicked my butt some more) trying to get myself to play in rhythm, I'm not there yet but, I think I'm starting to get a feel for it, finally!!

Hobie, I've got lots to learn and many questions to ask Mike yet...I'm getting there in my own sweet way.

Thanks for taking the time to listen and for the help, as always...


Lee smile


Twitter: @Seaside_Lee
#1019827 - 07/28/06 09:41 AM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Quote
Originally posted by Seaside_Lee:
[QB]To be honest Hobie...I wish you lived near me cause I'd definitely come to you for lessons...
Ditto. smile


Compassion, Love, Strength, Peace, Dignity, Balance, Order
#1019828 - 07/28/06 10:18 AM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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I look at a bridge like a literal bridge. If I am driving down the road and come to a river and there is not a bridge it is going to be a tough ride to the other side but the bridge makes it easy and smooth.

It serves the same purpose in music. It allows you to move from one area to the next area smoothly, otherwise it could sound somewhat abrupt. The abrupt feeling often is not from it sounding rough but from the lack of contemplation you get without the bridge. Often the bridge is used to contrast the verse or prepare the people listening for the climax of the song.

The bridge is like a time of reflection, to prepare you for whats on the other side.

It may sound crazy but I am finding that college writing, comp., and psychology are a great addition to the music education. When you understand the flow of writing and the way the mind often opporates then you can apply this to music and have something that really grabs people.

I hope this does not add confusion. This is not a full explanation but just a side that my weird mind sees. thumb

#1019829 - 07/28/06 10:59 AM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Lee,

Thanks for your kind words. Yes, I know you have only been playing for 2 years. You obviously have a knack for music and I was pleasantly surprised to hear how much progress you have made. Blue moon really sounded nice, and I detected that your melody was being enriched by using another parallel note...perhaps a sixth? Your playing is becoming fuller and more "open". I think you are doing great. BTW, when you use the A blues scale try and keep the melody in your head and make your own melodic ideas all the while flirting with the actual melody or it's rhythms.

Bob,
No. In Misty B is considered the change or the break, IMO. There is another definition of a break, where the music has an abrupt rest. Like in Great Balls of Fire..."You broke my will!" *break* "Oh what a thrill" *break* "Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!"

To be simplistic, verses are lyrics. For example Misty..."Look at me..I'm as helpless as a kitten up a tree" that is a verse. Most musicians will play the melody note from the verse if they can't or won't sing.

It does not matter what words a song starts with. Once in a while a song will start with the chorus, but most of the time it is the verse. A chorus is normally repeated with the same words, while a verse changes each time. This has no bearing on bridges. Verses and choruses are simply lyrics.

I am a gigging musician and I deal with musical jargon...and it changes from musician to musician. In my little world, a bridge is a modulation of chords, usually targeting a new key or chord that takes the song into a new section. Some songs just drop right onto the new section, but others use longer transitions. These transitions are usually called bridges. Think about the Wizard of OZ song, If I only had a Brain. It has the opening verse, "I'd while away the hours...confering with the flowers...consultin' with the rain" it goes for a while, then right before it gets to the "Oh I...could tell you why...."there is a funny little chord change. This is a bridge.

I know it is easy to get confused. I hope that that helps.

Frank, Thanks

Psychopianoman...good analogy.


"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx
#1019830 - 07/28/06 11:10 AM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Psycopianoman,
I think you've got a great first step to learning the 'ins and outs' right here - discussion w/your musical peers, and following up (researching) the things that interest or puzzle you. In your pursuit I'd recommend that you always keep an open mind, but listen critically and strive to make value judgements. At first reading that might seem like encouragement to make judgements about other people's values, but that's definately not the intention. Let me explain. You always want to listen critically (to both music and conversation) not to criticise the source, but to determine what has value for you. When you hear anyone play (or share their thoughts) in public, you first have to acknowledge and appreciate that they are sharing something personal and very special. And they do this despite creating vulnerability for themselves. That alone calls for our respect and our generousity in our treatment of the performer (or speaker). Beyond that point, however, you want to dissect everything about the performance (or conversation) so you can make decisions about what has value FOR YOU. If the performer flubs a passage, you can think about what was difficult about it, how could that performer have avoided the problem, how could you have avoided it. Does his interpretation make you question (or reaffirm) your views about the piece. How about his/her stage composure - how would that work for you. Is it appropriate or distracting. Etc, etc.. You can learn something from everyone. Even (especially) when their approach or view is different from your own. By thinking through their approach w/an open mind, you may expand your view or you may strengthen your differing opinion. Don't get me wrong. You don't want to take things so seriously that you suck the 'fun' out of it. It's perfectly allright to laugh at things that are funny (even at the expense of the performer), and it's essential to have lively (even heated) discussions w/companions regarding the music or topic of the moment. We too often forget that music is a social thing. It is linked to sharing on so many levels - performer to audience, teacher to pupil, companion to companion, etc.. It's a shame that so much music instruction involves talking about it in a classroom. The classroom experience can be invaluable but this is really music out of context. Music classes should include in their syllabus efforts to teach students about music in it's proper social environment. I'm getting off the track, but I think it's important to remember that music is social entertainment. To forget that is missing the point. Now to address my other statement regarding making value judgements. It sounds as though making value judgements is a negative thing. It's not! It's essential for us to determine what OUR values are and to assess the ideas we come into contact w/to see how they fit (or don't fit) or how they must be altered to fit into our value systems. Everyone should be challenged to question their values and make value judgements regarding the concepts (musical or otherwise) to which they are exposed. However, the most important thing to remember is that these (your) values apply only to you. The making of value judgements only becomes a negative if you believe that the values that you've established are universal and apply to anyone other than yourself. I guess I can sum up all of this rambling by saying that I believe we should strive to be open minded, generous, tolerant of differing views, and serious about developing (and practicing) our personal values.
Wow - a lot of words just to say that you should first make the most of the musical resources that are presently available to you.
The second thing I'd advise would be to look for musical resources that you may not previously have considered - take a college music class, attend the receptions following concerts, go to secondary school music functions (they are unbelievably varied now and some are extremely good).
I'm too windy, I know, but I hope there is something here you can use (or discard - as the case may be).
Walt

#1019831 - 07/28/06 11:14 AM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Quote
You obviously have a knack for music
No, he has a knack for playing his keyboard 37 hours a day. When you do that for over two years, it gives the appearance of having a knack for music. laugh

Quote
it changes from musician to musician
Yep, I think I'm getting that. It probably depends on what you've been taught, or what those around you consistently say. If someone called the B section of Misty the bridge, you'd know exactly what they were talking about.

Thanks Hobie and Psych! thumb

#1019832 - 07/28/06 11:20 AM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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IrishMak Offline
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IrishMak  Offline
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Hobie-

I know the terminology gets confusing and sometimes people use the same term for different things, so this may just be one of those times.... But isn't a bridge sometimes used to break up the monotony (for lack of a better term) of the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-verse-chorus.... etc? I'm thinking of Sondheim's Send In The Clowns.

You have the first couple verses:

Isn't it rich? Are we a pair.... Send in the clowns(1st verse)
Isn't it bliss? Don't you approve?.... Send in the clowns (2nd verse)


And then it goes into what I've always thought of as a bridge:
Just when I stopped opening doors
Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours
Making my entrance again with my usual flair
Sure of my lines - no one is there


And back to the closing verses. Or would you think of that part as something else? Or is it just a terminology thing?


-Mak

1889 Mason & Hamlin screwstringer upright
Kawai MP-4 digital

---------------------------
When life hands you lemons, throw them back and add some of your own. Stupid life.
#1019833 - 07/28/06 11:35 AM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Hobie Offline
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Mak

Yes...that also could be called a bridge. I would probably call that a change or break, but I would understand if someone called that a bridge...and I would know what they meant. In my "little world" I just want to be able to make a distinction in the different parts of a song...especailly when talking about it with other musicians. If music is made up of patterns, it sure helps to call those patterns something. Everyone has their own internal way of understanding music. Things get a little harder when a bunch of musicians get together and try to speak a common language.

PS I am much better at explaining things while sitting down at the piano!


"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx
#1019834 - 07/28/06 11:40 AM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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IrishMak Offline
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IrishMak  Offline
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Thanks! Yeah, I know it's sometimes hard to define terms. I learned that from my years singing.... smile


-Mak

1889 Mason & Hamlin screwstringer upright
Kawai MP-4 digital

---------------------------
When life hands you lemons, throw them back and add some of your own. Stupid life.
#1019835 - 07/28/06 12:20 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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Quote
No, he has a knack for playing his keyboard 37 hours a day
Pssst...don't tell anyone in the "practise log club"...they may blow a gasket!!! ha


laugh


Twitter: @Seaside_Lee
#1019836 - 07/28/06 02:30 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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psychopianoman Offline
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Walt, good info once again.

#1019837 - 07/28/06 03:48 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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S_L,

I've been very much enjoying the development shown in your demos. You might want to think about an arrangement which begins with a straightforward presentation of the melody, uses the second demo as the bridge, and the first demo as the return to the melody.

BTW, next week I'll post a review of Scott Houston and Bradley Sowash's The Next Step. One of its best features is a road map for consructing an arrangement. Hope you'll have the time to comment.

DavidH

#1019838 - 07/28/06 04:59 PM Re: Popular music is flexible  
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David

If you like Scotts newest thang...I'll surely buy it smile ...I'm a sucker for buying piano courses :rolleyes:

Quote
You might want to think about an arrangement which begins with a straightforward presentation of the melody, uses the second demo as the bridge, and the first demo as the return to the melody.
yeah, I like the sound of that thumb ...I have just got to get these rhythm foibles (AKA "Seaside_Lee Affliction 2") sorted out first wink

Lee laugh


Twitter: @Seaside_Lee
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