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So, what’s a Paiku? It’s my own term for a short piano piece that uses no more than 3 chords and lasts for no longer than 2 minutes.
I came up with the term to teach my students about improvisation and how they can create something beautiful at the piano in a very short time - and with very little skill involved!
Here’s how it’s done…
First, choose a key to play in. This can be anything from Major to modal. The key can also be chosen by playing around on the piano and discovering it from there. What I like to do is just sit down and see what comes up. The Key center can be determined right then or even before playing.
Second, begin improvising right away using the first chord. For example, let’s say I sit down at the piano and like the idea of playing something in E Major. I reach for an E Major 7 chord and this begins the improvisation. All Paiku’s must be improvised. A haiku is a short poem about a present moment experience. A Paiku is the exact same thing, only for music.
Last but not least, you are only allowed 3 chords to play with. For instance, in the above example I begin by playing a E Major 7 chord. The first chord determines the Key so I can play any other chord from the Key of E Major. Chords must be within the Key so I can’t go outside of E Major.
The point is to keep it simple so you can focus on the improvisation and stay in the present.
The music that you create in your Paiku may also have a title. I prefer nature themes and will use something like ‘Autumn Leaves’ or ‘Sea Breeze’ to capture a mood. Titles can be added before or after your Paiku is done.