Monday, March 17, 2008

Familiarize with the 12 keys

Hey, I didn't write here since long, anyway I am adding some new stuff.

A good thing indipendent from your ABILITY LEVEL is to work to feel at home in all the 12 keys (major/minor + other modes).

I would suggest AVOIDING starting without 7 modes, or the so called "common practice" (="Bach harmonization"). Just use scales, one scale at a time. Mark 5 notes as wrong, 7 as good and go on.

C Major good notes: C D E F G A B
C Major bad notes: C# D# F# G# A#
(call this C Major, A Minor, C Ionian... the concept is "I choose 7 notes")

A Major good notes A B C# D E F# G#
A Major bad notes: A# C D# F G


So the first step for mastering the keys is to start to play ANYTHING on a single key. Just sit there and let your fingers flow. Stick to one key, don't alter the 7 tones yet.

It is nice if you can in basic way give a structure to what you are doing. The easiest thing in this case is to try an A-B-A form. So start with a mood, then switch to another one (a constrasting mood), then back to the first.

This is a very elastic concept. You can adapt it to your level of knowledge of course.

Why not try this:
A: Walz
B: Tango
A: Back to Walz


A: some riffing in Heavy Metal style (great on the organ, but fun on piano too)
B: solo melody with rich chords as accompainment (we stick to 7 notes remember!)
A: back to Heavy Metal


These are just suggestions, the idea here is to have some fun WHILE BEING ABLE TO MOVE THE FINGERS ON THE 7 notes.

You have to thing to:

1) don't hit the wrong 5 notes
2) keep the music flowing.

Start with the white keys ("CMajor"). Play for as many days/weeks you need to master the exercice. Then go one step through the circle of fifths (1 flat or 1 sharp as you prefer).

The goal is not to go through the 12 keys in 1 week, but to master ONE KEY AT A TIME.

Master means moving fingers in the key without thinking too much to the scale notes. (this is easy in C Major, since you just have to skip black notes, anyway use C Major as a start so you can familiarize with the A B A form and the "letting go" part of the task...

PLEASE NOTE: Add 1 sharp/flat only when you master the previous scale!!!