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Piano Lesson: Using The Blues Scale

You can start improvising with the help of the blues scale today. You will learn three easy left hand chords and how to use them in your improvisations.

We will use the key of G-major. The first chord to learn is a three finger chord for your left hand that is usually called G13. If we should stick to music theory too literally such a chord would consist of the following scale steps:

1 3 5 7b 9 11 13

In G-major this would be the notes:

G B D F A C E

That's theory, but the chord doesn't sound very nice actually! Normally you can keep the F, B and E. The root G will probably be played on a bass guitar or can just be omitted. Anyway, here is the G13 chord in a very common form:

G13: F3 B3 E4

The numbers indicate in which octave the notes are to be played. C4 is the so called middle C in the fourth octave.

I will now give you the blues scale. First only with the scale steps so you can apply the scale in any key:

1 3b 4 4# 5 7b

It can also be considered a G-minor pentatonic scale with a raised fourth added.

Here are the notes you can play and improvise upon as you hold the G13 chord with the left hand:

G4 Bb4 C5 C#5 D5 F5 G5

We will now take a look at the C9 chord. It is a fitting chord to change to from G13 and also easy to find:

C9: E3 Bb3 D4

It's time to construct a chord progression:

G13 / / / C9 / / /

The advantage of using the blues scale is that it can be used over many chords. We will now try to play a blues progression in G-major with this blues scale. We will need one more chord to construct a three chord blues. Here is the D9 chord:

D9: F#3 C4 D4

Now it's time to play the blues:

G13 / / / C9 / / / G13 / / / G13 / / /

C9 / / / C9 / / / G13 / / / G13 / / /

D9 / / / C9 / / / G13 / / / D9 / / /

Of course you can use notes in the blues scale higher up on the piano keyboard. However, an effective blues solo doesn't need a lot of notes. Try to use only a few notes and focus your energy on creating music.

 


Piano improvisation: Learn To Improvise On Your Piano By Faking

Do you have a fake book? Just one of those songs could be the source of many meaningful exercises that will help you grow as a musicician and as a pianist.

What is a fake book?

A "fake book" contains songs written in a concise format that includes only the melody and chords, letting you interpret the song's performance according to your own taste.

The songs in a fake book have a single melody written out in notes with the lyrics written beneath the notes. Above the notes of the melody you'll find the names of the chords to play.

This format is very compact. You will often see fakebooks containing 500 or more songs. Here are some suggestions on how to use one of these songs for increasing your improvisational skills:

1. Chords. The suggested chords are often very rudimentary. Most jazz pianists spice up the songs with more elaborate chord progressions. Try to find more chords to use in the song. This exercise will increase your skills in chord theory.

2. Scales. When you have elaborated upon the chord progressions in the song you can choose scales that work with the chords you have chosen. If you find this hard to do you can buy scale books with scale suggestions for different chord progressions. This is an exercise in scale theory.

3. Practising piano chords. Start with the first chord in the song, play it in different positions on your piano and in different combinations.

4. Practicing chord progressions on the piano. Take a couple of bars of the song and practise to play the progressions over and over again varying the chord voicings.

5. Practicing scales on the piano. Begin with the first chord and the scale you have chosen with it and start by playing the scale up and down the keyboard with the right hand and the left hand.

6. Practice piano improvisation with scales. As soon as you master playing the scale up and down the piano it is time to create music with the scale by playing around with it, creating patterns and inventing melodies.

7. Practise piano improvisation. Take a couple of bars and play them over and over again with chord voicings in the left hand and improvising with the appropriate scales with the right hand.

It is also good to practice piano improvisation with your left hand and voicings with your right hand.

There are of course many more things you can do with a song in order to develop your skills in piano improvisation. Help yourself and don't forget to have fun and to also play the song in its entirety with the melody.

 


The Oldest Piano Brands Still in Existence

Many people who are considering buying a piano are definitely looking at older piano brands that will give them top quality. Some of the earliest piano manufacturers are still around, though they may have changed hands several times over the years and are still turning out great quality instruments.

With many of these older companies, the instruments are being built in the same way as they were 100 years ago . . . with careful attention paid to the type of wood and age that goes into each piano. The amount of work required to manufacture a great piano that will last is something that these companies all have in common.

Sauter Pianos

Sauter is the longest standing piano manufacturer around. They began in 1819 and continue to produce pianos to this day, making them the oldest existing piano manufacturer. The company was the brainchild of Johann Sauter who combined the technology of the US piano manufacturers and the more traditional values of the Viennese manufacturers to create a piano that was at once unique and popular. The sound principals haven`t changed much since then and still produce a superior sounding instrument.

Steinway Pianos

Steinway is one of the most popular piano brands in existence and it also happens to be one of the older piano manufacturers, as well. Started by the German cabinet maker, Henry Steinway, Steinway Pianos officially began in 1853, though Steinway had previously built over 400 pianos in his home in Germany, as well as his Manhattan home.

This piano company is by far the best known of all the older piano brands. They have a reputation for turning out top quality branded instruments.

Bosendorfer Pianos

This piano brand is considered to be one of the oldest that is still producing. Established in 1828 by Ignaz Bosendorfer, these pianos have several unique characteristics. They are available with not just the standard 88 keys, but also 92 and 97 keys options.

The pianos produced by Bosendorfer are renowned for their sound, which is fuller than most other pianos. Though the company stayed in the family for two generations, it was eventually sold to another family and is now in the process of being sold to Yamaha. However, the actual style of piano is still of top quality. In fact, the process for selecting just the wood for the soundboard is so precise that only 2% of the wood provided is actually accepted! This makes for the best quality of sound available and Bosendorfer pianos are definitely among the top in the world.

Petrof Pianos

This is a European brand of pianos that was founded in 1864 and is one of the oldest companies in Europe that still makes pianos. The Petrof piano is known for its wider range of tones and the care with which these pianos are built. The soundboard is built of aged spruce, cut in one piece and left to dry for 5 years to ensure the clearest sound possible.

The Petrof pianos are not only still being manufactured, they are also still built by hand. Skilled and trained craftspeople work hard to create these instruments that are truly a work of art. They have been around for many generations and will most likely continue to be produced for years to come.

There are many piano manufacturers that have long since gone out of business, but their instruments are still in existence. The businesses mentioned in this article are all still running and still producing pianos for sale. Most of them are quite pricey, due to the high quality produced after 100+ years of experience in the industry.

 




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