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Ugh... chords or scales first?
Old 27th January 2013
  #31
Gear Addict
 
skinnypete's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by King Of World ➑️
I've been teaching myself piano and it's boosted my beats times a million so far, but I'm trying to get deeper into learning much more chords. I want to be able to eventually hear a song and play it and play with that kind of ease ya know? I just don't know how to get there since I'm only teaching myself (with the help of the internet obvz)

Scales I know: C major scale with correct fingering/crossovers BOTH hands (i can play with ease already)

Chords I know: All the basic major/minor Triads + all of their inversions (took me a while), I also know how to play major 7th chords now (not with inversions yet though), Starting to delve into flat chords and sustained chords etc...

So I'm at a sort of fork in the road right now ... should I be focussing on Scales or Chords??? I feel like the scales don't do anything for me and when I learn new chords I become so much more creative right away with my compositions. If you think I should learn scales plz explain what I can even use them for. And remember I'm ultimately trying to get "there" and by "there" i mean to be able to hammer out ANY melody I hear in my head right away.
The skill you are talking about, you learn in "ear training". You can also train your ear by learning to sing. You should be able to sing intervals, major and minor scales, triads, and the chromatic scale in your range. If not, there may be a gap in your ability to recognize intervals, etc.

Start learning melodies right off of the recording. Pick a song, and learn every instrument (vocals, bassline, chords). Start with easy pop songs.

It depends on the type of music, but most R&B since 1970 uses major or natural minor or pentatonic scales in the melodies, with an occasional leading tone or other chromatic note. The chords are usually triads or 7th chords, usually diatonic and often there is modal interchange. The chords are often voiced like "slash chords" and there are sometimes "extentions" like 9ths. There can be key changes as well.

If you can understand and hear all that crap, then you can transcribe R&B pretty good.

Sent from my Droid
Old 27th January 2013
  #32
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Nobody says chords have to be voiced vertically...Using chords to create harmonic motion in melody lines is pretty basic stuff.
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #33
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiveFromKyoto ➑️
Everything is based on scales, including chords. Absolutely do scales first and you'll find melodies, chords and everything else will come based on that. The reverse cannot really be said; there's a reason every piano course in the world begins with scales, and never gets away from them.

Plus, chords are a lot less necessary than you may think starting out. You hear epic lines using them, but chords take up a lot of space in a track and need to be used sparingly. You get tons more mileage out of a mix by layering and interspersing mono lines.
+1
Old 27th January 2013
  #34
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pinkerton's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Learn the intervals by ear. I promise. You will not listen to music in the same way ever again.
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #35
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
You have received a lot of good advice. The only thing I can say is try many things- so if you get bored with one method of learning to play, you have many others. Try fake books, easy piano, improvising, recreating a tune you know by ear, blues scales, pentatonic, chords, scales, synth tweaking- the greater variety of methods you use, the more you will find ways to keep going. I think the drill and kill method has killed a lot of aspiring players. I am very sensitive to whether I am having fun or not. Constantly switch methods to ride the tide of motivation- like a surfer.

The best book I ever ran across regarding learning the keyboard is 1000 Keyboard Tips by Dreklser and Harle- man it covers everything! (and is a killer reference book also)- comes with a CD. Here is the Amazon link:

1000 Keyboard Tips. Englische Ausgabe.: Dreksler, Harle: 9783802404177: Amazon.com: Books

One last point about why you should try many methods- we are all different, and some people, no matter how hard they try, can never get pitch memory down. But this is not something that should stop you. Many music legends worked around their limits and found their way to make great music- and thats what its all about in the end. Don't drive your musical future down a one way street- banging your head against a wall and hoping it will cave in. Find the methods that are motivating for you, keep switching, and ride the tide.
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #36
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FabGear's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Many songs are based only on a I Chord and a V7 Chord. Before going on to more advanced concepts it would be good to know the most common voicing of these two chords if you don't know them already.

The I Chord in the Key of C will commonly be played in Root Position C-E-G. From this C Chord the V7 is very often voiced B-F-G. Once you know these voicings it will give you the foundation for various accompaniment styles.

In 3/4 time you can play a simple broken chord accompaniment where on the I Chord you will play C, E, and then G with a note on each beat. The V7 will be played B, F, and then G with a note on each beat.

In 4/4 time you can use what is called Alberti bass. You play C, G, E, and G with a note on each beat. The same applies to the V7 chord where you would play B, G, F, and G.

Another common 4/4 accompaniment is to bounce from the lowest note of the chord to the upper two notes. In 4/4 you would play the I Chord as C on the first beat, Rest on the second beat, play EG together on the third beat, and Rest on the fourth beat. The V7 Chord is played B on the first beat, Rest on the second beat, FG together on the third beat, and Rest on the fourth
beat.

These accompaniments will combine in interesting ways with whatever melody you put on top. Also you can avoid the predictability of always using the Root note of each chord as your lowest note. Of course, using the Root Position of a chord is perfectly fine when that is what you prefer.

The next most important chord is the IV Chord. In the Key of C voice this F Chord as C-F-A and apply the above techniques.
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #37
Gear Maniac
 
King Of World's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Firstly thank you all for your replies..but can someone please attempt to explain to me HOW scales will help me build chords?? I mean I saw a lot of you talking about how the formulas in scales build chords, but I rly have no idea what that means. How would playing a scale subsequently help me to know chords? UGH I wish it would just click for me lol it's at a very frustrating point right now. I can now play the C major scale on both hands same time...but how will this help me build chords though?
Old 28th January 2013
  #38
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pinkerton's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Scales help you build chords because you can use every position along the scale to build something called triads. Triads are a the foundational chord shape which consist of a root note, a 3rd, and a 5th. Each step along the basic scales will produce a major chord, a minor chord, or a diminished chord depending on the position of the scale. Go ahead and try it.

Root+major third+fifth= major chord
Root+minor third+fifth= minor chord
Root+minor third+diminished fifth= diminished chord

You can use chords to ground melodies. If you play the tonic over a dominant chord (V or V7 or ii or viiβ€’) it will still sound dominant, for instance.
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #39
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by King Of World ➑️
Firstly thank you all for your replies..but can someone please attempt to explain to me HOW scales will help me build chords?? I mean I saw a lot of you talking about how the formulas in scales build chords, but I rly have no idea what that means. How would playing a scale subsequently help me to know chords? UGH I wish it would just click for me lol it's at a very frustrating point right now. I can now play the C major scale on both hands same time...but how will this help me build chords though?
Scales are a set of intervals, chords are made out of intervals.

The easiest scale is C major, it is every white key on the keyboard.

There are eight white keys including one C key and the next C key.

Those intervals are I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII (Octave)

I=first C key, and each key in between is the next number/interval. By the time you get to the 8th key, you are at the next C key which is the octave.

Now chord formula is based on those intervals:

The easiest chord is a simple major chord. I,III,V

I=C, III=E, V=G:

Notice how when you apply this formula you get the shape of a C major chord?

All chords work on that same simple formula, even the biggest chord in the world works the same way, you just more notes according to the formula. Once you get beyond three notes the additional notes are called "extensions."

Here is a list of chord formulas: Chord Formulas

When you get into things like 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths, you just keep walking according to the scale. A 9th in Cmajor is the 9th key in the scale(count 9 keys starting from the first C and you get to D), an 11th is 11 keys(the 11th key is F), a 13th is 13 keys (an A)
Old 28th January 2013
  #40
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
The next thing is scale formula. It's actually pretty simple once somebody spends five minutes explaining it clearly.

Scales are made out of only two things: Half Steps and Whole Steps

A half step is ONE key, a whole step is two keys.

In order to make a scale, all you need to do is start with any key on the keyboard and go up one or two keys according to a formula. Here are the formulas:

Major Scale: R, W, W, H, W, W, W, H
Natural Minor Scale: R, W, H, W, W, H, W, W
Harmonic Minor Scale: R, W, H, W, W, H, 1 1/2, H (notice the step and a half)
Melodic Minor Scale: going up is: R, W, H, W, W, W, W, H
going down is: R, W, W, H, W, W, H, W
Dorian Mode is: R, W, H, W, W, W, H, W
Mixolydian Mode is: R, W, W, H, W, W, H, W
Ahava Raba Mode is: R, H, 1 1/2, H, W, H, W, W
A minor pentatonic blues scale (no sharped 5) is: R, 1 1/2, W, W, 1 1/2, W

Starting with C major: R, W, W, H, W, W, W, H

Start with the root(the first C key), now go up two keys, notice that you wind up on the next white key(D).

Go up two keys again, notice that you are on the next white key(E).

now only go up one key, you are still on a white key(F).

Then up up two keys, still white(G).

Two more, still white(A)

Two more again(B).

Now you are at the last step, just go up one key, you just landed on the next C, you hit the octave. If you keep going you can hit the 9ths, 11ths and 13ths in the same way.

Every single scale out there works along the same principle. You just jump up one or two steps at a time according to the formula of a given scale. If you can remember the formulas rather than the shapes of the scales, you can figure out any scale without having to resort to looking into a scale book. I can tell you from experience that putting your face in a book while writing is a real workflow killer.

Also, rather than flipping out that you don't know every scale, just pick a scale to write in for a month or two. Get to know it, and then move on to another one.
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #41
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jarlywarly's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by King Of World ➑️
Firstly thank you all for your replies..but can someone please attempt to explain to me HOW scales will help me build chords?? I mean I saw a lot of you talking about how the formulas in scales build chords, but I rly have no idea what that means. How would playing a scale subsequently help me to know chords? UGH I wish it would just click for me lol it's at a very frustrating point right now. I can now play the C major scale on both hands same time...but how will this help me build chords though?
I always keep this reference handy when I'm practicing keyboard or guitar (along with the circle of fifths).



Essentially, these are the chords that fit best in each key. It helps you to transpose and play a progression in any key quickly.

Just pick a key and noodle with the chords. Try them with some standard chord progressions (google!). Invert them, dress them (7th, 9ths, etc) and basically just experiment. The table is a guideline to provide some focus, but you will begin to see how different keys sound different and can evoke different 'feel'.

To understand the chord/scale relationships, try one of the many tutorials on Youtube. Instead of rote learning, try to understand the concepts of scales and modes. You will then see how these fit with the chords. Life will be much easier after because you can work ideas out for yourself quickly on the keyboard.

Yeah, Initially it is slow going - a pen and pencil are also handy to have.
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #42
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jarlywarly ➑️
I always keep this reference handy when I'm practicing keyboard or guitar (along with the circle of fifths).
That is a really helpful resource, thanks for sharing that!
Old 28th January 2013
  #43
VST
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VST's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
I just finished my first listen of this very informative series of lectures. It really helped me grasp the physics behind where all western music comes from. Understanding the harmonic relationship as it relates to increasingly complex ratios of a vibrating string will do wonders for understanding intervalic relationships.

Amazon.com: Understanding The Fundamentals of Music (The Great Courses, Complete 16 CD Audio) (9781598032857): Professor Robert Greenberg, The Teaching Company Great Courses: Books

Something I found fascinating(being a novice) is that you can play all the common pitch collections on white keys depending on your tonic. For instance starting on A(the relative minor of C) all the 7 white keys up from A will be spaced to create a minor collection, same for D and the Dorian mode. And of course C and the major collection. (very useful to flub your way around, using our handy transpose options we have at our disposal)[i.e., you want to play in d# minor..play it on the white keys of A and transpose it in your DAW]

Understanding the circle of fifths is also very useful when moving between collections.


There really are no shortcuts here. It's like learning a language, you need to understand a whole lot before you can use it effectively. I'm trying to cement my understanding more, my head is spinning, but I kinda like it
Old 28th January 2013
  #44
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
but can someone please attempt to explain to me HOW scales will help me build chords??
each step of a scale has a character, and when it is used in a chord, the character defines the chord.

By intervals -

0-Root
1 -minor2
2-Major2
3-min3
4- Maj 3
5- Perfect 4th
6- Aug4/Dim5
7- Perfect 5
8- Aug5/min6
9- Maj6/dim7
10- min7
11 - Maj 7
12 - Root/Unison

All triads are built from stacked thirds. The nature of the pair of thirds define the chord.

Minor = minor 3 (3 steps) + major3 (4steps)
Major - maj3 + min3 (4 steps and 3steps)
Diminished- min3+min3 (3 steps and three steps)
Augmented - Maj3+Maj3 ( 4 steps and 4 steps)

In a major scale (C major for example) - the harmonic order of chords is Major(CEG), Minor(DFA),Minor (EGB), Major(FAC), Major(GBD), Minor(ACE), Dim(BDF).

So, harmonically if you were in C and you wanted to play chords over a bassline of c-d-f-b-d-c you could play Cmaj, Dmin (covers d and f) and B dim( covers b and d)..if you played a b major chord instead, the third and the fifth wouldn't be part of the scale of C (F# & D#) and would sound off.

In a minor natural scale, you start from the 6th of the major so A minor would be
1. Minor(ACE), 2. Dim(BDF), 3. Major(CEG) 4. Minor(DFA) 5. Minor(EGB)
6. Major (FAC), 7. Major(GBD)

A harmonic minor raises the seventh from a minor(g) to a major(g#) - which then will make the 5th major(EG#B) and the seventh diminished (G#BD), which gives a harmonic pattern more like a major scale.
Old 28th January 2013
  #45
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Look into "Harmonic Experience" by Walter Mathieu. It shows how you cannot separate harmony (chords) from melody (scales) and has a more holistic approach than most method books. One can benefit from the book whether you are a complete beginner/non-"trained" musician or if you are already playing Schoenberg and Messiaen.
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #46
Gear Maniac
 
King Of World's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whatupdoe? ➑️
Scales are a set of intervals, chords are made out of intervals.

The easiest scale is C major, it is every white key on the keyboard.

There are eight white keys including one C key and the next C key.

Those intervals are I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII (Octave)

I=first C key, and each key in between is the next number/interval. By the time you get to the 8th key, you are at the next C key which is the octave.

Now chord formula is based on those intervals:

The easiest chord is a simple major chord. I,III,V

I=C, III=E, V=G:

Notice how when you apply this formula you get the shape of a C major chord?

All chords work on that same simple formula, even the biggest chord in the world works the same way, you just more notes according to the formula. Once you get beyond three notes the additional notes are called "extensions."

Here is a list of chord formulas: Chord Formulas

When you get into things like 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths, you just keep walking according to the scale. A 9th in Cmajor is the 9th key in the scale(count 9 keys starting from the first C and you get to D), an 11th is 11 keys(the 11th key is F), a 13th is 13 keys (an A)
Thx so much bro u made it much easier for me to grasp. I think I'm starting to get it now.
Old 3rd February 2013 | Show parent
  #47
Gear Maniac
 
King Of World's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
For anyone else having the same problem I had watch ALL of these videos in order (better if you have a piano or keyboard in front of you) and thank me later:

Music Theory Lessons - YouTube
Old 3rd February 2013
  #48
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Stevism's Avatar
 
6 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
gonna have to watch those videos now

this thread is awesome!
Old 3rd February 2013 | Show parent
  #49
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
*Beats chest in a very manly sorta way*

As someone who doesn't play the keyboard.. I feel uniquely qualified to answer this question.....

err

I'm currently studying from the Jazzology book.. It's the best I've come across

My advice is to diagram out, in a note book.. all the note relationships: The scales in the different keys, what types of chords are where, etc... And start by by learning to think inside of that framework.. when you sit down and try and create music... I'd start there and then apply it to your instrument.

Use the diagrams like a map when composing.

I advise writing it out in a note pad.. because going through that process over and over again will help to get it in your head.

So now what happens.. is you're thinking in terms of note relationships and what chord(s) you want to go to, let say.. so now you figure out what those chords are on your instrument.. and try them out... and in so doing you're learning where that chord is.

So I would do this as a part of my approach to composing / song writing...

Then of course there's the whole business of practicing... You figure out where you want to be, as a musician, and break it down into the individual steps you need to learn and master to get there.. and you work on this step this week, and that step next week.

This is a principle you can apply to industrial engineering if you like.. you can learn anything you want if you can just break it down into pieces.

Eventually I've found that my muscle memory has somehow internalized music theory.. and when you get into this kind of place.. you can kinda just go on feel..

In this way I find that I think very differently depending on what instrument I'm using and or staff paper or DAW.
Old 3rd February 2013 | Show parent
  #50
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maisonvague's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkerton ➑️
Learn your intervals first. Learn to recognize them by ear. Ascending and descending.
Great advice.

When learning Indian classical music one traditionally begins with singing even if ones goal is to become a tabla player. Similarly, in western music education, sight-singing and solfege are fundamental, helping to deepen ones understanding of melody through the study of intervallic relationships along the horizontal time-line. The syllables used (DO RE MI FA SOL etc. or SA RI GA MA PA etc) form word-like patterns that reinforce these relationships.

When placed vertically along the time-line intervals form chords although three or more pitches must be present in order to define a chord.

In other words a two-note "power-chord" chord is technically not a chord: it's an interval. (Sorry rockers! heh)

If you know your intervals inside out you can play by ear (or even notate) just about anything.

Regarding keyboard technique and chords vs. scales, I would recommend mastering both. In the short run, however, fluency with chords and progressions would probably be more useful to the composer/arranger/producer if a choice of focus was necessary.
Old 4th February 2013 | Show parent
  #51
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whatupdoe? ➑️
The next thing is scale formula. It's actually pretty simple once somebody spends five minutes explaining it clearly.
Indeed! Thank you very much for taking the time to share this info.
Old 4th February 2013 | Show parent
  #52
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
+100 for the Greenberg course "Understanding the Fundamentals of Music." You can buy the audio download directly from TGC. I highly recommend you wait for it to go on sale rather than paying full price. TGC regularly cycles their sales so every course goes on sale every month or so. Regular price is $129.95 but by next month it'll be on sale for $40. As a long-time customer of TGC, I can say that you shouldn't ever have to pay regular price for a course.

But back to the topic at hand, I've listened to the last 9 lectures on pitch, intervals, melody and harmony at least 5 times over the last year and pick up some new detail each time. The first several lectures are less relevant for the context of this forum, but you would be hard pressed to do better than the last 9 to begin to understand music theory.

Understanding the Fundamentals of Music
Old 4th February 2013 | Show parent
  #53
Lives for gear
 
fooddude's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonerBJJ ➑️
But back to the topic at hand, I've listened to the last 9 lectures on pitch, intervals, melody and harmony at least 5 times over the last year and pick up some new detail each time.
Understanding the Fundamentals of Music
Yes, it's good to learn new little bits and tips. I've taken beginning/int piano courses through life at different times, and have also read and also watched several diff YT theory vidoes. Even though I know the basics, I still watch and read and learn the same ole beginning stuff, because all people teach in diff ways and have cool tips of their own...so even when learning, or you already know, just the basics or a little bit further that beginning theory, it is still good to learn from diff people even if it's the same ole basic stuff, since you will still pick up little things/tips here and there that you never knew.
Old 5th February 2013 | Show parent
  #54
Nev
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Nev's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whatupdoe? ➑️
I started with guitar and it really screwed up learning the piano for me. With guitar everything is shape oriented, learn one chord shape or scale pattern and you can transpose it up or down the neck.
I feel like that about the guitar. I just picked up a guitar the other day to teach myself (I've been playing piano for 20 years) and it's like a whole new way of thinking music.
Old 5th February 2013 | Show parent
  #55
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gruvsyco's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by King Of World ➑️
For anyone else having the same problem I had watch ALL of these videos in order (better if you have a piano or keyboard in front of you) and thank me later:

Music Theory Lessons - YouTube
These are brilliant.
πŸ“ Reply

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