Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rhythmic Interplay Between Hands

Being a former drummer, I sometimes approach the piano with a bias toward rhythm. Instead of going crazy with harmony, my preference oftentimes is to explore the musical statements that can be made by breaking up a voicing into chunks and altering rhythm.

Let's look at this chromatically-descending set of chords to help illustrate how this might work. (Click images to enlarge. Click orange and white 'play' button below each example to listen.)

Boring quarter notes = Potential for some rhythmic fun

Since each chord-type is the same (and thus, the shapes of each chord are similar to one another), more attention can be given to the rhythms. I can break the chord into 3 'nodes' and play around with triplet rhythms:

OR, I can break the chord into 4 'nodes' to come up with busier 16th-note ideas:

To play these, my brain—I suspect—is thinking more as a drummer, in terms of "stickings" or drum rudiments, like diddles.

(E.g. Low bass clef notes followed by higher treble clef notes? Think L - R (left hand, right hand)
Two repeated notes? Think: diddle )

Listen to each variation and notice how each gives a slightly different musical effect. Play around with different interpolations of the chord/rhythms and see what you can come up with by thinking like a drummer!

For the full PDF of ideas contained in this post: Click here

Monday, June 1, 2015

DIY Music Flashcards

While rummaging through old junk drawers the other day, I came across a stack of unused, blank photo-paper. Since I don't have a photo printer, I was somewhat confused about how I came to acquire the paper in the first place. In fact, I was just about ready to toss it into the 'recycle' pile.

But then I started doodling on them with a dry-erase marker, curious to see if the paper would act like a white board and allow me to wipe off the marker and re-write something else. It did not. Instead, the ink dried fast, and was quite permanent.

Getting further carried away, I decided to re-purpose the blank paper into slick, glossy music flashcards. Why the heck not?!

Here's what I came up with (click to enlarge):

Noticing that I had a big stack of blank cards still left over, I brought them, and some markers, along to my piano students' lessons later that day.

Click to enlarge

As part of their theory assignment, I tasked them with making their own cards. They had fun using different colors to make their own unique set of flashcards.

Here's what one of my students came up with:

Click to enlarge

I'm glad I didn't toss the paper in the first place!
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