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chord progression

Piano Intervals

by Tania Gleaves on September 13, 2015


Piano intervals are differences in pitch. If you think of the C major scale, each one of its keys is an interval between its lowest note and its highest. That includes whole notes and half notes, mind you.. The smallest interval is obviously the half-step (called a minor 2nd) and the largest interval is an entire octave (called a perfect eighth). There are thus, a total of 88 intervals from the left side of the keyboard all the way to the right. Played one-by-one, these notes are called a melodic interval (ascending or descending — either way), but when played together, they’re called a harmonic interval. Of particular interest is the manner in which intervals build major, minor, and other type of chords.

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Types of Intervals

Once you’ve learned the pattern of identifying intervals, playing them is easy-as-pie. The major third interval for instance, is the distance between any three notes of the C Major scale. If you were to play the C key and the E key simultaneously, the C, D, and E keys form the trio in the “third” interval even though the D key is silent. If you were to play the C and D key only, you would form a major 2nd interval because the distance between both notes is just two. If you were to play the C key and the E-flat key, you would form a minor third. C to F is a perfect 4th interval while C to G is a perfect fifth. Playing the bottom C all the way to the top C is playing an octave. But things start to get a little tricky when you introduce sharps and flats.

For example, playing D to G creates a perfect 4th. When we’re working with intervals, we have to be careful about what we call a flat and what we call a sharp. With our perfect 4th, a G-sharp becomes an augmented 4th — not an A-Flat. An A-flat in this case is called a diminished 5th. But that’s getting a little ahead of ourselves.

Why Learn Intervals

Learning intervals makes maneuvering around the keyboard easier. It also makes playing the piano easier too! That’s because many of the songs we hear every day are played with only three chords. By studying intervals and understanding how they build basic chords, you can quickly learn to play the songs that you enjoy listening to. Chords after all, are built with the intervals we’re talking about! Minor chords for example, are built with minor intervals and major chords are built from major intervals.

Here’s a short list of some songs we’re familiar with. As you think about these songs, think about the intervals that they use and then try them out on your own:

Frere Jacques: Major 2nd
Happy Birthday: Major 2nd
Beverley Hills Cop: Minor 3nd
Kum Ba Ya (Chorus): Major 3rd
Here Comes the Bride: Perfect 4th
Amazing Grace: Perfect 4th
Star Wars: Perfect 5th
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: Perfect 5th
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean: Major 6th
Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Perfect 8th (Octave)

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Use Sight Reading Music To Your Advantage

by Tania Gleaves on September 1, 2015

There are some basic steps on how to develop sight reading music. Sight read music simply means easily reading a music piece and putting it into action right away without exerting much thinking effort because the music flows naturally from your sight to your fingers. This skill can be acquired and enhanced by every pianist through constant practice.

The first step to master sight reading music is to find several music pieces that meet your piano skill level or you could also use some music pieces which are a bit easier. Always be sure to use a music piece which is totally new to you because this allows the skill on how to learn to sight read music flow more naturally.

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Sit on the piano and look at the overall music piece and try to understand how the music goes without actually playing it. Look at the notes, chords, time signature, and key signature and play the music’s hymn inside your head. After that, breathe deep and start playing from the beginning. Don’t worry if you make a mistake every now and then because it is only natural. The key here is to keep on going while correcting your mistakes, don’t be frustrated if you hit the wrong notes.

After playing the piece for the first time, repeat the process until you get the hang of it, fewer or no mistakes this time around. When you feel like you are ready to add chords to the notes you are playing, go ahead, this is a perfect time for you to practice chord progression as well. When everything sounds great, start following the time signature and adding some beat to the music you’re playing.

Before you know it, you are playing the music piece without putting much thinking effort as if it flows naturally straight from your sight. This is how sight reading music works. When you have mastered the first music piece, start with a new music piece and put the basic steps into action. When you have honed the sight reading music skill, you can play any music piece thrown at you even in an impromptu performance.

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How Popular Chord Progression Works – A Simple Guide

May 26, 2015

What is a popular chord progression? Chord progressions are actually series of chords which are played one after the other to produce a harmonious tune. By now you have learned the different piano chords and may have memorized them a bit. The knowledge you have about chords will help you a lot in playing the […]

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Looking for a Chord Chart for the Piano?

February 16, 2009

Instant Piano Chord Chart Finder Need a Quick and Convenient way to find piano chords and voicings? The construction of a piano chord chart can be easy once you understand the formula for each chord. It all follows from the intervals of the respective scales. For example, the major scale for the key of C […]

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