playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

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KBD_TRACKER
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playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by KBD_TRACKER » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:21 pm

just knowing a very very vague inkling about chords and progressions.
so what would you recommend as the absolute minimum to know about piano playing (or music theory) in order to
"enrich" or make more fun my synth playing ???

can you also tell me the best and fastest way to learn that minimum requirement....

thanks... :roll:

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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by AstroDan » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:37 pm

Play nothing but the white keys and use the transpose button.

Seriously, it's easy to get the basic major and minor chords on the white, C keys. Then maybe move to root note F where everything is arranged similarly to C but you only have to d**k with one black key.

I wouldn't start with B major.
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by Denms20 » Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:21 am

Mastering an instrument is hard work, there's no shortcuts, really. And honestly, I really think the "fun" fsctor decreases the more you know. THere's something cool about knowing nothing and stumbling on cool chord progressions, etc. And don't get me wrong, I'm all for mastering the keyboard, in fact I still take lessons now. If it weren't for the lessons, there's no way I could do what I can now. However, I'd be lying to say it's more fun now. Maybe that's just my experience though, see what others say.
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by Yoozer » Fri Mar 27, 2009 7:54 am

Denms20 wrote:Mastering an instrument is hard work, there's no shortcuts, really.
Truth.
And honestly, I really think the "fun" fsctor decreases the more you know.
Huh? That's weird, because in every other discipline, the fun increases.
THere's something cool about knowing nothing and stumbling on cool chord progressions, etc.
Yeah, and that's about 5% of one's activities. The rest of the time you're busy for at least 10 minutes finding the right "next" chord, and when you get frustrated, you return to the safe haven of the chords you know, so it's hard to get out of the basic Am, G, F or Am, Dm, Em rut.

Plus, the cool chord progression could've been found far easier when you know what you're doing. It's not like finishing a videogame and blazing through each level with infinite health and infinite lives. You'll need to run up 10K hours to master it.

If learning more makes things boring to you, it could be that you're not dealing with musical material that challenges you.

The most important concept to master is that you're not doing something entirely and completely new. We've got 6.7 billion people on the planet, we've got several centuries of instrument and music development, we've got a musical notation language that has been improved on an debugged on since medieval times - so much for anyone else inventing their own "easier, faster to learn system".

These videos taught me a lot, odd as it sounds: http://www.hnsmusic.org/ and recently, (and part 2 of it) completely blew my mind.

If the above is the result of what you can do when you know more, I never want to know less.
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by nadafarms » Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:47 am

The most important thing you can learn is the major scale and the seven modes and accompanying chords.

What are modes? To make it simple it's when you take the major scale C to C on a piano and start/end it from different places to get different sounding scales.

Example start on F and play up the white keys to the next F and you are playing the 4th Mod of C Major "Lydian mode". Start on D and play up and down the white keys up and down to D and you are playing the Dorian Mode.

Each one of these modes have a distinct sound which you will recognize most likely. Ionian is a major scale. Major sound "happy".

Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian are minor sounding and will sound "sad" or dark. Each has it's own sound and you can build chords off of them.

1. Ionian mode (the major scale)
2. Dorian mode
3. Phrygian mode
4. Lydian mode
5. Mixolydian mode
6. Aolian mode (the natural minor scale)
7. Locrian mode

This is why I think learning your major scales and modes makes life easy:

Because there are 7 Modes that is basically seven different scales, if you multiply that by the 12 notes that are in Western music you have way too many scales to learn 7x12! but if you realize that each one of those scales is derivative from a major there are only 12 major scales to learn and once you know them you can always figure out what major scale most songs are related to!

Chord progressions are built off of these simple major scales, so when you see a song that has 20 different chords it will seem a lot less complex if you realize they are just related to a major scale. Once you know that major scale you can see how the chords are related and they don't seem so random and you can basically shred one major scale over the top of the progression and all the notes will sound "right".

It's all about Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do and building chords and scales off the roots of the major.

Sigh, did I confuse you? Of course I did. :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by nadafarms » Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:48 am

Or just get a guitar and learn the "blues" scale #-o #-o #-o
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by nadafarms » Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:56 am

Ok, to build the chords you build them in thirds.

So go "C" then skip a note, play "E" skip a note, play "G" and there you have a major triad. Add another note skip A and play "B":

CEGB you got yourself a major 7th chord! Now take that hand position and move it up a whole step on the white keys:

DFAC you got yourself a minor 7th chord built off of the Dorian mode. If you hold DFAC if your left hand and play up and down the keyboard starting and ending on D in your right hand then your rocking the dorian mode!

Repeat this exercise through the rest of the notes and you'll be playing all the modes and basic chords for %80-90 of all rock music!

Seriously all comes down to Modes. in country music the backup bands can cover almost any song including stuff they've never heard just by flashing hand signs for one of the seven basic chords. Most western pop etc is all just based around these 7 chords and once you learn them and the major scales everything will make sense.

Hope that helps.
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by Alex Hamilton » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:25 pm

Nice posts, nadafarms. Well explained, I think, as far as it can go over the 'net.

To the OP: the more you know in the first place, the more capable you are of working outside of it and inventing new things. I really recommend learning theory, and learning it properly. Don't be scared of it. The important thing to remember is that much of it is arbitrary (there's no real reason why the major scale is what it is, aside from history), and composers have been breaking with 'tonality' for a long time - but to do so, instead of ignoring everything that tonal music had taught them, they developed techniques to arrange notes that didn't fall into 'normal' scales, without those placements being random.
KBD_TRACKER wrote:that minimum requirement
I don't think there's a minimum requirement - learn as much as you feel you need to achieve your aims. The higher/more complex your aims, the more you'll need. People have written great music with minimal complexity (blues is a good example), so there's no reason for you to feel obliged to learn everything (you can't, anyway).

My suggestion would be to pick up a basic theory book for keyboard instruments, that will teach you all the notes on the keyboard, all the major scales, modes, and minor scales (harmonic and melodic minors). LEARN TO READ MUSIC - you don't have to be good at it, or even able to play from it, it just helps to be able to pick up a book and not be terrified by it. It's not hard, and I've found teaching myself theory very rewarding.

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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by CS_TBL » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:35 pm

So, what emotion is Locrian like? :P
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by Phollop Willing PA » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:54 pm

Play one note at a time, play it well, then move on to the next. When you've done that try two notes etc...
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by Denms20 » Fri Mar 27, 2009 1:08 pm

Yoozer wrote:
THere's something cool about knowing nothing and stumbling on cool chord progressions, etc.
If learning more makes things boring to you, it could be that you're not dealing with musical material that challenges you.

[/quote]

Ah, but I never said knowing more makes things more boring. On the contrary, it makes things way more intense musically for me.
The best thing I ever read to describe the way it seems to e for me was an article that described the transition from mystery to mastery. Unfortunately that link is now dead.
I think if I had to describe it in a few words, it'd be the difference between a leasurely stroll through the woods with no destination in mind, and a stroll through the woods by an experienced hunting guide. One is going to find more, and find it quicker, but the other is probably going to have more relaxed fun.
I spent my whole life up to when I was 45 years old being mostly self taught on keys except for what I could learn off of guys from lounge bands, etc. (although I had a prior musical knowledge from 9 years of trumpet lessons), and for the past 2 or 3 years, I have been taking pretty intense jazz theory/playing lessons. I've doubled my knowledge in the past two years from what I learned in all the others. But honestly, for me the first 20 were a lot more fun, this new stuff is hard work! Now I play a solo, and I know exactly where I'm taking it (and I think I have much better solos now) but there was something fun about wandering the woods. Again, this might be different for everyone, and is probably more due to psychological factors than anything else is my guess.
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by pricklyrobot » Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:11 pm

AstroDan wrote:Play nothing but the white keys and use the transpose button.

Seriously, it's easy to get the basic major and minor chords on the white, C keys. Then maybe move to root note F where everything is arranged similarly to C but you only have to d**k with one black key.

I wouldn't start with B major.
Weird, I did it the opposite way. I started playing everything in F# and then moved on from there.

Plenty of good advice here. I would add, as someone with no formal training, something that helped me learn chords/scales and their relations to each other was drawing my own diagrams by hand. Just basic stuff like this:
Image
Figuring out your own way to organize the information and physically laying it out really helps you to remember it. And you quickly see the relationships, like 'hey C major and A minor are essentially the same scale just in a slightly different order'.

And here's a great online visual resource for chords and scales: http://www.apassion4jazz.net/keys.html
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by cornutt » Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:36 pm

Get a copy of Dave Stewart's Inside the Music. It's a well-written intro to music theory, with the very basics well explained in the first few chapters. Also, it's hilarious. Readily available on Amazon.

(BTW, this Dave Stewart is the keyboard player of National Health/Bruford fame, not the Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics.)
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by Marching Pig » Sat Mar 28, 2009 9:19 am

My advice would be to take a few lessons, and buy a book like The Idiot's Guide to Music Theory, or Music Theory for Dummies. I've got the Idiot's guide, and it's opened my eyes to how to write chord progressions, using inversions and extensions, and 've got to say, I have loads of fun just stuffing about, finding neat progressions, and then i use what knowledge i have to transpose things, work out sequences and write extra parts. I had about 3 months of lessons, maybe, and i learnt a bit there, but most of the knowledge has come from the Idiot's guide, and playing is just practice.

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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by stephen » Sat Mar 28, 2009 9:49 am

Practice is something you have to set time aside to focus on. It's all too easy with synths and all that stuff to end up fiddling around with the sounds instead of working on your chords :)
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