This morning I’m up at 5:10 am. I’m actually really glad that Spring Forwards has been moved up earlier in the year, because before now, it tended to land on my birthday. People who were born on Christmas tend to complain that their birthdays get superseded by the holiday, but they have nothing on those of us that have Spring Forwards on their birthday. After all, we have to endure an hour less of sleep in addition to the fact that our birthdays have been reduced to 23 hours!!!
Anyways, I digress.
This morning I’m up doing homework, as I tend to do most mornings. Not so far off in the distance, I can hear the siren from some emergency vehicle making its way through town. Monday morning is here.
I’m currently listening to Finetune.com. The song that is currently up is called Animal/Human by Clinic. It seems oddly appropriate for the 5:48 am it currently is on a Monday directly after Spring Forward. Oh, now here’s another good song – Carousel by Mr. Bungle.
Specifically, I am writing note cards right now. But I’m not studying a book only, theories sort of class; nope, I’m studying for my piano lesson. Actually, I’m not even really studying for the lesson itself, but rather finding different ways to approach the applicable material. My lessons are not your typical practicing etudes kinds of lessons. Ever hear the jazz version of “Someday My Prince Will Come”? I’m learning to play jazz on the piano, and that’s one of the tunes I’m working on. In the official version of the song, the rhythm is that of a waltz, also known as 3/4. My professor wants me to play it in 4/4, you know, just to get me used to hearing it slightly differently. Muahahhahaa.
Well, I’ve been having trouble finding a steady beat in the midst of all of that, but this past Wednesday – lesson day – I finally figured something out. I was actually hearing it in 12 – that is, hearing it with 12 beats per measure, or you could also think of it as 4/4, but with a running triplet feel underneath everything. Triplets sound a lot like the word. “Trip-l-et.” An exercise I came up with while student teaching used the word chocolate for more or less the same effect:
“I want choc-o-late now;
want choc-o-late now.
Choc-o-late, choc-o-late, whee!!!
Fun, no? Triplets are three notes in the place of two (or 4, if you really want to get into concepts).
Anyways, once I figured that out, life was better.
Now, in addition to that song, I’m also working on “The Shadow of Your Smile.” I get to keep the original time signature, whee! However, as with Someday, I am only given the melody and the chords – something frequently known as a lead sheet, or a fake sheet (less frequently).
So they give me a note, and I have to come up with the accompaniment pattern on my own, in addition to being directed by what chord it is that’s needed in the left hand/right hand. Melody is the top note of the right hand, but other than that, I just need to get one or two notes of the actually chord in as well. Sometimes the melody note is part of the chord . . . sometimes it’s not.
Music is not that strange if you don’t have the background. Really, like with Sudoku, the note names are just symbols; so if I wanted to called A-G (the notes of a scale – specifically a minor) 1-7, it wouldn’t really matter to anyone, except the really anal theory profs. lol And if you’re from an undergrad like mine that used singing by scale tone numbers, as opposed to solfege, then it’s even better.
So chords are built on thirds. 1-3-5. Traditionally speaking, that is. Since I practice 24 sets of scales every morning, I know 24 different variations off the top of my head.
But in their most basic form, it tends to go back to 1-3-5, or 1-3-5-7 and so on. With tiny variations here and there. 🙂
So say I see something with a #-7 after it . . . not so bad.
I take my 1, and sharp it by moving it up one half step. In most situations, this means moving from a white key to a black key. The “-” then refers to the fact that they want me to make the chord minor. Making minor is an easy thing. 1-3-5 is major, 1-b3-5 is minor. That symbol by the 3 is what’s called a “flat.” It’s like a sharp, only it goes down half a step. And then the 7? I just add a minor (or flat) 3rd on top of the 5, within the key itself making it look like this:
If it had just been a -7 after it, with no sharp, then it would have looked like this:
Going farther into the numeral realm then, you could just think of the flats and sharps as “.5” or 1/2. So a flat 3 would actually be a 2.5, while a sharp 1 would really just be a 1.5. It’s halfway to sounding the next note up the scale.
So then, a #-7 would look like this:
And a -7 would look like this:
1__2.5__5__6.5 (or b7)
Always. That’s the set-up no matter what the key.
My flashcards then are aimed at getting me used to seeing random chords with a melody note and being able to respond immediately to what it’s asking me. This way, if I say an F#7 with an A# in the melody, I know right of the top of my head that I just need to play something like:
1.5 – 3.5 – 5.5 – 7