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Revising the 12-bar blues.
Chapter 15: Perusing the Aisle of Style 223
Minor chords sound kind of sad and help enhance the feeling of being blue. Try the blues chord sequence, as shown in Figure 15-6 (Track 91), but make all the chords minor this time to enhance the right emotion. Remember that the only difference between a major and minor chord is the 3rd interval. (Chapter 12 tells you everything you ever wanted to know about chords, both major and minor.)
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Part V: Technique Counts for Everything _
you're a Little Bit Country
Before there was rock ’n’ roll, there was country This style often sounds relaxed, lyrical, simpler, more grass roots-ish. But it ain’t afraid to rock, roll, and rumble. Artists like Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and others put all kinds of musical influences in their country music, including elements of rock, blues, and even jazz. Influences aside, though, the folks in Nashville still call it country.
To enhance your musical dish with the tastes of country, add some of these stylistic flavorings:
J' Intervals: See Chapter 10.
I Grace notes: See Chapter 13.
J1 Tremolos: See Chapter 13.
'J' Chord picking: See Chapter 14.
J' Ten-gallon hat and pair of boots: Purchase these from a local Western store.
Figure 15-7 shows a nice, relaxed-sounding slice of the country music style. The right-hand intervals are unique in that the melody notes are actually on the bottom while the top notes stay the same. Grace notes and tremolos peppered throughout also give this example that “saloon” feel.
The left-hand accompaniment pattern is challenging, so practice each hand separately until you can safely and surely put them together. After this inspiring tune, you may find yourself adding a saddlebag to your piano bench.
Good old country music.
Chapter 15: Perusing the Aisle of Style 225
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Give “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” (Track 92) an unmistakable country sound in much the same way you played the previous example. Plenty of grace notes and tremolos throughout, accompanied by the left-hand chord picking, makes it sound like Michael’s riding the trails.
If you have an electronic keyboard, try to call up a sound similar to an out-of-tune piano. Then try “Michael” again and hear just how honky-tonk it sounds. If you have a piano and it happens to be out of tune, no adjustment is necessary!
226 Part V: Technique Counts for Everything
Michael, Ride ?our Horse Ashore
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Pop! Goes the Piano
Arguably, every song on the radio is a popular song, because few radio stations play songs that listeners don’t like. Country, rock, rap, Latin, and any other style of music are popular with one audience or another. But most people know the term pop (short for “popular”) to be the category for Top 40 songs and superstar ballads by such artists as Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Elton John, Sting, and a multitude of others. Pop is also a term for soda beverages, but that’s a different book entirely.
Chapter 15: Perusing the Aisle of Style 227
Pop music can be rhythmic, romantic, nostalgic, funky, sad, and about 13 other adjectives. In this section, you can concentrate on one style of pop music, the smooth-sounding pop ballad.
The dictionary defines a ballad as “a slow, sentimental popular song.” A fitting definition for your musical purposes, but to my amazement it neglects to mention that a ballad can also make your dates swoon. It’s a pity Mr Webster didn’t realize a ballad’s full potential.
What you need to play this style of pop music is a small arsenal of musical
ornamentations, including the following:
. Right-hand intervals: See Chapter 10.
J" Dotted quarters: See Chapter 6.
J' Dimmer switch: Essential for setting the right mpod.
Topping the charts
To add a little pop romance to any song, take a simple melody and add the ever-so-sweet 6th interval below each right-hand melodic note. (Chapter 10 sheds light on intervals.) The new melodic line should now look like the one in Figure 15-8. For some reason, unknown to many a trusted and frustrated musicologist, the 6th interval adds an element of romance to a melody.
This trick may look difficult, but it’s not. All you do is find the 6th interval below the first melody note and freeze your hand in that position. Your pinkie always plays the top note and your thumb always plays the bottom interval note. As you play up and down the melody, your hand will land on the correct interval every time.