'PRAM in D minor'
(PD 21-07-15)

‘PRAM in D’ (PD 21-07-15) demonstrates how the A minor riff material (for example) can be a springboard for your own improvisations and compositions.

You can make your variations different by:

  • Playing in a different key. D minor pentatonic is another all-white-key scale, so you can play in D minor (and E minor) using exactly the same movements.
  • Not returning by step all the time but leaping back to the start (the ‘false starts’ in the PRAM in D variation).
  • Going further or less far up or down the keyboard –turning round to return on a different note (see Improvisation 4 at the end of this module).
  • The classic: playing something you half-remember but coming up with something completely different!

Here is the riff performance. (There is no written music.)

Structure

Taking a bird’s-eye view of the structure, or form, of a piece, is an important element of playing by ear– and from memory.

Here’s a digital work-station screen-shot of the PRAM in D MIDI.

Listen to the riff and track your position in the screen-shot.

Identify these elements.

  • First ‘half’ – four times four bars:

–       Two false starts and all the way up;

–       Two false starts and all the way down;

–       All the way up and all the way down.

  • Second ‘half’ – three times four bars:

–       All the way up and all the way down;

–       Four-phrase ending.

Improvisation 4

Here's a fourth improvised variation on-page, which uses a mix of the riff patterns in both A and D minors.

No written-out music! Here's a screen shot to help.

Getting this by ear would be a benchmark achievement.


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