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Musicarta Twelve-bar Piano Styles

Twelve-bar Diaries 01-03-15


TBD 01-03-15 (posted 15-03-15). Download your study notes folder for TBD 01-03-15 here.

The riff - points to notice

The right hand uses scale tones sharp-2, 3, R, flat-7 and 5 only in the standard I–IV–V chords, which in key G are G, C and D.

The bass (left hand) uses only roots and fifths - either fifths above or fifths below.

Note that: The fifth (chord/scale tone) below the root is to be found only a fourth (interval) below the root! An inverted fifth = a fourth.

The riff in G

Here is the riff in G

Copy the fingering or get it from the MS. The fingering allows a very 'sticky' hand action and creates a sustained sound without using the sustain pedal - which is not, generally, much used in popular music keyboard.

Transposing - the riff in A

The simplicity of the material in this riff make it an excellent candidate for transposing.

Transposing is the mother of musical skills. Knowing a piece of music in two keys means you really do know it - and examining the same piece of music in two different keys truly lays bare the workings of musical harmony.

The music for the version in A is not provided. You need to work out what scale tones sharp-2, 3, R, flat-7 and 5 in the I–IV–V chords of key A are - or just copy the video or MidiPiano performance of the riff MIDI file and let it 'sink in'.

Closing remarks

Again, this is twelve-bar music but far removed from boogie, rock'n'roll etcetera. Twelve bar is a great way into popular music generally.

This riff makes a good backing for a vocal. Write a lyric and see if you can play and sing at the same time, or just sing along to a looped MIDI-as-audio playback.

Notice the two different lengths of the 'repeat and fade' outros in the two versions. Which do you prefer? Composing is a whole series of little decisions like this.

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