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You can also learn how to tickle the ivories and play various keyboard instruments at Infinity Music Studio.
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Boogie Woogie piano is a syncopated style of blues piano playing which has served as a major influence on popular American music making. The roots of this style of music are believed to have originated in Marshall, Texas during the early 1900's. The Boogie Woogie piano style is characterized by a steadily repeated left hand bass figure, sometimes called "eight to the bar," as much of it is written in common time (4/4) time using eighth notes. The left hand is also used to play piano chords, while the right hand plays a variety of trills and embellishments. For the most part, Boogie Woogie tunes are composed of twelve-bar blues, (see the picture above) although the style has been applied to popular songs such as "Swanee River" and hymns such as "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."
When asked about Boogie Woogie piano players, some of the all time favorites that come to mind are Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, Blind Lemon Jefferson, "Pine Top" Smith, Jelly Roll Morton and Dr. John. Boogie Woogie music quickly became popular right after the Texas pianist George W. Thomas' release of New Orleans Hop Scop Blues as sheet music in 1916. Boogie Woogie piano soon hit the charts with Pine Top Smith's Pine Top's Boogie in 1929, which garnered the number 20 spot. In the late 1930's, Boogie Woogie became part of the then popular Swing style of music, as big bands such as Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Louis Jordan... all had Boogie Woogie musical hits. Swing big band audiences expected to hear Boogie style tunes, because the beat could be used for the then-popular dances such as the Jitterbug and the Lindy Hop. The Boogie Woogie fad lasted from the late 1930's into the early 1950's, and served as a major contribution to the development of jump blues and ultimately to rock and roll music, epitomized by such iconic musicians as Fats Domino, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Boogie Woogie piano is still being played today and can be heard in clubs and on musical recordings all throughout North America and Europe.
If you have you ever wanted to learn how to play the Boogie Woogie style of piano for yourself, then take a look at Boogie-Woogie Piano: Hal Leonard Keyboard Style Series by Todd Lowry. This comprehensive book/CD is a great guide for beginners to learn the Boogie style of playing. It will teach you the basic skills needed to play Boogie Woogie. It also includes a variety of left hand bass patterns and lots of right hand licks to help you achieve that great Boogie Woogie sound. You will learn the theory as well as the tools and techniques that are used by the genre's best practitioners, from learning the basic chord progressions to inventing your own melodic piano riffs. The accompanying CD demonstrates most of the music examples in the book, with left- and right-channel tracks created for helpful hands-separate piano practice.
In the meantime, be sure to also take a look at the video below as the pianist Johan Blohm from "The Refreshments" band plays some lively, exhilarating rhythmic Boogie Woogie style music for an enthusiastic, toe tapping audience and high-stepping dance crowd.
The story of the piano and its history begins around the year 1700 in Florence, Italy. In 1709, the first piano or “pianoforte” was revealed to the public as the invention of an Italian harpsichord maker by the name of Bartolomeo Cristofori. Harpsichord manufacturers had tried for many years prior to build a musical instrument with a better dynamic response than the harpsichord. Bartolomeo Cristofori, the keeper of instruments in the court of Prince Ferdinand de Medici of Florence, Italy, was the first to succeed at this endeavor.
This innovative new keyboard design substituted the mechanical plucking system of the harpsichord with an internal network of padded hammers. Each time a key was pressed down, the connecting hammer would strike up against the pianoforte strings to produce either a soft or loud sound depending on how hard the keyboardist played. The musical terms piano and forte mean "quiet" and "loud", respectively, and in this context, they refer to variations in loudness the instrument produces in response to a pianist's touch on the keys: the greater the velocity of a key press, the greater the force of the hammer hitting the string(s), and the louder the note produced. The word forte in Italian actually means force or strong.
Throughout the late 1700's to the mid 1800's, piano technology and sound was greatly improved due to the inventions of the Industrial Revolution, such as: the new high quality steel piano strings and the better ability to precisely cast iron frames to go inside the piano casing. The tonal range of the piano increased from the five octaves of the original pianoforte to the seven and more octaves that are found on today's modern pianos.
The upright piano was developed by Johann Schmidt of Salzburg, Austria in 1780 and was later improved upon in 1802 by Thomas Loud of London, England, who implemented a diagonally-strung piano design. Modern upright and grand pianos attained their present forms by the end of the 19th century. Due to advancement of technology, improvements have been made in manufacturing processes throughout the years, and many individual details of the piano continue to receive attention and precision refinements on a regular basis even to this very day.
Much of the most widely admired piano repertoire in classical music, for example, that of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, was originally composed for the pianoforte instrument. Even the music from the Romantic period, including Liszt, Chopin, Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn and Johannes Brahms, was written for pianos that were substantially different in design from that of modern, present-day pianos. During the time of Beethoven's later musical career, the pianoforte would evolve and change into the modern piano as we know it today.
By the 19th century, pianos became a popular fixture in music halls and pubs, providing entertainment through a piano soloist, or in combination with a small band. Pianists began accompanying singers or dancers performing on stage, or patrons dancing on a dance floor. Ragtime piano music, popularized by composers such as Scott Joplin, reached a broader audience by the turn of the 20th century. The popularity of ragtime music was quickly succeeded by Jazz piano.
New techniques and rhythms were invented for the piano, including ostinato for Boogie Woogie, and Shearing voicing. George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' composition broke new musical ground by combining the sounds of American jazz piano with symphonic orchestra sounds. Comping, a technique for accompanying jazz vocalists on piano, was exemplified by Duke Ellington's technique. Honky Tonk music, featuring yet another style of piano rhythm, became popular during the same era. Bebop techniques grew out of jazz, with leading composers such as Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell.
In the late 20th century, Bill Evans, the American jazz pianist and music composer, composed pieces combining classical music techniques with his jazz experimentation and improvization. Herbie Hancock was one of the first jazz pianists to find mainstream popularity working with newer urban music techniques. Pianos have also been used extensively in rock and roll music by entertainers such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Bruce Hornsby, Rick Wakeman, Elton John, and Billy Joel, just to name a few. Modernist styles of music have also appealed to composers writing for the modern grand piano, including John Cage and Philip Glass.
Below is a two part video illustration that goes into more detail about the history of the piano from its early roots to the present day modern piano.
What are some things you should look for or avoid when buying a piano? Let me answer this question with a few questions of my own. How does the piano that you are considering buying sound to you? How does the touch of the piano keys feel when playing it? Is the action responsive enough for your playing? Does the weight of the piano keys feel too light or heavy when you press down and release them with your fingers?
Everybody has a different idea of what a piano should sound or feel like. Buying a piano for you or your child can be one of the most important investments that you will ever make toward becoming a proficient and accomplished pianist. Unlike some of the other purchases and household items that you buy and have to replace after the span of just a few years, good quality pianos are built to last practically a lifetime, especially if they are properly maintained, cared for and tuned on a regular basis.
Parents of new piano students are often times tempted to purchase a very inexpensive and poor quality piano initially, to determine whether or not their children will continue with their music lessons over the long term. Although that approach is understandable, it also has two major pitfalls:
Once you have spent some time looking around at different pianos and come to a final decision about which one you plan on buying for you or your child, (whether it be an upright or grand piano) it is always best to play things safe by hiring a piano technician to thoroughly look it over and get their personal opinion before finalizing the purchase, especially when it comes to choosing an older or more expensive instrument.
Even a cheap piano that you may have seen advertised in the classifieds may not be worth buying, let alone the cost of moving. Take for example, if a piano hasn't been tuned in several years (or several decades) it should be completely checked out, tuned and regulated before you buy it. This way you will also be able to find out whether the strings on the piano might be prone to breaking or if the tuning pins slip during the tuning adjustment. If so, this could involve further out of pocket expenses.
Should you happen to need additional advice about buying a piano, the different prices, the different brands, the level of quality and the level of craftsmanship, including more detailed information on how to choose a good quality, dependable piano that will fulfill either your or your child's personal requirements, I recommend that you take the time to visit the Blue Book of Pianos web site or purchase The Piano Book by Larry Fine.
One of the first things that you will be introduced to when learning to play the piano is middle C. It is important to be able to locate where middle C is on a piano keyboard. Using middle C as a starting point, you will then learn how to read the other individual piano music notes (There are 7 notes in music by the way; A through G: A, B, C, D, E, F, G) that are written on sheet music.
Sheet music is written on five lines, and is also written on the four spaces between the lines. This arrangement of lines is called the music staff. Piano music uses two staves (the plural of staff), which is called the grand staff. A grand staff is used because there are so many different notes that can be played on the piano (88 notes to be exact) therefore, two separate staves are needed in order to notate where all of the high notes (written on the top staff) are located and where all of the lower notes (written on the lower staff) are located. There is one note that is written directly between the top and bottom staff, where the two halves of the keyboard “come together.” This note is called middle C, because it indicates the middle of the piano keyboard and the middle of the grand staff.
To visually locate where middle C is on the piano, you first must realize how the piano keyboard is configured. Take a look at the example picture (directly above) which shows part of a piano keyboard layout with its white and black keys along with the names of the music notes (A through G) that correspond to each ( white or black) piano key.
Now take a look at the keys on your piano and you will notice that the black keys are grouped together in groups of 2 or 3. These groups alternate, so that you have a group of 2 black keys, then a group of 3 black keys, then another group of 2 black keys, and so on, all the way to the end of the keyboard. Take a moment to locate these groups. Put your finger on the first black key (the one on the left) of a group of 2 black keys. Now slide your finger to the left to touch the white key directly beside it. This is one of the C keys on the piano. If you follow this process with any of the groups of 2 keys, you will find another C. The farther to the right you move, the higher the C will sound, and the farther to the left, the lower the note will sound.
The C that is located right in the middle of the keyboard, (just beneath where the piano manufacturer’s name or piano brand label is) directly in front of where you are positioned when sitting in front of the piano on your piano bench, is middle C. This is the best and quickest way to find middle C on your keyboard. On sheet music, middle C is written on a short line, called a ledger line, written directly below the bottom line of the top staff. If you start at one C and play all of the white keys; also known as the white notes (starting at C, then going on up to play D, E, F, G, then A, then B, in order until you reach the next C, you have just played the C major scale. The C major scale does not use any sharp or flat notes in it (represented by the black keys). There are many pieces of music that you can learn to play that center around the C major scale. If a piece of music is written in the key of C major, you can assume that it will use only, or at least mostly, the white keys, since those are the notes of the scale. Learning your major and minor scales and how to play them on the piano will greatly help you to improve your skills as a musician.
Practice playing the C major scale and locating the Cs on the piano. Find a piece of sheet music and practice locating all of the middle Cs written on the staff paper. On the top staff, called the treble clef staff, C is also the name of the note written on the third space from the bottom, which would be located as the C to the right of middle C on the piano keyboard. Another C is the note written using two ledger lines above the treble clef staff. On the bottom staff, called the bass clef staff, C is also written on the second space from the bottom, and again using two ledger lines beneath the bass clef staff. Take the time to practice finding all the Cs (or C notes) that you can on your piano sheet music, then locate each of the Cs that are on your piano keyboard. Knowing where to correctly locate all of the C notes on the piano keyboard will help you to find and locate other music notes (relative to the position of the notes that you already know how to find) as you progress further along in your piano lessons.
Greetings to Everyone and A Big Welcome to Infinity Music Studio! My name is Suzanne Brittania. I have been teaching piano and voice lessons for over 40 plus years. It is my hope that you will find all the following information, along with the music videos listed within my blog, to be very interesting, helpful and inspiring all throughout your own musical journey.
The videos listed below are of famous opera stars (that I performed with extensively all throughout my earlier musical career) especially during the 1950's and 60's.
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