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Topic: chord progressions  (Read 4965 times)

Offline Sekoul

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chord progressions
on: July 02, 2004, 08:14:08 AM
hi, can you please suggest any pop songs that i can play to learn chord progression well? i concentrate on classical but i want to be able to start working at restaurants soon playing piano and to do you need a veeery large repertoire of pop songs. I mean the type of song/piece that you can learn just by taking a look at the guitar chord markings and improvising on the rest.

p.s. by 'pop' i mean anything from broadway to rap

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: chord progressions
Reply #1 on: July 02, 2004, 11:18:40 AM
What do you mean by learning chord progressions well?  Chords can progress in a wide variety of ways.  Do you know how to read lead sheets (aka fake books)?  If you do and are able to sight read decently, you will have little problem with accumulating a large repetory.

Offline Sekoul

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Re: chord progressions
Reply #2 on: July 02, 2004, 03:29:21 PM
what i mean is songs/pieces that mostly involve change chords rather than a complicated right hand melody. as for sight reading im not that good and that's precisely why i'm askin about any songs that could help me develop my skills in that direction.

Offline donjuan

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Re: chord progressions
Reply #3 on: July 02, 2004, 07:01:38 PM
I agree with Faulty on this one- Fake books are great, and will allow you to play for long periods without being too repetitive.  how long are you expected to play for?

Offline bitus

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Re: chord progressions
Reply #4 on: July 03, 2004, 06:42:51 PM
If you are a beginner or close, you should play Beatles, or very commercial music that uses little variety but is easy to learn and listen to.

If you want to play in restaurants, ideal would be famous pieces from Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Gershwin even Eric Clapton... or jazz from the 30-60s.

If you want wicked chord progressions, play Chopin, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff preludes and etudes :) But these won't help you too much in a restaurant unless you want to show off or quit the job :))

The Bitus.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.

Offline jr11

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Re: chord progressions
Reply #5 on: July 03, 2004, 07:48:17 PM
I know just what you mean. I played this way for years after I stopped taking classical lessons. With this style, I have literally hundred of pop songs in my repetoire ready to go now. It was quite a shock when I went back to classical lessons after 20 years... I thought I could have all my gr 10 exam pieces ready in a month rather than the 2 years suggested by RCM... ya, right...

The trick to playing "covers" (pop term for songs written by others than yourself) is not to carbon-copy the original performer, but enhance the tune with your style while still respecting the original artist's intent. It's all about chords, rhthym, and good listening skills. You could play from music, but it is light years better to play by ear. Analyze the piece you are learning by listening to the arrangement over and over... as for chords, most pop songs use few, and their arrangement is predictable and repetitious. Learn to recognize the placement of different chords in context to each other by hearing them. Begin playing by just using root chords and bass notes, and work in inversions and non-chord passing notes in the bass line. Hum or sing the melody at first. Eventually you can work in your melody lines, and come up with some creative chords and tenor/alto/bass lines that will enhance the song nicely. I found my Harmony studies a huge help. This style is also the basis for improv, which you will need to place in the songs as well, or they will be too short. I encourage you to sing as well, if you are any good; if not, it is worthwhile to develop your voice.

As for the actual songs to play, this will depend on your audience, which will mostly be over 30 (younger people don't go for piano). Classic soft rock is your best bet, and a few country standards. Observe your audience's behaviour on the songs you play, and stick with the style that turns them on. You may envision just playing in a classy restaurant on a nice grand, but reality is mostly drinking establishments and some coffee houses. Most of these places will not have a piano, or one in poor repair, so be prepared to rent a digital and a sound system. Even busking is fun, and I've made $100 in a few hours outside the liquor store at Xmas.

Keep in mind that the owner of the establishment hires you because they figure the salary they pay you will be offset by you holding the patrons in longer, so they will buy more drinks and appetizers. It is entirely possible to drive an audience away with music they don't like, and if this happens you will be fired, and asked never to return. Keep smilin', and give the people what they want, even if it's whiny country (which tends to sell the most liquor, but sounds like nails on a chalkboard to pianists).

About the only similarity between pop piano and classical is the instrument. They are very different disciplines, and the musicians of one genre are not necessarily adaptable to the other. But pop is FUN... free and easy, no adjudicators, and a fun-loving, non-musical audience (ie: they won't notice a wrong chord now and then).  Give it a shot!
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