Learn to play “Yellow” by Coldplay : Piano Lesson #24

August 22, 2009

Hello everyone!

This is Shohini, and I am very pleased to have joined Edutainment! Playing the piano is my hobby and although I had wanted to play the piano since I was a child, I got the chance to learn and play this glorious instrument only as recently as 2005. I love picking up songs by ear and letting my mood decide what I play!

I am sure that all you piano lovers will agree that handing control of your thoughts to your fingers as they play the piano is nothing short of beautiful! Here is an honest confession though: I have never really been very fond of reading sheet music and prefer playing by ear any day!

It feels great to be a part of The Piano Encyclopedia team and I am very excited about bringing to you new songs to try out on the piano as part of the Piano Video Tutorials column of Edutainment!

I also have very exciting news to share! After almost three years of development, and more than 50 contributors – musicians, pianists, developers, graphic designers, writers and editors from all corners of the world, the second major venture of The Piano Encyclopedia, The Logic Behind Music Digital Home Study Course is completed!

Piano enthusiasts everywhere, rejoice! The method that revolutionizes conventional piano teaching is about to be unveiled to you!

I have been personally talking with Rod (the CEO & Founder of The Piano Encyclopedia) and he has been telling me some of the high points of our Digital Home Study Course. It is a dream come true for all of us here as we look forward to presenting before you the most exciting and fun way to “tickle the ivory”!

Interactive, innovative and exhaustive, The Logic Behind Music aims to help music enthusiasts learn the theory of music in a ‘practical way’ so that they have no trouble whatsoever in composing and improvising and get a well-deserved boost on their way to becoming musicians. So if you love playing the piano and don’t want to merely “interpret” music but “create” it as well, The Logic Behind Music is perfect for you!

Do watch this space, everyone, as I will be keeping you up to date with all the “secret” and inside sneak-peek news of the launch of the Digital Home Study Course “The Logic Behind Music!

Today, I have a wonderful piano lesson for all of you –

You are about to learn:
Song: Yellow
Artist: Coldplay

Yellow strikes a hypnotically alluring note right from the first few chords. Produced by Coldplay and Nelson, Yellow released in 2000 and was the band’s first breakthrough hit. The song remains an eternal favourite among Coldplay fans even nine years after its original release.

Hauntingly beautiful, it is one of those songs that you simply cannot stop humming once you hear it! In fact, Yellow is one of my all-time favourite songs! The background music in the original song is mostly acoustic guitar, however, a song as melodious as Yellow can’t possibly sound anything but good on piano, can it?

The first video here is a tutorial that shows you how to play the song by slowly showing each note with the accompanying chords. If you are just starting out with the song then getting the notes right is very important so you can learn the right notes to play from this video and then listen to the actual song to get the tempo right.

The next video is an amazing piano rendition by Adrian Lee who has played this entirely by ear. You can see the notes and chords that he has played quite clearly. How we all wish we were this good, right?

Now let me tell you a little about the original song video. The band had come up with the idea to film the video in a happy, sunny background with moving stars in the sky – an allusion to the lyrics. Yet, the weather played spoilsport with Studland Bay, where the video was filmed, being held hostage by howling winds and rain. Right then, let us have a look at the video itself!

Enjoy yourselves while learning to play this, and remember to:
“Look at the stars
Look how they shine for you
And all the things you do”

I hope you liked this piano lesson!

If you would like to take your piano playing skills to the next level so that you can easily play all the songs you love on the piano, do look forward to the launch of The Logic Behind Music! I promise you that you will have even more fun creating your own music following our approach towards learning music!

Till then,
~ Shohini 🙂

Now we have a new fun feature as part of the run-up to the release of The Logic Behind Music.

I will be asking trivia questions regarding the song taught in each post and all of you are invited to submit the answer in the comment box. In a particular quiz, the first person to give the right answer will be the winner. We are also going to have weekly “merit lists” where I will mention the winners with the most number of correct answers in this very column!

Sounds exciting, right? So are you ready for today’s question? Here it goes!

What, according to the band is the theme of the song, Yellow?
(Answer: “Yellow refers to the mood of the band. Brightness and hope and devotion” and also Chris Martin’s unrequited love.)

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Enhancing your piano technique – Voicing

July 29, 2007

Vocing piano keyboard chords In easy ways, Voicing is the inversion of a chord. This is the vertical ordering of the notes of the chord, or in other words. which notes are on top, bottom, or in the middle.

This simple concept can change completely how rich and professional your playing sounds.
Geniuses like Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, always based their compositions in other to obtain the best voicing combinations for their musical phrases. However, this not only applies to classical music, a bad voicing can cause a jazz player to sound ‘cheap’ or very unprofessional, and a good voicing can make you be the most wanted piano bar player!

Fortunately, the secret of voicing can be summarized in one line:

You must always minimize the distance that each note of each chord must move in order to go to from the previous chord to the next chord.

Following this simple and amazing rule, your sound quality will improve greatly, and it’s just that easy for chords!

To expand into this subject, I invite you to read the following article, by the experienced pianist Paul Tobey:

It always amazes me when I hear different piano players and how they voice their chords. Voicing is one of those skills that is not talked about a lot but in my experience makes the biggest difference in a pianist’s overall sound.

What does voicing mean exactly? Simply put, voicing is the way chords are played which gives them their timbre or richness. In other words it’s how many notes are played, the distance between each of the notes and the quantity and quality of extensions.

There are literally thousands of ways to play a single chord. There are also millions of ways to play a chord progression if you consider that each chord can be played a thousand different ways. However, it’s likely a good idea to start off with a few solid possibilities instead of a thousand.

For example, let’s take a Cmaj7 chord. The chord itself is simple enough and is made up of C E G and B. However, depending on how rich you want the chord to sound you can also add D and A to the chord as extensions. Why? Because D and A come from the C major scale and do not clash with the basic chord.

These are what we call extensions. In other words a good pianist will already consider D and A in their chord voicing when they see the chord symbol Cmaj7. It doesn’t have to be written Cmaj7 (9 13) for them to understand this.

So, how would a pianist then voice this chord? Well, for starters, that depends on the melody. Whatever the melody note is will become the highest note of the chord. For example, let’s say D is the melody note of prominence while the chord is being played. That means that for a pianist our 9th is already understood as part of the chord and is the top note.

Next, it’s generally a good idea to play the bass note in the left hand which is C of course. Then the next 2 most important notes are the 3rd and the 7th because these notes give the chord its flavor. Consider playing the 7th in the left hand above the bass note. That would mean playing the C with finger 5 (baby finger) and B with finger 1 (thumb).

Then, play the 3rd, 5th and melody (9th) in the right hand with the 1st, 2nd and 5th fingers respectively. What’s left? The 13th or A which, you can cover with the 3rd finger of the right hand. So, from bottom to top you would have the notes in this order; C B E G A and D. That right there is a very rich sounding chord and you’d have to go a long way to find one richer.

However, this is only one way of voicing the chord. Like I said before there are literally thousands of ways. My suggestion is this; learn one way at a time until it becomes second nature. Voicing the root and 7th in the left hand and covering the 3rd and the melody in the right hand is a very good system to start with. Then with your left over fingers in the right hand cover the 5th and any other extension that’s available. This works for all chords including major, minor, dominant and diminished chords.

Once you’ve learned this way of voicing chords it becomes much easier to tackle a new formula because this one is already clear and concrete and will help you hear very clearly the difference between the chords. Until next time, keep practicing.

I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did.

We expect your comments and questions, and if you’d like us to publish an article about any piano related topic just tell us!

Cheers and until next time!

Rod

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  • Start Piano Lessons Now & Play Like A Pro. Impress Your Friends Today!

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Master Piano Improvisation

July 29, 2007

Improvising at the piano Lesson.Do you play piano?

…Yes?!

But can you play without a score, without a list of chords, without a written or specified melody?

The most common scene for a piano student: you perform a little concert for a group of friends, and after you finish playing your most well-known pieces, one of them asks you: “Hey could you play for me anything from jazz or blues?…” or “Could you play for me something similar to [this song that you don’t know, nor have the score in front of you!] ?
Most times you answer evasively thus hiding your frustration that you don’t have a clue on how to do that, and play another song for them…. until now!

Our friend Paul Tobey, a concert pianist full of knowledge and experience, will give us a quick lesson about improvising at the keyboard or piano:

One of the greatest thrills a pianist can have is to be able to sit at the piano and just play; without music and without thought. Unfortunately many pianists never learn to do this. They are closely tied to their music because that’s not only what’s comfortable for them that’s the way they learned.

However, what if I were to tell you that in as little as ten piano lessons you could be playing your favorite melodies without music and also be able to improvise as well? Would that be something you’d be interested in? Take a moment and picture you sitting at the piano at a party and just playing. How does it feel? Great, that’s what you need to feel if you’re going to do what it takes to learn properly.

Let’s get started. In our first piano lesson, you must understand how music is structured in order to be able to improvise. Most western music is based on what we call tertian harmony, which simply means chord structures that are based on intervals of three. For example a C major chord is made up of the notes C E and G. Each of these notes is spaced a third away from the next.

So, assuming that all chords are based on tertian harmony, then next thing you need to know is where do the notes we choose for our chords come from? Well, they come directly out of a major or minor scale. For example; let’s take a C major scale which is C D E F G A B and back to C. When we build chords on top of each of the notes of a major scale we would build them in intervals of 3 and the quality of the chord (major or minor) is determined by the scale.

That means just like our C major chord which is C E and G (notes chosen from the major scale), our F major chord would be F A and C, where A and C are notes from the C major scale. We wouldn’t use for example Ab or C# because they do not come from the C major scale. Likewise for a G major chord, G B and D, the note B and D come also from the C major scale.

The number of the chord is important as well. Since our C major chord is built on the first note of the scale we call this one (1). The F major chord is four (4) because it is built on the 4th note of the C major scale. And, the G major chord is five (5) because it’s the 5th note of the C major scale.

Coincidentally, the chords C, F and G or 1, 4 and 5 are what most classical and popular music is based upon. The vast majority of songs use the chord progression 4, 5 to 1 which is the most common chord progression there is.

Understanding the 4, 5, 1 chord progression is essential to understating how to improvise. Knowing that 4 is followed usually by 5 and then resolving to 1 is of high importance if you wish to be able to play your favorite music without using sheet music.

In our next piano lesson we’ll discuss how to substitute richer chords for the 4, 5, 1 progression and how to choose our melody notes so as to create and improvisational theme.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson as much as I did.

I’ve studied piano for more than 12 years and let me tell you that in order to master the piano you must understand how music really works. When you get to know that, you’ll be able to play, compose, and improvise at ease.

We’ll be posting more interesting piano lessons in the following weeks.

Please tell us if this lesson was useful to you and what piano related-topics would you be most interested in learning!

Cheers!

Rod

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  • Start Piano Lessons Now & Play Like A Pro. Impress Your Friends Today!

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