Spring 2019: New Music Reviews

 (S1-3) Imaginations Books 1 and 2, by Kevin Olson.  Kevin Olson has a knack for creating fresh and original sounds at every teaching level. While incorporating the reading, rhythmic, and technical skills needed to advance the piano student, Imaginations offers a wide variety of appealing pieces. With titles like "Android Attack," "Pengui...

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Understanding bar lines: A brief history

In Western notation, the vertical bar line through the musical staff first came into usage at a point in history when polyphonic textured music (two or more melodies simultaneously) evolved from monophonic textured music (one melody only; no accompaniment). The principal purpose of employing bar lines at that moment in time was to coordinate singer...

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Notable next-door neighbors

Many music theory textbooks illustrate melodies that often consist, in part, of chord tones—the notes that match an underlying harmonic progression. An example of this may be seen below, in the folk song Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair. The first three pitches, above the words "Black, black, black," are chord tones outlining a D mino...

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Diminished seventh chords, and, pardon the expression, half-diminished seventh chords in jazz and popular music

Diminished seventh chords In jazz and popular music, diminished chords are invariably played as four-note chords, rather than triads, whether the chord symbol says Cdim (C °) or Cdim7 (C ° 7). A diminished seventh chord consists of a diminished triad plus a diminished seventh above the root of the triad: However, enharmonic spellings are fre-q...

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To slur or not to slur: that is the question

In my published books I have always devoted a great deal of attention to phrasing, because I believe that phrase marks, or slurs, provide syntactical clarity to music and thus serve as indispensable performance guidelines for the pianist.  Many writers and publishers omit slurs in printed music, especially music written for early-level pianist...

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The rhythms of jazz: Syncopation

An important aspect of rhythm (in any style of music) is the alternation of accented and unaccented musical elements. When the accented elements differ from what is expected, we have syncopation, an essential part of jazz. This article will examine two kinds of syncopation first outlined by Winthrop Sargeant in his pioneering 1938 work Jazz: Hot an...

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Eleventh chords in jazz and popular music

There is a swath of New York's Catskill Mountains, a two-to-three hour drive from Manhattan, that until recently was euphemistically known as the Borscht Belt. As a teenager I spent my summers playing in dance bands in the area's resort hotels. The predominant clientele were middle-class Russian Jews-one of their favorite dishes, beet borscht, was ...

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Jazz suspensions: Bridges to somewhere (usually)

For the past quarter century I have conducted piano teacher workshops throughout the United States and Canada. Teachers always have a lot of great questions, and one of the most frequently asked questions is "What is a jazz suspension?" Jazz suspensions in general are bridges to somewhere, at least usually. Suspensions are chord tension-tones ...

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What Is Your Favorite Recital Repertoire for 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-Year Students?

from the series: Putting It All Together: Repertoire Recital--the very word sends a tremor of anxiety through any piano teacher. Some teachers cleverly disguise this event by giving it another name: Piano Party, Spring Keyboard Festival, or Music for a Sunday Afternoon. Whatever the title, repertoire must be chosen and students must be prepare...

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Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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