Basics

Hi!

You are welcome. This blog will be very useful for intermediate and advanced keyboard players as I will be revealing some information in keyboard playing that I have learnt over the years as a Gospel Keyboardist. As I update the blog I will add lessons on Jazz, Neo Soul, Blues and some other cool stuffs.

First let me give you some definitions and explanations.

Music:

Sounds, usually produced by instruments or voices, that are arranged or played in order to create an effect.
It is also the art of arranging or making sounds, usually those of musical instruments or voices, so as to create an effect.

Blues:

Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre created primarily within the African-American communities in the Deep South of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads.

Blues embraces a variety of styles, including downhome or country blues, boogie-woogie, classic blues, jump blues, and Chicago (urban) blues. Blues directly or indirectly influenced the vast majority of popular music during the 20th century, including jazz, rock, rhythm and blues (R&B), and gospel.

Jazz:

Jazz, type of music first developed by African Americans around the first decade of the 20th century. It has an identifiable history and distinct stylistic evolution. Jazz grew up alongside the blues and popular music, and all these genres overlap in many ways.

Neo soul:

Neo soul is a term coined by music industry entrepreneur Kedar Massenburg during the late 1990s to market and describe a style of music that emerged from soul and contemporary R&B. Heavily based in soul music, neo soul is distinguished by a less conventional sound than its contemporary R&B counterpart, with incorporated elements ranging from jazz, funk, and hip hop to pop, fusion, and African music.

Funk:

Funk is an American music genre that originated in the late 1960s when African American musicians blended soul music, soul jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music. Funk de-emphasizes melody and harmony and brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground. Funk songs are often based on an extended vamp on a single chord, distinguishing it from R&B and soul songs centered around chord progressions.

Passing Tone:

Generally, a passing tone is considered to be a scale tone between two chord tones. However, it could also be a semitone between two scale tones that are a wholetone apart. And, in a strict classical sense, passing tones are meant to be on weak beats. Whatever the definitions, passing tones are an excellent means of connecting tones.

Gospel Music:

A highly emotional evangelical vocal music that originated among African American Christians in the southern United States and was a strong influence in the development of soul music.

It's a genre of popular American hymnody that emerged about 1870. At first a predominantly white style, it became prominent in the urban religious revivals led by the evangelist Dwight Moody with the musician Ira Sankey. Its roots were in Sunday school hymns, camp meeting spirituals, and the melodies and harmonies of popular music; the bass voice often echoes the other parts.

An early example is "I Love to Tell the Story" (1869) by William Fischer. The texts, notably those of the poet Fanny Crosby, often deal with salvation and conversion. Black gospel music, which became distinctive by 1930, is especially associated with Pentecostal churches. It developed out of the combination of the earlier hymns, black performance styles, and elements from black spirituals.

Singing, which may merge into ecstatic dance, is usually accompanied by piano or organ, often with handclapping, tambourines, and electric guitars. Texts such as Precious Lord (1932) by Thomas Dorsey stress themes of consolation.

Noted singers include Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Mahalia Jackson. Although the black and white varieties of gospel music have remained distinctive, repertoire has been shared, and they have freely influenced each other stylistically.


Gospel Music Subgenres


Uuban Contemporary:

Like other forms of music the creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of urban contemporary gospel varies according to culture and social context. It is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace. However, a common theme as with most Christian music is praise, worship or thanks to God.

Contemporary Christian:

Contemporary Christian music is a genre of modern popular music which is lyrically focused on matters concerned with the Christian faith. Today, the term is typically used to refer to the Nashville, Tennessee based pop, rock, and worship Christian music industry, currently represented by artists such as: Avalon, Barlow Girl, Israel Houghton, CeCe Winans, Jeremy Camp, Yolanda Adams, Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, David Crowder Band, Amy Grant, Natalie Grant, Jars of Clay, MercyMe, Newsboys, Michael W. Smith, Rebecca St. James, Third Day, tobyMac, and a host of others.

Southern Gospel:

Like other forms of music the creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of Southern Gospel varies according to culture and social context. It is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace.

Shout Music:
Shout Music is a type of gospel music characterized by very fast tempo, chromatic basslines, snare hits and hand claps on the 2nd and 4th beat of each measure and screaming organ lines over one major chord (though modulations are common). Often gospel artists will break into Shout Music at the end of a song or as a finale. Shout Music is used as a bed for vocal riffing and calling out of catch phrases, or "shouting.

Chord Voicing:

This is when you take a normal chord and rearrange the notes of the chord to give a desired effect depending on the style of music being played.
Styles in Chord Voiving are
  • Open Movement or Open Chord Voicings
  • Closed Movement or Scrunched Movement
Open Movement:
This method of chord voicings means you're playing the notes of a chord over span of more keys.
For example lets voice E min 9th chord.
Normally, you would play E min 9 like this - [E G B D F#]

Now the chord voicing of E min 9: LH - [E G] RH - [B D F#]

Now practice chord voicings of minor ninth chords on all the keys. You can easily do that by just moving up or down chromatically the E min 9th chord above.


Scrunched Movement:
This is when you take the notes of a normal chord and scrunch them together. That is you play the notes in such a way that they are very close to eachother.

For example lets voice A minor 9th. It's C major 7th chord with A as the bass line.

Normally, you would play it like this: LH - [A E A] RH - [C E G B].
Now, I will give you a remixed version of that chord in both the open and closed movements.


Open Movement:
LH - [A E B] - RH [C G B D] - leave no octave in-between LH and RH
Closed Movement: Below is an example  
LH - [A E] - RH - [G B C D]
Some chords given here might be difficult to play at first but you just need to practice them in order to be able to play them fluently.


"The Hidden Secret in Gospel Keyboard"


1. Tritone
2. Ditone

Tritone:

The tritone is a musical interval that spans three whole tones. The tritone, sometimes known as the "Diabolus in Musica", refers to either the augmented fourth or the diminished fifth, which in 12-tone equal temperament are enharmonic equivalents. It is often used as the main interval of dissonance in Western harmony, and is important in the study of musical harmony. "Any tendency for a tonality to emerge may be avoided by introducing a note three whole tones distant from the key note of that tonality."

In music, a tritone substitution is the chord substitution of a chord with its root being a tritone away from the original. It is the use in a chord progression of a V7 (dominant seventh chord) (major/minor seventh chord) that is three whole steps (a tritone: 6 semitones) away from the original V7. Tritone substitutions are used in improvisation and are commonly used to create tension during a solo.
Breaking it down Futher
The tritone is basically what the name implies. It's a two note tone with two tones in-between. e.g [C F#].
You would almost always play the tritone with your left hand and then couple it with a major chord on your right hand.

When playing the tritone on the keyboard it's structured in such a way that when you play a note, the tritone is the same on the left side as it is on the right. This implies that in substituting a tritone for a chord you can have more than 1 tritones to use.

For example the tritone for chord 1 on C major is -
LH - [Bb E] RH - [A C# E A] or

LH - [A# E] RH - [A D F# A] or

LH - [E Bb] RH - [Eb G Bb] or

LH - [E A#] RH - [E G C] or [Eb Ab C]
- passing tone

Before I proceed, lets do an exercise.
Practise playing the tritone using all the instances I have shown, moving up and then down chromatically until you have mastered playing it very well.

Let me give you the tritones again in their different flavours

LH - [F B] RH - [E A C#]
LH - [F B] RH - [F Ab C#]
LH - [F B] RH - [E Ab B E]

How To Use Tritones:
The tritone can add a lot of flavour to your playing if you know how to use it. It can be employed in many styles of music such as Neo Soul, Funk, Jazz and ultimately, Gospel. Below are the various ways in which you can use the tritone:

* Passing Tone
* Root of the Chord
* Chord Substitutions


Passing Tone:
Without saying much let me just explain this using the Circle of Fifths as an example.
Firstly, I will give you the Circle of fifths in the basic form and then I will give you the version with the tritones.
This exercise is in key C

LH - [A E] RH - [G B C E]
LH - [Ab E] RH - [F# B C E]
LH - [G D] RH - [F A Bb D]
LH - [F# D] RH - [F# A Bb D]
LH - [F C] RH - [E G A C]
LH - [B Eb] RH - [A D F]
LH - [Ab D F] RH - [Ab C D G]


Now for the tritone version with some chord substitutions

LH - [G B C E] RH - [G B D]
LH - [C F#] RH - [B E Ab B] - tritone
LH - [G D] RH - [F A Bb D]
LH - [Bb E] RH - [A D F#] - tritone
LH - [F A C E] RH - [C E G]
LH - [A Eb] RH - [Ab C# F] - tritone
LH - [Ab D] RH - [G C E G] - tritone

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Now let's take a look at the little brother of the tritone

Ditone

The ditone is a 2-note tone with a tone inbetween. For example [C E]. You would almost always play the ditone with your left hand and couple it with a suspended chord on your right hand. Let me show you and exapmple

LH - [C E] RH - [Bb Eb Ab]

Now practice playing the ditone on all keys using the example I just gave you. Just go up and down chromatically.

There are 3 basic ways of using the ditone.
  • As Passing Tone
  • Root of the chord
  • Chord Substitutions
You would use it as a passing tone when you play the example I gave above. Let me now show you how to use it as root of the chord. In the example below, I show you the ditone used as the 1 chord on the key of C.

LH - [C E] RH - [A D G]

Now I will show you an example in which I use the ditone as the root of the chord, passing tone and a substitution the the key of C.

LH - [C E] RH - [A D G] .............-count 1, 2 >>root
LH - [E Ab] RH - [D G C], LH - [F# Bb] RH - [E A D], LH - [Ab C] RH - [F# B E] -count 1 2 >>passing tone.
LH - [A E B] RH - [C G B D]

LH - [C# F] RH - [B E A]
LH - [D A] RH - [C E F A]
LH - [Ab D F] RH - [Ab C D G]
LH - [A E] RH - [G B C E]



I hope I have been able to assist you in getting better.