Friday, April 24, 2009

Caverns - A One Chord Piano Improvisation!

You'd be amazed to find out that some of the most complex sounding pieces of music are actually simple to create. Take the piano lesson "Caverns" for example. Here we use just one chord in the left hand to create a harmonic foundation for the right hand improvisation.

The right hand plays both melody and bass notes but the left is just playing one chord. The sound that is created is full and rich! But how can this be? After all, only one chord is used. The secret is in how the chord is played.

We use a simple ostinato pattern to create the backdrop. Now this backdrop is the key to the whole piece. It quietly goes on in the background while the right hand is busy playing melody. Bass notes are also called into play with the right hand crossing over the left. Back and forth the right hand goes and we end up with 2 minutes of music using just one chord!

This is an excellent example of the power of limits. We know what the chord will be - in this case D minor. We know that we will be playing melody notes from the D Dorian mode. Now we can relax and enjoy the act of making music. With the decisions of what to play out of the way, it makes the act of creating all that easier!

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