Notes On The Black Keys Of The Piano

When I was younger, I thought that if I was practicing a song that had no sharps or flats, that would be totally awesome because then that means, I only have to concentrate on white keys which is fine! Because that for a young kid was EASY.

However, it’s time to move on from easy and move on with using the black keys.

If you find yourself avoiding the black keys on the piano, I hope this post will help solve your issues. You see, I was scared of them until someone told me one simple trick to memorizing them on the piano. Here’s the trick…

Take any white key. Lets take A. You have two black keys surrounding this A.

The one to the left is A(flat) and the one to the right is A(sharp).
Yes, that applies to any note, even the awkward ones like E and B which are not surrounded by black keys on both sides. Instead, B and E have a white key on the right side. What does this mean?

That white key is their sharp!

That’s right, not all sharps and flats are black keys.

So in this post, I talk about half-step versus the whole step. Here, I am telling you about sharps and flats on the piano. However, did you know that there’s such thing as a double sharp or a double flat? (We will go into how this is notated on the music sheet in another post.)

So let’s say you encountered a double sharp or a double flat. How do you think this mechanic works?

Well it’s simple. Let’s go back to my A key example.

If the black key to the right of A is A(sharp), an A(double sharp) would be an additional half step which is B. So you start from A – A(sharp) – B(or A double sharp).

You can use the same rules for double flats.

If you start on A, go to the black key on your left, and then take an additional half step down, you end up at G.

Black keys are not to be avoided. They have sounds that give more emotions to your music that you would have a hard time accomplishing on just white keys alone – this is not to say that you can’t play a song full of emotion on white keys, it’d just be harder.

Should I Buy A Powerful Recording Computer

Back when I started recording at home in 2001, I had a Pentium 3 550 Mhz computer with 384 MB of Ram. I recorded several projects on the 9GB hard drive until I eventually added a 40GB hard drive to the equation. I was quite limited in what I could do on that computer, but I was limited by many factors. The biggest limiting factor at that time was not the power of my PC, but my recording engineering skills.

A few years later, I was able to build myself an AMD-based pc with an XP 2000 processor. This computer had 512 MB of DDR Ram. When I finally got this computer set up properly, I was amazed at what I could do. I was able to record over 50 tracks at once. The computer would get a little bogged down if I was really pushing it, but that seldom happened.

I guess before I get too deep into this article, I should discuss what I’m doing with my recording computer. While I have gone through various phases throughout the years, these days I’m not using any midi or virtual instruments. Everything I do involves recording a track that started as some sort of analog signal (either from a mic or a line in) and goes to my computer. I’m mixing in the box. I use my fair share of plugins from time to time and I’ve done some extremely complicated mixes. Guys using a sampler or a VSTi or any other virtual instruments may want to ignore this article. Anyone doing this sort of production will want the most powerful computer they can afford.

Just recently, I went ahead and upgraded my recording computer to an AMD Athlon 64 2800 with 1 GB of RAM. This computer is quite a bit faster than my previous computer. It certainly renders downmixes much quicker than my previous audio recording computer did. Unfortunately, my mixes do not sound any better. Upgrading to this computer was kind of like upgrading my recording chair. It’s more comfortable and does allow me to get more work done, but in the end, it doesn’t really improve the final product directly.

If you are looking for your first recording computer, you should put some thought into what you are going to be doing with it. If you think there is a possibility of using virtual instruments, I’d highly recommend that you go for a beast. If you don’t expect to be using a sequencer, then you can save some cash by using an older machine. Any XP 2000 era computer dedicated to the audio recording should do just fine while you learn how to engineer. Trust me, you have a lot to learn, and it will be a long time before you max out the audio capabilities of a computer even 3 years old.

It’s extremely important that you set up a recording computer properly. One of the main reasons that I have no problem using a 3-year-old computer is because I keep it clean. I’m not talking about dust, dirt, or grime. I’m talking about keeping Windows clean. If a computer starts to get a little sluggish, this tells me that it’s time to back everything up and format the computer. I have no problem with reinstalling windows every few months on my home computer and if my audio recording computer needs it, I’ll do the same. I do not install any piece of software that is not required.

In conclusion, if you are just learning audio and don’t plan on using a ton of hardcore virtual instruments, save your cash and put your time into learning recording on an older computer. You’ll be glad that you did.

Do You Download Music Over A File-Sharing Network

I once had a student ask me how to improvise for more than a minute or two. He had some trouble keeping the music going for longer periods of time.

I told him that the problem wasn’t with knowing enough material. He already knew how to play a few chords. It was his attitude – that trying to come up with something was what was blocking the creative flow. This can be hard to understand. After all, aren’t we supposed to “come up” with something? Isn’t that what invention is all about? In a word – no.

Being present is the key to allowing the music to unfold. Blocks happen because we are not present at the moment. The minute you start thinking of anything else (actually, the minute you start thinking) is when the critical voice comes in. Improvisation is spontaneous creation within limits. Successful improvisations don’t happen out of thin air.

Certain decisions are made AT THE BEGINNING. For example, I may find myself playing a D minor chord. This may happen completely at random with no prior decision being made. I can, in fact, gravitate towards a particular sound. However, as I am playing this chord, I look down at the keyboard and it occurs to me that this is a D minor chord. I know that if

I start with this chord I could play improvisation in the mode of D Dorian. I have all the chords of this mode to use.
Now the game is an improvisation in the key of D Dorian. I could stray and go into different tonalities, but I have made a preliminary decision that the improvisation will be in D Dorian. This frees me up by allowing me to focus on just a few chords. Now, I can play for as long as I like.

There is no secret to keeping an improvisation going. Keeping it sounding fresh is another thing. I could play for hours if I wanted to use just the chords in the D Dorian mode, but, I think I would want to stop playing when I became bored.

The secret to fresh improvisations is always to let the music tell you where it wants to go. You need to step out of the way and allow the music to happen.