Vidas: Let's start Episode 40 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. And today's question was sent by Parvoe who writes, “identification of sounds to the appropriate chords is a problem for me”. Could you explain how do you understand this question Ausra?
Ausra: Well actually I think if I understand it right, that when he learning maybe a new music. It’s hard for him to tell by listening to those chords, if the notes are appropriate or not. So he is playing basically a correct chord, I think that's the problem.
Vidas: So that's the hearing problem right?
Vidas: So imagine you are playing a piece, let's say by Bach Chorale Prelude, and in other words he cannot understand what does this sound, this note mean. Which chord would go with this sound, with this note? Does this make sense?
Ausra: Well yes and no. The trouble might be, I see a double problem in this type of question. One thing might be that he does not know the keyboard harmony well enough and another thing that his harmonic pitch might not be developed enough yet. Because sometimes people can have a perfect pitch, and very good melodic hearing, but they cannot have like no harmonic pitch. That's different. Two type of different hearing of music.
Vidas: Do you think that one is born with this pitch, harmonic pitch, or one can develop this over time?
Ausra: Well, some people, of course we are born with that kind of pitch, but I think you can develop it and for people who play melodic instruments, like violin, flute, oboe and so on, usually they develop better melodic pitch. But people who play piano, organ, harpsichord, even choir conductors they develop harmonic pitch too.
Vidas: Even guitar.
Ausra: Even guitar, then you have sort of chordal structure, you can develop well the harmonic pitch.
Vidas: So basically what you are saying, organ playing really helps to develop harmonic pitch.
Ausra: Yes. But of course if that's trouble for you, if you cannot hear, if that note belongs to that particular chord, that means that you have to analyze music that you're playing. So just to study the harmonic progression. Play those chords separately. Maybe write the names down and that should help, I think.
Vidas: Well exactly. What kind of chords are the most crucial in any tonal composition? What kind of type of chords?
Ausra: Tonic, subdominant and dominant.
Vidas: Three chords?
Ausra: Yes and of course three versions and then all kind of other modifications of these chords.
Vidas: Here is the thing guys; if you know the key of the piece that you are currently playing, and you know the circle of fifths, and you know those three types of chords as Ausra was mentioning earlier, tonic, subdominant and dominant, you can basically identify the meaning of any given chord.
Not necessarily it will be very precise, you will not necessarily be able to identify diminished seventh chord and it's inversion or let's say six scale degree first inversion chord, but when you know tonic, subdominant and dominant, and you compare those three chords to any given chord that you are playing in your music, you will see that some notes will match. Am I right Ausra?
Ausra: Sure. Definitely.
Vidas: And then you can say, oh this is a tonic function, or this is dominant function, or this is the subdominant function. That's enough for starters don't you think?
Ausra: Yes, that's definitely enough. And just be careful when you are learning a new piece of music because it’s very easy to learn it in incorrect way, the wrong notes, and then it will be very hard for you to correct it. So just be very careful at the beginning.
Vidas: It's always very good to basically lead with your mind and not with your finger.
Ausra: Sure. And in any given piece of music usually you start on one key and then the key switches, it can switch for a short time, but it can modulate for a longer time and then go back and travel through keys, so just know that tonal structure of your piece this will help you too. And write it down in the score, it will help you to learn the text correctly.
Vidas: And to understand the meaning of the notes.
Vidas: And basically we will be thinking like this composer who created this masterpiece.
Ausra: Yes, and after a while you will see some sort of tendencies like cadences, you will start to identify them and know infrastructure also help you to play music in the right manner, not to play like robot, but to play more musically.
Vidas: Do we have any trainings that we could recommend for people to improve their harmony and analytical skills, Ausra?
Ausra: Yes. We have some of them.
Vidas: The one for example, Harmony for Organists, if you want to start from the beginning, Level 1. Or, Hymn Harmonization Workshop I think that would be helpful too. Or even Bach Chorale Analysis Workshop where you will learn to analyze four-part harmony found in Bach's chorales.
Ausra: Yes, or you know you can on youtube just find my videos, with harmonic exercises which will be I think very helpful for you to try to play yourself some sequences or modulations.
Ausra: Or basic cadences.
Vidas: Excellent. So guys please apply our tips in your practice and let us know for example, what was number one thing which was the most helpful thing to you this week and you applied it in your practical playing this week. This is really helpful. We would appreciate it and this of course will help us produce even more helpful podcasts for you.
And please send us more questions that you might have, more challenges. We love helping you grow. The best way to do this is through subscription to our blog when you go to www.organduo.lt you enter your email address and you become a subscriber and you will receive this free ten-day organ playing mini course with our lessons on how to master any organ composition. This is very helpful in the long run. And then you can reply to our messages...
...Oh, you can hear our dog barking in the background.
Vidas: Somebody is coming. So, we better run to check. Okay. This was Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: Have fun practicing.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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