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Product Review: Waves Electric 88



As a keyboardist with a lifelong love-affair with the Rhodes electric piano, I’m always intrigued by new virtual instruments simulating that classic sound. The one I use most of the time I bought many years ago from a developer called Scarbee, and I have been pretty happy with it. (Scarbee products have been subsumed into the Native Instruments product line, and I assume those samples are still part of the “Komplete” collection.) When Waves came out with their version at an introductory price of $39, I decided to take a risk and order it.
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Problems with Digital Piano Reproduction Live















Recently I played a gig where, for space purposes, I plugged my keyboard into a small PA system, along with the vocalist. The venue was very small, and there was no need or room for large speakers, and the volume would be low. This small PA did a decent job of making the singer sound good, but the piano sounded terrible. (at least to me) On this gig, it certainly wasn’t worth trying to fix the sound, but it brought up issues I constantly struggle with using a digital piano live.

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Why Improvisation Matters













If you don’t play jazz, blues, or some other type of music that involves spontaneous playing, you might wonder what purpose there is in learning to improvise. Sure, “jazzheads” can sit around listening to John Coltrane or some other historic figure, but how can this arcane skill be of any value to a contemporary musician? Listen to popular songs, film scores or even academic classical compositions, and you will hear very little improvised material. Even in the classic rock guitar-hero era, most solos were brief 8-bar affairs that could (and often were) pre-composed by the soloist. So what’s the point of putting in massive amounts of time for this “obsolete” skill? Why not just work it all out in advance?

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Symmetrical Scales – Geometry in Music
















In the previous article, we examined seven-note scales, arguably the most “familiar” sounds in tonal music. Since 7 doesn’t divide evenly into 12, these scales can’t be symmetrical, meaning they don’t repeat an interval sequence. (except at the octave, of course) Today, we will examine scales that are formed using interval patterns, with numbers of tones other than 7.  Continue Reading…

How Many Scales Are There, Really?
















One thing my students often ask about is “scales” and which ones to learn. In an effort to clarify this, here are some permutational ways to look at this question. Keep in mind, I’m not really talking about which ones are most useful, or how to practice and apply them. What we will do here is do a little surveying, to see what’s out there. First, let’s establish some boundaries:

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What About Jam Sessions?










One of the most common methods of networking for musicians is to go to jam sessions. These gatherings are often not what they appear, and often caution is advised…

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Music Production Story Time

In The Not-So-Distant Future (la la la)

(In this play, Randy will be crustily portraying the role of Grandpa)

Kids: “Grandpa, tell us again about the days before Auto-Tune!”

Grandpa: “Well, I know it’s hard to imagine, but there were these people called singers who could stand in front of an audience or a microphone and perform a song from beginning to end! ”

Kids: “But didn’t they use a computer to fix wrong notes?”

Grandpa:  “No, they actually sang the whole song correctly!”

Kids: “But that’s not possible!”

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Triads Over Bass Part II: Add 11

In our last lesson, We discussed the use of major triads superimposed various intervals above a bass note. Adding tones to these triads can make these voicings even richer. One of many ways to enhance these triads is to add the 11th or perfect 4th to the triads. Not to be confused with sus4 chords, where the 4th replaces the 3rd, these chords keep the 3rd and add the 11th, creating a four-note shape.

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The Myth of Difficulty









When confronting a task, it is common for people to describe it as “difficult,” or “hard.” While superficially valid, these labels do little to move us toward completion. In fact, they may lead us in the wrong direction. Let’s re-examine our concept of “difficulty.”

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Keyboard Harmony: Triads over Bass I

In a previous video, we discussed learning the various major triads by playing them through the cycles of 4ths and 5ths. In this lesson, we will learn some ways to use these triads to build more complex chords.

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