How To Dress Up Naked Music On The Piano

What in the world is "naked music?"

You know it when you hear it, but the words that describe it sound strange, don't they? We've all heard of popular music and rock music and gospel music and jazz music, but naked music?

Naked music is simply the notes on a piece of sheet music. It's "naked" ? not dressed up or arranged at all. No fills, no slurs, none of the ingredients that make a song come to life.

Not a single professional musician plays the music exactly as it appears on a piece of sheet music. Instead, they use the written music as a map, or an outline, and then proceed to do their own thing with it. They twist it, bend it, add to it, subtract from it, put fills in it, change the key, change the words, change some of the melody notes, and on and on.

So when you hear your favorite artist perform a piece of music, if you look at the written sheet music while they are performing it, you will see it is MUCH different and MUCH better than the plain old "naked music!"

So how can the average musician dress up naked music? There are many ways, but here are seven of my favorites:

1. Change the chords slightly by adding color tones. What are color tones? Color tones are notes added to the basic chord, usually expressed as 6ths, 7ths, 9ths, etc. For example, instead of playing just a straight C chord as it is written ? C, E, G ? try adding a color tone to it, such as a 6th (A) or a 7th (Bb) or a major 7th (B) or a 9th (D). In fact, try adding a couple together, like a 6th and a 9th. So instead of being a plain vanilla chord made up of C, E, and G, you've made it a tasty variation adding A and D to the equation.

2. During the pause between phrases, add a counter melody. How? Take the given melody notes and turn them upside down or inside out, or change the rhythm slightly so the tune is still recognizable, but different.

3. Add chord substitutions. Instead of always using the chords that are written, ask yourself this question: "Into what other chord will this melody note fit?" For example, if the melody is G and the chord is C, what other chords contain the note G in them? There are several answers to that question. G is not only in the C chord, but it is also in the Em chord, the Eb major chord, the G chord, the Gm chord, etc. Try one of those alternate chords until you like the sound combination, then use it instead of the C chord. It will add an originality and freshness to your playing almost immediately.

4. Add fills and runs between phrases. How do you do that? Simply break up the chord that is in force at the moment, and run it up the keyboard as a broken chord ? one note at a time. Or start at the top of the keyboard and come down. Or play with the chord a bit by playing 2 of the 3 notes instead of the entire 3 note chord.

5. Use melodic echos. After you have played the melody, echo it by playing it an octave higher, or two octaves higher, or an octave lower.

6. Use half-step slides. If the chord progression is from D7 to G7, instead of going to G7 directly, "slide into it" by playing the chord that is one-half step above ? namely, Ab7, then quickly sliding off Ab7 to G7.

7. Use "blue notes." Blue notes are created by sliding off a black key onto a white key quickly. For example, if the melody is E, slide off Eb to E quickly using the same finger.

This is just a tiny sampling of what you can do to dress up your music. There are literally hundreds of other techniques, from pseudo-modulations to inside blues moves to deceptive cadences to tremelos to twangs to crunches to straddles to 3-1 breakups to walk-downs and walk-ups and on and on.

By simply adding a few of these techniques to your playing you can easily double and triple the excitement created by your piano playing as you "dress up naked music!"

Duane Shinn is the author of over 500 music books, CD's & DVD's including http://www.pianoplaying.com/ - "How To Dress Up Naked Music On The Piano!" He also is the editor of the free email newsletter http://www.playpiano.com/ - "Piano Lessons Online: Piano Chords & Progressions!" which has over 61,000 current subscribers worldwide.

In The News:


USA TODAY

Eminem music shares to hit the stock exchange, as producers line up unique deal
USA TODAY
Want to buy a piece of Lose Yourself, Stan and The Real Slim Shady? In a potentially pioneering venture, shares in Eminem's entire hit catalog will be going public, as the Bass Brothers production team offers part of its multimillion-dollar royalty ...
Brothers Who Found Eminem Are Taking Part of His Music Public ...Bloomberg
Eminem Music Shares to Hit the Stock Exchange | VarietyVariety
Part of Eminem's music catalog is going public, giving you a chance to own sharesBusiness Insider

all 19 news articles »

RollingStone.com

Listen to 'Rolling Stone Music Now' Podcast: The Case for Taylor Swift
RollingStone.com
The latest episode of the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast is now available. Listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or check it out below. Contributing editor Rob Sheffield and Brittany Spanos join host Brian Hiatt to break down Rob's ...


USA TODAY

Cardi B makes music history at top of Billboard chart
USA TODAY
Cardi B really is making "money moves": She's just made music history. She's the first female rapper to hit No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart without the assistance of another credited artist — in 19 years. Oh, and she knocked off Taylor Swift ...
Cardi B just made music history — and dethroned Taylor Swift from the charts in the processWashington Post

all 121 news articles »

In mid-'60s Yugoslavia, mariachi music was really popular
PRI
As a result, the song became extremely popular in Yugoslavia. Other songs from Mexican films gained prominence and sparked an interest in Mexican music. “Young people started forming music bands and singing in a Mexican style. There were even tailors ...

and more »

Noisey

Miley Cyrus Doesn't Want to "Label" Music
Noisey
It's like: that kind of music—like, what does that mean? I love music; I love all styles of music. I love Mike WiLL's music; I love Wayne Coyne's music. I love country music; I love Dolly [Parton]'s music. I love Leonard Cohen's music. I may be the ...
Puppy Love! Miley Cyrus Falls Hard for Orphaned Pups at iHeart Radio Music Festival — and Her Sister Noah Adopts ...PEOPLE.com

all 31 news articles »

Eater Chicago

Rascal Flatts-Themed Restaurant/Country Music Venue May Open in Chicago
Eater Chicago
Country music stars Rascal Flatts have their eyes set on opening a bar/restaurant in Fulton Market, according to a published report. The Ohio-based country trio is looking at a space at the corner of Fulton and Green, according to Crain's. The venue ...


Pitchfork

Chance the Rapper to Perform New Music on “Colbert”
Pitchfork
Chance the Rapper is set to be both guest and musical performer on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” tonight, where he will debut “never-before-heard music,” according to a tweet from the “Late Show” account. Find that below. New York City-based ...
Chance the Rapper Will Perform New Music on Tonight's ColbertSPIN
Chance the Rapper Premiering New Music Tonight on 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert'Billboard
Chance The Rapper Is Premiering New Music Tonight on 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert'XXLMAG.COM

all 7 news articles »

EW.com (blog)

Watch Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton rock the Pilgrimage Music Festival
EW.com (blog)
Fans certainly received their money's worth at the Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival on Saturday night. While a headlining performance from Justin Timberlake had enough star power to stand on its own, an added boost from country singer Chris ...
Justin Timberlake, Chris Stapleton reunite in surprise sequel at Pilgrimage Music FestivalUSA TODAY

all 60 news articles »

Pitchfork

Watch Julian Casablancas + the Voidz Debut New Music
Pitchfork
Julian Casablancas + the Voidz made their return to the stage over the weekend, performing a secret show at the Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles under the fake band name “YouTube Comments,” as NME reports. During the set, they performed new music ...

Google News

Right Hand Guitar Playing Tip

This lesson can open for you a secret of high-speed... Read More

Common Thoughts That Kill Inspiration

Do you sit down at the piano and feel anxiety... Read More

Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes - When Improvising

Mistake #1 - Thinking about what you're going to playA... Read More

Trusting Your Inner Voice - Key to Success at the Piano

We all have so many critical voices in our heads.Telling... Read More

Jazzing Up Your Leadership Style

I met New York jazzman Tim Armacost in college almost... Read More

Does Reading Make Music?

When you read music you are deciphering the printed page... Read More

The Irish Harp

The harp that once through Tara's halls the soul of... Read More

Tips for Buying Digital Pianos and Keyboards

Buying a digital piano could be a very delicate attempt,... Read More

Flaming Guitars! Minarik Fuels The Excitement of a New Generation of Musicians

From the Telecaster to the Flying V to the Iceman... Read More

The Didjeridu

In Northern Australia the Didjeridu is seen as a phallic... Read More

Piano Playing For Adults: More Fun Than Sex And Not Nearly As Dangerous!

OK, so I lied about the fun part.Maybe piano playing... Read More

Surf Waves With Jack Johnson

Lately I've been listening to some pretty cool music by... Read More

Piano Lessons - Group or Private?

Piano lessons are a great activity for children. They encourage... Read More

Memorizing Music - How Is It Best Achieved?

When memorizing music there are several things you can do... Read More

A Brief History Of Gibson Guitars

Gibson guitars have been around forever. It's funny, but although... Read More

Where To Download Music On The Internet

Virtually all of you have probably heard of the RIAA's... Read More

The Art Of Practicing - How To See Real Results

I have always believed that success, in practically any subject... Read More

Acclaimed Songwriter and Performer Michael Alan Releases New CD: Searching for the Heartland:

New York born singer songwriter Michael Alan, who records with... Read More

Lori Nuic Sparkles

A soulful vibe along with an amazing voice is what... Read More

Bono: From Music To Fashion To Helping The Poor

U2s lead singer Bono isn't content with being part of... Read More

How To Make Money On A Music Website Through Pay-Per-Click?

Interested in making money while you're asleep, or making money... Read More

Bluegrass Music - Alive and Well in the Appalachians

One of the Appalachian Mountain region's greatest contributions to the... Read More

The Time Machine Exist!

We call it music, ever noticed how vividly music triggers... Read More

The First Step and Most Important Thing in Learning Guitar

Most of the guitar lovers playing guitar for few years... Read More

Wal-Mart Music Downloads, Napster and Other Legal Digital Music Download Sites

Digital Music Download. Ever since file-sharing programs entered the hard... Read More