Thanks to all of you who gave me suggestions for my next projects! I'm still welcoming comments, just add them to my post on the Community site. I do have one idea for a fun short-term project that I think a lot of you will enjoy, so stay tuned!
This week in the MuseScore Café, we'll be continuing with a tradition we started recently, in which I enter a page of music into MuseScore while describing my process and answering your questions about it. If you have suggestions for music you'd like to see me cover in this series, let me know by commenting on the post I created in the Community!
Tip of the Week
This week's tip is simple but one beginners often miss. When creating a new score, use the actual command for creating new scores - "File / New" in the menu, or the corresponding icon on the toolbar, or the Create Note Score icon on the toolbar. This brings up a window where you can enter a title and other information, and then select from a variety of templates for common ensembles, or choose instruments. I see many people start from just the defult score and then try changing it or modifying it, and while it's possible to do things that way, it's usually more work and you'll end up missing out on quite a lot of possibilities. For instance, the jazz template sets up a bunch of style settings that are based on popular fakebooks; the choral templates set up your staves to allow independent mixer control of the different voices, and the orchestral templates have a typical selection of instruments alrready entered and bracketed and a staff size that allows everything to fit on a page.
Music Master Class
This week I'll be looking at student submissions in a variety of styles, including pieces submitted last week that I wasn't able to get to, and hopefully some new pieces as well!
I've been focused on harmony and on counterpoint a lot over the past year or so, but prior to all of that - or MuseScore! - the thing people knew me for the most was jazz. I expect I'll be returning to those roots on and off over the next few months, and today, I'm going to start with something basic but extremely practical.
If you're just starting out in thinking about jazz - whether on piano, guitar, voice, a melodic instrument, or as an arranger - an understanding of what jazz musicians call "guide tones" is a critical concept. At the core, it's simply a matter of finding and connecting the thirds and sevenths of each chord. There are all sorts of exercises peole have devisedto work on the skills associated with this, but I want to show you one very simple one. It's geared for piano and worth practicing even if that is not your primary instrument.
What I want you to do is to take a jazz lead sheet (try this one if you don't have another handy) and find the third and seventh of each chord. If you're not clear on how to do that, my Basic Music Theory course has the answers. Once you've figured out the notes, play them on the piano with your right hand, keeping them centered around middle C - literally, with one of the two notes below middle C, the other above (or maybe one of the notes *is* C, in which case the other can be above or below as you see fit). You'll notice sometimes it will be the third on the bottom, other times the seventh. In your left hand, play the root. Play through the entire chart that way. To really learn this, don't write it out - force yourself to think it through each time, but practice it until it becomes comfortable.
As simple as this in principle, it actually forms the foundation for a ton of jazz piano, guitar, and arranging tehcniques, so you can expect I'll be coming back to this from time to time.