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Happy 328th Birthday Johann Sebastian Bach

According to some historical pundits, today is Johann Sebastian Bach's 328th birthday.

Although I can't say that he's my favourite composer, I do have tremendous respect for his genius. To be able to hear how five voices can weave together harmoniously in a fugue and create that - it's just amazing.

I must admit that I enjoy listening to Bach's music more than playing it.

A quick search on Amazon reveals that these are 10 of the most popular recordings of the master of the fugue:

  1. Joan Kennedy: The Joy of Classical Music- The Audio Companion to the Best Seller
  2. Bach: 6 Brandenburg Concertos / 4 Orchestral Suites -Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert (1989)
  3. Best of Bach
  4. Bach: St. Matthew Passion by The Collegiate Chorale, Charles Bressler, Betty Allen, William Wildermann and Adele Addison (1999)
  5. J.S. Bach: Matthäus-Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach, Herbert von Karajan, Walter Hagen-Groll, Berlin National Cathedral Choir and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (1990)
  6. Bach: Matthäus-Passion (St. Matthew Passion) by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf / Peter Pears, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau / Walter Berry, Raymond Clark / Bela Dekany, Ralph Downes / Christa Ludwig and Nicolai Gedda / John Carol Case (1989) - Original recording remastered
  7. Build Your Baby's Brain 1 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, George Frederick Handel, Franz [Vienna] Schubert and Antonio Vivaldi (1998)
  8. Leonard Bernstein - A Total Embrace: The Conductor by Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, Johann Sebastian Bach and Bela Bartok (2003) - Original recording remastered
  9. Paper Music by Bobby McFerrin, Peter Howard, Johann Sebastian Bach, Luigi Boccherini and Gabriel Faure (1995)
  10. UltraSound - Music for the Unborn Child by Claude Debussy, Johann Sebastian Bach, Robert Schumann, Jules Massenet and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1999)

If I had to choose which three to add to my library on my next music order, I'd have to go with the following:

#5 - Herbert von Karajan, Walter Hagen-Groll, Berlin National Cathedral Choir and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra's recording of St. Matthew's Passion:  A solid group of performers and at a price point that I might - just might - loan out to a responsible student.

#8 - Leonard Bernstien's recording: I have fond memories of studying Leonard Bernstein in music history.

#9 - Paper Music with Bobby McFerrin: I've enjoyed Bobby's music in my youth. I admire him even more with the work he has been doing with The Music Instinct: Science and Song, which looks at music and the brain.

I leave you with one of my favourite works by Johann Sebastian Bach, the Brandenberg Concerti

Getting the Hang of Affiliate Programs

My post-blog migration clean-up is still ongoing. It's amazing how many dead links I've been discovering or missing video links. Updating every single blog post I've made since 2005 is a HUGE undertaking. However, in addition to it being a fun trip down memory lane, it has been a great opportunity to explore affiliate marketing.

As I mentioned in an earlier in Sheet Music Plus and Passive Income Streams, I've waded into the pool of affiliate marketing. Simply put, whenever I review or recommend a product, as an affiliate or associate, I get my own personal URL to that product. I don't believe in endorsing products I'm not keen on, so I will share with you materials that either my students, fellow teachers and I have found useful. Or in the case of album reviews, my aim is to introduce you to music you may not be familiar with and to promote local musicians.

Hopefully, you find them useful, or at least intriguing. If you do, then click on the link and then order away. Yes, affiliate marketers get a small commission for each completed sale. However, that all adds up in the long run.

One thing I have noticed as I clean up and update my blog posts is that there's an open field of opportunity. Each time I share a great performance with my students and readers or each time I reflect upon interesting pieces, I can share with you a link to make it easier for you to hunt down the music. It's a win-win situation.

How has it been working? Well, as with any passive income stream, it takes time to build and I've only been at it for a couple of weeks. However, I'm pleased to report that at least two people have purchased music I recommended just this week via sheetmusicplus.com .

I leave you with a funny blog post that I updated this morning, called "Angry Piano Music". I had a good chuckle remembering my female students who came in a string, asking specifically for "angry music" to play. It was a huge stress reliever for them!

An Introduction to Fake Books

You may be intimidated the first time you crack open a fake book. However, if you're familiar with (or at least willing to learn) your chords, then that's half the battle. A fake book contains pieces written out in lead sheet form. That is, you see the melody and chord symbols written above:

Melody and chords - c'et tout. You "fake" the rest.

The idea is that you "fake" - or create - your own accompaniment. Throw down a pop groove on "Happy Birthday" one day. The next day, you could play it in ragtime style.The possibilities are endless.

Plus, with the music condensed in this format, you can have hundreds of songs in one book. It's so much easier to bring one fake book to a gig than 10 music books.

These are some of the fake books that I've collected over the years. They are also the ones I shared with my fellow music teachers when I did a presentation to the Piano Pedagogy Group last month:

Fake Books for Beginner to Intermediate Students:

Everything is in C Major. For an added challenge, you can ask your students to transpose them into other keys once they've learned the pieces.

Your First Fake Book look inside Your First Fake Book Arranged by Alexander Citron. For Guitar, Piano, Keyboard. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Vocal Standards and Pop. Difficulty: easy-medium. Fakebook (leadsheet notation). Vocal melody, lyrics, leadsheet notation and chord names. 158 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240112)Smp_stars50 (7) ...more info
The Easy Christmas Fake Book - 2nd Edition look inside The Easy Christmas Fake Book - 2nd Edition (100 Songs in the Key of C). By Various. For C Instruments, Melody/Lyrics/Chords. Easy Fake Book. 160 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240209)Smp_stars50 (7) ...more info

There are other books as well, such as gospel and country.

Fake Books for Intermediate to Advanced Students as well as Music Teachers:

The Disney Fake Book - 3rd Edition look inside The Disney Fake Book - 3rd Edition By Various. For Guitar, Piano/Keyboard, Vocal, C Instruments. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Disney. Difficulty: easy-medium. Fakebook (spiral bound). Vocal melody, lyrics and chord names. 288 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240039)Smp_stars40 (6) ...more info
The Best Fake Book Ever - C Edition - 4th Edition look inside The Best Fake Book Ever - C Edition - 4th Edition (C Edition). By Various. For Guitar, Piano, C Instruments, Keyboard. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Difficulty: medium. Fake book. Vocal melody, lyrics and chord names. 856 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.290239)Smp_stars40 (16) ...more info

Tip: Get the full-sized version. I first bought the mini-version and that was useless at gigs since the print was too tiny and I was playing in a dimly lit area.

I really like how the songs are listed by era as well as in alphabetical order.

The Ultimate Christmas Fake Book - 4th Edition look inside The Ultimate Christmas Fake Book - 4th Edition (for Piano, Vocal, Guitar, Electronic Keyboard & All C Instruments). By Various. For Piano/Keyboard. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Christmas. Difficulty: easy-medium to medium. Fake book. Vocal melody, lyrics and chord names. 157 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240045)Smp_stars40 (17) ...more info

I now take this book to gigs but will sometimes sneak in the Reader's Digest Merry Christmas Songbook when I don't want to think too hard.

This jazz fake book has been recommended to me by several gigging musicians:

Just Jazz Real Book - C Edition look inside Just Jazz Real Book - C Edition (C Edition). By Various. For Melody/Lyrics/Chords. Fake Book. Fake Book. Jazz. Difficulty: easy-medium to medium. Fakebook. Vocal melody, lyrics, chord names, black & white photos, discography and introductory text. 400 pages. Hal Leonard #FBM0003. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.321416)Smp_stars50 (5) ...more info

This is listed on Conservatory Canada's Contemporary Idioms Syllabus. However, these are best used in a combo situation. Personally, I find using a fake book to play Latin music in a solo situation pretty challenging - for now:

The Latin Real Book - C Edition look inside The Latin Real Book - C Edition (C Edition). By Various. Arranged by Chuck Sher. For C Instruments, Melody/Lyrics/Chords. Latin Jazz and Latin. Difficulty: easy-medium to medium. Fakebook (spiral bound). Melody and chord names. 572 pages. Published by Sher Music Company (HL.240138)Smp_stars50 (2) ...more info

This may seem odd, but as my jazz piano instructor, Derek Stoll told me, it really doesn't matter what you play so long as people hear the tune and the chords are right:

Classical Fake Book look inside Classical Fake Book (Over 850 Classical Themes and Melodies in their Original Keys). By Various. For Guitar, Piano, Piano/Keyboard, Melody/Lyrics/Chords. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Classical Period. Difficulty: easy-medium. Fakebook (spiral bound). Standard notation, chord names and vocal melody (on some songs). 646 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240044)Smp_stars40 (8) ...more info

Useful at wedding gigs!

Wedding & Love Fake Book - C Edition look inside Wedding & Love Fake Book - C Edition (5th Edition). By Various. For Melody/Lyrics/Chords. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Love and Wedding. Difficulty: easy-medium. Fakebook. Vocal melody, lyrics and chord names. 480 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240041)Smp_stars40 (6) ...more info

A few of my students past purchased these fake books and have enjoyed them:

The Ultimate Pop/Rock Fake Book - In C look inside The Ultimate Pop/Rock Fake Book - In C (4th Edition). By Various. By Various. For Guitar, C Instruments, Piano/Vocal. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Pop Rock, Rock and Pop. Difficulty: easy-medium. Fake book. Vocal melody, lyrics and chord names. 584 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240099)Smp_stars40 (28) ...more info
The Praise & Worship Fake Book look inside The Praise & Worship Fake Book (An Essential Tool for Worship Leaders, Praise Bands and Singers!). By Various. For C Instruments. Hal Leonard Fake Books. Worship. Difficulty: easy-medium to medium. Fakebook (spiral bound). Vocal melody, lyrics and chord names. 432 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.240234)Smp_stars40 (20) ...more info

I  recently purchased the Praise & Worship one. I should use that for sight reading.

Pianists - make sure you buy the "C" edition fake books!

If you need some guide books on how to read lead sheets, check out my earlier post, Jazz Music and Improvisation Guide Books.

Jazz Music and Improvisation Guide Books

As I mentioned earlier, I recently presented to the Piano Pedagogy Group. The piano teachers in this group are currently working on their Grade 10 or their Piano Pedagogy certification through Royal Conservatory of Music, Conservatory Canada or London College of Music . They are all classically trained (translation: improvisation, lead sheets and chord charts are scary). This is a list of the "How To" books that I use whenever I teach and play contemporary music (e.g. pop, rock, Latin, jazz, ragtime) that I shared with them:

Conservatory Canada Contemporary Idioms Syllabus

How To Play From A Fake Book look inside How To Play From A Fake Book By Blake Neely. For Guitar, Piano/Keyboard. Piano. Instructional. Instructional book. Standard notation and instructional text. 88 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.220019)Smp_stars40 (1) ...more info
Lead Lines and Chord Changes look inside Lead Lines and Chord Changes By Ann Collins. For Piano. Piano Collection; Piano Supplemental. Early Advanced; Late Intermediate. Book. 80 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing (AP.199)...more info
Volume 1 - How To Play Jazz & Improvise look insideListen! Volume 1 - How To Play Jazz & Improvise By Jamey Aebersold. For any C, Eb, Bb, bass instrument or voice. Play-Along series with accompaniment CD. Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long series. Beginner, intermediate. Book & CD. 104 pages. Published by Jamey Aebersold Jazz (JA.V01DS)Smp_stars30 (22) ...more info
Volume 3 - The II/V7/I Progression look insideListen! Volume 3 - The II/V7/I Progression By Jamey Aebersold. For any C, Eb, Bb, bass instrument or voice. Play-Along series with accompaniment CD. Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long series. Beginner, intermediate. Book & CD. 100 pages. Published by Jamey Aebersold Jazz (JA.V03DS)Smp_stars40 (6) ...more info
Boogie Woogie for Beginners look inside Boogie Woogie for Beginners Arranged by Frank Paparelli. For Piano/Keyboard. Keyboard Instruction. 48 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.120517)Smp_stars40 (2) ...more info

There are a few more in my "To Check Out" pile. I'll add them once I've had a chance to go through them a bit.

World Music Exploration - La Oreja de Van Gogh

Thanks again to my Virtual Choir mate Luma Zuri for finding this week's clip of the week. We are exploring the music of La Oreja de Van Gogh (Van Gogh's Ear). This Spanish pop/rock band earned an Ondas Award for Best New Act for their debut "Dile al Sol". La Oreja de Van Gogh is popular on both sides of the Atlantic.
This is Comets in the Sky (Cometas por al Cielo):
Click on the CD image below to check out more of La Oreja de Van Gogh's music:

(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploation - Spanish Jazz-Fussion

I had to call for assistance for this week's selections. Special thanks to Luma Zuri, one of my friends from Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 3.0, for introducing us to the music of Bebo Valdes and Diego El Cigala.
 
Bebo Valdes is a Grammy winning Afro-Cuban pianist, composer and arranger. Diego El Cigala is a Grammy-nominated cantaor (flamenco singer).
 
Their music is a fussion of jazz and flamenco. Listen carefully to the rhythm section (piano, drums and bass). Their grooves combine flamenco and Afro-Cuban rhythms. The harmonies are typical of music both flamenco and jazz (love those "blues" intervals). The piano and drum licks? Pure jazz.
 
This is "Lagrimas Negros" ("Black Tears"), which is one of Luma's faves. I just love that piano intro.
 
 
This is another one of their collaborations - "Obsesion". I love how the music builds, layer by layer:
 
 
 
I don't know about you, but thanks to Luma, I need to add Valdes and El Cigala's music to my music collection. You can explore more of Bebo Valdes music here:

 
(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.