Play only the black keys on the piano?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by SideBMusic, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. SideBMusic

    SideBMusic Supporting Member

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    I remember hearing once that a famous songwriter (Irving Berlin?) only played the black keys on the piano. Can anyone explain why that would be a choice?
     
  2. 27sauce

    27sauce Supporting Member

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    I think he only played in F#, which is mostly black keys.

    Other than that, its a pentatonic scale.
     
  3. mulvavroop

    mulvavroop Member

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    Only black keys? That's crazy! To do so much and so well with that limitation is pretty amazing.
     
  4. Baxtercat

    Baxtercat Member

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    They protrude, so you can really get down, esp. in Eb on yer funky Clavinet. :)

     
  5. Gotham City Blues

    Gotham City Blues Member

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    Because Dan Auerbach writes good songs?
     
  6. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

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    He capoed his piano to play in all the other keys.

    Seriously, he had a special piano with a transposing mechanism to allow him to play in other keys while always fingering everything in F#.
     
  7. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Cute story. I'll have to change harmony and melody to White Christmas to be all pentatonic.
     
  8. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    You are thinking 9f Hoagy Carmichael (sp?), I think.
     
  9. Fatherflot

    Fatherflot Supporting Member

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    Berlin had a "gear shift" mechanism built into his piano that allowed him to play in different keys while keeping the same fingering. Kind of like a capo for the piano. he called it a "transposing keyboard" and showed it off on TV

     
  10. goldentrout2009

    goldentrout2009 Member

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    Why don't all electric pianos/organs/synths have this ability? It seems that it would make learning the piano as easy as guitar.
     
  11. treeofpain

    treeofpain Supporting Member

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  12. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

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    I've owned five or six synths over the course of twenty years--they all had that function.
     
  13. 27sauce

    27sauce Supporting Member

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    It's called the transpose button.
     
  14. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    Errol Garner liked to play with lots of black keys too. Piano being my first, and main instrument these days, I'd say that most songs fall under the hands better if you play in a key with lots of flats or sharps, just like guitar chord voicings tend to fall under the hand better if they either use lots of open notes, or no open notes.

    There's a different keyboard layout that basically DOES turn the piano into an instrument more like the guitar. Check out the Janko keyboard layout. Everything, in every key, is the same shape. There are other advantages too, particularly for people with smaller hands.
     
  15. stevieboy

    stevieboy Clouds yell at me Gold Supporting Member

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    From a different angle, I guess it worked for him because he used the piano primarily to write songs, not be a performer, at least that is course what he is known for and how he made his living. Though it would be interesting to know just how he came about learning that way. In a way it's similar to Otis Redding, who wrote songs on an open tuned guitar, and only fretted straight across up and down the neck.
     
  16. SideBMusic

    SideBMusic Supporting Member

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    Ahhh, that's it. I forgot he had the "gear shift" on it. Thanks.
     
  17. ShawnH

    ShawnH Member

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    What about Curtis mayfield and "black key" tuning?

    I have a buddy who was a hilarious black keys only piano player. He'd get baked and spend hours noodling on black keys only.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  18. AndrewC

    AndrewC Supporting Member

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    Ironically, you can play 'Ebony and Ivory' using only the white keys.
     
  19. steve13281

    steve13281 Member

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    Supposedly Bob Dylan's "The Man In Me" is played with all black keys.
     
  20. nicktf

    nicktf Silver Supporting Member

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    Big chunks of Quadrophenia are black keys only too, according to Townshend
     

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