The 5th video for the 6th, and final, lesson of Coursera’s online Developing Your Musicianship class is the last actual lesson video. The final one for the lesson is going to be the student ensemble performance, as usual.
5. Practicing What You Know and Moving Forward (4:00)
In his final video, Professor Russell opens by thanking us for joining him on this six-week journey and sends hope that all of the information that we learned will be applicable to our musical situations. One way to do this, he says, is by continuing to practice for 15 minutes every day. So, what should we practice? His suggestion is that we take everything that we did in the key of C and transpose it to another key. He reminds us that there are 12 keys, and they we started in the key of C because there are no sharps or flats. He then shows us the G major scale and tells us that there’s one sharp in the scale: F#.
Specific items he suggests practicing include:
- The I, IV and V major & minor triads in the key of G (G, C, D)
- 7th chords for the I and IV (G Maj7, C Maj7)
- Dominant chords for the I, IV and V (G7, C7, D7)
- The 735 voicing for the dominant chords
- The minor pentatonic scale in G
We’re in the home stretch. This is one of the last 3 videos for Coursera’s online Developing Your Musicianship class. Its video #4 for Lesson 6. Some of the other videos upped their game, when it came to subtitling the lessons, with relatively few errors. Here, however, we’re treated to a marathon of utterly ridiculous misspellings for an instructional class. I almost think that its an inside joke that I’m not in on.
4. Composing a Blues Riff Tune Using the Minor Pentatonic Scale (5:52)
Our now fancily-attired Professor Russell begins this one by reminding us that another scale we learned about in the course was the minor pentatonic scale. He demonstrates its construction by playing and singing the “one, flat-three, four… five, flat-seven, one” song that he had the Berklee students sing in Lesson 3.
After playing a brief piece to illustrate the sound, he says that we’re going to take the minor pentatonic scale and create a riff blues. He plays a 12-bar blues in C to show us a blues progression and then says that one way to create a riff blues is to create a melody that’s 2 bars long, skip the melody for the next 2 bars, play it again for the following 2 bars, skip the next two, vary it for 2 bars, and then close with no melody.
It looks like this:
Video #3 for the 6th, and final, lesson of Coursera’s online Developing Your Musicianship class reviews all of the chords that were introduced in prior lessons: the triads and 7ths.
3. Review: The Major and Minor Triad, Major 7th and Dominant 7th Chords (7:51)
Continuing from the last video, in which he spoke about the major scale, Professor Russell opens this video with, “Now, another thing we learned was a major triad and a minor triad. These were the first chords we learned and we’re going to get those chords right from the major scale.” He plays a C major scale on the piano and then explains that a major triad would consist of the root (the 1st degree of the scale), the third (3rd degree of the scale) and the fifth (5th degree of the scale). He calls what he just played the 1-chord, “because its built upon the first degree of the scale.”
He further explains that if we played the 4-chord, or 4 major triad, that it would be built on the 4th degree of the scale, which is an F (F-A-C) and the 5-chord would be built on the 5th degree of the scale – a G (G-B-D). Those three chords are called C major, F major and G major (the 1-chord, 4-chord and 5-chord in the key of C) and they’re used in a huge amount of songs.
The 2nd video for the 6th, and final, lesson of Coursera’s online Developing Your Musicianship class speaks about utilizing the major scale pattern starting on roots other than C. This, of course, introduces the class to sharps and flats in a scale – something which they’ve only seen so far in chords.
2. The Major Scale Beyond C (4:13)
The video begins with Professor Russell on the piano. He plays a jazzy piece for the first minute and a half. I noticed that he was playing 7th chords a lot in the bassline with his left hand. That also leaves about 2:45 for the actual lesson. He welcomes us back, dressed in a suit to celebrate the fact that we’ve just completed the course, which is a bit premature considering that there are still a few videos, a homework assignment and quiz left before we actually wrap-up. He announces that this is the last segment and then asks what have we learned in the course. He answers this by saying that we’ve learned the terms ear training, harmony, tonal center, we know what an interval is, we know what a form is, and says that all of these are things that are going to contribute to our musical foundation.
Here we are. The final lesson for the six-week Developing Your Musicianship online class from Coursera. I keep thinking of it as the first online class that I’ve taken, but that discounts the IIB music theory class I attempted in 2011. So, maybe by the end of the week, I can think of this as the first one I’ve completed. I’ve had concerns about the quality of the material and completeness of the topics, but overall, it was a learning experience and I’m sad to see it come to an end.
Lesson 6 consists of 6 videos, and like the previous weeks, the first is an interview with faculty and/or students and the last is a student performance. These are the titles and run times for the videos in this lesson:
- Berklee Faculty/Student Spotlight: What Do You Like Most About Berklee? (5:10)
- The Major Scale Beyond C (4:13)
- Review: The Major and Minor Triad, Major 7th and Dominant 7th Chords (7:51)
- Composing a Blues Riff Tune Using the Minor Pentatonic Scale (5:52)
- Practicing What You Know and Moving Forward (4:00)
- Berklee Student Performance: La Musica No Se Toca (4:18)
The total running time this week is 31 mins, so its on the short side, like the past 2 weeks’ material. If you cut the student performance, its about 27 mins.
Like last week, there are parts of Professor Russell’s announcement that don’t sit right with me. “I have learned so much from you during the run of the course—and your feedback in the forums is going to make the course stronger for future offerings,” doesn’t ring true. I’m fairly certain its a recycled announcement. It doesn’t seem likely that they’ve acted much to improve the course, aside from adding comment fields to the assignments. But, I don’t want to end on a negative, if I can help it, and there’s going to be a course evaluation link at the end, so here’s some more of what he said, that we can look forward to this week:
In this final lesson, we are going to review and expand on what we have covered thus far, and then work on composing a riff blues tune, which you will perform and record for the assignment.
The 6th video for Lesson 5 of Coursera’s online Developing Your Musicianship class is a review of what was covered previously in the week and last week, so its a little different from previous reviews. It recaps the 735 chord voicing, major and dominant 7th chords, blues song form and talks about chord charts. It doesn’t speak about AABA song form or review 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures, although the signatures are mentioned. That’s actually a lot of material, but aside from the chord voicing, I don’t think anything was particularly complex.
6. Lesson Review and Assignment Overview (7:12)
So, Professor Russell begins this class with the statement, “So, of course you have homework, and its going to be a lot of fun, this homework. Well, its always fun because its, its mandatory that you have fun in this class.” That probably doesn’t bode well for me, since I’ve been complaining about a feeling of incompleteness and spelling errors throughout the lessons. He then goes over what he expects us to work on this week.
First, he wants us to practice the C major 7th chord, and the 735 voicing for it. He demonstrates how to play it in root position, and then with the new voicing, and then reminds us that both are thought of as C major 7. He tells us to do the same with F major as well. We have to practice root position, and then 735, which is moving the root (the 1) to the bass, or left hand, and switching the 3-5-7 chord tones to 7-3-5. He says to just practice both chords, maybe giving them each 4 beats, or even playing it in 3/4 time and giving each chord 3 beats. He plays an example of each on the piano.
He also says that we can break up the chord a little and arpeggiate it. As other bass players or students will know, this means to not play the chord notes all at the same time, but to play them individually instead (which is what I’ve been doing when practicing on the bass anyway). Additionally, he suggests that we play the C chords for two measures, and then switch to the F chords. He plays an example of this as well, counting so we can see how 3/4 sounds, as well as arpeggiating the chords.
We’re nearing the end of this Coursera thing. The 5th video for Lesson 5 of the online Developing Your Musicianship class demonstrates how to write out a chord chart, which basically maps out what the chordal structure of the song is. Its one of the various ways of notating a song. Chord charts are actually pretty useful to bassists, so I’m happy to finally see how this works.
5. The Chord Chart (5:28)
Professor Russell begins this session by stating that he’d like to show us how to create our very own basic chord chart. He says that the first thing we need to do is get some staff paper. The next thing we have to decide is what form we’re going to write, or what form will the tune follow. For this class, he decides that we’re going to do a blues tune. This means that we’re going to use a blues form, so naturally, we begin with a standard 12-bar blues form.
The screen shows a staff with 3 sets of lines. It gets superimposed with bar lines, dividing each of the 3 sets into 4 parts, so we end up with a total of 12 bars. The Professor explains to us that if there are 12 bars, he finds it best to use 4 bars per stave.
Next, he says, we have to decide what time signature to use. Our current options are 4/4 and 3/4. He decides to go with 4/4. So, this means that each bar has 4 beats and each beat is the equivalent of a quarter note. The onscreen staff shows a 4/4 by the treble clef. We now have a 12 bar blues with 4/4 time ready to be written. So far, so good.