Online Courses

Keyboard for the Electronic Musician

Authored by Ross Ramsay

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Course Code: OPIAN-150

Next Term Starts January 8

Level 1

Level 1

3-Credit Tuition

$1,479

Non-Credit Tuition

$1,229

The keyboard is a complete instrument for the writer, arranger, and producer, capable of playing any type of part, including bass lines, chords, and melodies. For the modern musician utilizing digital audio workstations and virtual instruments, the keyboard is also the most effective input device for sequencing and score creation. Developing your keyboard playing will strengthen your knowledge of theory and enable you to more efficiently create great sounding productions.

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Keyboard for the Electronic Musician is aimed at the beginner or early stage keyboard player who wants to build skills that will help them write, produce, and perform using keyboards ranging from acoustic piano to modern controllers with virtual instruments. Along with the development of healthy fundamental playing techniques, the course develops your skills through an exploration of music and musical parts used in a wide variety of genres, including pop, rock, R&B, gaming, film, and television scores.

Each week, you’ll be assigned exercises and songs supported with audio and video examples and audio play-alongs to give you a real sense of performing in a production. In addition to weekly assignments, you’ll have the option to submit weekly bonus assignment that display a greater command of the controller and production techniques presented in the lesson.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Read and interpret music expressively from a notated score
  • Effectively play chord symbols to support the harmony of a song in a variety of textures and settings
  • Play a variety of virtual parts from a keyboard, including drums, bass, guitar, strings, brass, and synthesizer textures
  • Effectively use controllers in your productions, such as pitch bend, modulation wheel, expression pedal, etc.
  • Use the keyboard as a writing and producing tool
  • Gain a greater understanding of writing and production as you learn to perform excerpts derived from Grammy-award winning music
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Syllabus

Lesson 1: The Grand Staff

  • Introduction to the Musical Language of Keyboard Playing
  • First Position Melodies with Two Hands
  • Second Position Melodies with Two Hands
  • Keyboard Action

Lesson 2: Sharps and Flats

  • Half Steps and Whole Steps—Sharps and Flats
  • Two Notes Together
  • New Positions—Beyond the 5-Note Range
  • Controlling Velocity
  • Production Techniques—Drum Groove

Lesson 3: Major Scales and Major Key Signatures

  • The Major Scale Formula
  • Major Triads
  • Playing in the Key of D and G
  • Controllers—Modulation Wheel
  • Production Technique—Synth Line Hooks

Lesson 4: Intervals and Minor Triads

  • Intervals
  • The Key of F and Bb
  • Minor Triads
  • Controllers—Sustain Pedal
  • Production Technique—Bass Lines

Lesson 5: Diatonic Songs

  • Diatonic Chords
  • Diatonic Progressions and Voice Leading
  • Anatomy of a Chord Chart/Lead Sheet
  • Controllers—Pitch Bend
  • Production Techniques—Electric Guitars, “Power Chords,” and Bluesy Riff Root 5th to Root 6th

Lesson 6: Contemporary Accompaniment Patterns

  • Broken Chord Patterns
  • 6/8 and 3/8 Time Signatures
  • Technique Builder—The Key of A and the Use of Slash Chords
  • Controllers—Assignable Buttons/Switches
  • Production Technique—Acoustic Guitars

Lesson 7: Seventh Chords

  • Major 7 and Dominant 7 Chords
  • 12-Bar Blues
  • Classic Pop Songs Using 7th Chords
  • Controllers—Sliders/Faders
  • Production Technique—Hammond Organ

Lesson 8: Contemporary 7th Chord Voicing Techniques

  • Minor 7 Chords
  • Contemporary 3-Note Chord Voicings
  • Minor Funk Grooves Using Straight and Swing Rhythms
  • Controllers—Expression Pedal
  • Production Technique—Electric Piano in the R&B Style

Lesson 9: Keyboard Grooves and Fills

  • Pop Keyboard Grooves and Fills
  • Reggae Keyboard Grooves and Fills
  • Technique Building—Scales Parallel Motion
  • Controllers—Using Mono and Mono Legato Mode
  • Production Technique—Guitar and Synth Lead Solos

Lesson 10: Developing Hand Independence

  • Back to Bach
  • Minor Key Signatures
  • What’s the Score
  • Controllers—Key Switching
  • Production Technique—String Parts

Lesson 11: Rhythmic Independence

  • Etude #9 3/4
  • Funky Upbeats
  • Controllers—Continuous Controller Pedals—Wah-Wah
  • Production Technique—The Clavinet

Lesson 12: Crossing Hands and Stretching the Keyboard

  • Diatonic Sweeps
  • Technique Builder—Arpeggios
  • Open Harmony
  • Controller—Breath Controller
  • Playing Technique—Brass and Horn Parts

Requirements

Prerequisites 

None required


Required Textbook

Piano Essentials by Ross Ramsey, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard


Software Requirements

  • Basic recording software to play back audio files and record performances. DAW software such as GarageBand or SONAR Home Studio would suffice to meet the requirements of the course.

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Students are required to record video for certain assignments. You can use your smartphone, digital camera, or webcam to do this. If you do not already have a preferred video software, you can use the built-in recorder tool within your assignment post. You can play the backing track through your speakers as you record and the microphone will pick up both the keyboard (playing out loud through speakers) and the track as you play along.


Hardware Requirements

A MIDI keyboard/controller is required for this course. A keyboard with 49 keys would be the minimum requirement. A 61-key keyboard is preferred. To get the most out of the course, it is preferable to use a keyboard with some controllers on it, such as pitch bend, modulation wheel, sustain pedal. After touch capabilities, expression pedal, knobs and sliders would be a plus.

  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( http://www.speedtest.net to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)

Instructors

Author & Instructor

James Ross Ramsay, faculty in the Piano department at Berklee College of Music, has been teaching piano for 25 years, and has been included in the "Who's Who List of American Teachers" several times. He composes and produces music for local and nationally broadcast television, radio, cable, and video programs, and has been a featured soloist on piano and keyboards with various artists touring throughout the United States and Europe. Ramsay is a product specialist and clinician for Yamaha Corporation of America, Digital Musical Instruments, and Pro Audio Division. He received a Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music in 1986.

Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

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