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#1084514 - 01/07/05 09:56 AM A Sudnow Problem
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
I have bought the Sudnow course and have run into a basic problem that is holding me up from advancing beyond Go. I emailed Sudnow about a week ago but have not heard from him so possibly some one from here can help me so I can get going.

My problem is I don't understand his notation system which is supposedly outlined on one of the Study Cards. Either I am awful dense or the explanation is lacking in sufficient detail for a beginner to understand. I listened to the tapes but he talks quite fast and I couldn't find an explanation. Furthermore I have downloaded and read through the PDF's but again, cannot fathom it.

So here is the problem as I related it to Sudnow.

"On the Study Card for recording voicings you use as an example Eb7 which is the fifth chord you have illustrated in Misty. On the left hand side of that page you have entered vertically, not horizontally as I have here, the following notations:Eb7, M, #11, 3, b9 and then b7 under a line. Will you identify for me what each of these notations individually mean?"

I will add here that I have studied chords but there are so many with so many ways to notate them that I am never sure just what is being described. For instance I think the Eb7 indicates it is the Eb major scale but I don't know what the 7th represents as looking at a scale chart it shows it as a normal D. So if all scales have 7 notes why bother showing 7 unless it is to be raised or lowered or what ever else there is.

The card reads that M stands for Melody and it is shown on the C one octave above Middle C. But what does that tell me?

Then there is #11. What does that mean? There are only 7 notes to a scale, 8 to an octave. Then there is a 3 which I gather is different from a #3, whatever that might be. Then there is a b9 followed by a line and then a b7. I think a b means a flat but what is a flat 9 or 7 mean if again a scale only has 7 keys in it?

In the actual lesson on Misty in the 5th pictograph or measure Sudnow has some additional notes on the right hand side of the page: a Db beside the word help, a (C) beside the word less, a C beside the word as and a C beside the word a. What do all these mean?

This is an awful long question and if no one cares to answer that is fine because really it is up to Sudnow to explain but maybe he is away or thinks I have not done my homework. That is not the case. I reread or re-listened to anything that appeared to be relevant. There was an error in shipping the course to me and he has said he is mailing the rest of the material but I don't think it will address this particular problem. While waiting for an explanation I have been working on memorizing and fingering the scales but that does get boring and I would like to tackle the music.

So, any volunteers? If not, thank you anyway for your time.
Progressing, slowly, but progressing.

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#1084515 - 01/07/05 10:15 AM Re: A Sudnow Problem
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
I'll give it a shot. The Eb scale is:
Eb F G Ab Bb C D

Now let's look at Sundnow's notation above the b7 line. Starting at the bottom, he has a b9. If you extend the scale, above, another couple steps, you start over with Eb (which is the octave, or "eighth") , and F, which is the second, would be the ninth. Since it's a b9, it's Fb (or its enharmonic name, E). If you look on the card, that's the first note to the right of middle C.

The next note in the notation is 3. That's the third note of the Eb scale. It's a G.

The next note is a #11. Again, you have to extend the scale beyond the octave to find the 11th. (Octave is eighth, second is ninth, third is tenth, fourth is eleventh). The "eleventh" note in the Eb scale is the same as the fourth, an Ab, but he wants it sharp (raise one half step), and it becomes an A. The last note is the melody.

The b7 that's written under the line just means that you play the root note of the Eb scale (Eb) and the b7, or dominant 7th, of the Eb scale. Remember that this notation is a dominant seventh, which means lower the octave note by a whole step, as opposed to the major seventh, which would lower the octave by 1/2 step. So, the Eb octave is Eb, lower it a whole step (or two half steps) and it becomes a Db (or its enharmonic name C#.

I hope this helps and is what you were asking.
markb--The Count of Casio

#1084516 - 01/07/05 10:49 AM Re: A Sudnow Problem
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
I'm probably saying the same thing as Mark, but I'll say it a little differently.

The purpose for the notation, what he calls a fraction, is to give a shorthand notation of the voicing that you've come up with for that chord. Above the line is for the right hand and below the line is for the left hand.

So, from top to bottom, (from the top of the keyboard to the bottom), is:

M, the melody note;

#11, an eleventh, sharped. I'm basically memorizing what a 10th is, (really just a 3rd an octave above the root), and then I'd add 1. So G plus 1, Ab, sharp it = A.

3, is just the 3rd which will almost always be voiced either as major or flatted for minor.

B9 is a flatted 9th. 9th is the same as a 2nd (F), just flat it = E

the line

b7 = the 7th (D) flatted = Db

and finally the root doesn't need to be written because it's always played.

In the previous pictograph (Number 4), you have a Db next to help, a (C) next to less and C next to as and a. Db is the first note of the pictograph, the paren around C means that it is the melody note for the chord and the two Cs are melody notes between chords.

Pictograph number 4 is special because it's the only one where the melody note is not the first note of the pictograph. He explains this in the supplemental CD I believe. When playing pictograph 4, you play the root (Bb) and Db first and then you play the rest of the chord with the melody note for "less" (C).

It's really helpful if you buy a fake book with Misty in it. I purchased this one:

Just Standards Real Book

Eb7 is standard notation for a "Dominant Chord". See the 6th card of your card deck.

#1084517 - 01/07/05 10:57 AM Re: A Sudnow Problem
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
I'll just keep my mouth shut. Bob explains everything better! \:\)
markb--The Count of Casio

#1084518 - 01/07/05 11:54 AM Re: A Sudnow Problem
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
Mark, thank you so much. You have clarified a lot and headed me in a direction to study some of it further.

I had read the scale correctly (Eb) but did not understand the significance of the 7 in Eb7. You mention that the 7 is a dominant seventh rather than a major seventh and I don't know how you know whether it is a dominant or major but I can now go to a reference manual and see if I can find out. It appears to me that Sudnow refers to the b7 below the line ("b7" means 1 & b7 !!!???) as the denominator which are the two notes played on the left hand side of the keyboard, which are, Eb and C#. I don't get the connection.

With regard to the last note, M, which is a C, being the melody, what does that mean?

Below the M he has a #11, a 3 and and a b9. His system of coding, or notation or nomenclature
appears to me unnecessarily complicated. For instance you say "since it is a b9 its simply an F flat. Why doesn't he just call it an F flat? Furthermore you note he goes into the use on enharmonics. He advertises this course as suitable for beginners but to me using enharmonics, two separate notations for the same sound, along with all the rest of his short-hand just confuses things.

There is also no explanation of the notations on the right side of the page in the actual Misty music. I incorrectly copied the notations from Picture 4 rather than Picture 5 which is (C), Bb, G and Eb. I haven't figured out why one key (C) is in brackets and the other, G, isn't!

Mark this is beginning to sound more like a rant so I better cut it off. If you care to amplify on any of the above it will certainly be appreciated. Much thanks.
Progressing, slowly, but progressing.

#1084519 - 01/07/05 12:08 PM Re: A Sudnow Problem
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
In chord notation, a 7th chord (e.g., C7, F7) means dominant seventh. It could also be notated Cdom7, but C7 is more commong. A major 7th chord is notated as maj7, e.g., Cmaj7. That's just the way it is.

I think Sudnow uses the scale degree (e.g, 3, 5, 9) instead of the note name so that, eventually, you could transpose the songs in any key. The formula is the same for any key, so if you wanted to play misty in another key, you could use the same chord notation (e.g., #11, 3 and b9) but be playing different notes.

This actually is quite useful. If you're familiar with regular triad notation for chord progressions, e.g., I IV V, you could play this progression in any key (once you know the keys and scales)--just identify the key and play the chords. If a piece is in C major, and you were playing that chord progression you'd play C major, F major, and G major. If you decided to play that progression in F major, you'd know to play F major, B major, and C major.
markb--The Count of Casio

#1084520 - 01/07/05 01:09 PM Re: A Sudnow Problem
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
Gentlemen, thank you for your kind help. I'm a sponge trying to absorb too much water, much of it just passes by me. I suppose one of the disadvantages of being an adult beginner, versus a child, is that my mind questions everything whereas a child just does what is put in front of him or her. With regard to transposing or composing, I won't be into that for awhile, although I do understand the value of Sudnow's adding color. So, that sort of reading I try to put off but it does come back to haunt me.

My goal is to try to catch up to two of my grand daughters who have been taking lessons for several years. I would like to be at the same level as them so we can talk music together. I have been reading fast and furious. Some sinks in and that which doesn't I just say well that will come up later. And some of what I read is important but I have already forgotten it and don't know where to find it. You, the Piano Forum gracious mentors, are extremely helpful.

I have visited all of the web sites that have been recommended to me and I have ordered the Just Standards Real Book but as I am in Canada it will take a few weeks to clear customs. Meanwhile I still try to get at least an hour a day "hands on" practice on the keyboard.

One last question if I may! I still don't know the significance of M, the melody note.
Progressing, slowly, but progressing.

#1084521 - 01/07/05 01:14 PM Re: A Sudnow Problem
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
The melody, in songs with lyrics, usually corresponds to the lyrics. (There can by lyrics sung in harmony, but for our purposes learning Misty, it's the notes to which you sing the words.) The non-melody notes, that is, the chords, are the accompaniment.
markb--The Count of Casio

#1084522 - 01/07/05 02:16 PM Re: A Sudnow Problem
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
By the way Daren, personally, I'm not worrying too much about how Sudnow came about voicing the chords the way he did until I get Misty memorized. Once I can play it and I start working on the next one, I think the whys and wherefores will come much easier.

With a fake book, both the melody note and chord are provided for you. You just need to "voice" it to fill it in. The easiest part of voicing would be to play the root, 5th or 7th (depending on if it's major or dominant) in the left hand and the 3rd and melody note in the right hand.

Of course just to do that we need to have a complete mastery of all 12 keys. Which is why Sudnow stresses it so much. When the song is in a particular key, as you saw with Misty, only some of the chords are in that key. Many others are in related keys. So we not only need to *know* the root, 5th/7th, and 3rd of the song's key, but we need to know them for the other keys as well.

So, once I learn Misty and the next song, (I think it's "Over the Rainbow"), then I'm planning on focusing on being able to play from the fake book.

I'm going to first practice just playing the root and melody and once I have that down pat, I'll throw in the 5th/7th and 3rd.

Once I get to that point, then I'll be ready to voice in the "color" notes.

#1084523 - 01/07/05 09:27 PM Re: A Sudnow Problem
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
Hey, I just got around to checking out the book that Mark recommended, The Complete Idiots Guide,which I did buy and there is a good section on this very subject. Once I get a chance to study it things will become much clearer, as likely Michael Miller will go into more detail than David Sudnow. I think the first three parts will be very useful and I will leave the last three parts to later. Much later.

From what I see this book looks like it should almost be a must for any serious newcomer. Thanks for the tip.
Progressing, slowly, but progressing.


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