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Saints Go Marching In
This is an easy piano arrangement of that old familiar New Orleans jazz tune
Saints. This is an easy three chord song I, IV, V7 song. The melody is the easy five
finger do, re me fa so melody . Notice how the melody starts with three quarter pick
up notes leading into the first measure. Also we use the common practice of using
the last four bars of the song as an intro. We will be using Saints to show you how
to use the auto accompaniment feature of a portable keyboard. This free midi is in
the key of C. We will be learning to play it in different keys.  All music that plays
when you open a page will only play through once. Click on the play button of the
player below, if you want to hear "Saints " again.
The Electronic Music Keyboard
Modern electronics has given us many amazing products that would not have been
possible just a few years ago. One of them is the electronic musical keyboard. The built in
songs, tones, rhythms and teaching functions are only a few of it's many features. On this
page I will discuss these features, with an emphasis on using the automatic
accompaniment section. But first let's take a brief look at the history of portable keyboards.
Portable Keyboard History
If you look at musical instruments you notice that the instruments that produce the lower
tones are bigger. The tuba and bass fiddle are two examples. Instruments that produce a
full range of tone like the pipe organ and grand piano are very large and heavy. Before the
age of electronics, the only vibrating membrane capable of producing a low tone with
relatively small size was a metal reed. The accordion with buttons on the left to select bass
notes and chords for accompaniment and a piano type key board on the right for melody is
a very compact full range instrument. An accordion has a bellows to supply air which blows
across the metal reeds causing them to vibrate and produce the sound. When electricity
became available an instrument called the chord organ which used a small fan to supply
the air for vibrating the metal reeds became very popular. Very small portable instruments
were made with buttons on the left to supply a limited chord set and a piano keyboard on
the right for melody. Special music books were put out with songs arranged just for the
chord organ. Modern electronics has made the chord organ obsolete, replacing it with the
electronic keyboard. Size is not an issue with the electronic keyboard. The electronics are
very small. You could make the keyboard very small but most professional keyboards are
made piano size keys.
Polyphonic Instruments.
The piano, the pipe organ and the accordion are instruments that are fully polyphonic. For
every note there is a string, a pipe or a metal reed. Theoretically, you could sound every
note at once but not only would it sound horrible but with a limited number of fingers, it's
not even possible. With the electronic keyboard a balance is struck which is short of full
polyphony. A quality electronic keyboard should have at least 32 note polyphony. Why 32
note when you only have ten digits to play with. Because some voices like strings or brass
are more than one tone so when you press that one key you are using more then one
tone. The auto accompaniment section uses a lot more voices than the number fingers you
use to select the accompaniment chord. The built in songs have arrangements that use
more voices. On cheaper keyboards that have fewer voices available, some won't sound.
You could be playing with auto accompaniment and if you are fingering multiple notes with
the right hand some might not sound. The more polyphonic the higher the cost of the
keyboard. Most quality instruments have settled on 32 polyphony as sufficient.
The Tone Bank
A main feature of the electronic musical keyboard is it's
ability to sound like many real instruments and
synthesised sounds that no real instrument can produce.
In addition to being able to produce the tone of individual
instruments, It also has settings that can let each key
produce the sound of a whole brass or string section.
This is available through the keyboards tone bank which
might have a hundred or more tones available. Some
settings will allow you to split the keyboard with one tone
on the bottom half and another tone on the top half. You
could for instance be playing bass with the left hand and
piano with the right hand. Add a drum part from the
rhythm bank and you are a trio all by yourself. The
quality of these voices depends on the quality of the
electronics. Of course better electronics cost more so a
quality keyboard will be more expensive.
The Rhythm Bank
Many solo night club singer pianist and organist, as well
as small duo's and trio's, in the 60's and 70's used drum
machines to add a drum part to their performance. The
modern electronic keyboard has rhythm bank with a
hundred or more different drum parts in every rhythm
style. You can back up your playing with a variety of
rock, pop, big band, jazz, latin and country beats to
name a few. You can set up a syncro start so that the
rhythm will begin as soon as you play a note or chord on
the lower half of the keyboard. You can also push a
button to activate a fill in to add variety to the rhythm.
You can also adjust the tempo or speed of the rhythm
accompaniment.
The Song Bank
Another feature of the electronic music keyboard is the
song bank. It can have 100 or more songs of all types.
Most will be public domain classical and folk but there
will always be a few popular songs. You can select a
song and a full arrangement of the song will play but the
songs are also meant to be part of the teaching
function. You can turn off either the right or left hand
and practice playing that part yourself. You can adjust
the tempo of the song. You can slow it down when you
are just learning and later speed it up as your skill
increases. Some keyboards give you the ability to add
songs with on board memory or other memory media
Auto Accompaniment
The musical electronic keyboard has an auto accompaniment section usually  consisting
of the bottom one and one half octaves of the key board. When set up with the chosen
rhythm the selected chord will play with a full sounding accompaniment with drums, bass
and keyboard. Every rhythm available in the rhythm bank is available for
accompaniment. All you have to do is change the chord at the correct time with your left
hand while your right hand plays the melody. Each chord will play in full accompanimemt
style until you select a new one. You can adjust the tempo of the auto accompaniment.
The auto accompaniment can be activated in two ways.  One way is like the chord organ
of old. Like the chord organ it has a limited chord set type. The other is activated by a
correctly fingered chord in root position or any inversion. It allows you to play nearly
every chord type. I will describe the two ways in more detail below.  
One Finger Auto Accompaniment
The mode with limited chord set is often called one finger accompaniment. It actually
uses more than one finger but the finger on the lowest note gives you the chord letter
name. Adding fingers above that changes the chord type. Not all keyboards do this
exactly the same but i will explain how it works on one keyboard that I own. Play a single
key and you get the three note major that is the name of that key. Add any one key to
the right for a total of two and you get the three note minor. Add one more to the right for
a total of three and you get the dominant 7th chord. Finally add one more to the right for
a total of four keys and you get minor 7th. The letter name of the chord is always the
lowest note. It doesn't matter which notes you add to the right as long as you have the
right number. I really don't care for this mode because it doesn't teach you the correct
fingering for the chord and the chord types that you can play are limited. It also requires
you to move your hand up and down the keyboard as the root note always has to be on
the bottom. It does allow you to get every letter name in few chord types that it gives you.
Fingered Chord  Auto Accompaniment
In this mode you finger the chord correctly. Root position and inversions of the chord
both work. You can leave out the fifth on 7th chords just as you might do in normal
playing. Because of the limited range of the accompaniment on most keyboards you
need to start with inversions in some keys. For instance for a simple two or three chord
song in the key of C you have to start with an inversion of the C chord instead of the root
position. The auto accompaniment section starts on a c and runs one and one half
octaves to f. You can't play the simple root position C and inverted G7, as I first showed
you, on the top of the range because g which is the 5th of C and the root of G7 is one
note above the range. You can play C in the root position on the bottom of the range but
it is the lowest note so we have no b, the 3rd of G7, below c to select our G7 chord.
Below I show you the chord set that will not work and one that will in the key of C. Also
are the chord sets for G and F. These can start with the root position major because
they are in the middle of the auto accompaniment section
  • Note When you first learned 7th chords, you learned you could leave
    out the 5th.  You can also leave out the 5th when playing 7th auto
    chords. The chord will change in the auto accompaniment with or
    without it. On the 7th picture chords below I've place this optional
    5th in parenthesis.
This picture chord set, with the tonic  C chord in root position
will not work in the auto accompaniment section. Play it at the
top or bottom and some notes are always out of range and the
chord won't play.
C Root
G7 Inv 1
F Inv 2
Starting with the first inversion of C, F in the root position and G7 in
it's third inversion puts you in the middle of the auto
accompaniment section and all the chords will play. Try using these
auto picture chords with "Saints Go Marching In" both playing the
melody with your right hand and singing it. I've given you the free
lead sheet in the key of C with the four bar introduction
C Inv 1
G7 Inv 3
F Root
This picture chord set, with the tonic G chord in root position will
work in the auto accompaniment section. It is right in the middle
and all chord notes are well within range. Use them to play "Saints
Go Marching In" in the key of G. I've given you the picture chords
and free lead sheet in  the key of G below
G Chord
C Chord Inv 2
D7 Chord Inv 1
This chord set, with the tonic F chord in root position will also
work in the auto accompaniment section. It is right in the middle
and all chord notes are well within range. Use them to play "Saints
Go Marching In" in the key of F. See the picture chords and free
lead sheet below for the key of F.
F Chord
C7 Chord Inv 1
©2006
Playing Keyboards
Using The Lessons
People that come to these pages through search engines enter on different pages. I
would recommend that to get the full benefit of these music lessons, especially if you are
a beginner,  you visit every page at least once. This is a totally new approach to learning
music. The focus is on "
How Music Works". There is a lot of motivating discussion and
explanation of why you need to learn certain things, with the goal of getting you to
become a real musician as quickly as possible. There's a lot of good pieces here but you
need the whole picture for maximum success.
Learn to play songs by and in the in the style of
the popular artist of today and yesterday. I am
recommending two piano methods with different
approaches. The first has the typical beginner,
intermediate, and advanced lessons. The second
takes a very strong chord approach and is ideal
for singer song writers. Both have hundreds of
video and sound files. You could pick one or the
other. But since each cost about the same or less
than a  single private lessons, you might want to
get them both.
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