Robert Estrin - piano expert

The Secret of Film Music

Discover the hidden relationships behind movie music

In this video, Robert talks about movie music and its secrets. What's this all about?

Released on December 9, 2020

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to I'm Robert Estrin with a really interesting subject for you today which is the secret of movie music. It all comes down to third relation or thirds relations. What is this about? Well, I'm going to show you a little bit of a theory behind movie music. And once you hear it, you go, I've heard that a million times and it takes the mystery out of it. I'm going to basically, show you the trick.

Have you ever seen a magician? You wonder I wish I know how they did that? And you're dying to know. Well, that's what you're going to get today in this show about how those movies make you feel a certain way that cool sound, and it comes down to median or third relations. Typically, harmonies on the piano or on any instrument are based upon movement in fourths and fifths. Those are perfect intervals. And so for example, one chord to a four chord. That's the movement of a fourth. Or to a five. So those are your primary chords. One, four, five, one.

You can sometimes move in the relationship of a third and you get this sound when you're within the key. There I went from one to six, from C to A. Then you go down to F which is four. And that has an interesting sound as well. But it's when you go out of the key that you're in. If you do that with fourths, you'll end up with a sound, or fourths or fifths, that's quite familiar. If you're in C major, I'll establish C major for you. And that, by the way, establishing the key is one, four. One, six, four, that's a C chord with a G on the bottom. And a five, seven, the G seventh chord, it adds the F to the G major chord. And back to the one chord.

And if you wanted to go now, let's say you wanted to modulate, you wanted to change keys to D. Well, how do you get to D? Well, you go to the five of the D. And the five of D, one, two, three, four, five, is A. So if I'm in C major and I play an A seven chord. That's going to bring you right to D. So I'm going to establish C major and then go to D and you'll see the A seven takes you right there. And if you want to go back, you play the five chord, the five, seven of C major again which is the G seven.

And that is very typical sounding harmony. Even though we went outside of the key of C major, it didn't sound particularly unusual, did it? But when you do it in thirds it's a very different sound. And I'm just going to play two chords and instantly, you're going to recognize this. I'm going to go to from C, I'm going to establish C major then I'm going to go to A major. A major, of course, I did play the A seven, but... if you play from this. Aha! It's a very familiar sound, isn't it?

When you go with thirds to minor keys, it's really an interesting sound. Watch if I just start with C major then go to E minor than G minor. Wow. It's an ambiguous tonality and it has amazing colors, doesn't it? You can go now to B flat minor. And you can go to majors also. Now I'm going to go to D major. And D minor. B minor. G minor. You get the sound of that? It's something mysterious, isn't it? Because you can't really predict where it's going.

It's so much fun to play around with these harmonies that I've got a little improvisation I did based upon third relations. And I'm going to play it for you now. I hope you enjoy this.

So that's a little bit about third relations. I hope it doesn't take the pleasure of this secret out of movie music for you. This is used so much of the time and you'll notice it. When you're listening to film scores I want you to pay attention for that sound. There's all sorts with major chords in thirds. And minor chords. Interesting sound, isn't it?

I hope you've enjoyed this. All of you out there who play the piano experiment. Play chords, particularly major chords to minor chords a third away, and then go another third higher or lower. And you can create these sounds for yourself and it might be the impetus for a composition or an improvisation because it's a rich sound, isn't it?

I hope you've enjoyed this. Again, I'm Robert Estrin. This is your online piano resource. We're always making more videos for you. Thanks for all your video suggestions, it keeps me going and keeps it interesting for you. So we'll see you next time. Thanks for joining me.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Franc Uberti * VSM MEMBER * on December 11, 2020 @6:09 pm PST
This was one of your best, Robert! Your teaching skills are flanked by your brilliant composition.
Robert Estrin on December 13, 2020 @9:05 am PST
So glad you like the content. I look forward to presenting more original music for you!
Larry on December 9, 2020 @8:28 am PST
Incredible - Robert makes this seem so easy and intuitive.
Makes me want to run to the piano and try some of these ideas.
Robert Estrin on December 9, 2020 @9:40 am PST
You should go to the piano and try this - it's fun! Try going from C major to E-flat minor, or C major to A-flat minor or A major to start and go from there.
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