Have you ever wondered if you could play the running descending passage of the most popular piano version of "Autumn Leaves?"
In 1955, a rather unknown pianist by the name of Louis Jacob Weertz changed his name to Roger Williams and recorded his own arrangement of the somewhat popular "Les Feuilles Mortes," soon to be known as "Autumn Leaves." It became the only piano instrumental to reach #1 on Billboard's Popular Music chart, and having sold over two million copies then, it was awarded a Gold Disc.
In 2010, Roger Williams was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. At that time, "Autumn Leaves" was the best-selling piano solo record of all time and the only one ever to top the Billboard charts. The following year, one week after his 87th birthday, he died after a long bout with pancreatic cancer.
This is the most famous piano arrangement of "Autumn Leaves." Roger Williams, nicknamed "Mr. Piano" by his international fans, created this piano riff that had made him famous worldwide. This is what you will be learning in this tutorial.
What you will find here is a unique approach to teaching pianists how to play the rippling sound of "Autumn Leaves," Roger Williams' most famous recording.
Included are video lectures that show detailed instructions on how to properly play this amazing passage.
There are three (3) video lectures in all. You may take your time learning the tutorial. Feel free to pause and rewind any section as you please.
Here, I am demonstrating the piece "Autumn Leaves" in its entirety. I am performing it here on a Yamaha grand, accompanied by digital music from the Garritan Orchestra which I arranged myself.
Countless people have been wanting to learn the right hand rippling effect of leaves falling in autumn, at the beginning and in the middle of this piece. This course is the only one you will ever find to help you learn these two passages.
The passages are found on the following video timelines:
0:28 - 1:00 The descending passage, done twice.
1:57 - 2:10 A descending passage followed by an ascending one.
Here, I am demonstrating the first of the two piano riffs that we will be concerned with in this course. It is the more popular of the two.
Listen very closely until you get the feel of the part. When you have learned how to play it, refer back to this passage and if you can, play along with it!
Before we even attempt to position our hands and fingers on the piano keyboard, it is of the utmost importance to be acquainted with the fingers that are to be used.
In addition to this, you should consider building up speed in each of the four patterns before you eventually move up to the piano keyboard. Tapping your fingers on a tabletop will ensure that your fingers are properly coordinated and the correct sequence is executed.
You will find it easier to achieve your goals if you ensure that you're ready before taking the next steps.
How are our fingers numbered for the playing of the piano?
Here is a clear demonstration of what the right hand does exactly. I will first show the continuous action, after which we will be breaking it down into four patterns.
You will find that these four patterns are the ones that you learned in the previous lecture:
4 - 2 - 3 - 1 - 3 - 1
4 - 2 - 3 - 1 - 4 - 2
3 - 1 - 3 - 1 - 4 - 2
3 - 1 - 4 - 2 - 3 - 1
It will be good practice for you to master each pattern before continuing to the following pattern.
Do you remember what the four patterns are?
After having broken down the order of notes by groups of six notes, we now play the sequence one after the other. These are the four patterns non-stop.
I am playing the passage slowly at first (just as I would want you to do), slowly building up speed until the required tempo is reached.
After this is achieved, accents are added on the first notes of each pattern, in order to synchronize with the underlying rhythm of the melody.
You are now going to count aloud, and are again shown the complete passage. As this is in 4/4 time, we count four to each bar, six notes to each count. The accents are applied to the first note of each pattern.
The melody is then played by the left hand, which is outside of the scope of this course.
There will be two descending runs, the first one starting on the top B-flat and the second starting on the B-flat an octave below that.
Everything is explained in detail in the video.
I now demonstrate the second cascading passage of the piece, made up of descending and ascending patterns.
These patterns are going to be broken down in the succeeding lectures.
Preliminary principles of the passage. A short bird's eye view of the chromatic scale and its relevant application here.
I demonstrate what the chromatic scale is made up of, which is nothing but a series of semitones. Semitones are the shortest distance in pitch from one note to another, and their physical locations in the keyboard are detailed in this lecture. They are played slowly so that you may absorb its principle.
Watch the keyboard closely and how the notes follow each other. This sequence can be used in other pieces as well!
A test on some basic music theory, if you were paying attention...
Just like the first passage we studied in Section 2 of this course, there are four patterns of six notes each. These are played with the following fingers:
3 - 1 - 3 - 1 - 3 - 1
3 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
3 - 2 - 1 - 3 - 2 - 1
3 - 1 - 3 - 1 - 3 - 1
You will notice that the fourth pattern is a duplicate of the first pattern. So essentially you will just be studying three patterns!
There is a standard fingering being used when playing semitones, but in this descending pattern, rules are being broken. Again there will be four patterns of six notes each, which you will be asked to practice in the same manner as you did in Section 2 of this course.
However in the ascending pattern following this, the notes are played with the standard fingering. It is explained in detail in this lecture.
Do you remember these patterns?
All the four patterns now played one after the other. First they are played with gaps between them so you may process the information better.
Then they are played non-stop, as it should be played.
You are urged to start slowly and then build up speed in the same manner as you did for the first passage we took up in Section 2.
This is the final leg of our journey, where we learn how to play the ascending passage which is made up of nothing but an ascending chromatic scale.
I will show you what the "standard" fingering is for the playing of chromatic scales, as this is the same fingering we are going to use in this passage. There are rules here, and be careful not to break any of them!
This is going to be a very useful lecture, as chromatic scales appear frequently in most music.
The rules you have to follow in order to execute the chromatic scale.
Congratulations! I hope you will keep on practicing the stuff I have taught you in this course.
I hope you will be able to play together with the first video you will find in Section 1 of the course! Remember, there's no shortcut here. Practice is mandatory, and you will find the results rewarding.
Anton is a Conservatory-trained and well-experienced piano and voice teacher. An accomplished pianist and composer/songwriter who has extensive knowledge of music theory and digital music transcription and production, he uses tools like MakeMusic Finale and Logic Pro X. He also dubs in video production and image manipulation, making use of Adobe's Creative Suite CS6.
He has been Musical Director of several projects and international singing competitions. He has prepared numerous piano students for the bi-annual London-based Trinity College of Music exams, taking them to earn distinction marks time and again.
He believes that all music originates from the human soul, and he intends to tap into the vast musical resources a human being possesses in order to get brain waves transformed into tuneful sound waves.
He also believes in his heart that music can be taught to anyone who desires enough to learn it.