So a great way to get started with Shapes is with a playlist of songs, and a single shape.
The Shapes Playlist is a kind of fun, random mix of songs that you might come across just by being a person living in the world right now.
And the thing in the middle is a shape. It’s two little strokes drawn over a keyboard.
So here’s how to read a shape.
Imagine you have a bunch of notes floating in the air.
And then you map those notes onto keys of the keyboard.
Then you draw lines that connect the notes together,
and then the lines themselves become a way to represent all those notes at once.
The point of a shape is that you can remember it really quickly [on diagram]: there’s this little stroke, and then this kind of rainbow looking stroke.
If I play it on the keyboard, it’s these two notes [play]
and then the rainbow. [play]
You can play the notes of the shape in any order, or any combination, anywhere on the keyboard, and they’re going to sound like they fit with the song. [play] You can also use any fingers you like. You can even use just one finger. [play]
Now, if you play any notes that aren’t in the shape, they sound pretty different, like they really don’t fit. [play]
But the notes in the shape do, in any order, and any combination. [play]
So give it a shot. Try using the shape to play some notes along with a song. And if you don’t like the song that’s playing, keep skipping forward until you get a song that catches your interest.
Playing with a shape is very open-ended, but you’ll find that you have some intuition about what to play just because of all the music you already listen to.
A really good guideline is to try playing as though you’re adding a new layer to the song, something that sounds good to you.
So you’re not necessarily trying to play the song or the melody, or anything like that. It’s more that you’re letting yourself become a part of the music, you’re participating and adding something of your own.
So I’ll give you just a few more tips before I leave you to it.
If you ever have trouble hearing how the shape fits with a song, listen again to some of those notes that aren’t in the shape, and compare them with notes that are.
This can really help you hear the fit. Plus, they tell you very clearly if you accidentally play a note that isn’t in the shape.
Also, don’t be afraid to play with songs you don’t know, or songs that are very different from what you usually like to listen to.
When you play the same shape with lots of different songs, you find yourself playing and listening in different ways, and you stretch the experience a lot further.
And finally, how do you know you’ve “got it” and are ready to move on?
I’d say at the very least, try finding 3 different songs in the playlist that you like, play through the length of the whole song, and really let yourself get into it.
From there, you might decide to keep going, or stop, but ask yourself if you feel comfortable playing with the shape, and when you mostly do, that’s when you’re ready to move on.