[Dixielandjazz] Irving Berlin's piano

Adaywayne at aol.com Adaywayne at aol.com
Thu Dec 4 20:32:08 PST 2003

I was just passing on what I read, which was that he could play only in F#. 
If you have a source for something different it would be interesting to read it.

As far as physically moving the keyboard up (or down) by half a tone (for 
example), would that really mean that the output would be totally correct in the 
"new" key? That is simply a genuine question from a non-piano-playing person 
who is looking at a piano keyboard and scratching his head as he moves from one 
major chord to the next and tries to picture the spacial placement of the 
strings and their hammers..

In a message dated 12/4/03 6:28:45 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
paul.edgerton at eds.com writes:
I read somewhere that Irving Berlin preferred playing on the black keys, but
that doesn't mean he could only play in one key. Could it be significant
that the black keys, by themselves, comprise a pentatonic scale?

The mechanism to shift the piano keyboard already exists on grand pianos:
the so-called "soft" pedal, which shifts the entire action to one side so
that the hammers strike only one or two of the strings in each unison. It
wouldn't be too difficult provide a pedal that shifts the action all the way
over to the next unison, thus transposing the keyboard by a half step.

Whatever Irving Berlin lacked in keyboard proficiency, he certainly made up
for it in melodic sense.

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