Demystifying Pop Music

A story told by my dear friend

Tony Parlapiano — this one’s for you.

Photo Trademarked by popMATICS

Tony Parlapiano and I bounce ideas frequently. This brilliant man has been there for me through the thick and thin. And it is our ability to allow one another freedom to live and let live that has kept our friendship going strong over the years.

Tony put something out there on YouTube today that serves people and I want to share it.

Music is the key

I could go on about the great mysteries of sound. How static frequencies, when placed in a sequence, bring up deep feelings. These feelings want resolution. You can experience this oscillation immediately on the piano.

Tony doesn’t talk about this creation in the way that I do. You see, I’m a fan, and he’s a humble man. A good father and incredibly hard worker with an insanely generous spirit. The man gives for the sake of being good to others.

So he put this playlist out there today which has 22 lessons that teach you elements of pop music on the piano. It’s free.

You could ask Tony ‘why give away such wisdom?’, and he’d likely smile and laugh, because he knows regardless of your level of experience there is something you will take from this that will improve your relationship with music. I would argue, that’s all that matters.

The wisdom being offered here is centered around feeling. It’s about identifying with emotions. While offering them resolution. I can attest that music composition improves self-confidence. Until you become willing to overcome obstacles instead of buckling under pressure.

22 lessons — the same amount of cards in the Major Arcana

These are the things I write about. I’m strange. That’s okay. Here’s what I know: You can get a lot accomplished in 22 chapters. I tie each to the Major Arcana. Each tells a story. And so do each of Tony’s 22 free lessons.

The message is simple enough to understand the first time

By the second run, you are eager to play it. Sit down, try it out, and discover you can do the same thing on the video. And that’s your first key. It’s the feeling you get when music clicks.

Illustration by Tony Parlapiano.

Tony’s diagrams are simple, yet fresh enough for a seasoned veteran on the piano to take something from it. Because it tells a story. The story is a mystery at first, that involves a presentation of recognizable patterns. There are keys tied to frequencies that when played in certain sequence, generate a human emotional response. This gets paired with the name of the lesson along with visual cues. It all serves in part as a mnemonic device. The result? A lesson that is easily retained that can now be transcribed by the hands onto a physical piano.

Music naturally oscillates between tension and resolution

Frequencies technically do not ever resolve, and that is a good thing. Because if all frequency suddenly ended, our atoms would collapse and our bodies would be reduced to about the size of a grain of rice. Everything prefers space, especially atoms. That said, you have access to an isolated real-estate of frequencies with the piano, and if you play them within a certain framework, it generates an emotional response.

You can feel the movement between tension and resolution. You are waiting for the note that you can hear in your heart and Tony Parlapiano has mapped it all out for you now. So have at it. And have fun!

Here’s the playlist of all 22 lessons for popMATICS 101

Cheers to you, Tony Parlapiano.

With gratitude for your wisdom and friendship,




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