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Acknowledgments: The Rocket Piano series was created on behalf of Rock Star Recipes LTD.

Author & Music: Ruth Searle Multimedia Content: Rock Star Recipes Studios Edit & Graphic Design: Rock Star Recipes LTD Publisher: Rock Star Recipes LTD www.rocketpiano.com www.rockstarrecipes.com All other enquiries visit our support team at: http://help.rockstarrecipes.com/rocketpiano Terms of use: By purchasing The Rocket Piano series - you agree to the following: You will use The Rocket Piano series, Chordinator, Keycelerator, Perfect Your Pitch Pro, Jayde Musica, Advanced Learning Techniques for Piano and other Rock Star Recipes Ltd products and services for your personal and private use only. The Rocket Piano series, Chordinator, Jayde Musica, Advanced Learning Techniques for Piano remain the property of Rock Star Recipes Ltd. and may not be resold, repackaged or otherwise transferred. Course and bonus product materials may not be duplicated or distributed in any way without expressed, written permission from Rock Star Recipes Ltd. For more information please contact us through our website. Rock Star Recipes Ltd. retains all rights to these products. Copyright, 2004-2010 Rock Star Recipes Ltd.

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The Rocket Piano Learn by Ear Course


Welcome!
Learning by Ear is a great skill that many musicians spend years trying to become proficient at. It is the side of music that unfortunately there are no short cuts to take to get better at it. Learning by Ear is when you can hear a song and be able to work it out without needing any sheet music in front of you telling you what to play! It is a matter of knowing in your head the different types of chords and intervals, and being familiar enough with them to recognize when they are played in a song. Some people call this playing with your ear, or playing by ear. Many people think that learning to play by ear is a trade-off to learning theory. Very few people can get away with this, because the main principle behind being able to play music by ear, is recognizing the theory within it. Learning by ear can take a long time if you simply use trial and error. It is an intelligent process, and this course teaches you the techniques and skills for you to intelligently figure out how to play music by listening to it.This course will save you a lot of time and frustration! The Learn by Ear course is suitable for Intermediate level pianists. You need to have basic theory knowledge with an understanding of the musical staff, basic notation, rhythm, melody, and harmony (chords). If you think you might need to brush up on these topics then refer to the Rocket Piano Beginner Book for all you need to know to get through this Learn By Ear course. We will be giving you some very useful tools to help you develop this skill much faster than most musicians do. We have developed eight concise steps for you to use and practice with, these are the steps you will use every time you are working out a song by ear. Practice the eight steps every day and soon you will be able to play your favorite songs without having to fork out unnecessary dollars for the sheet music!

Lets get into it!

The Rocket Piano Team

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Table Of Contents
Welcome!..................................................3 Step 1: Pitch Practice.............................5 Recognizing Individual Keys.....................5 Middle C Reference Technique.................6 Step 2: Image Association.....................7 Major Chords............................................7 Step 3: Image Association with Minor chords......................................................8 Revision....................................................8 Minor Chords............................................8 Overall Sound Quality...............................9 Step 4: Putting It In To Practice...........10 Revision..................................................10 Learning Your First Song By Ear............10 Step 5: Writing It All Down...................12 Revision..................................................12 Notate Your Progress..............................12 Step 6: Recognizing Seventh Chords...................................................15 Revision..................................................15 Overall Sound Quality of Seventh Chords....................................................15 Step 7: Basslines..................................17 Revision..................................................17 Listening to the Bass..............................17 Step 8: Inversions.................................19 Revision..................................................19 Identifying Inversions..............................19 Conclusion............................................21 Exercise Answers.................................22

01
Every time you see this button, play the relevant track!

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Step One: Pitch Practice


Recognizing Individual Keys
The first and most important step of learning by ear is learning the individual notes on the keyboard and gaining familiarity with how each note sounds. Practice closing your eyes and playing a random note on the keyboard and try to guess which note you are playing. Or for a more fun approach, play the Perfect Your Pitch Pro game included with the Rocket Piano Course. This game helps you to recognize individual notes when they are played and also recognize series of notes in succession. When you can recognize a simple pattern of notes you are essentially learning a melody with your ear! To try to find one note on a piano of 88 keys can seem like a huge task! But remember that these 88 keys are just one octave repeated seven and a bit times.

octave

octave

octave

octave

octave

octave

octave

So the first task is to find the right note, when you have that you can worry about whether it is up high or down low on the piano. There are 12 notes in one octave. This means you only have 12 notes to go through to find the note you are looking for!

2 4

7 9 11

1 3 5 6 8 10 12

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Middle C Reference Technique


Whenever you need to figure out a note that you are hearing you can use the keyboard to help you by referencing your ear to a note. Middle C is an easy key to identify quickly with your fingers. It is a good note to use to begin comparing the note you are hearing, to the note you are playing. So we use the Middle C note, as our first point of reference. First listen to the note you are trying to find a few times before you press any keys. Once you have this note in your head play the Middle C note. Does this sound like the note you are trying to figure out? If yes, Good work! If not, then go up to C# and see if this note sounds more like it. If this still doesnt sound like the note you are looking for you then go up to D, then D#, then E, and so on.

X X X X
Keep going up the keys chromatically until you find a match for the note you are trying to find. Here is an opportunity for you to practice finding a certain pitch using the Middle C Reference Technique.

Exercise 1:

Listen to the audio track below and using this technique find the exact note that you hear being played. Each note is repeated several times for you, and has a pause before the next one so you can take your time to find it on your keyboard. Write down the name of the note you settle on each time.
01

When you have finished, check your answers at the back of the book!

Keep playing the Perfect Your Pitch Pro game throughout the LearnBy Ear course, and have your keyboard nearby to use the Middle C Reference Technique!

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Step 2: Image Association


Major chords
Now that youre able to recognise individual notes, we will now focus on recognising chords. To recognise a chords type (major or minor), we must focus on the sound quality of the chord. Lets start with the major chord. The term sound quality when referring to a chord, is talking about how the overall chord sounds to the ear. It means to focus on the quality or feeling the chord conveys rather than that of the individual notes that make up the chord. Try to think of the feeling you get when a major chord is played. Do this by playing the major chords you learn in the Rocket Piano Beginner Book several times each, and let your mind wander.

Major chords youve learned so far:

C major

D major

F major

G major

A major

B major

There are a lot of ways to describe the feelings that people get from a major chord, but the most common one is a happy feeling. Think of a setting or an image of happiness that your mind can snap to every time you hear this particular type of chord. Our minds work well by associating memories or images with things that we learn. When you hear a major chord your mind will instantly associate it with your image of happiness. So let your automatic memory take over when playing by ear. We call this the Image Association Technique. The image that comes into my head when I hear a major chord is a big cartoon smiley face! When I hear a chord and find myself thinking of the smiley face I can assume that it is a major chord that I am hearing. It is important to be able to trust your instincts on this. If you over think and second guess, you will often find the correct answer was the first one you thought of anyway!

Exercise 2:

Listen to these audio examples, listen to the overall sound of each chord to decide whether or not it is a major chord. Do not worry about trying to figure out at which pitch the chord is. At this stage you just need to be able to know whether it is Major or not Major. 02 Check your answers at the back of the book.

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Step 3: Image Association with Minor Chords.


Revision
Now as we come to Step three in Learning by Ear, I want to encourage you to keep practicing the previous steps youve already learned. The fastest and easiest way to progress through these steps is to practice each step thoroughly before you move on to the next. This may seem like it takes forever to do, but it takes longer when you hurry through the steps without taking time to soak the information in. This is because you may end up needing to start from the beginning and learn it all over again. It is important to practice the skills you learn while they are fresh in your mind otherwise you may forget them as you move on.

Minor chords
Now that you are comfortable identifying major chords, lets move on to the minor chord! This lesson builds on your knowledge of the minor triad. Here we are going to focus on the particular feel of the minor triad chord using the Image Association Technique. Do the same as we have just done with the major chord, by playing and listening to the minor chords you have learned over and over, try to think of the feeling that this chord gives you. Minor chords youve learned so far:

C minor

D minor

E minor

F minor

G minor

A minor

B minor

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Overall Sound Quality


Alot of people find the minor chord gives a general feeling of sadness. Think of an image or setting that this minor chord reminds you of. When you find that image or setting, try to focus on it while you listen to the minor chords sound quality. This will help your brain to file the minor chord sound, and your image together in your memory. What image or setting did you come up with for the minor chord? My minor chord image is of me with a giant ice-cream cone, but the ice-cream scoops have fallen onto the ground! Now that IS sad!

This track plays a series of chords just as in the previous lesson, but this time identify the Minor chords in the sequence. Again, do not worry about which exact pitch the chord is, just identify whether or not it is a Minor chord. Lets see how you go!

Exercise 3:

03

Check your answers at the back of the book.

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Step 4: Putting It Into Practice


Revision
Youre doing great! This course is jam packed and has a no-messing-around approach to learning piano by ear. This is potent stuff! Youve done really well getting through the first three steps, and I want to encourage you to keep up with the practice it will definitely pay off! So far we have covered identifying the individual pitches, and how to recognize major and minor chords. You have come a long way in such a short time! But I know you are fully capable to master these next steps so lets keep going!

Learning your First Song by Ear


Now that youre able to recognize the major and minor chords, heres the fun part! Lets try and learn a song by ear! This may seem daunting for you, but this particular song is made up of just one chord progression that is repeated several times. A lot of popular songs tend to repeat chord progressions. There are two versions of this song. There is a full band version and a stripped version with just piano and voice. Here are a few extra hints to help you along:

1.

Find Home

Figure out the home or 1 chord of the song first. The 1 chord is the reference chord to work out other chords from.

2.

Chord Quality

Observe whether the chords are major or minor, use a pen and paper to write down the chords when youve figured them out.

3.

Listen Some More

Listen until you find the correct chord. This is when you can play along and it sounds exactly the same.

10

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Exercise 4:

Play the full band version first and use the steps youve learned to work out the chords that the piano is playing in the song. Listen over it as much as you need. If you find it difficult to hear the piano amongst the other instruments, then try listening to the stripped down version, with just the piano.
04
Full band version

05
Solo Piano version

MEGA HINT: All the chords in this song are major chords that you will have learned in the Rocket Piano Beginner Book.
Major chords youve learned so far:

C major

D major

E major

E major

F major G major

A major

B major

Check your answers at the back of the book.

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Step 5: Writing It All Down


Revision
How did you find learning that last song? I know I threw you in the deep end a bit in the last lesson, but I knew you could do it! Its just a matter of listening over and over until you figure it out. I know that it is a long process, but the more you do it, the easier it gets and the quicker you can learn a song by ear. In the last lesson you may have found it hard to tell where you were up to in the song, or your page may have got a bit messy with lots of scribbles on it? Step 5 is all about giving you some tools to structure youre listening so that you see your progress easily and clearly.

Notate Your Progress


When you are learning a song by ear it is important to write down your answers so that you can keep a track of your progress and also refer back to it at a later date. But notating out a song straight away is difficult and very time consuming. Here is a system you can use to write down what you learn by ear. This system is about having a focus and goal for each time you listen to the song you are learning. Here is a break down of goals for each time you listen to the song: You will need a pen and paper.

1st time listen:


Identify the time signature of the piece, and count the number of bars in the song.

- Separate the song into sections, verse, chorus, bridge, and identify the number of bars in each section. Normally a section will be 8, or 16 bars, or 12 if it is a blues song. - Draw the measures on your piece of paper out evenly so that you have room to write chords above it. Like this;
1 2 3 4

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2nd time listen:


- Play through each section individually (pause the song when a section finishes), and write down the I chord every time you hear it. You can choose to write this in either Roman numerals, or the chord name.
1

I major

I major

I major

I major

C major

C major

C major

C major

- Remember it is important that you keep counting which bar you are up to, so that you know which bar the chord is played on. It can be helpful to group your measures into four per line, so it is easier to find where you are up to in the song.

3rd time listen:


- After you have found all the 1 chords, repeat this with other chords you know and can locate on the keyboard. Try finding all the IV chords, then all the V chords.

4th time listen:


- Now that you have all the I, IV and V chords you have the fundamental chords of the song! There should only be a few chords left to find. Use these two steps to figure them out:

1.

Use your ear to distinguish whether the chord is major or minor using the Image Association Technique which you learned in steps 2 and 3. Use your ear and keyboard to find the individual notes that spell the chord using the Middle C Reference Technique which you learned in step 1.
Major / Minor Major D F# A D Major

2.

What is the root? What is the 3rd? What is the 5th? Chord=

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Here is an example of a complete song written out using this notation system. Separate each section with a space, or begin on a different page so that you can focus on one section at a time. Verse
1

C major

C major

C major

C major

F major

F major

G dom 7

G dom 7

Chorus
9

C major

10

C major

11

F major

12

F major

13

G dom 7

14

G dom 7

15

C major

16

C major

Use Chord symbols instead of the full Chord names. See the Rocket Piano Advanced Book Chapter 3. Verse 2
1

G7

G7

14

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Step 6: Recognizing Seventh Chords


Revision
Well done for getting this far! Remember steps 1-3? Keep going back and practice identifying the individual notes on the piano, as well as recognizing your major and minor chords.

Overall Sound Quality of Seventh Chords


Now we are going to look at the 7th chords that youve just learned about. As you did before with the major and minor triads, listen to each different type of 7th chord and let your mind wander to what feeling or image each chord gives you. Remember that the major chord was a happy sound, and the minor chord was a sad sound. Here are a few suggestions as to the kind of feeling you may get from the 7th chords; Major 7th chord, has the happy feeling of the major chord, but with the 7th added has a bit more color, and movement, it sounds like the 7th wants to resolve up a half tone to the octave of the root note. Major 7th chords youve learned so far:
06

C major 7

F major 7

G major 7

B major

Dominant 7th chord, is so named because of its dominant pull towards the 1 chord. It has a feeling of movement to it, and unstableness. It also sounds quite bluesy. Dominant 7th chords youve learned so far:
07

C dom 7

D dom 7

F dom 7

G dom 7

Minor 7th chord, has the sad feeling of the minor chord, but the 7th adds a prettiness to the sad feeling, and wants to resolve down a half tone to the 6th note in the scale.

15

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Minor 7th chords youve learned so far:

08

Minor 7 5 chord, has a strange almost scary feeling to it. It is peculiar and tends to stick out like a sore thumb! Minor 7 5 chords youve learned so far:

C minor 7

C minor 7 5

This next song for you to learn by ear, is a blues song. It may include some dominant 7th chords. Some of the chords in this song are triads, some are seventh chords, there is one chord that you havent learned yet! This is to give you a bit of a challenge! See if you can figure it out using your Middle C Referencing Technique. Here are some hints to learning this blues song by ear:

09

1.

Separate the song into sections ie, verse chorus, bridge, or simply number the sections 1, 2, etc and then focus on one section at a time. Draw out the correct number of measures as you learned in Step 5. Figure out the chords you know in the progression. Find the I chord wherever it occurs, and recognize major and minor chords, and then 7th chords. Write the chords you find on the measure they occur each time. Identify chords you dont know. Use the Middle C referencing technique to find the root note of the chord, then the third, then the fifth, and play all the tones together to make your mystery chord!

2.

3.

Exercise 5:

Use the skills that you have learned so far in this Learn By Ear Course to find the chords in this song. Listen to the Full Band version first to get a feel for the song overall. Then listen to the Piano version to focus on the piano part.
10
Full band version

11
Solo Piano version

MEGA HINT: This song has one seventh chord in it (the mystery chord). The other chords are all triads. Check your answers at the back of the book.

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Step 7: Basslines
Revision
How did you go with the last song? Did you find the mystery chord? The chords in that song consisted of A minor, D major, and the mystery chord was E dominant 7. Now as we come to Step 7, it is important to look back on what youve already learned. Take a moment to revise how to recognize the notes on the keyboard, the major chords, the minor chords, and 7th chords. Focus on each individual chord or note and the overall sound and feeling that it gives you. Now lets get into something new!

Listening to the Bass


In this lesson you will be learning another song by ear, but this time there is a bass line in the left hand. You learn about basslines in Chapter 2 of the Rocket Piano Advanced Book. Firstly use your ear to identify the chords of the song as you have done in the previous lessons. When you have the chords, you need to focus on finding the bass line. Here are some hints to help you:

1. 2. 3.

Separate the song into sections and draw the number of measures as in Step 5. Recognize the chords that you know. Begin with the primary triads I, IV and V.

Identify the chords you dont know, and work them out using the Middle C Reference Technique All the chords in this song are chords you have learned in the Rocket Piano Course already. THEN:

4. Focus on the left hand (the lower end) of the piano playing, and try to find the notes. Concentrate on trying to block the higher and more prominent sounds from your hearing and follow the lower sounds.
You can use the Middle C Reference Technique here, but start from an octave below Middle C. This is because basslines tend to be in the area an octave below Middle C, in the lower register of the piano.

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Write the name of the bass note to the right of the chord, and separate with a forward slash.
1

5.

F/A

F/C

G/B

C/G

When the bass note is the same as the chord root note, only the chord name is written.

Exercise 6:

Listen to this next track and learn by ear the chords and the bass line of the song. Here are two recordings for you to use. Listen to the full band version first to get the feel of the song overall. Then listen to the solo piano version to focus on the piano part and bass notes.
12
Full band version

13
Solo Piano version

Check you answers at the back of the book.

MEGA HINT: Bass notes are usually made up of the chord tones that are being played in
the corresponding chord. Often the bass notes will play the root note of the chord being played.

Chord
C major

Bass
C (root) E (3rd) G (5th)

MEGA TRICK:

A great little trick to help you hear the bass lines more prominently is by turning up the bass on your sound system. Whether you are listening to the track on CD or MP3, most stereos and computers have a function where you can change the type of sound you hear. This is called an Equalizer or EQ. By turning up the low frequencies on your Equalizer you will be able to hear the bass notes a little clearer then the higher notes.

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Step 8: Inversions
Revision
How did you go? It can be difficult and a bit time consuming to try something new when learning by ear. But the more you practice, and the more new songs and parts you try to learn, the better you will become at it! Just look at what youve learned so far; identifying individual notes, recognizing major and minor chords, finding the bass line, and learning whole songs by ear! Youve done some amazing work! Take a moment now to refresh your memory with some of the things you learned at the beginning of the Rocket Piano Learn by Ear Course.

Identifying Inversions
When a chord is not played in its root position (root, 3rd then 5th), it can be tricky to identify the chord when you hear it. In the Rocket Piano Beginner book you can learn about the 1st and 2nd inversions as different ways to voice a chord.

14

Chord tones Root 3rd 5th

Root position

1st inversion

2nd inversion

This next song for you to learn by ear has chord inversions in it. The chords are either in root position, 1st inversion, or 2nd inversion. You have already learned how to identify chords in a song, but being able to identify inversions is a great skill to have. It will enable you to play the chords of a song exactly the way it sounds!

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Here are some steps to finding the chords and inversions of this song:

1. Recognize the feeling of each chord; recognize the Overall Sound Quality , ie major, minor, or major 7, minor 7, or dominant 7. 2. Identify the individual notes that make up the chord (chord tones). Use the Middle C Reference Technique.
Identify at which pitch each chord tone is played. ie In what order do they appear if you play them on the piano from left to right.

3.

4.

Rearrange the notes until they are in their root position

5. Use what you know about the different chords to find out which chord this root position spells. 6.
Now that you have the chord name, go back to the original position of the chord and see whether it is root position, 1st inversion, or 2nd inversion. Listen to these chords and use the 6 steps above to find their inversions.
15

Exercise 7:

Listen to this next track and learn by ear the chords and the inversions of the song. Here are two recordings for you to use. Listen to the full band version first to get the feel of the song overall. Then listen to the solo piano version to focus on the piano part and its inversion.
16
Full band version

17
Solo Piano version

This song is all made of triad chords. It has no seventh chords in it. This is to keep things simple for your first go at learning inversions by ear. It is also a slow song so you can have time to dwell on each chord. Check your answers at the back of the book!

MEGA HINT:

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Conclusion
Putting the Icing on the Cake
Youve come to the end of this learning by ear course. But dont stop here! Keep learning by ear all your favorite songs so you can play them to your friends, and tell them you didnt even need the music! This is an incredibly valuable skill for you to have. You now have the technique to be able to jam with a band, figure out your favorite songs, and learn songs that sheet music doesnt even exist for!

Here are some extra hints and tips for you to polish each song you learn by ear, to play exactly like your favorite artists play them. Listen and identify the following techniques that are used in the song you are learning. Remember D.A.T.E;

1. 2. 3. 4.

Dynamics Are there louder and softer points in the song? Articulation Are some notes stressed more then others? Are they staccato or legato? (detached or smoothly joined) Technique How are the chords played? Do they use arpeggios, broken or block chords, or scales? Expression What is the overall feel of the piece? Swing, ballad, steady, delicate, heavy etc.

Congratulations on finishing this eight part Learning by Ear course! We really enjoy sharing this hard earned knowledge with you, and hope that it has given you some great tools for you to be able to learn and conquer any song you choose! We look forward to hearing from you about all the awesome songs that you are teaching yourself to play using these Learning by Ear techniques! Good luck!

The Rocket Piano Team


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Exercise Answers:
Exercise 1:
Listen to the audio track below and using this technique find the exact note that you hear being played.

C#/Db

Exercise 2:

Listen to these audio examples, and try to figure out by listening to the overall sound of each chord whether or not it is a major chord. Major, Major, not major, not major, Major, Major, not major, Major

Exercise 3: This track will play a series of chords just as in the previous lesson, but this time identify the Minor chords in the sequence.
Minor, not minor, not minor, Minor, Minor, Minor, Minor, not minor

Exercise 4:

Play the full band version first and use the steps youve learned to work out the chords that the piano is playing in the song.

G major

D major

A major

D major

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Exercise 5:

Use the skills that you have learned so far in this Learn By Ear Course to find the chords in this song.

D major

D major

A dominant 7

D major

14

D major

G major

D major

D major

A dominant 7

D major

You may have written it out like this:


1

D major

D major

D major

D major

A dom 7

A dom 7

D major

D major

D major

10

D major

11

G major

12

D major

13

D major

14

D major

15

A dom 7

16

D major

17 D major

23

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Exercise 6:
song.

Listen to this next track and learn by ear the chords and the bass line of the

D minor D minor

G minor

D minor

C major

Bb major

D minor

You may have written it out like this: All the bass notes are the root notes of the chord.
1

D minor

D minor

D minor

D minor

G minor

G minor

D minor

D minor

C major

10

Bb major 11

D minor

12

D minor

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Exercise 7:
the song.

Listen to this next track and learn by ear the chords and the inversions of

13

You may have written it out like this: Am(root)


2

C(2nd)

D(2nd)

F(1st)

Am

E(2nd)

Am

10

11

12

13

Am

14

E(1st)

15

Am

16

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