There are certain types of rich chord techniques the jazz pianist ought to have under their fingers in a piano/bass/drums or larger group setting. Both Block and Spread Chords may be used for a full sounding effect during the melody of certain tunes. Additionally, these styles may be used to build intensity during a piano solo, or culminating in impressive spread chords at the solo’s highpoint. Continue reading “Block Chords (Locked Hands Style) vs Spread Chords: How Pianists Create Them”
Let’s take the lovely ballad Skylark (by Johnny Mercer/Hoagy Carmichael), and learn how to enhance a ballad’s melody with beautiful chords and a foundational bass line. In this video observe how I took a chart from an old fakebook and updated some chords more to my liking, a process called reharmonization:
Frank Denton Denke (6/17/1934 – 1/29/2021)
I didn’t get the opportunity to ‘grow up’ with my big brother Denton and oldest sister Diane, since these first born 2 siblings had already left the nest. Our mother Virginia (singing in the photo) behind our father Frank R. Denke (playing the piano) really spread the 4 of us out in age: My brother was born about a year after our parents married, followed by my sister Diane (not pictured) a few years later. 10 years after Diane my sister Connie was born (the teen girl singing), and 12 years later I came along. I’m the little girl in this newspaper article, looking up at her big brother, who planned to leave for the following 3 years doing Catholic Charity work as a teacher in Chile. Continue reading “Growing Up Around A Piano: Memories of My Brother”
The Broken 10th device most likely got introduced during a Nocturne by composer Frédéric Chopin. It’s a very rich sounding accompaniment for the pianist’s left hand, made with only the root, 5th, and 3rd of a chord. (If you take the 3rd out of the middle of a close position triad and transpose it up an octave it is now called the 10th.) Pianists with large enough hands may be able to play the 10th solidly as a chord, but those with smaller hands fear not – the video below shows 2 handed “cheating” ways to play walking 10ths, plus some lovely ways to break up 10th chords in a variety of rhythmic patterns. Continue reading “Arranging Tip for the Pianist’s Left Hand: Broken 10th & Variations”
Ever wonder what would happen if you took Rhythm Changes and put them in a minor key? You just might get a spooky October surprise!
First, let’s define “Rhythm Changes“. (It has nothing to do with a rhythm changing or any meaning close to that. This jazz musician term is simply a shortening of the phrase, ‘Play the same chords (aka the changes) that George & Ira Gershwin used for their popular tune, I Got Rhythm’. Knowing how to improvise over Rhythm Changes (especially in the key of Bb), is an expected part of every jazz musician’s repertoire, next in line after being able to improvise over the 12 bar blues form. Continue reading “An Experiment With ‘Rhythm Changes’ (Skeletons Dance at Midnight)”
A pianist often wonders what to do with the left hand when playing solo without a bassist. Using the spiritual Go Down Moses as an example, I’ll share some of my favorite tips for creating solid bass lines, including ways to have fun exploring reharmonization in minor keys. Continue reading “Creating Bass Lines for Solo Piano: Go Down Moses Tutorial”
These melancholy ballads do well to express my mood this year. The first week of Spring 2020 began with all concerts, church jobs, club gigs, parties, music performances of all types being cancelled. My heart went out to musicians cutting short their tours, professional and Continue reading “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most -You Must Believe In Spring (and Love)”
Musicians who are also Educators have a burning desire to create, perform, and share ideas with others, which can be tough during these times of quarentine due to COVID-19. Fortunately for me, I’ve been self isolating along with my musician husband who happens to be a very fine jazz bassist. True Confession: We don’t normally practice together Continue reading “On A Clear Day: 3 Ways 2 Play 4 Piano”
Observe today’s music theory illustration pictured above. Notice the photo of these colorful Four O’clock Flowers – each bloom is unique, but they all are linked together as a family that grows from the same parent plant.
This week one of my newer adult piano students eagerly read ahead in my book Amazing Phrasing – Keyboard, and got a bit confused trying to understand the Greek modes/scales we refer to in both jazz & traditional music theory. During her first lesson this enthusiastic lady Continue reading “Explaining the Greek Modes”