Blues Piano Crash Course #9: The Melody Machine

from The Blues Piano Crash Course

Lesson #9  (video) "The Melody Machine"

This thing I like to call the  "melody machine" is by no means a new technique for creating strong melodies. Singers, composers and improvisers have built melodies this way forever.  In a nutshell, it's a specific way of using the underlying chord progression as a "generator" of melodic material.

Sometimes this "melody generating" concept doesn't get enough of a spotlight. By spotlight, I mean pointing it out and teaching it, in places where students can fully appreciate the power of the results.

So here's a great place for that spotlight:  the art and science of creating powerful blues licks!

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Blues Piano Crash Course #8: Blue notes & pitch-bending

from The Blues Piano Crash Course

Lesson #8  (video)

In this lesson, we master a couple of specific blues piano tricks of the trade.  I'm using the word specific here, because we're going to use these devices with a goal in mind, a musical effect that is pretty specific.

The "tricks" in this video are focused on emulating those sounds of blues singers and other instruments who can "bend" their notes (slide or play between pitches).  You'll learn about "blue notes," and also pick up a blues-boogie playing technique called the slide-off.

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How to Riff on Van Morrison’s “Moondance” – Part 1

Kent here!

Today we have two video lessons, either of which is a good introduction to a pretty simple notion, which I sometimes like to call the “melody machine.” With this, I’m not suggesting some big new original conception. On the contrary,  the concept I’m calling the melody machine is about as old as music itself.

If that nickname sounds a little gimmicky, it’s really not meant to be. I actually do call this device a “melody machine,” in my own thinking, part of an ongoing process of internalizing my favorite composition devices. Also, it’s fun to say, just like saying “Lollapalooza” or “Isn’t she pleasant?”

In a nutshell, this lesson shows you certain ways of using an underlying chord progression as a “thought generator” for creating melodic material.

First:

How to Riff on Van Morrison’s Moondance – Part 1

Quick links:   Lesson Two   Lesson Three

And this related tutorial is from my Blues Piano Crash Course

Blues Piano Crash Course, #7: Walking Bass Line & more coordination

from The Blues Piano Crash Course

Lesson #7  (video)

Rhythm is never to be neglected in the Blues, even in performances that are so slow and sultry that it feels like we're all just breathing, no real beat, just waves...oh sorry, I spaced! Ha. Thing is, even a very slow blues is going to rely heavily on rhythm to give us another undeniable take on real life. We all know how "slow" can sometimes be more alive than "fast" anyway. It all depends right?

I'm saying that about rhythm here because this is the third lesson in a row where we've been practicing two-handed coordination on the piano. And I think I'd better explain myself, before you get too bored or too frustrated or both.

First, the more fun work (fun work? yep) picks up again after this third lesson on coordination. I swear. Also, you will learn how to do a walking bass line in this one.

Finally, this maybe-less-than-fun stuff is truly important, this coordination work on piano, because if your hands aren't "of one mind" -- coordinated -- then the exalted Rhythm Itself will suffer. And we can't have that in the blues, not on my watch, dig? If you want to sound great, instead of just good or worse, then quite often it's just a matter of fixing up that rhythm. Something that can mystify us sometimes -- that frustrating sense of "it just doesn't sound right" -- can often be traced back to one thing: The Lack of a Solid Groove. Rhythm is King!

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The Blues Piano Crash Course – Lesson #6: More practice & help with two-handed coordination

From The Blues Piano Crash Course

Lesson Six (video) "Put Your Hands Together - Again..."

More tips and practice on two-handed coordination for piano, using notes from the blues.

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Chord Voicings for Jazz Piano (rootless, left-hand, Type B)

"Type B" Rootless Chord Voicings for Piano

"Rootless voicings" on piano (especially for left-hand support) are great for handling big jazz chords that normally can't be covered by one hand alone. This video tutorial  shows you how to play a rich sounding II-V-I in the left hand, while allowing the bass player (or you, on another beat) to cover the root.

This is Part Two of a pair of lessons, covering "Type B" voicings.  The first lesson,  covering "Type A"  shows another way of executing the same idea, only with the notes in a different arrangement.

VIDEO LESSON:

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The Blues Piano Crash Course – Lesson #5 “Put Your Hands Together”

from The Blues Piano Crash Course

Lesson Five (video) "Put Your Hands Together"

Tips and practice on two-handed coordination for piano, using notes from the blues!

The remaining content of this post is for supporting members. Your monthly membership is extremely affordable, and makes it possible for us to work full-time on the task of creating  FREE educational content, plus additional premium content, for members like you. This is a fast-growing site, and we really need your support as an "All Access" premium member   to keep this site alive.  (After signing up, you may need to refresh this page to open all the content.)

Today’s Date in Jazz History: The passing of Bill Evans (1929 -1980)

Hello from Kent,

If I were asked to pick one person as my “jazz idol,” I would not hesitate to say Bill Evans.  In fact, I have been asked this, and that’s always my answer.

Today marks the anniversary of the death of this hugely influential jazz pianist, who passed away on this date in 1980.

Today I’m sharing two articles about  Bill Evans, in honor of his memory.  Thank you, Mr. Evans, for all that you have taught me (and still do), through your music, your life, and your legacy!

The Musical Genius of Bill Evans

Wikipedia Article on Bill Evans

 

 

 

“The Blues Piano Crash Course” Lesson #3: “Five must-know Riffing Devices”

piano with kent

The Blues Piano tradition is full of tried-and-true "stock" licks, as well as many devices for creating endless original solos. In this lecture, you will learn to use five such "must-know" riffing devices.

PREMIUM CONTENT VIDEO LESSON:

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