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 improvise in modal jazz: “So What” by Miles Davis

Attention!

The following post is not just for jazz players!


It seems to me that contemporary modal improv, which had its jazz  birth in the late 1950’s, was a huge influence on the increasingly improvisational rock of the 1960’s, (even when players might not have consciously realized it!), and has never stopped being at the heart of so many great pop/rock/jazz solos until this very day.

This is a brief introduction to the idea of “modal jazz.”  We’re going to look at probably the most famous example of modal jazz, a tune called “So What,” by Miles Davis and Bill Evans.

We’re looking at this piece because (1) it was part of a ground-breaking approach to jazz improvisation and composition when it came out, and it’s still definitive of the modal jazz genre (maybe the definitive  recording?) (2) because “So What” is the best-known track on one of top-selling jazz albums of all time, “Kind of Blue.”

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Here’s a little bit about “So What” chords

I have a micro-slideshow for you today, about “So What” chords.  This one will be followed soon by Part Two. Then, I’ll be adding to these posts, more detail that is, which I do a lot with already posted stuff.


After these quick slides, you might like these two video posts by me, on “Fourth Chords,” which are closely related to “So What” chords:

Fourth Chords on Piano

More on Fourth Chords


Here’s those slides…

SLIDE 1.

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

“Type A” 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.

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Jazz improv practice: A nice drill using “approach tones”

Good Day!

Here’s a nice jazz drill, to give you practice on:

(1) Adding interest to your melody lines,  by sometimes preceding the “target tone(s)” of a chord with “approach tones;” and,

(2) increased mastery of any given scale, especially as it relates to the underlying chords.

As a result, the repeated act of mindfully (and not mindlessly) practicing this drill can increase your general facility with approach tones, as well as give you (possibly new) theoretical insights regarding chord-scale relationships.


VIDEO

 

The 7#9 Chord: Possibly the Funkiest Chord Ever

To all you funked-up rocking hip-hopping bluesy jazzy people out there,

Today’s post features an outrageously funky, bluesy chord which is also used in rock, jazz, and many other places.

This blues-based powerhouse is often called the “Purple Haze” chord, made famous by a Jimi Hendrix song of the same name.  You may also hear it called, more generically, a “Hendrix chord.” (Hendrix did in fact use 7#9 chords in several of his major songs.)

First a SLIDE SHOW, then a VIDEO. Enjoy!

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Blues Lick #10: Learn to Play a Complete 12-Bar Introduction

Welcome back!

Today’s lesson is more than just a lick…

We have here a two-handed intro section, a great setup for getting any blues jam started. This opening groove covers a full 12-bar cycle, giving your listeners an exciting intro (a.k.a. “head”) which leads nicely into the next 12-bars, where you can begin your right-handed soloing.  Note, you can use the left-hand (bass line) of this groove throughout your entire jam. It’s a simple and powerful bass line that keeps the beat going strong.  But wait, there’s more! This lesson also includes a sample opening for your solo.

VIDEO LESSON Continue reading “Blues Lick #10: Learn to Play a Complete 12-Bar Introduction”

Blues Piano Crash Course #9: The Melody Machine

PREMIUM CONTENT (Lesson #3 is a free sample).

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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