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#1140514 - 06/30/07 12:04 AM Old West Piano Style
jdm242 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4
Loc: AZ
I'm hoping to write a pretty simple arrangement for a song with an "old west/saloon" type piano in the backing track. Does anybody have any information on the prevalent techniques or styles used to compose and perform songs during that time?

Sorry for my vague descriptions, it's hard to explain what I know almost nothing about. I'm still a beginner and not familiar with very many styles. Any information would be helpful and appreciated. Thanks!

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#1140515 - 06/30/07 01:05 AM Re: Old West Piano Style
ipgrunt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 419
Loc: Western US
Are you after the style that is called "honky-tonk" piano?
-- ipgrunt
Amateur pianist, Son of a Pro

#1140516 - 06/30/07 02:08 AM Re: Old West Piano Style
Kreisler Offline

Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13837
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I'd find information on stride or ragtime styles. The new Steinway series has a book called "Jazz Piano: The Left Hand" that might be of use.
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


#1140517 - 06/30/07 03:06 AM Re: Old West Piano Style
ktom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/07/07
Posts: 212
Loc: Somerset UK
The music played in western movies is generally the "honky tonk" sounding ragtime that is referred to above - so the advice is sound.
Interestingly, ragtime didnt move mainstream from its african american origins until years after the "Wild West" period when songs like "Clementine" were written. Maybe the movies had it wrong?... surely not!!
However, I see what you want is the honky tonk sound so... yes stride left hand, busy right hand, bit of a 2/4 feel, keep the chords simple, should work..
Steinway K - Kurzweil PC 88(wrecked and sold for spares) - Yamaha S90 - rhodes 760 - korg wavestation- Hammond XK1 etc..

#1140518 - 10/01/08 10:22 AM Re: Old West Piano Style
tony4704 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/01/08
Posts: 5
Monica K.
Any chance your still on here and could send me those two sheets of music? \:\)

#1140519 - 10/01/08 12:08 PM Re: Old West Piano Style
jotur Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 6331
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I've made up some "honky tonk" versions of some old-time tunes. Yes, I use a stride left hand, or a fake version of it if I need to because the tempo is really fast. And for the right hand I imitate the banjo player \:\)

So the left hand plays the tonic of the chord somewhere an octave below middle C on the first beat, and then plays the chord up around middle C on the off-beat (the back beat, the *and* of the beat, as in "one-and two-and"). Then on beat 2 play the 5th note of the scale somewhere below where you played the tonic, and the chord again on 2-and. That's hard at speed. To "fake" it (which on 90% of stuff is the best I can do) just spread your hand over an octave, either on the tonic or the fifth, and play the tonic on the beat, the fifth on the second beat, and whatever you can reach that's in your span on the off-beat. Works for me.

In the right hand I play the melody usually with the pinky, and it's usually on the beat, and fill in the off beat with a note from the chord. Sometimes I will syncopate with both notes together at the end of a phrase.

So the left hand goes "oom-pah" on the beat, and the right hand is sort of "finger picking" the melody and the fills.

That may be more than any one wanted to know, and may be what most folks knew to start with, but it's the way I first approached it conceptually :p


Practice like you are the worst; play like you are the best - anonymous

#1140520 - 10/01/08 12:11 PM Re: Old West Piano Style
jotur Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 6331
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
dbl post

Practice like you are the worst; play like you are the best - anonymous

#1140521 - 10/01/08 12:18 PM Re: Old West Piano Style
jotur Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 6331
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
tony - you can pm Monica K by clicking on her name next to one of her posts and then finding the "new private message" words in orange. Or you can use the "community directory" search at the top of the page. She reads a lot of posts, but maybe not Old West Piano Style -


Practice like you are the worst; play like you are the best - anonymous


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