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Topic Options
#1140931 - 12/26/05 09:03 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
pro_keyboardconsultant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/14/05
Posts: 29
Loc: St. Louis, MO
yeah David cohens' dvds and book/cd combos are pretty useful.
_________________________
Representing Shigeru Kawai, Kawai, Petrof, Story & Clark, Pramberger, Remington, Roland & Kawai Digital Pianos, Lowrey Organs, Pianodisc & QRS player systems.

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Piano & Music Accessories
#1140932 - 12/26/05 10:54 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I just started to read some about the blues,
and it said that one way for a complete beginner
to get started playing the blues right off is
to use the 5-note pentonic blues scale:
Eb, F, G, Bb, C, and use it to improvise
over any chord progression. There are
traditional blues chord progressions, but
it said that actually any chord progession
can be used for the blues if you use
the pentonic scale in the rt. hand to
improvise. So, for example, you could play
the chords in a Chopin waltz and improvise
with the pentonic scale above it--any
combination of the five notes--and it will
sound like blues.

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#1140933 - 12/27/05 03:20 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
gregjazz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/05
Posts: 316
Loc: CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
I just started to read some about the blues,
and it said that one way for a complete beginner
to get started playing the blues right off is
to use the 5-note pentonic blues scale:
Eb, F, G, Bb, C, and use it to improvise
over any chord progression. There are
traditional blues chord progressions, but
it said that actually any chord progession
can be used for the blues if you use
the pentonic scale in the rt. hand to
improvise. So, for example, you could play
the chords in a Chopin waltz and improvise
with the pentonic scale above it--any
combination of the five notes--and it will
sound like blues. [/b]
That's a start. Actually the very first blues scale I learned was THE blues scale which in C would be: C, Eb, F, F#, G, Bb, C.

However, I didn't REALLY start playing blues until I watched some instructional videos by Dr. John (which were more like a performance that comes with transcriptions) and begun learning "licks." I started using mixolydian rather than the blues scale, but used the flat 3rd as a grace note to slide up to the natural 3rd or to slide down to the 2nd (I would occasionally use some other grace notes, but mainly the flat third).
_________________________
Greg Schlaepfer
Orange Tree Samples
http://www.orangetreesamples.com

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#1140934 - 12/28/05 10:37 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
Greg I agree with you on the Dr.John DVD.

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#1140935 - 12/30/05 03:18 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
As there is such a varied scope for blues I take the view that it's best to listen or watch plenty of recorded blues to get a feel for what you want to play.

As with jazz, it seems rather a contradiction to ask how to do something which is requiring more of a natural inspiration than a teacher. I realize that unless one can play by ear then some teaching is necessary. But as a final resort it must be a natural feeling that makes the ulitimate pleasure from this musical art form.

Alan

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#1140936 - 01/11/06 04:22 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Donovan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/12/04
Posts: 37
Loc: Louisiana
Which Dr. John DVD would you guys reccomend?

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#1140937 - 01/11/06 08:30 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
I have the dr. john teaches new orleans style piano and i found it to be an advanced DVD for me.some of the time the camera isnt on his hands so you have to have a good ear with these DVD's. just my opinion,oh so humble.

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#1140938 - 01/11/06 08:43 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
I have the dr. john teaches new orleans style piano and i found it to be an advanced DVD for me.some of the time the camera isnt on his hands so you have to have a good ear with these DVD's. just my opinion,oh so humble.

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#1140939 - 02/01/06 12:08 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
PianoMentor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/23/06
Posts: 28
Loc: RI
Keytops,

What presents you with the biggest challenge regarding the blues at this point? Improvising over the progression, executing voicings, or other. I have done a lot of coaching when it comes to getting people started with the blues and have found that various approaches will work, depending on the level of familiarity in different areas. If walking a bass while playing blues in a solo context, for example, presents a challenge, then less focus should perhaps be placed on melody/improvisational complexities (and vice versa). It's a "give and take" relationship as one progresses. Hope you are having fun with it all!
_________________________
http://www.DaveOnPiano.com
Online Piano Coach, Performer
~ "Chord Butler" ~

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#1140940 - 02/01/06 07:00 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
I can do the I IV V with my left hand, but what gives me the problem is improvising with the right hand and also keeping my left hand from speeding up or slowing down. When I improvise with my right hand I dont know what to do or what notes work for the I IV V. I listen to the blues all the time but its hard coming up with my own thing.executing voicings is something I havent even tried. Ive been playing Peggy Lee's Fever for 4 months now and Ive just started trying to voice it. Im not sure if im doing it right I play it the way I would sing it.Thanks for your help.

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#1140941 - 02/01/06 10:40 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
PianoMentor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/23/06
Posts: 28
Loc: RI
I see. It will help to not have to "split" your attention so much between the two hands. Allow you left hand to sustain whole notes for a time, while your right experiments with blues scale improvisation, etc. Let the improvisation develop more without allowing the demands of the left hand to be too much.
_________________________
http://www.DaveOnPiano.com
Online Piano Coach, Performer
~ "Chord Butler" ~

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#1140942 - 02/02/06 12:33 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
 Quote:
Originally posted by PianoMentor:
I see. It will help to not have to "split" your attention so much between the two hands. Allow you left hand to sustain whole notes for a time, while your right experiments with blues scale improvisation, etc. Let the improvisation develop more without allowing the demands of the left hand to be too much. [/b]
Good advice! The sustained left hand can help you develop the right hand.

Eventually you shouldn't even have to think about the left hand much. It goes on auto-pilot.

Practice the left hand rhythm separate over and over again. It may take months until it's on auto-pilot.

And finally, here's a blues tune lyricist Cal Francis DiFalco and I wrote. I'm not a singer, but I enjoy singing the blues.

And most important - always wear your shades when playing the Blues!

"The Big Shot"
http://www.artistcollaboration.com/~johnny-boy/BIG%20SHOT-VOX.wma

Best, John
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1140943 - 02/02/06 07:53 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
PianoMentor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/23/06
Posts: 28
Loc: RI
Yes, wearing shades* while playing the Blues (or any other idiom) will help to minimize the extent that your eyes, brain and "intellect" can view (and become convinced by) your fingers' anxieties, reservations, doubts, and indecisions. The result: less inhibition and more creative freedom.


*The darker the shades, the better.
_________________________
http://www.DaveOnPiano.com
Online Piano Coach, Performer
~ "Chord Butler" ~

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#1140944 - 02/02/06 10:15 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
I basically wear shades just to look cool while I'm playing piano.

John
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1140945 - 02/03/06 05:12 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Keytops and others. I agree with what you say about the camera angles. I have not seen these DVD's but as a complete generalisation the camera work on showing pianists hands is the most frustrating thing about any film recordings of pianists. From my angle as a pianist of course.

These wretched cameramen are not music lovers nor even understand the subject.

They are supposed to show the performer in action just as we in the theatre would see, or better, correct? But no, they seem to think they are are part of the atmosphere and should portray any abstract feature that takes their fancy.

I think they do it for 'self satisfaction' of a cynical nobody with a huge psychological problem.

Sorry about the diversion.

Alan

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#1140946 - 02/06/06 11:27 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
pastafarian Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 379
Loc: Canada
I'm just starting to learn blues as part of a larger "Teach yourself piano" drive. I'm using two main sources: Improvising Blues Piano by Tim Tichards, which I got through amazon.com and Hal Leonard's Blues Piano by Mark Harrison. The approahces are quite different. Richards' book is methodical and very much geared towards improvisiation. The early pieces are quite simple, but from page one, he asks for improvisation, which is why I feel as though I'm progressing fairly slowly.

I'm, working on three pieces at the moment, trying to play them without hesitations, at tempo, and with a chorus of improvised RH --nothing fancy-- tacked on at the end, as per Richards' requirements for completing an exercise. I'm trying to be a little more ambitious than only whole notes or phrases that mimic the LH timing before moving on and it's slow going. I had imagined things would come a little faster, but the fingers are tempermental and the hands don't like their independence so much.

Harrison's book starts off with more theory --Richards seems more thorough, but introduces it a very little at a time-- and then just LH parts for a couple of chapters. his approach seems to be "Wait until the LH can work on auto-pilot and then start adding the RH." I'm playing his thirty or so LH parts as a break from the same three Richards pieces over and over, as well as because I think there's wisdom in Harrison's approach.

I've been tempted to jump ahead, but I keep feeling, that there's no point in learning funkier licks or LH parts when I still can't get through a simpler (but less musically interesting) chorus a few times HT without hiccoughs.

I'm hoping if I just focus on the trees in front of me now, in a year or so, the forest will come into focus. \:\)
_________________________
Without music life would be a mistake
-- Friedrich Nietzsche

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#1140947 - 02/08/06 09:06 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
amen alan

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#1140948 - 02/13/06 10:18 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Les Koltvedt Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/05
Posts: 3195
Loc: Canton, MI
I also have the Hal Leonard book and am working with a teacher. He's got me walking the bass in all scales. Also working on pedal tones with the LH and chords with the RH, 1st inversion root, 1st inv IV, then stepping down from 3 in half steps...eg, LH C octaves, RH GCE, ACF (work it a little) then EbGBb,DGbA,DbFAb,CEG. For ALL major scales.
_________________________
Les Koltvedt
LK Piano
Servicing the S. Eastern Michigan Area
PTG Associate

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#1140949 - 02/14/06 07:44 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Father Bob Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/05
Posts: 66
Loc: Mississippi
I'm also working through Harrison's book, albeit solo while taking lessons in what my boss calls "earprov" (mostly gospel).

After about 3 months of earprov lessons sprinkled with a healthy dose of the blues book, I'm starting to hear "Amazing Grace" with a little Fats Domino left hand thing going on in my head, and I'm working on being able to get that sort of thing coming out through to the keyboard.
_________________________
"Tickling" the ivories since 11/18/2005.

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#1140950 - 02/14/06 01:19 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
pastafarian Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 379
Loc: Canada
Father Bob, that's a great idea (I hear it, too)! Two of the "pieces" I'm working on in IBP use a Fats Domino LH. I'll give that a try in the "Blueberry Hill" section for the mandatory "Improvise a RH part over the LH" that Richards puts in his lessons.
_________________________
Without music life would be a mistake
-- Friedrich Nietzsche

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