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#2123304 - 07/26/13 12:21 PM Beginner's comping question
KurtZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 903
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
I've been doing some "comping" exercises as an augment to my scale/arrpegio work. It's satisfying and fun. I play a I, vi, IV, V progression. One chord to a measure. The first time through I play block chords, 2nd time a simple arpeggio pattern and then two more times with slightly busier arp. patterns. I take these through all inversions. On the left hand till now, I have only been doing a single root in the bass with the left hand. I'd like to start switch to block chords in the right and work on patterned left hand parts. My real question is normally, and given my inept beginner status, when doing left hand parts do I use a root motion for each chord or use voice leading inversions?

Any suggestions for patterns to start with?

thanks,

Kurt
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#2123336 - 07/26/13 01:35 PM Re: Beginner's comping question [Re: KurtZ]
jjo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 636
Loc: Chicago
Not sure what kind of music you're playing, but for jazz, when you comp,you generally don't play the root. Or, if you play the root, it should be high up in voicing so as not to interfere with the bass player. For jazz, you also wouldn't use block chords in the left hand. Way too dense in the lower register. It could be different for other kinds of music, however.

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#2123338 - 07/26/13 01:41 PM Re: Beginner's comping question [Re: jjo]
Michael Martinez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/22/12
Posts: 415
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: jjo
Not sure what kind of music you're playing, but for jazz, when you comp,you generally don't play the root. Or, if you play the root, it should be high up in voicing so as not to interfere with the bass player.


Or more precisely you don't play it as the bottom note, sandwich it between other tones

Quote:

For jazz, you also wouldn't use block chords in the left hand. Way too dense in the lower register.


Yeah, you wanna stay away from "dense" when comping. play two tones in the LH and two or three in the RH, spread them out

To answer your question, use inversions - your rootless AB forms that they teach you.

You might want to get Hal Crook's book "How to Comp". I have never read it, but seems like you ought to be able to learn a thing or two from it smile By the way, if you've never heard Hal Crook check him out. Not everyone's cup of tea, but interesting.


Edited by Michael Martinez (07/26/13 01:45 PM)
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#2123517 - 07/26/13 08:10 PM Re: Beginner's comping question [Re: KurtZ]
Ken. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/08
Posts: 286
For bass lines, for starters you can try playing a combination of chord tones, the underlying scale, and approach notes (notes a semi-tone above or below a chord tone), at least that is what I try to do. You can listen to a bass player playing over a blues to get an idea.
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#2123818 - 07/27/13 02:03 PM Re: Beginner's comping question [Re: KurtZ]
KurtZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 903
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
I was afraid that using the word "comp" would get us down the wrong track. Jazz is way in the future and will be after rock and blues where at least on bass guitar, roots are almost always okay. I'm a beginner and am just dabbling my little toe into trying to "play from my mind" instead of from the page. So these "exercises" are just a form of trying to develop some independence and muscle memory for the primary chord inversion in a given key signature. I feel like these exercise are more effective than simply walking inversions up and down the keys or doing cross hand arps up and down.

I like the idea of trying some approach tones. I'll also try some rhythms using one-five patterns and 1/4 note arpeggiation. Now we're back to the original question, root motion or inversions in the left hand as it applies to the above scenario?

Don't get me wrong I love the input and want more.

thanks

Kurt
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I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#2123843 - 07/27/13 03:17 PM Re: Beginner's comping question [Re: KurtZ]
jjo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 636
Loc: Chicago
If I understand your question, one example would be, when moving from Cmaj (I) to A (VI), should you play both chords in root position, or should you use, for the VI chord, an inversion that flows better from the root position I (good voice leading). I'm no teacher, but I think you should use inversions that make for good voice leading right away. There are some chords where I hardly know certain inversions because, where they fall on the piano, they aren't much use. Learn chord sequences that work right away.

The first exercise my jazz teacher had me do was a II-V-I in every key. She showed me a voicing where you only changed one or two notes, and your hands hardly move, as you moved from chord to chord. So I learned not only how II-V-I's worked and sounded, but I learned by through a voicing that I could use when actually playing. Indeed, learning a chord progression by playing all chords in the root position might be a bad habit that will be hard to get rid of.

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#2123974 - 07/27/13 09:40 PM Re: Beginner's comping question [Re: KurtZ]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2993
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
To add to the great advice already received.

Think of your LH thumb as providing a counter melody to your RH.
Try to keep that line moving very little. Any time it moves more than a step, it will have a particular kind of effect that you want to not overuse.

I think playing roots is mostly fine. Even with a bass player, you can get deep and low on the keyboard. Its a matter of taste. Listen to tommy flanagan, jimmy rowles or bill evans or chock corea.
These are a few of the best accompanist. But their styles are all very different.

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#2124745 - 07/29/13 11:21 AM Re: Beginner's comping question [Re: KurtZ]
KurtZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 903
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
Thanks for the replies everyone.

Kurt
_________________________
I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#2124862 - 07/29/13 02:32 PM Re: Beginner's comping question [Re: KurtZ]
Michael Martinez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/22/12
Posts: 415
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: KurtZ
I'm a beginner and am just dabbling my little toe into trying to "play from my mind" instead of from the page.


Good. Continue developing that skill. Try to get away from written music as much as possible.
Quote:

Now we're back to the original question, root motion or inversions in the left hand as it applies to the above scenario?



As your familiarity with chords goes, you'll find yourself doing both. When I comp, I use different parts of the keyboard in both hands, and sometimes I use a part of a bass line while other times I use straight rootless chords. Sometimes I play a five-or-six tone voicing in both hands; other times I play no more than two tones. It just depends on the mood, the rhythm, other things that you'll become familiar with as you practice.

The main thing here is familiarity with the keyboard and all the permutations of the different chords up and down. You need to be able to jump
across the keyboard and land on the right chord. As someone else said, you definitely want to learn good voice leading because this holds you in good stead
in jazz because proper voice-leading emphasizes the chromatic progression of the chords.
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http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/

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#2124880 - 07/29/13 03:22 PM Re: Beginner's comping question [Re: Michael Martinez]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 197
Loc: USA
This has helped me look at things in a different way too. Depending on the song/tune, something like a ballad sounds better (to me)with a two handed mega chord, seething and rolling. While another tune like a Blues, sounds better if a left hand bass line is played. One thing; if what I want for a sound requires big hand jumps, so be it. I figure practice the hard stuff with the easy stuff, until it all seems easy.

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#2124976 - 07/29/13 07:19 PM Re: Beginner's comping question [Re: KurtZ]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
As you get comfortable with comping, try to remember to stay out of the register of a soloist or singer, not to imitate other accompanists, especially rhythmically; let the tune breathe - don't play too much; send a vocalist little tips/clues if the vocalist needs them. Stay in the background and help sell the song. Try to make your part of the piece complete, interesting and most of all promote the groove.
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David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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