Jazz Piano Basics Handout UPDATED - Dan Davey

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JAZZ PIANO BASICS - DAN DAVEYLEAD YOUR PIANIST ACROSS THE THRESHOLDYour pianists need YOUR help in rehearsal! Don’t expect private teachers to give themeverything they need to be successful in YOUR ensemble on YOUR timeline. You needto have an understanding of the role of the piano and how to communicate voicings,comping, style, and more!Joining the jazz band as a pianist (or any other rhythm section instrument) is muchdifferent than joining as a horn player. The “concert band notes” look shockingly similarto the “jazz band notes” on the page. The horn player has to learn style and listeningresponsibilities. The music you hand your pianist looks entirely different and can bevery overwhelming unless you know how to help them.BASIC FOUR-NOTE CHORD SYMBOLSChord tones are numbered based on an 8-note scale using scale degrees 1 (Root), 3,5, & 7. The following formulas are used to modify a major scale/arpeggio.Basic Symbols: Major 7th: 1 3 5 7 Dominant 7th: 1 3 5 b7 Minor 7th: 1 b3 5 b7 Half-Diminished: 1 b3 b5 b7C-7(b5), C-7(-5) Diminished 7th: 1 b3 b5 bb7 Minor-major 7th: 1 b3 5 7Cmaj7, Cma7, CM7, C 7C7Cmin7, Cmi7, Cm7, C-7C 7, C , Cmin7(b5), Cmi7(b5), Cm7(b5),Co7Cmin(maj7), C-( 7)See the pattern of how each chord adds one flat to create the next.CŒ„Š74&4 wwwwŒ„Š7wwwwC7bwwwwC7753RootC‹7wbb wwwbwwwwC‹7b753Rootwbb wwwC‹7(b5)b75b3Rootbbb wwwwb7b5b3Root(Same as half-diminished chord)Note: All of this may be applied to your guitarist as well!C‹7(b5)bbb wwww

JAZZ PIANO BASICS - DAN DAVEYWHAT ARE TENSIONS/EXTENSIONS?Tensions are non chord tones that are added to a chord to change the color/texture ofthe chord.4&4CTCTCT23CT78œ œ œ œœ œ œ œ1CT456œ œ œ œCT910CT1112œ œ 13CTCT1415Tensions are numbered outside of the scaleeven though they may be played/writtenin any octave.Ex: 9, 11, 13Chord tones are numbered within the scaleEx: 1, 3, 5, 7NUMBERING CHORD TONE EXTENSIONSNote that scale degrees 10 is the same as 3, 12 the same as 5, 14 the same as 7, and15 the same as and Root. All of these are Chord Tones (CT), and therefore, these arenot tensions.NUMBERING COMMON TENSIONS/EXTENSIONSThe most common tensions are 9, 11, and 13, or some form of these. Rule of Thumb:There must be a whole step above the 3rd of a chord, so an 11 may become a #11 onmajor and dominant chords.4&4œ œ œ œœ œ œ œœ œ œ œœ œ THE 11 VS. #11œA half step above the 3rd of the chord confuses the sound of the chord.On a major or dominant chord, raise the 11 so there is a whole step above the 3rd.On a minor chord, the 11 is a whole step above the 3rdœ œ #œ œœ 2 œbœ &4œÓ

JAZZ PIANO BASICS - DAN DAVEYCHORD SYMBOLS WITH TENSIONSChords with tensions use the basic four-note chord as the foundation. Young playersmay simply play the basic four-note chords until tensions are introduced to them. Ex: C9 is really a C7 with an added 9. Young musicians can simply play a C7until tensions are introduced.C7(„ˆˆ9)4 w& 4 bwwwwGUIDE TONES: THE FOUNDATION OF EVERY CHORD Guide Tones are the 3rd and the 7th of any chord.These two notes give us information on the quality of the chordThe 3rd tells us if it is a major or minor chordThe 7th tells us if it’s a major seventh or a dominant seventhCmaj7 vs. C7 - difference is the 7thCŒ„Š74&4 wwwwC773 C7 vs. Cm7 - difference is the 3rdCŒ„Š7C74 ww&4ww bwwwwbwwwwC‹773wbb wwwC‹773wbb wwwC‹7(b5)73bbb wwwwAs a pianist (or guitarist), playing the guide tones gives all of the harmonicinformation needed to Play in a big band rhythm section; Begin reading chord changes; Play fast-moving changesC‹7(b5)bbb wwww

JAZZ PIANO BASICS - DAN DAVEY Usually, the guide tones resolve within a step to the next chord. The 3rd of onechord becomes the 7th of the next, etc.Range of Voicing: D below middle C up to A above middle CWhen these voicings are performed, it’s important that the pianist learn them inboth hands so they can be used for comping behind another soloist, compingbehind their own solo, or playing a melody in the right hand.Omit the root of the chord and have students double the voicings in both hands.GUIDE TONE VOICINGS PLUS ONE Adding one note to our guide tone voicings creates a more rich and colorful sound.We add the 9 (or any alterations: b9, #9, etc.) and the 5th (or a substitute of 13, b13,b5, etc.)The pianist learn these voicings in both hands as well so they can be used forcomping behind another soloist, comping behind their own solo, or playing amelody in the right hand.Range of Voicing: D below middle C up to C# one octave above middle CMark Davis’ Guideline: For voicings with the 3rd on the bottom followed by the 7th, add the 9th ontop (options of #9 and b9 for dominant chords). For a 4th note, add the 5thabove.CŒ„Š74 &4{w? 44 ww 4&4 ww 59? 44 ww 73{For voicings with the 7th on the bottom followed by the 3rd, add the 5th ontop (options of 13 or b13 on dominant chords). For a 4th note, add the 9th(options of b9 and #9 on dominant chords).CŒ„Š7Piano 973CŒ„Š74&4 {ww? 44 wCŒ„Š7537wwww9537To add another dimension to these voicings, the pianist may play one chord tone ortension in octaves in the right hand. This technique is helpful in cutting through abig band!

JAZZ PIANO BASICS - DAN DAVEYCOMPING 101 Compliment or AccompanyThe goal is to provide a harmonic and rhythmic counterpart that creatively supportsthe other instrumentalists.The pianist helps to create the foundational groove for the band.Comping patterns should represent the subdivision of the groove (triplets, swung/straight 8th notes, etc.) like a drum fillGenerally, all notes of the chord should sound together unless rolling/arpeggiating achord in a ballad, etc.STYLISTIC CONSIDERATIONS: SWING The swing groove is established by a triplet subdivision.“LA” is the lift where the syncopation occurs. The bass player and compinginstruments thrive on the lift!33334&4 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ3Do - n - LA Do - n - LA Do - n - LA Do - n - LA& œ3jœ œ3jœ œ3jœ œ3333œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œDo - (n) -LA Do - (n) -LA Do - (n) -LA Do - (n) -LAjœ œDo (n) LA Do (n) LA Do (n) LA Do (n) LA3œDo(n) LAœœDo(n) LAœœDo(n) LAœœDo(n) LASTYLISTIC CONSIDERATIONS: LATIN Straight/Even 8th note subdivisionComping patterns should be short and percussiveAfro-Cuban grooves should revolve around the 2-3 or 3-2 Son Clave2-3 Clave4&4 Œœ œ Œœ jœ œ œ3-2 Claveœ jœ œ œŒ œ œ Œ

JAZZ PIANO BASICS - DAN DAVEY4 STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL COMPING1.2.3.4.Play long, sustained chordsPlay same/similar rhythms to another section/instrumentPlay in the holes/spacesPlay a combination of 1-3 (*this is comping!)KNOWING THE PIANIST’S ROLE Listen and groove with the bass and ride/hi-hatCommunicate with soloists (requires listening!)Support the band and fill holes where appropriateNot letting the harmonic accompaniment become muddy or heavy! especiallywhen other comping instruments are concernedNot all comping instruments can “talk” at the same time without yielding to eachother - jazz is a conversation!Piano/Guitar relationships - coordinate comping for each section of the chart. Oneinstrument can be more rhythmic while the other is more sustained. One can layout while the other plays. Director can coordinate or empower the students to makethese artistic decisions.UPPER STRUCTURES Playing a triad over your foundational chord can supply tensions and alterations tochords.Left hand can play the 2 or 3-note voicings from aboveRight hand plays an available triad in any inversion.Different triads give different colors and moods.VOICINGS IN 4THS More modern, open sound from players like McCoy Tyner and Chick ChoreaMinor Chords: build up from the Root in 4th with a 3rd on topMajor/Dominant Chords: build up from the 3rd in 4thsPiano4C‹7CŒ„Š75& 4 bwbww 37? 44 ww 11{RwRww 59ww 133orC7

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JAZZ PIANO BASICS - DAN DAVEYQUICK WAY TO SOUND MORE ADVANCED Any voicing can be moved up or down chromatically or diatonically to make astagnant chord progression more interesting.JAZZ PIANO RESOURCES Jazz Piano Online: http://www.jazzpianoonline.com“Jazz Keyboard Harmony” A Practical Voicing Method for all Musicians by PhilDeGreg“Jazz Piano Voicing Skills” A Method for Individual or Class Study by Dan Haerle“101 Montunos” by Rebeca Mauleon-SantanaPLEASE CONTACT ME!Dan DaveyDirector of Jazz StudiesMt. Hood Community davey.net

“Jazz Keyboard Harmony” A Practical Voicing Method for all Musicians by Phil DeGreg “Jazz Piano Voicing Skills” A Method for Individual or Class Study by Dan Haerle “101 Montunos” by Rebeca Mauleon-Santana Dan Davey Director of Jazz Studies Mt. Hood Community College d