From the category archives:

Jazz Piano

Jazz Is The Answer To Story-Telling Questions

Piano jazz lessons through studying notation and chords alone is not an easy feat because its very nature requires us establish how jazz is a reaction to meaningful explorations. This gives us sufficient reason to investigate its development from the late 18th and 19th centuries on through to today. For jazz pianocould be thought of as an interpretation of worldly events, and the desire to break free from them.

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It’s Different For Significant Reasons

Much of America’s history comes from the European perspective and it unfortunately neglects the perspective of non-European descendants. Learning more about the latter, we can begin to understand the migration towards jazz piano since prior to its invention, music bore strong classical themes and patriotic influences. Sorry Uncle Sam, but patriotic influences and classical themes weren’t as supported or heartfelt as your history books want us to believe. In some sectors of the country for example, reality paints a different picture in which jazz was (and still is, mind you) a voice for those who were compelled to say, “Hey there, we like to do things a little differently… and it works!”

Understanding Its Roots Opens Doors To New Opportunities

Appreciating this approach gives you the opportunity and the strength to not only build your own interpretations, but also to play your own interpretations as well. Piano jazz lessons with this appreciation gives the genre a whole new meaning. It suddenly moves from a style or type of music to a personal reason and motive for existing.

It’s About Profound Insight – Past And Present

The history of the music, largely built upon experimental efforts, continues to contribute its valuable lessons in more ways than one. Just look at the number of different styles we have. As with almost any other form of art, past demographics helped to vary the approaches in which we learn even the basics today. Consider for example the style of early St. Louis ragtime. Ragtime chords significantly differ from the blues-type chords that originated from the Deep South. By taking a simple trip through jazz’s past, we gain profound insight into the birth of piano jazz lessons, what’s available, where, and why. You may not always need to recall the facts of its development to appreciate piano jazz lessons, but you will always need to comprehend its ideas. The way that it’s played today is the direct result of a free and unrestricted attempt at rewriting history — giving us new truths to contemplate and new challenges to explore.

Where Does The Future Of Jazz Piano Lay?

The future of jazz piano is thus in your hands – especially since your piano jazz lessons are cross-referenced with historical causes. What will your perspective contribute? What experiences will shape the inventions and styles that you develop? Jazz piano is characterized in terms of the music that it makes, but the pianist is characterized in terms of the message that she conveys. This is after all, what truly what matters most about this genre.

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Learn Big, Rich Jazz Chords On Piano

by Erik Thiede on September 28, 2014

Jazz chords can sometimes be confusing at first glance. In this article, I am going to explain how jazz players usually interpret chords and pick tensions to create lush chords. Bear in mind, every musician has their own “tricks” that they use to form their jazz chords. However, there are some basic harmonic concepts that you need to understand and I’ll cover some of them in this article.

If you are looking for an instructional course on creating full jazz chords at the piano, I’d suggest the Jazz Piano Lessons membership.

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Let’s begin with a basic seventh chord for D-7. Example A is what a typical voicing of a D-7 chord might look like.

Example A

d 7 Learn Big, Rich Jazz Chords On Piano

O.K., that’s pretty simple, right? Now take a look at example B. Does this still look like a D-7 to you?

Example B

d 9 Learn Big, Rich Jazz Chords On Piano

Labeling Chords

You might look at this chord and think F Maj7 or D-9. We can rule out F Maj7 because the root is a D. However, why didn’t I label this chord D-9?

I did not label the chord as D-9 because it is common for jazz players to automatically add tensions to the chords that they are playing. Jazz players know which available tensions each of the jazz chords can utilize. Personally, I’d rather see jazz chords written as D-7 than D-9 or D-9 (add 11). I think that many (not all) pianists would agree with me because as jazz players, we are accustomed to working from a “shell”.

Basically, when I see D-7, I already know that the 9th and 11th are probably available to me. When looking at a lead sheet, especially in a low-light gig situation, I want the lead sheet to be as un-cluttered as possible.

The “Right” Tensions

You might be wondering, which tensions are the “right” tensions for a particular chord? Well, let’s go through the three basic jazz chords: Major, minor and Dominant 7th chords.

Major 7th available tensions are: 9, #11 or 6 (usually replaces the 7th)

Minor 7th available tensions: 9 and 11. 6 would replace the 7th.

Dominant 7th available tensions: b9, 9, #9, #11, b13 and 13.

Chord Type Available Tensions

Major: 9, # 11 or 6 (usually replaces the 7th)

Minor: 9 and 11. 6 would replace the 7th

Dominant: b9, 9, # 9, #11, b13 and 13

So, looking back at the D-7 chord in example B, you’ll notice that I am adding the 9th to the chord. This is just one of many different voicings that I cover in the Piano Chords bundle.

Dominant 7th Tensions

I want to draw your attention to the Dominant 7th available tensions. Once again, they are b9, 9, #9, #11, b13 and 13. Let’s go through the notes for a C7 chord.

C7 chord tones are: C-E-G-Bb

Available tensions are: Db-D-D#-F#-Ab-A

You’ll notice that the only two notes left that are not represented are F and B. F would be a sus4 and B would change the C7 to a C Maj7 chord.

I like to bring this up because remember, when you improvise, you can use any jazz chords tones or available tensions in your solo. So, on a Dominant 7th chord, there are really only two notes that you would try to avoid. This also means that when you play a Dominant 7th chord, you can add almost any note as a tension. Well, let me put it this way, you have a 10 out of 12 chance of hitting the “right” note!

The Million Dollar Question, “Why 13 and not 6?”

I have been asked this question for years! It is a difficult question to answer because it is like asking why does 2+2=4? However, I do have my explanation. Let’s take the C7 chord as an example again.

The chord tones (notes that are found in the chord and not tensions) are C-E-G-Bb for a C7 chord. The C is the root, E is the third, G is the fifth and Bb is the flatted 7th.

It is perfectly reasonable to think of D, F# and A as two, sharp four and six. However, we would call D the ninth, F# sharp eleven and A the thirteenth. You might be asking, “Why?”

Since jazz chords are predominantly formed by “stacking” thirds, we would consider the D-F# and A as being “upper structures” of the chord.

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Jazz Piano Chords

September 18, 2014

Believe it or not, jazz piano chords are easy to master and enhance your chord repertoire. Whether you want to become the next jazz legend or simply sit in on a jam, you can learn what you need to hold your own. Jazz owes its roots to the music of African American laborers in the […]

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Learn To Play Jazz Piano and Abandon Past Traditions

August 3, 2014

No Other Genre of Music Offers Better Opportunities For Expression If you want to learn to play jazz piano, you must first value its opportunities for self-expression that this style grants so unselfishly. In almost any way that you please, jazz music becomes the vehicle for uniquely improvised sounds and rhythms — all to the […]

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How to Play Jazz Piano

July 20, 2014

If you’ve always wanted to know how to play jazz piano, you’re about to get started. Jazz may be a complex musical genre, but you can play it if you master the basics first. Before you know it, you’ll have developed the skills you need to emulate jazz greats or compose your own music. Jazz’s […]

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Learning To Play Jazz Piano From Traditional Training to Improvisation

June 4, 2014

Opportunities To Extend Your Expressions Exist In Jazz Piano In learning to play jazz piano and other known styles, you’ll not only find opportunities to express yourself, you’ll also find opportunities to improvise. The same opportunities follow jazz music and although they provide for great fun, we want to warn you that learning to play […]

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A Jazz Piano Book – Is It Possible to Learn Jazz From a Book?

May 2, 2014

Supplement ‘Play Time’ With ‘Book Time’ Learning from a jazz piano book requires a serious approach — even when studying the basics. And part of achieving this success is arming yourself with a high quality jazz piano book. One of your most important goals in becoming a jazz pianist therefore is to surround your musical […]

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In Introduction To the Jazz Piano Chord

March 31, 2014

The Distinguished Sounds Of Jazz One of the things that distinguishes jazz piano from classical piano, blues piano, or any other style is its chords. The Jazz piano chord move beyond the typical 3-note triad to a four-note combination (as well as extended chords) — making them an interesting “filler” of sorts. And since they’re […]

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Preserving Your ‘Style’ In Jazz Piano Instruction

February 10, 2014

Wisdom And The Chance To Demonstrate It Hardly anyone believes that learning jazz piano instruction is a simple matter of sitting at the instrument and randomly pounding on keys. The context of this music is just too complex to be disregarded as a mishmash of unrelated notes and beats. The secret to learning its genius […]

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Playing Jazz Piano Sheet Music

February 2, 2014

Traditional Piano Is Beneficial Although it isn’t a strict requirement, learning traditional piano is beneficial for learning how to play jazz piano sheet music. This is largely due to the fact that jazz is “classical deviation.” The problem with learning jazz before learning traditional methods is that the beginner may learn to deviate, but might […]

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