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Discussion Starter #1
I think we've all headed to the keyboard at one time or other for a little bit of help, so you might like this. The thing that always bothered me about hacking out a harmony on the piano is I don't know what voicing to use. You got at least 100 extended chords with the possibility of 8 or ten (probably more) voicings so how do you approach this. This guy nailed it with stock piano method. I don't know why I didn't think of this, it's really just a way to use shell chords. It seems that this would help your soloing as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhJshy1Nfyg
 

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Thanks for that clip, lutemann. Very cool. I'm not a piano player, but I do like to work some things out on the keyboard with chords and melody lines; so this is really helpful with the chord voicing and guide tones.
 

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This looked very good to me. The chord sequences covered are common in lots of standards, so its immediately applicable. The shell voicings are limited to 3rds and 7ths while these voicings work with the extensions also.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1ORkYrHLNc
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Jazzman1945, there is nothing new there, but in one sentence the guy shows you how to comp to any standard and sound good. It almost made me want to go back an learn piano. This is either an "ah ha" moment for you or it isn't. When I played guitar in a big band and learned all the standard four note fingerings, I one day noticed that if I dropped the 2nd string note, I was left shell chords that not only sounded great but, reduced the number of fingerings from about 20 or 30 to about 6 or 7. What a revelation!!
 

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Jazzman1945, there is nothing new there, but in one sentence the guy shows you how to comp to any standard and sound good. It almost made me want to go back an learn piano. This is either an "ah ha" moment for you or it isn't. When I played guitar in a big band and learned all the standard four note fingerings,
I suspect that non-pianist musicians mostly prefer to learn from books; which provide the necessary material, but cannot demonstrate rational and intelligible forms of self-study. BTW , the pianist on video forgot to mention the initial form of chords in left hand: a closed position seventh chord without a natural fifth; after that the root note goes an octave lower and the order of other two pitches varies in accordance with the comfortable voice leading.

I one day noticed that if I dropped the 2nd string note, I was left shell chords that not only sounded great but, reduced the number of fingerings from about 20 or 30 to about 6 or 7. What a revelation!
Drop 2 position? This is after all initial tuning of every 4 neighboring strings on guitar.
 

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A good start, now add one more note to the shell (6th, 9th, 11th, 13th etc...)
+1. I thought of this also and it works very well with this approach.

And jazzman, well it was new to me (not being a piano player). I guess you could say there's 'nothing new under the sun', but there are many different ways to approach the same thing, so this is a really nice approach for those of us who aren't pianists (but play the sax) and use the keyboard as a tool to explore chords, voice leading, ear training, etc as an aid to our sax playing & improvising. Beyond that, why does it have to be something 'new' in order to post some useful information on here?
 

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And jazzman, well it was new to me (not being a piano player). I guess you could say there's 'nothing new under the sun', but there are many different ways to approach the same thing, so this is a really nice approach for those of us who aren't pianists (but play the sax) and use the keyboard as a tool to explore chords, voice leading, ear training, etc as an aid to our sax playing & improvising.
I am just an example of a pianist who played the saxophone. I meant exactly what I said; only you haven't met me yet .

Beyond that, why does it have to be something 'new' in order to post some useful information on here?
Quite the contrary: I got acquainted with an unfamiliar situation, when, despite the abundance of textbooks and instructional videos, there are non-pianists who find it difficult to master relatively simple key playing techniques that sound good , because the teacher does not help to find the shortest path.
 

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Thanks for the tip.

We had quite a useful chat about self-teaching piano on https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?323809-Finally-learning-piano-at-47&p=3520329
The tip from MrBlueNote had a similar technique and some other interesting stuff http://www.earlmacdonald.com/jazz-piano-lessons/left-hand-shells/

Personally I find watching the occasional talking-hands video useful as there's always the possibility of a "***" moment turning into an "ah ha!" moment, as one advances.
Same with wiggling fingers videos for sax, same with watching great players or reading posts on SOTW!
 

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I don't wish to knock it as it's a very nicely put together video, but I wonder about a couple of things.

How can a Bm7 b5 not have a b5 in it?
How can an E7 have an Ab in it? (classic enharmonic fail)

I get the point of what he's saying, but starts out talking about chord in left hand accompanying melody in right. But then once you replace the close position voicing with open, well you can't play the melody.

While I agree those open voicing can sound great, when you learn about chords I think it's good to start out knowing all the notes, so dropping the 5th seems a bit odd.

I was taught a great system, which is to play root and 7 (or 6) in left hand, 3rd and melody in right hand (Bill Evans style?). It still has no 5, but it allis this nice type of open voicing to be used along with a melody.

It is also (obviously) good to learn the voice leading 3rds and 7ths on a cycle, but there are very few tunes that are made up solely of a cycle of 5ths.
 

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To your very last point above you made Pete, I thought this video presented the best reason for the beginner to understand that omitted root notes leave enough of the guts of major 7 to still be heard starting from the 3rd. Excellent presentation I think and his demeanor and well demonstrated playing was definitely interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Pete, why would you absolutely need a b5 in a bm7b5. At least it wouldn't clash with whatever is in the melody and there is probably enough b5 in the melody to make it sound just right. If not, nobody is going to die. It sounds fine in Fly Me To The Moon. I think this style requires a certain swing style and and harmonic rhythm.
 

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Jazzman says: "Drop 2 position? This is after all initial tuning of every 4 neighboring strings on guitar."

What I mean is not playing the 2nd string. For example in big band rhythm playing an Am7 chord in root position would be played AGCE. If you don't play the 2nd string you get AGC. These chords are not too useful except in big band playing, but they provide a very powerful and driving pulse that blends in well with the bass player. That 2nd string can sometimes stick out to much and might sound slightly out of tune.
 

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Pete, why would you absolutely need a b5 in a Bm7b5.
Well, the f is the b5 and that's what defines it as a Bm7b5.

Of course the sky doesn't fall in when you don't have it. Like wise you could have a C7#9 with no D# of course.
 

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Well, the f is the b5 and that's what defines it as a Bm7b5.

Of course the sky doesn't fall in when you don't have it. Like wise you could have a C7#9 with no D# of course.
Also, I don't think there is any rule on what a guide tone actually is. Guide tones are just critical notes of the chord. A beginner could start with just the 3rd and 7th (6th in the case of, say, a Maj 6th chord) and then move to 3rd (or 7th) and altered 5th if it occurred.
 

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Another thing that piano players talk about is playing 10ths. If you play the root note of the chord in the left hand bass and add the 10th above it (the 3rd in the next octave), it gives the ear impression of playing a full chord, especially with other notes played in the right hand. But most people can't stretch their hand that far to play 10ths, which is why piano players talk about it. One thing they do is "roll" the 10th, so they hit the root note then roll their hand up to hit the 10th. And minor 10ths are easier to hit than major 10ths because the minor 10th is a half step closer. :)

Here's a recent thread about it on the keyboard forum: http://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/2996097
 

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Well, the f is the b5 and that's what defines it as a Bm7b5.

Of course the sky doesn't fall in when you don't have it. Like wise you could have a C7#9 with no D# of course.
I could be wrong about this, but it strikes me that if there's an altered tone in the chord, it becomes an important (defining, as you say, Pete) chord tone, in a similar way to the 3rds & 7ths. Of course you don't have to play it, but then some of the 'bite' will be lost in the chord. There's a pretty significant difference in sound between a Bmin7 and Bmin7b5 chord; you can really hear it with a rootless voicing. You won't hear the difference at all if you drop out the b5 chord tone! Likewise, dropping the #9 out of a C7#9 chord (or the b9 from C7b9) will negate the unique sound of that chord. Sort of like making a bowl of chili without the chili powder! You wouldn't want to do that...

Hey MMM, I tried stretching my hand to play a 10th on the keyboard and couldn't quite reach it, but I could easily reach the minor 10th. Monk was reputed to have huge hands and could hit those 10ths (and maybe even wider intervals), which might partly explain his style.
 

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Hey MMM, I tried stretching my hand to play a 10th on the keyboard and couldn't quite reach it, but I could easily reach the minor 10th. Monk was reputed to have huge hands and could hit those 10ths (and maybe even wider intervals), which might partly explain his style.
In the movie about the Wrecking Crew (or maybe in a separate clip I saw) I think it's Tommy Tedesco talking about Leon Russell. He says Leon had such big hands "he could play octaves." Most people can play octaves. I'm pretty sure what he meant was that Leon could play 10ths. It is a stretch to reach the major 10th. It made me listen to some Leon again and I think he's playing 10ths (maybe in his right hand) on some of those tunes.
 
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