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Piano accompaniment to singers

PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2005 2:47 pm
by otto_defay

I'm looking for suggestions about accompanying singers. I have a few books that focus on blues piano (Tim Richards' "Improvising Blues Piano" is highly recommended), but most seem to focus on solo piano, or instrumental where the piano is the primary instrument.

Does anyone have any suggestions or books about accompanying singers, or yourself while you sing?


RE: Piano accompaniment to singers

PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2005 3:32 pm
by allanlummox
All I can say is that I love singing over someone playing Boogie Woogie on an upright piano.

RE: Piano accompaniment to singers

PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2005 4:52 pm
by blueswriter
I'm not a piano player but I think one of the best ways to approach it (if you've already got a decent handle on playing) is to listen to as many blues records as you can - Pre-war material especially - because piano was a major instrument in blues back then. A lot of Post-war as well. There's a lot of material by Montana Taylor, Jimmy Yancey, Memphis Slim, Sunnyland Slim and a host of others where piano is often the only backing instrument. I'd also suggest Otis Spann's solo recordings (recently in the "Singing The Blues" forum) on Candid and Analogue Productions.

RE: Piano accompaniment to singers

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 2:48 pm
by otto_defay
Thanks for your suggestions.

The situation is that I've got a blues Fake Book, and I want to accompany myself and/or someone else singing, and I'm looking for common ideas to get started. I know how to read and use a fake book, but I guess I don't really know typical blues accompaniment licks.

I guess I'll start transcribing. :)

RE: Piano accompaniment to singers

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2005 3:16 pm
by j_tour
If you can track down some old Roosevelt Sykes sides (especially an OOP album published by Yazoo called "Country Blues Piano Ace") you might pick up some interesting 'comps -- he uses some walking bass in the LH, which works really well but isn't often heard.

Also, maybe not quite the thing for everybody, but Junior Mance on "Buddy and the Juniors" lays down some interesting little fills on piano (the lineup is Buddy Guy, voc and acoustic guitar, Junior Wells, harp and vox, Junior Mance, piano).

Champion Jack DuPree is also one of my personal favorites on his earlier sides -- his piano really gets a workout and there are a whole bunch of "tricks" he uses. A lot of the great later New Orleans guys had a real ability to float their voice on top of some tricky accompaniments/fills.

I wouldn't know how to say why accompanying singers is much different than many other tasks one has to do on piano -- I don't personally think of it as much different than backing up an instrumental soloist or even playing short solos/fills myself, but then again, I don't sing at all, so I don't know the tricks from the inside out like others might.



RE: Piano accompaniment to singers

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2005 4:31 pm
by ricochet
One thing about it that's a bit different is that the singer sets the tempo and the pianist has to follow it.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."

RE: Piano accompaniment to singers

PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2005 11:04 pm
by doc williamson
Geez, I was MIA on this thread too. All good suggestions and BW's listening suggestions were great as was Roosevelt Sykes and Champion Jack Dupree.

I don't see much value in a Fake Book for the blues. You have a chord chart, a melody line and lyrics (often incorrect or just one verse).

"I chose to sing the blues." Ray Charles

RE: Piano accompaniment to singers

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 2:25 pm
by fred
There were/are a bunch of terrific stride players, & the music can really get inside your head! What's the scoop on left hand patterns? Any stride players here--how do you play LH?

I'm just getting into exploring the techniques & am already getting some good milage just using the root or 5th on beats 1&3 & chords on beats 2&4. Seems to provide more avenues for comping/accomp.