Left hand question

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Left hand question

Postby BadBoyJones » Sat Sep 16, 2006 8:41 pm

I wasnt sure if this question was wearth posting a new topic but anyways: till today I have been playin the Piano alone but now I got a Bassist and I have no idea what the left hand SHOULD be playin. I tried playing the shuffle and it sounded... well it didnt sound because I couldnt hear it.... So I looked at Pinetop playing it and he seams to hit single notes... what do you guys advise me to do?

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Postby jeffl » Sat Sep 16, 2006 9:27 pm

The left hand can play single note bass lines, sometimes known as walking bass,but that doesn't cover it all. An excellent book that addresses several different types of bass lines for the left hand is "Blues Piano" by Mark Harrison (published by Hal Leonard Pub. Co.). If you can read basic music, that book should help you alot. In general, the base hand will play the root note of the chord,and can include the 1,3,and 5 notes of the chord,while occasionally the flats of the blues scale. You should avoid full chords with the base hand, and be careful about using just the 1 and 5 notes together, not to muddy the bottom. There are many combinations of the 1,3,and 5 notes,with the flats that can be used in a walking line. Even octaves on the bass hand are very common,and can be used in a bass line. You might find something usable if you google on Free online blues piano lessons.
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Re: Left hand question

Postby Jbyrd 88 » Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:34 am

When playing with a group--or a bass--there's not much need for the left hand on the piano, but you look silly with a beer in your left hand while playing with your right. Back in the day...before portable keyboards---clubs had to have their own piano and you never knew what kind of condition it would be in. It was hard for a piano player to be heard then and some of us became more like percussionists on the old upright and played octaves with our left hand, really pounding it out. Don't pound it out like I used to because I have a good volume knob now, but still find it easier to blend left hand octaves with the rest of the group. It's quite different if you happen to be left handed, like say, Leon Russell. He has a very strong left hand and can do much with his left hand that doesn't clash with the others.......also does things a right handed person just simply cannot do.
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Re: Left hand question

Postby multisounds » Sat Mar 28, 2009 5:31 pm

Hi Folks,

I didn't even know there was a blues piano/keyboard section on this site and I've been here more than 4 months lol. Ok, I do play the piano as well as guitar and bass (true story not making it up) :)

For left hand harmony, it'll depend on what musical genre you're playing such as jazz, rock. blues to mention a few. For blues, try not to imitate the bass players lines too much as it'll clash and can become out of sync and muddy. Be clear what you wan to do with you right hand on different passages of music and use left hand as an accompaniment. You can do this in basically two ways as a general guideline. a/ Use broken chords (arpeggios) such as waling bass line and b/ block out with chords either in tonic position or inversions.

However, try not to "overuse" the 5th of a chord unless it's really a passionate part of music, as you know there are no real rules with this. So vary your left hand with bass line broken single notes and chords-adding b7 with tonic note is a common ploy. Octaves can be dynamic and loud so be sure that end of the day it's really the sound you want to display.
For jazz harmony incorporating the blues, it's a whole different ballgame with the left hand, but however, it'll quote a famous musician who writes reviews about blues/jazz history. The one that'll make you at ease! He said with jazz, "essentially they're playing the blues" :D :) :shock: :o :wink: :mrgreen:

cheers
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Re: Left hand question

Postby jeffl » Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:12 pm

Listening to Rod Piazza's band can really open your eyes about co-habiting a blues stage with an aggressive piano player, an aggressive harper, and a electric bassist. Rod's wife Honey has a very pronounced left hand, using all the tools...stride lines, partial chords, boogie lines, etc. She manages to co-exist nicely with their bassist. Personally, being primarily a harper, when I'm learning piano tunes with rhythmic bass lines, walking bass lines, or counter rhythms, I find that I have to spend the initial part of the task getting the left hand down first, and then I feed in the right. I played with one guy years ago who grew up playing accordian, and he hardly ever played the left hand parts. He'd leave them to the bass player, and he'd just work his right hand alot. That's fine, if you have a bass player. If you play a digital keyboard and want to play octaves with your left hand, you can always eq that side down, like you would to keep an organ sound from trouncing all over the band.
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Re: Left hand question

Postby Ed Boyd » Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:27 pm

Everything depends.

Sometimes it is good to double the bass lines. Sometimes it is not. The clarity and power of the piano bass line played in the bottom register can be a really neat thing to use.

Sometimes I play alternative bass lines I may play octaves or pedal tones when the bass player walks.

If you do not play bass lines then that really opens up the left hand for really cool stuff like double hammers etc .......

When playing Hammond though I never use pedals when gigging. Organ bass lines to me muddy things up too much and and seem to really get in the way of electric bass.

But that is what I think. I'm nobody special, just an old weekend warrior.
Last edited by Ed Boyd on Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Left hand question

Postby jeffl » Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:44 pm

Ed, I've always been frustrated by the need to eq my keyboard amp differently when I'm playin' piano vs. organ through it. The organ voices will often be too dominant on the bass, or even middle, end. So, like you, I mostly steer clear of goin' down there on the organ... with exceptions based on the tunes.
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Re: Left hand question

Postby Ed Boyd » Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:22 pm

That would be frustrating.

I run my organ through a leslie and any other keys through a 6 channel 300- watt power mixer and a couple of 3-way PA speakers. I'm only using one Keyboard right now ( Piano) . I used to carry a Roland D-50 and a Yamaha rack units I used for electric piano sounds. But I'm getting too old to be carrying all of this stuff. I should probably downsize my amp, but it is paid for. :)
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Re: Left hand question

Postby jeffl » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:31 pm

When I was fresh outa college I played in a hotel house band and I played a Farfisa combo organ through a Leslie and a Portaflex. I loved that setup. I loved the gig too. The tips were great and you had to turn down free drinks every nite if you wanted to be able to keep your act together. It's amazing that all that experience never turned me into a better keyboarder, lol!
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Re: Left hand question

Postby barbequebob » Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:09 pm

There are very few really good blues piano players around these days and the big prerequisite is having that good, solid left hand, and far too many piano players just flat out don't have one worth a damn (and the saying is that if you cut the damned thing off their arm, you still wouldn't know if they ever had one in the first place), and to often are gonna want to do the sampling route, and especially for purists, that ain't gonna fly. For me, if a piano player ain't got a good left hand, he has NO chance of me ever hiring them, and classic left hans you can hear in guys from Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins, Honey Piazza, Dave Maxwell, Sunnyland Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons, and Gene Taylor as examples.
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Re: Left hand question

Postby Ed Boyd » Sat Apr 11, 2009 10:14 pm

One of my favorite gigs was a band in where we didn't have an electric bass. I didn't have to worry about the bass player clashing with my bass lines. I have been in two bands that used that sort of line up. I always thought if the bass player can't sing then it is sort of an extra cut we do not need to be paying ..... unless the bass player is named Bootsy. :lol:

No offense bass players. I like playing with you guys also because it frees me up to do an occasional super wild piano solo.
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Re: Left hand question

Postby jeffl » Mon Apr 13, 2009 3:48 pm

I saw Pinetop two summers ago at the Fargo Blues Fest. His hands were the only thing that was movin'. You could barely see that he was playing. From the waist up, he was motionless except for his hands. After observing that, I discovered that I play boards that way also... as far as the motionless part I mean, lol! I prefer to see people being more animated, from a stage presence standpoint, so I'm disappointed in myself somewhat, as far as that goes.
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Re: Left hand question

Postby Ed Boyd » Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:43 pm

I'm more animated when I play organ than when I play piano ...... but I suck at Hammond organ also. I think it is the way I was taught to play piano with forearm pressure that welds my butt to the bench. Organ is more finger pressure and I start bopping around more. I also don't gig with pedals either. Heck I barely play pedals at home.

That is just a guess though. I don't really know, I just do what I do.
Last edited by Ed Boyd on Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Left hand question

Postby jeffl » Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:54 pm

I'm accustomed to lookin' in a mirror when I play in the living room. We jam in the living room quite frequently and my big Yammy faces a wall with a big dresser mirror hung on it. When I need to communicate with the other players, I do it via the mirror. Otherwise I'm not generally narcissistic, lol! It's odd how easy it was to adapt to using the mirror.
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Re: Left hand question

Postby multisounds » Tue Apr 14, 2009 1:41 pm

I always thought if the bass player can't sing then it is sort of an extra cut we do not need to be paying


Hey, be careful of what you're saying to angry bass players!!! ROFL :D :mrgreen: When people form bands of any sort, the first musician that enters their mind is a bass player!! Plus no band in the world can survive without a bass player, or very rarely can they cope without a bass player. But The Doors were an exception, that's cuz Manzerek was trained very well on the keyboards. But if you listen to their music, there is virtually no bass solo of any sort to showcase.

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