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How to play simple blues piano?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by phxlbrmpf, May 2, 2005.

  1. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I'm currently teaching myself how to play keyboards/piano and I'm making okay progress. I'll be spending a few weeks in the US this summer and there'll probably be a bit of jamming going on. Thing is, I won't be able to bring my bass along as it's too big and as I'm a lefty, I probably won't be able to use other peoples' basses or guitars. :(

    This probably means I'll be playing a bit of keyboards. There's one problem, though: I've yet to figure out how to play something bluesy that sounds good on my keyboard. Could someone give me a bit of a rundown on how to structure my chords when accompaning a garden-variety major blues? Should I play chords without thirds, for example? What are some good recordings to check out? Thanks a lot in advance.
  2. I-Love-Ratm


    Feb 24, 2003
    Learn 12 bar blues.I IV I V IV and so on
  3. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I know what chords a blues is composed of, but I'm not sure what exact notes to use for them. I tried to play a blues in E earlier and played the E chord like this: G#, B, E, which didn't sound bluesy at all. I tried adding the seventh to the chord (G#, B, D, E) but the D sounded a bit grating. If I left the G# out, things sounded a bit better, albeit slightly empty. You get the picture.
  4. Try adding a flat 7th to the chord instead of just the seventh. Also you can play a root, 5th / root, 6th pattern with your left hand, it gives sort of a boogie or Chuck Berry kind of feel.

  5. Try this - hooray for Edly!


    - Wil
  6. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    I read a Steely Dan interview where they talked about using a lot of what they called "two chords." These are chords where you hold down the root in the left hand, and play the second, third, and fifth in the right hand.

    So, in case that was confusing: In C in stead of C (space)* C E G , you would play C (space)* DE G.

    It's a very xool sound. I wouldn't call it 'bluesy' , but it is very cool. Does anyone else use these?

    * by (space) I mean in a different octave, not pausing between notes. All notes are simultaneous as chords in this example.
  7. Try playing tritones in your left hand. For instance if you were in the key of C, you could use these voicings for the I, IV, and V chords, which will sound good if there is a bass player playing the roots.

    C7 = E, Bb
    F7 = Eb, A
    G7 = F, B

    You can thicken them up by adding 9's and 13's where appropriate, but these "dominant shells" sound good without getting in the way of the other players.
  8. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    Here's something I teach kids to sound cool in 30 minutes or less:

    Right hand: C blues scale (C, Eb, F, Gb, G, Bb C). Spend some time getting this down before adding the left hand. Get this pattern down over a few octaves and stay on it over all the changes.

    Left hand: Alternate between Cm7 (C, Eb, Bb) and Fm7 (F, Ab, Eb) chords. You can just comp the chords, arpeggiate or whatever. You can play a 12-bar blues structure, or mix it up any way you want. Stay on those notes and you can't screw it up. Again, right hand stays on C blues, even over the Fm7.

    When you get bored with alternating between the Cm7/Fm7, from the Cm7 throw down an A7 (A, C#, G) / D7 (D, F#, C) / G7 (G, B, F) turn-around back to Cm7, again staying on the C blues scale with your right hand. The beauty of this pattern is that your right hand plays the same scale notes the whole time, and your left had keeps the same "shape" until the turnaround, and then it's just playing maj third instead of minor. It's easy to learn and to the lay person (or person you're trying to lay), it sounds like you really know what you're doing, even if you don't. I'll leave it to someone smarter than me to explain the theory (I suck at non-diatonic theory), but as someone once said, "If it sounds good, it is good." :cool:
  9. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    Thanks a lot, guys, exactly what I was looking for!

    This is so cool! As long as I outline the proper chords with my left hand, I can even create random "stacks" out of blues scale notes with my right hand that still sound good. :D

    I think I'm beginning to understand why guitarists like blues so much. :D
  10. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    Glad we could help. Have fun! :cool:

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