Piano day (1h 40m)

Scale studies

  • All Lydian scales
  • All Ionian scales
  • Scale dissection: C#, F#, A Phrygian over moving minor arpeggios

Left hand + comping

Interpretation

  • The Beatles β€” All My Loving (variation #2)
    • LH: broken 10ths (alternating ascending & descending)
    • Chromatic side-slipping (found in Dan Harle’s Jazz Improvisation for Keyboard Players)
    • Gershwin reversed stride bass
    • RH: arpeggiated shells, voice leading

Next time focus

  • Locrian + Mixolydian week
  • Try chromatic side-slipping in right hand as well
  • Back to embellished ii β€” V β€” i’s
  • Next left hand pattern
  • Scale dissection over permutations β€” attempt #2 πŸ˜„

Hacking Pop Interpretation

I was always wondering: how do they do it? The pro piano players who take pop songs and create wonderful, authentic instrumental versions of them that sound awesome on their own without vocals. I remember jealously listening to those pieces and thinking β€” damn, I’ll never be able to do this β€” and then going back to my block triads with octave bass. It’s okay, son, don’t go too hard on yourselfβ€”

Well guess what! I won’t say I’ve mastered it, but I hacked it, and now it’s just a question of practice hours, baby. I call this exercise “Pop Jam” β€” the idea is dead simple:

  • Find chords on the Interwebs (or in the Real Book if you’re into jazz standards)
  • Play through the whole chart once with block chords and simplest bass on Earth
  • Then replace block chords with shell voicings and connect them using minimal movement principle and thus achieving sweet ass voice leading
  • Add broken 10ths in left hand
  • Break shells in right hand into arpeggios (or some semblance of)
  • Add other intervals and ascending / descending movements in left hand (1-5-10, 10-9-3-1, whatever)
  • Use diatonic passages in right hand instead of shells
  • Throw in super low bass in left hand in key moments
  • Combine everything
  • Perform it until it’s suddenly 4 AM

Here are some parts of this approach illustrated with an example of Katy Perry’s vintage banger Fireworks (first four bars):

Screenshot 2019-03-10 at 12.55.23

Here’s what it sounds like:

 

It’s barely recognisable, I know. Of course it is, because it’s a freaking interpretation! πŸ˜„

Piano day (2h)

Chord tones / Left hand / Comping

  • All inversions of 7th chords over standard: All Of Me in G, C
  • 1-5-10-7-1-3-5 LH + Shells over All Of Me in C

Scale studies

  • All Lydian scales

Interpretation

  • Elvis β€” Can’t Help Falling In Love (1-5-10 + extensions, inversions, voice leading)

Observations

Always build the interpretation up from simple block chords!