Left hand + jazz voicings
- iim9 — V13 — I∆9 | iiø — V7b9 — im9 (format 2) — skill 45 from Jazz Piano Voicings by Dan Haerle (C thru F#). Left hand:
- 1-5 shells
- 1-5-6 runs
- Broken 10ths (ascending on major part, descending on parallel minor)
- 1-5-10 + blocks octave above
- 10ths w/o clashes going up and down, focusing on with 2-octave leaps at range switches (e. g. Gb — B 8vb)
“I only start counting when it starts to hurt” — inspired by this Mohammed Ali quote, I decided to make it hurt (well, for my brain) during today’s practice session. I am currently focusing on descending motion in the left hand as it’s my weakness (due to the years of ignoring reverse arpeggios), but, as you know, I don’t like doing just one thing as it quickly gets boring and frustrating. So I took two of my older exercises and added some mindfuck to them to also work on right hand.
This is the continuation on the original one. I simply play 9ths over moving inversions, and because there is this panicky moment when hands are about to overlap, this version makes me think more, i. e. makes it hurt in a more effective way. Right?
Secondly, I came up with an improvement for this exercise. Now the right hand is involved, too, and it has to play the pattern that gets more and more complicated with each measure. The biggest fun for me happens in the last measure where I have to think about different scale degrees that I have to play with my left and my right hands. Yes, brain, it feels natural both physically and sonically to play C and then D with both hands, but in this case, it has to be D and then doubled Eb! (See sheet music for the explanation of this inner dialogue.)
Just realised that since I have discovered broken 10th patterns, I’ve been focusing heavily on ascending motion, almost completely ignoring the descending part. Here’s a workout that I’ve recently come up with to make up for that.
Left hand plays descending 10-5-1 pattern and then also continues with descending pattern of diatonic intervals alternating with the root. Doing it around the cycle of 4ths, as always!
Then, of course, there’s the Fear Of Overlapping™ that has to be addressed — also in the context of descending motion. So here’s another exercise that does the job for me:
Here I’m doing the same trick with alternating voicings (3-7-9 to 7-3-5) and forcing the left hand to play the same key as the right within one measure. I wrote about this here a little bit more in-depth.
Left hand + modal studies
- Descending 10ths (over Phrygian DNA)
- The Beatles — All My Loving (score coming soon 🤖)
- Intervallic patterns
- Octave drop bass
I love 10ths — broken 10ths literally opened the Pandora’s box of intervallic patterns for me. They’re a bit of a stretch at first (especially major, especially with accidentals), but once you’ve mastered them, your left hand accompaniment will never be the same. One annoying thing with broken 10ths, though, is that because of their span, there’s often an overlap with the right hand. Whenever my hands overlap, I get all panicky and screw everything up. In order to avoid this, I used to play right hand voicings 2 octaves above — just to be safe I have enough space to work on my 10ths. But, really, you have to face your fears, right? So here’s an exercise I’ve invented for this:
- Play broken 10ths with the left hand
- Play shell voicings (3-7-9) with the right
- First note of the right hand voicing will be the 10th for the left hand
- By the time you get to it with the left hand, move your right hand to 7-3-5 voicing of the same chord, octave above
- No more fear of clashing-o-phobia! (Is that a word?)