About Me

My photo
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Basic harmonization with triads and Seventh chords

For me this style of arranging is sort of the meat and potatoes of jazz piano. The goal is to get a full sound on the instrument while at the same time not sacrificing the time feel with the technique required to play the arrangement. Obviously you can point out to me the fact that guys like Tatum or Phineas Newborn or James P. Johnson played exceedingly difficult passages at the piano and made them swing. In my arrangement for solo piano I'm offering a taste of the kind of harmony and voicings that those great pianists utilized as a basis from which they constructed more complex architectures. Aside from the basic triadic and seventh chord harmony (with appropriate altered extensions where necessary sprinkled in for flavor) is the use of the counter line. This is another essential aspect of arranging for piano in order to really use the instrument to it's fullest. Notice how the basic triplet rhythm is always propelling the harmony forward and the counter line is picking up the slack in the gaps in the melody. All great composers leave delicious gaps in their melodies. Most Ellington melodies have these wonderful places for us to add our little dreams to.  In bar 8 I left out the triplet counter melody just for a little extra space and perhaps a good place for a foot tap or if you're Keith Jarrett (and I'm pretty sure he reads my blog) you can give the pedals a good kick! Have fun.


  1. Could you please post a recording of this so we can hear what it sounds like? That would be helpful as well

  2. I have tried to figure out some kind of "widget" for the blog that would allow me to post audio clips but there doesn't seem to be any with Google. What I'll do when I get a chance is to video myself and post it to Youtube. In general I don't like youtube videos because the sound quality is quite poor. Actually if you or anyone has any ideas for me that would be greatly appreciated.