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#2317708 - 08/20/14 12:25 PM Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg  
Joined: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
bagatelle Offline
Junior Member
bagatelle  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
I have a classical background (lessons for 12 years) but never learned any theory. Don't know the scales, nor any chord progressions, but I can read music. I'd like to eventually be able to comp jazz and play gospel piano. I decided it would be cheaper to teach myself, so I bought several books - most of which seem to skip some basic prerequisite theory concepts.

Out of all of these books, Tim Richards' Improvising Blues Piano seems like the best method, but I can't stay motivated because the blues doesn't sustain my interest. I'm going to keep trying, but in the meantime I would like to still be able to play some nice rich harmonies to make practice more enjoyable.

Jazz Keyboard Harmony seemed like a good option I could work with while going through Richards' book, but I can't get past the preliminary exercises! I was under the impression that you don't need a theory background to use this book, but now I'm beginning to doubt that. I don't know how to fill in the blanks for Exercise #4 on p. 19, "Memorize II-V-I unit in all keys." Where can I learn this? Not only can I not fill in the blanks, but I wouldn't know what F#m7 translates to on the keyboard. Should I memorize all of the scales first? (I did buy Harrison's Piano Fitness book, so I guess I could work through that). Should I work through Levine's Jazz Theory Book first (which I did buy, but the way the information is presented doesn't appeal to my learning style so I haven't used it)? Is there a precursor to Levine's book? I also have Ligon's Jazz Theory Resource I book which is intimidating. If the best approach is to work through one of these books before DeGreg's I will - but I probably won't do it unless you all say I should!

I'm really looking for a step-by-step method to be able to get to the point where I'm ready to work through Jazz Keyboard Harmony. It seems like there has to be an easier way that's still fun and will keep me motivated. I have no idea where to begin, so all tips are welcome.

Thanks

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#2317715 - 08/20/14 12:42 PM Re: Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg [Re: bagatelle]  
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 931
jjo Offline
500 Post Club Member
jjo  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 931
Chicago
You had 12 years of classical lessons but don't know all 12 key signatures? If the book shows you how to do a II-V-I in one key, figuring that out in all of the other keys should not be difficult. If, for example, the book has it in the key of C, just move everything up a whole step and you've got it D. If the II-V-I started with D minor, just move every note the book shows you up a major third and you're off and running in F# minor. I assume you know the key signatures, but you're just wondering how to translate a particular exercise (a voicing, I assume) to those keys. I'm not saying figuring something out in all keys is easy, but it's doable, and the work you put in will be big rewards.

When I first started jazz with a teacher, she did the same thing. Showed me a voicing for a II-V-I in one or two keys and said go home and figure out the rest.

#2317730 - 08/20/14 01:30 PM Re: Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg [Re: bagatelle]  
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,379
chrisbell Offline
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chrisbell  Offline
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Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,379
Stockholm, Sweden
The II-V-I is the most fundamental chord progression in jazz.

Key of C: Dm7 - G7 - CMaj7

m7: 1 b3 5 b7 (of the scale)
7: 1 3 5 b7
Maj7: 1 3 5 7

A basic way of playing a chord is root and 7 in LH, the "rest" in RH.
There's a way of voicing the chords called rootless, which means that the bass player plays the root, you play the rest of the chord.

What we pianists do is practice all this in different keys, so it means figuring out the voicings on your own

C: Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7
F: Gm7 - C7 - FMaj7
Bb: Cm7 - F7 - BbMaj7
etc etc

A little about voicings, there are many ways to voice a chord; open, closed, open/closed combined, cluster, etc. Context decides which voicing I would choose.
Two basic ways (Levine calls these A and B):
Dm7 rootless: (D) F A C E - or - (D) C E F A (bottom to top on both voicings).


Feel free to ask questions, it's the only way to learn.

Last edited by chrisbell; 08/20/14 01:30 PM.
#2317831 - 08/20/14 05:17 PM Re: Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg [Re: bagatelle]  
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 516
Michael Martinez Offline
500 Post Club Member
Michael Martinez  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 516
California
If you're up for video lessons, you can't do any better than Paul Abrahams site: www.learnjazzpianoonline.com

For books, the best for where you're at are the following:

The Jazz Harmony Book. by David Berkman
The Harmonic Foundation of Jazz. by Jimmie Amadie



Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors
http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/
#2318003 - 08/21/14 02:31 AM Re: Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg [Re: jjo]  
Joined: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
bagatelle Offline
Junior Member
bagatelle  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
Originally Posted by jjo
You had 12 years of classical lessons but don't know all 12 key signatures?


That's correct. I realized once I got older that my teachers never taught me basic theory concepts - for each piece I would just memorize what the sharps and flats were and then read the music. Getting back into it again and gaining this new information has been a real eye opener. I'm excited to learn these concepts.

#2318005 - 08/21/14 02:41 AM Re: Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg [Re: chrisbell]  
Joined: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
bagatelle Offline
Junior Member
bagatelle  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
Originally Posted by chrisbell
The II-V-I is the most fundamental chord progression in jazz.

Key of C: Dm7 - G7 - CMaj7

m7: 1 b3 5 b7 (of the scale)
7: 1 3 5 b7
Maj7: 1 3 5 7

A basic way of playing a chord is root and 7 in LH, the "rest" in RH.
There's a way of voicing the chords called rootless, which means that the bass player plays the root, you play the rest of the chord.

What we pianists do is practice all this in different keys, so it means figuring out the voicings on your own

C: Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7
F: Gm7 - C7 - FMaj7
Bb: Cm7 - F7 - BbMaj7
etc etc

A little about voicings, there are many ways to voice a chord; open, closed, open/closed combined, cluster, etc. Context decides which voicing I would choose.
Two basic ways (Levine calls these A and B):
Dm7 rootless: (D) F A C E - or - (D) C E F A (bottom to top on both voicings).


Feel free to ask questions, it's the only way to learn.


This is really helpful - thanks for taking the time to put together this response. I am going to play around with these ideas - the voicing concept is new to me. But I think you've also helped me understand that I really should take at least a few in-person lessons in order to discuss these fundamental ideas.

#2318006 - 08/21/14 02:43 AM Re: Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg [Re: Michael Martinez]  
Joined: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
bagatelle Offline
Junior Member
bagatelle  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
Originally Posted by Michael Martinez
If you're up for video lessons, you can't do any better than Paul Abrahams site: www.learnjazzpianoonline.com

For books, the best for where you're at are the following:

The Jazz Harmony Book. by David Berkman
The Harmonic Foundation of Jazz. by Jimmie Amadie



Thanks - I will check these out.

#2318015 - 08/21/14 03:22 AM Re: Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg [Re: bagatelle]  
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,379
chrisbell Offline
1000 Post Club Member
chrisbell  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,379
Stockholm, Sweden
Originally Posted by bagatelle
This is really helpful - thanks for taking the time to put together this response. I am going to play around with these ideas - the voicing concept is new to me. But I think you've also helped me understand that I really should take at least a few in-person lessons in order to discuss these fundamental ideas.
You're welcome. A large part of jazz study is self-study - but a teacher showing you the basics does help. However, jazz is such a large area, there's many different styles that it's easy to get lost. But, you do need to listen - a lot!
Find out whom you like and want to emulate, that's your starting point.

#2318552 - 08/22/14 11:47 AM Re: Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg [Re: bagatelle]  
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 143
JazzPianoOnline Offline
Full Member
JazzPianoOnline  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 143
raleigh, nc
just a few lessons with a local teacher might really help you. you sound very motivated and if you have good reading skills you are well on your way to being able to understand the harmony.

i have a method for learning chords that is based on the major scale.

(if you don't know your major scales i have a free pdf to help you learn them complete with fingering here: http://www.jazzpianoonline.com/jazz...ice-session-2-major-scale-refresher.html

once you can play your major scales you can easily learn to build all five of the most common 7th chords used in jazz.

major 7 is 1, 3, 5 and 7 of the major scale.

dominant 7 is 1, 3, 5 and b7 of the major scale.

minor 7 is 1, b3, 5 and b7 of the major scale.

minor 7b5 is 1, b3, b5 and b7 of the major scale.

diminished 7 is 1, b3, b5 and bb7 of the major scale.

if you start with the major 7 chord and then proceed through each chord type (major7, dom7, minor7, minor7b5, diminished7) all you have to do is lower each of the altered notes to build the chords.

for example, to find the c major7 chord, play the c major scale and isolate the 1, 3 5, and 7 of that scale. play them together to play the chord. to find c7, lower the 7th of the c major7 chord; to find c minor7 lower the 3rd of the c7; to find c minor7b5 lower the 5 of the c minor7; to find c diminished7 lower the 7 of the c minor 7b5 chord. then reverse this process by raising each note to get back to the major 7 chord.

you can run this drill in each key to learn all of the chords.

there are 60 chords that you need to know which isn't an unmanageable amount. but once you know these chords you will be able to play virtually any tune from a lead sheet.

and knowing your chords sets you up nicely for further study of jazz harmony.

i'm happy to talk more if you need more help.

br


br
bill@jazzpianoonline.com
www.JazzPianoOnline.com
Step-by-step, easy-to-follow online jazz piano lessons.
#2318663 - 08/22/14 05:16 PM Re: Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg [Re: chrisbell]  
Joined: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
bagatelle Offline
Junior Member
bagatelle  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
Originally Posted by chrisbell

Find out whom you like and want to emulate, that's your starting point.

I am going to think about this - sounds like a really good way to approach it.

#2318664 - 08/22/14 05:17 PM Re: Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg [Re: JazzPianoOnline]  
Joined: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
bagatelle Offline
Junior Member
bagatelle  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
Originally Posted by JazzPianoOnline
just a few lessons with a local teacher might really help you. you sound very motivated and if you have good reading skills you are well on your way to being able to understand the harmony.

i have a method for learning chords that is based on the major scale.

(if you don't know your major scales i have a free pdf to help you learn them complete with fingering here: http://www.jazzpianoonline.com/jazz...ice-session-2-major-scale-refresher.html

once you can play your major scales you can easily learn to build all five of the most common 7th chords used in jazz.

major 7 is 1, 3, 5 and 7 of the major scale.

dominant 7 is 1, 3, 5 and b7 of the major scale.

minor 7 is 1, b3, 5 and b7 of the major scale.

minor 7b5 is 1, b3, b5 and b7 of the major scale.

diminished 7 is 1, b3, b5 and bb7 of the major scale.

if you start with the major 7 chord and then proceed through each chord type (major7, dom7, minor7, minor7b5, diminished7) all you have to do is lower each of the altered notes to build the chords.

for example, to find the c major7 chord, play the c major scale and isolate the 1, 3 5, and 7 of that scale. play them together to play the chord. to find c7, lower the 7th of the c major7 chord; to find c minor7 lower the 3rd of the c7; to find c minor7b5 lower the 5 of the c minor7; to find c diminished7 lower the 7 of the c minor 7b5 chord. then reverse this process by raising each note to get back to the major 7 chord.

you can run this drill in each key to learn all of the chords.

there are 60 chords that you need to know which isn't an unmanageable amount. but once you know these chords you will be able to play virtually any tune from a lead sheet.

and knowing your chords sets you up nicely for further study of jazz harmony.

i'm happy to talk more if you need more help.

br


What a great resource! Thank you - I will definitely try to work through this.

#2320776 - 08/27/14 06:21 PM Re: Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg [Re: bagatelle]  
Joined: May 2014
Posts: 8
paul abrahams Offline
Junior Member
paul abrahams  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: May 2014
Posts: 8
London, UK
Here's my YouTube video taking you through all the 7th chords: major, minor, dominant and half diminished. It's really important that you learn these in the 'tricky' keys. Remember that one tune can change key a number of times. Also, when you get to play with brass players, they like the flat keys.
Paul Abrahams
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Whpi-ZWz-w


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