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I want to jam, where to start? #2840037 04/17/19 02:21 AM
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Chrispy Offline OP
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Hey all, a few of my coworkers have brought in instruments like guitars, bass, etc. They’ve heard me playing and asked me to jam with them at lunch. It sounds like basic rock and blues stuff. Like me they’ve all been playing a few years (all less than 5) so no virtuosos smile

The problem is I have no idea what to do. I’ve been training to play classical and without sheet music I’m lost. I’ve just started using piano marvel to do ear training (I’m pretty bad at it so far, especially with chords.) I’ve asked my teacher and he’s reluctant to give advice as it’s completely out of his wheelhouse.

So can you recommend any places to start? Books, courses, videos, whatever. I’m open to any ideas!

Thanks!
Chrispy

Last edited by Chrispy; 04/17/19 02:23 AM.

Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth) and C minor Prelude (big chords), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545
Instruments: Yamaha N1X, Kawai ES110, Roland GO:PIANO
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Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840040 04/17/19 02:27 AM
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Cheshire Chris Offline
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Perhaps get one of those big “fake books” of popular songs that provide melody and chord accompaniments? There are lots around, and that’ll give you lots of material to work with.

And brush up on chord progressions - they’re what this type of music is primarily built around.


Chris

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Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840045 04/17/19 03:13 AM
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There’s a good set of free lessons on chords and chord progressions here:

http://www.psrtutorial.com/music/chords.html


Chris

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Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840086 04/17/19 06:40 AM
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These would give you some basics:
https://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Rock-Keyboard-Complete-Method/dp/0882849794
https://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Rock-Keyboard-Leonard-Style/dp/1423485130

Then it depends a lot on who else is in the jam. If you have both a bassist and another chordal instrument (probably guitar), then you can really just add a bit of flavor here and there, adding some sparse chords to complement the guitar, or throwing in a simple scale-based lick when there's a bit of sonic space for it. If there's no bassist, then your left hand will take that roll, often just playing the root note, or simple arpeggios, while the right hand continues to play sparsely, adding a chord or lick here and there. If there's no other chordal instrument, then focus on that, pretending you're the rhythm guitar player, laying down regular choral patterns, even just on the downbeats, or maybe varying the rhythm a bit, as long as it fits what the rest of the group is doing. Mostly, it's a jam, so just have fun! smile


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Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840096 04/17/19 07:23 AM
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I feel your pain Chrispy. Without dots I'm utterly lost. Can be a bit embarrassing when someone asks you to play a simple song and all I can do is stare at the keyboard with a blank look. I can pick out the melody, that's about it.
There's Bill Hiltons stuff on U-tube (I'm sure there are many others). He has a couple of books available and I've just ordered the first. The cocktail jazz will have to wait until I'm a bit better.

Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840148 04/17/19 09:26 AM
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Ive got a counrtry method book and about to order another that has great examples of the chord arraingments like mentioned above. Ive posted in the non classical forum on it. I want to be able to do the same type of jams as you mention Crispy.


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Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840159 04/17/19 09:46 AM
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I'd hit some Youtube videos by searching "rock and blues keyboard basics" and see what you can find.

If it's blues, then it's just a matter of chunking along with 7th chords (partial chords...not HUGE full 4 note chords) Stay away from the left hand in the low register..that's the bassists territory.

Just listen to what the others are doing and stay out of their sonic way and try and compliment what they are doing.

Think "chord stabs" rather than long classical passages smile

I went the "non classical route" myself. That is to say that I can do what you are asking to do but I'm very poor on reading and playing anything classical.

If you want the ultimate course on playing-by-chords-and-ear then I'd recommend "Piano Lingo" it's very very good for this sort of thing.

Last edited by PianoWVBob; 04/17/19 09:47 AM.
Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840246 04/17/19 03:00 PM
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Books and such aren't the answer it's music so answer is always listen to the type music they are going to play or your want to jam on. Then put on a CD or whatever you have of the tunes and playalong wiht the recordings. listen and play, listen and play, experiment, sing lines along with the recording then figure out what you sang and try playing it with the recording.

The big part of learning any type of music is listening a lot and internalizing the sounds, the rhythms, the groove. When you get into music you have to start listening to recording differently, need to listen more intently and pickup on the nuances and feel the phrasing, the stuff that can't be written on the page than can only be learned by listening closely. That starts with even simple rock and blues you have to listen and pickup the feel for the beat and feel of the phrasing. Same with classical you listen to the greats on recording to hear their idea of time and how they interpret the ink. As Jazz saxophonist and educater tell students... The ten most important things to learning to improvise (or play) the first nine are listening.

Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840273 04/17/19 05:47 PM
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I was trained with classical music, but have played in rock/blues/jam/funk bands for years. I remember the first time I played with a rock band. I could play Chopin, but sounded terrible playing with the band. That has been resolved. Here is my advice: It is important to understand and listen to guitar players. Short of learning the guitar yourself (which I also did), do what they do to learn how to play rock and blues. Don't try to learn from a book! For example, go to youtube and pull up some basic jam tracks for a blues shuffle in A or E or B. Learn to follow the chord progression for a simple 12 bar blues. Avoid playing bass notes more than one octave below middle C (that is the bass players territory and you will just make mud with the sound). Play open chord voicings with minimal movement (i.e., use inversions). Keep it very simple. Learn to do a basic solo using the minor pentatonic scale (then blues scale). You will have to use your ear to know if you should play the scale in the root key or the relative minor (or other). For example, if the song is in C-F-G (all major) then you can solo using the A minor (relative key) pentatonic scale notes. Try not to just play scales, it gets dull and boring. If the song using Cm-Fm-Gm(or G) then you can use the C minor pent scale (or blues scale) notes. This is true for any key and there are some rules of thumb you can use. Understand how to jam with guitar backing tracks until you sound good, then do the same thing with the real band. This is how guitar players learn. They play and jam...they don't grab a stupid book with a CD and mimic. This will get you past the jamming 101 stage. Then, you just have to do it...over and over with a band. Listen to the other players and try to blend with and around their sound. When it is your turn to solo, practice improvising and let it rip! Don't be afraid to experiment and make mistakes. Learn by doing...and listening...not by reading books. Have fun!

Last edited by One Ohm; 04/17/19 05:50 PM.
Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: One Ohm] #2840279 04/17/19 06:09 PM
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Chrispy Offline OP
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Originally Posted by One Ohm
Don't try to learn from a book!


Since I didn't understand the majority of the terms you used, or I should say, I basically understand them but I have no idea what they actually are composed of (ex: "chord progression for a simple 12 bar", "play open chord voicings with minimal movement, or the relative minor (or other)", "A minor (relative key) pentatonic scale notes") I feel like I'd benefit from a book laugh But I get the gist of what you and Docbop are saying. Unfortunately, my "ear" isn't great, and like I said, my ear training and trying to come up with harmonies is lacking. But, there's a lot of good advice in the thread and things to look at. You broke down some interesting ideas once I figure out some of those concepts. It does sound like I should find a resource to learn some other scales other than just the major and minors, and learn more chords than the basic I IV V VII that I drill as they are pretty boring.

Thanks all, keep the ideas coming, this is all really useful to me!

Last edited by Chrispy; 04/17/19 06:09 PM.

Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth) and C minor Prelude (big chords), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545
Instruments: Yamaha N1X, Kawai ES110, Roland GO:PIANO
Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840282 04/17/19 06:29 PM
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Sorry...I apologize for assuming too much with the terminology. You are right, a book on simple rock/blues chord progressions/rhythms and scales would be helpful at this point. My main point should be to not only learn from the book, but practice/jam with some backing tracks until it makes sense to you and is second nature to play live. Don't be turned off by I-IV-V progressions. That is 97% of rock and roll and blues. The fun is not in the complexity of the chords/notes, but in the musical conversation you have with the other players. The feeling and energy is in the groove. When everyone locks in together it is like magic. wink The only scale (in addition to major and minor) you need to start is the minor pentatonic scale. Example - C,Eb,F,G,Bb,C. Add in a Gb on occasion to give it some blues. The relative minor key of C is A (3 half steps down). The A minor pent scale is A,C,D,E,G,A. Again, you can add an Eb for some blues. Notice that this has the same notes as the C major pentatonic scale (C,D,E,G,A,C). So, you can use the A minor pentatonic scale to solo over the key of C major. This relationship is true for any key and its relative minor key. This is what guitar players do since the fret board is so pattern oriented. They can just shift patterns up and down the guitar neck in order to change scale keys. You can also switch between major and minor pentatonic scales as the chord changes happen to add flavor. The great blues players fo this all the time.

Try this: Play C-F-G (all major) with your left hand and improvise with your right hand using the A minor pentatonic scale (A,C,D,E,G,A). Then, play Cm-Fm-G chords with your left hand and play the C minor pentatonic with your right hand. You can also just play the root note of each chord with your left hand (e.g., C-F-G). Hope this helps.

Last edited by One Ohm; 04/17/19 06:34 PM.
Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840310 04/17/19 09:31 PM
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When you posted about having learned Clasical first thats why i suggested the book. I play guitar but i learned the examples of "strum patterns" and those other terms by reading the music. It is best as stated above to avoid the lower range as it will be a mess with bass. I


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Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840336 04/18/19 02:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Chrispy
So can you recommend any places to start? Books, courses, videos, whatever. I’m open to any ideas!

iReal Pro app - https://irealpro.com/
Great way to practice "jamming" along with a band. Has thousands of user created lead sheets + built-in backing tracks.


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Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840339 04/18/19 02:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Chrispy
Originally Posted by One Ohm
Don't try to learn from a book!


Since I didn't understand the majority of the terms you used, or I should say, I basically understand them but I have no idea what they actually are composed of (ex: "chord progression for a simple 12 bar", "play open chord voicings with minimal movement, or the relative minor (or other)", "A minor (relative key) pentatonic scale notes") I feel like I'd benefit from a book laugh But I get the gist of what you and Docbop are saying. Unfortunately, my "ear" isn't great, and like I said, my ear training and trying to come up with harmonies is lacking. But, there's a lot of good advice in the thread and things to look at. You broke down some interesting ideas once I figure out some of those concepts. It does sound like I should find a resource to learn some other scales other than just the major and minors, and learn more chords than the basic I IV V VII that I drill as they are pretty boring.

Thanks all, keep the ideas coming, this is all really useful to me!


Have you looked at the free chord course at psrtutorial.com that I posted a link to earlier? It’ll teach you a lot of this kind of thing.


Chris

Yamaha P-515, Yamaha Reface CP.
Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Chrispy] #2840541 04/18/19 11:31 PM
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The Jerry Coker book. Really covers the chords, cycle of 5th, chord coloring, etc, Now as a guitarist for 60 yrs , there is a certain anathema between pianos an guitars . Pianos have 88 strings, guitars 6 , maybe 7 .
Pianos rule. It is up to the guitarist NOT to get in your way .A guitarist jamming w a piano must be cognizant and parsimonious in his use of chords. It’s guitar players job to be like Ali jabbing in a few comp chords but you have to really be a guitar player that did not want to step on piano shoes. It Will sound cloudy, clashy and generally terrible.
Piano is the core.Play the chords and they will follow. Of course use all your beautiful classical stuff that works.

Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: Hotstrings] #2840573 04/19/19 04:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Hotstrings
The Jerry Coker book. Really covers the chords, cycle of 5th, chord coloring, etc, Now as a guitarist for 60 yrs , there is a certain anathema between pianos an guitars . Pianos have 88 strings, guitars 6 , maybe 7 .
Pianos rule. It is up to the guitarist NOT to get in your way .A guitarist jamming w a piano must be cognizant and parsimonious in his use of chords. It’s guitar players job to be like Ali jabbing in a few comp chords but you have to really be a guitar player that did not want to step on piano shoes. It Will sound cloudy, clashy and generally terrible.
Piano is the core.Play the chords and they will follow. Of course use all your beautiful classical stuff that works.


I’ve been studying the classical guitar for nine years and just started to learn the piano. I don’t see the two meeting, which is fine with me. They do tend to clash. I don’t recall listening to much music for guitar and piano but I mainly listen to solo classical guitar or guitar ensemble. The piano is a hammered string instrument and the classical guitar is a plucked string instrument. Guitar and harp can work quite well together, both being plucked. There is an album of Jason Vieaux playing with a harpist. Beautiful music.

The guitar’s advantage is that it is a portable polyphonic instrument.

Classical guitarists never fret bass notes over the top with their thumb, as that will lock the hand in place. It works for Richie Havens and strumming but classical guitarists don’t do a lot of strumming, flamenco players do a lot of rasgueados. Classical guitarists spend a lot of time holding bass notes while playing other voices. It can get tricky to hold and mute bass notes as you play.


Last edited by LarryK; 04/19/19 04:26 AM.

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Re: I want to jam, where to start? [Re: LarryK] #2842594 04/26/19 08:32 AM
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Yes the two instruments can have difficulty together. I was a guitarist for 60 years and rarely had the opportunity to have a piano in band.At a National Guitar Workshop in Austin, I was rehearsing w the Clinicians and the piano player and the bass player both gave me the 411. His quote basically related that pianos have 88 strings, you have 6. Try not to interfere. From that point I pay careful attention to comping, much like Ali boxed. Never chord on beat one and just jab sweet upper partial chords as I have an opening. Now that I m playing piano, I appreciate the advice much more.


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