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#3170116 11/11/21 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by willywagtail
Gday...
Just a general question regarding improving on the chords and melody standard to a lead sheet. I remember a pianist telling me that most of the improvisation consisted mainly of 3rds and scales.
I am aware of the books/vids on the subject..after members experiences.

I would be interested from anyone out there that uses lead sheets ....what do you do to improve on the basic sheet?


Cheers Mick

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The above thread was moved here..dont know why its faded..but its a new thread/question
Cheers Mick

Last edited by willywagtail; 11/11/21 08:06 PM.
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I have a free lesson that lays out a conceptual overview of jazz improvisation. You can watch it here:

https://www.jazzpianoonline.com/courses/improv-the-concept


Bill
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Thanks mate but I'm after 3 or 4 standard techniques members use to embellish a standard lead sheet..tips that fit whatever the lead sheet key is.

Last edited by willywagtail; 11/12/21 02:28 AM.
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I no expert and still a beginner but I have been studying contemporary music and improvising from lead sheets. From what I have learned it depends on the genre of the music and if your comping or doing piano solo to then decide what you want to apply. I have been using The Pop Piano book by Mark Harrison (as a member suggested it to me a while back here on the forum) and it teaches numerous ways to apply a variety of styles in many genres. So far I have been building up to more complex styles. For example, I used a lead sheet for unchained melody as it had simple melody, I did open arpeggios LH then single note melody RH, then I did RH with with octaves. Now Im onto new lead sheets with slightly more complex melodies, and applying slightly more complex styles such as, I’m doing a lot of triads for melody and intervals.

What type of music are you playing and are you doing solo piano or comping?

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Thanks Sebs...have been playing 12 bar for awhile but now back to ballads/pop..That book sounds interesting.
I have come to the conclusion that I should create my own improvisations...my reason for the thread is what are 3 or 4 guides to doing that..for example I am playing a tune in F and I want to fill an empty measure(of melody notes) with my own notes..what is the guidance here..scale notes is that right.?

Shouild I put 3rds under as many melody notes as possible.?
Why do I see accidentals used when I see players do fills in a tune in the key of C.?

If it sounds good it's okay..but what are the chordal rules that govern this?

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Originally Posted by willywagtail
...
I have come to the conclusion that I should create my own improvisations...my reason for the thread is what are 3 or 4 guides to doing that..for example I am playing a tune in F and I want to fill an empty measure(of melody notes) with my own notes..what is the guidance here..scale notes is that right.?


If it is a lead sheet intended for solo piano, you need to come up with an accompaniment, is all. Once you have a nice accompaniment style, you can then perfect and perform it as such. No need for any improvisation really at all beyond this point. Lead sheet does not imply full on improvisation to my mind.

To fill up a section that is too light on harmony, look at the chord you are on, not the key you are playing in.

Originally Posted by willywagtail
Shouild I put 3rds under as many melody notes as possible.?


Possibly for a small section you could do this (or 6ths, or mix of both). If it sounds nice and you like it, sure. Or maybe just fill up your RH with the full chord, or somewhere in between these two. Really depends what you are playing and what you like. The nice part about it, is they are all your own choices.

Originally Posted by willywagtail
If it sounds good it's okay..but what are the chordal rules that govern this?

No hard and fast rules to my knowledge. The hardest thing is 1st. finding a suitable rhythm style for the solo piece. Does stride fit, or is a melodic broken chord (arpeggio left hand thingy) more suitable, or walking bass etc.? Every tune is potentially different and multiple styles can be used within the same tune too, so you have the option of mixing it up.

Start simple and find an accompaniment style you like, then start adding more complexity and fancy stuff. Like your 3rds. unison perhaps for a small section, but not likely the whole thing. Of course as you do more of it and listen to how others play the same thing, more ideas will come.

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OK, long post but it really doesn't say half of what it could have. This is a process that has helped me a little along the way.

Originally Posted by willywagtail
Why do I see accidentals used when I see players do fills in a tune in the key of C?

I'll assume you know the difference between Melodic and Harmonic Minor keys and Major keys, and why they sound different.

Therefore you are referring to what you perceive as out-of-key accidentals.

Lead sheets do not contain any information other than the melody line. You need the three stave music to learn modulation technique.

The three staves in sheet music are, "Melody, Accompaniment, Bass" the accompaniment will modulate during the song, the melody line (generally) won't. A single melody line cannot teach you the different tones and sounds that fit a song. Sheet music can help you. It doesn't have to be hard format, many people now use electronic devices.

It will be impossible to find even a classical composer who hasn't used accidentals. Music is much freer than the strict parameters we sometimes like to apply.

Suppose those pianists you refer to as playing in the key of C were actually playing in A minor? Well, Harmonic or Melodic there will be "black notes" and they are in key, they already know that.

If you look at the sheet music for The Beatles "Yesterday", (Three Stave, not the lead sheet) it has accidentals but they are still "in key".

It opens with an F chord but the first note of the melody is a G! Arguably that opening melody line chord after the first two bars is a Fsus2. It can't be an F9 because there is no E flat 7th note to "9th" it from.

The very next bar opens with a B natural in an E minor 7 chord. Everybody knows the B is flattened in F Major and D minor,* which is the key Yesterday is written in.

Look at that dull, plodding trad intro, but the first two bars of the melody are different to the key. To strict theory rules this is anarchy!

As a lesson I would recommend getting the sheet music for this song and studying it carefully.

Notice how good that Melodic Minor line sounds, plenty of accidentals.

Playing three stave music will give you much more experience to apply to lead sheets.

Originally Posted by willywagtail
If it sounds good it's okay.. but what are the chordal rules that govern this?

Perhaps those people playing in C are playing in the so-called Blues scale of C, this has E,G and B flats as well as G natural.

There are so many versions of scales and any of the twelve notes can be found somewhere in them. So every note on the keyboard fits at least one version of every scale set. So that every note can be played in one scale or other of a particular root.

Imagine giving a piano to Oscar Peterson or Glenn Gould and saying, "Sorry, it has only got the white notes of the C major scale."

I once bought a book called "Scales and Modes" published by Flame Tree Publishing**, I'm sure other books are available, however, I will list the scales it shows for each note on the keyboard, I will only list C.

C Major,
C Major Pentatonic,
C Lydian,
C Lydian Augmented,
C Natural Minor (Which I believe is really the Aeolian Mode but has been stolen by "experts". Personal view and a long story.)
C Harmonic Minor,
C Melodic Minor,
C Dorian,
C Minor Pentatonic,
C Blues,
C Phrygian,
C Locrian,
C Half Diminished,
C Mixolydian,
C Phrygian Major/Spanish Gypsy,
C Lydian Dominant,
C Diminished Wholetone/Super Locrian/Altered, (What... I mean... C'Mon!!" Your just making these up as you go along!)
C Diminished,
C Chromatic,
C Wholetone,
C Neapolitan, (Bring your own ice-cream)
C Leading Wholetone,
C Lydian Augmented Dominant,
C Lydian Dominant with a Flattened 6th (Back to making 'em up...)
C Major Locrian/Arabian.
C Semi-Locrian with a flattened 4th
C Super Locrian with a Double Flattened 3rd(!!)
C Bebop Dominant
C Bebop Major
C Bebop Dorian
C Byzantine/Arabic/Double Harmonic Major. (Really pushed the boat out with that little beauty!

That is a total of 31 Scales of C major and all 11 other notes on the keyboard, 29 of the scales have accidentals, many having both sharps and flats and some have naturals.
C Diminished, C Chromatic and C Semi-Locrian with a flattened 4th, have sharps, flats and naturals!

Now, those pianists playing black notes in C, I wonder which scale, or mode they were in at the time.

Not only, unsurprisingly, all notes are contained in different keys, but all 12 notes are even contained in ONE specific key!

I think you may find it a big help by reading sheet music, not lead sheets, you will learn a lot more about the structure of music that you will gradually be able to apply to lead sheets, making them even more useful to you.
Sheet music improves the reading of lead sheets. Lead sheets do not improve the reading of music.

* Just to explain, a B natural occurs in the following F scales, - Lydian, Lydian Augmented, Lydian Dominant, Diminished, Chromatic, Wholetone, Leading Wholetone, Lydian Augmented Dominant, Lydian Dominant with a Flattened 6th, Semi-Locrian with a flattened 4th, Super-Locrian with a Double Flattened 3rd.
** Neither I nor any of my family are connected in any way to Flame Tree Publishing.

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This is assuming we are diving right back in to full on improvisation again. This is more advanced jazz topic than it is how to play lead sheets.

All good, but like diving into the deep end before knowing how to swim.

"Lead sheets do not contain any information other than the melody line. You need the three stave music to learn modulation technique.

The three staves in sheet music are, "Melody, Accompaniment, Bass" ..."


Lead sheets provide, melody, accompaniment (the chords) and an implied bass (the root of the chords) or will be notated by way of a slash chord. Also the key and time signature is provided.

All you have to do is follow the chords and the melody. Anything beyond this is perhaps great to know but not a requirement for doing a good job interpreting lead sheets.

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Originally Posted by Greener
This is assuming we are diving right back in to full on improvisation again. This is more advanced jazz topic than it is how to play lead sheets.
Nothing of the kind. If you read it you would see I explain how pianists playing in C major play black notes. Nobody else has touched on it. I think it is for the OP to decide if it is too advanced, in which case he can just ignore it. As I could have ignored you.

Originally Posted by Greener
All good, but like diving into the deep end before knowing how to swim.
Nothing of the kind. I am actually saying it is better to gain experience from people who know how to apply the correct procedure than to try to learn it yourself without any guidance. You may think differently, I have no problem with that.

Originally Posted by Greener
"Lead sheets do not contain any information other than the melody line. You need the three stave music to learn modulation technique.

The three staves in sheet music are, "Melody, Accompaniment, Bass" ..."


Lead sheets provide, melody, accompaniment (the chords) and an implied bass (the root of the chords) or will be notated by way of a slash chord. Also the key and time signature is provided.

All you have to do is follow the chords and the melody. Anything beyond this is perhaps great to know but not a requirement for doing a good job interpreting lead sheets.

I have plenty of lead sheets, mainly in books, many hand written, that meet my description. I am delighted yours are so much better, although that is getting into the more advanced jazz topic of diving right into full on improvisation.

Thank you for your critical appraisal of my comment. I thought I would return the favour.

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Originally Posted by slipperykeys
...
I have plenty of lead sheets, mainly in books, many hand written, that meet my description. I am delighted yours are so much better, although that is getting into the more advanced jazz topic of diving right into full on improvisation.

Thank you for your critical appraisal of my comment. I thought I would return the favour.

Aren't they all the same, providing the same basic elements?

Sorry, I didn't mean to offend. Just think we make lead sheets out to be so complicated, but they are not. They just provide the same basic elements in a simplified way. All we have to do is interpret how to play it, but not what to play. It's all there and given to us already.

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Wow..slippery keys and greener...didn't have a reply for days now these comprehensive replays
Just wanted to than you while I go through them.
Later

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Certainly appreciate your comments...
I forgot to mention in my OP that I knew to achieve a fuller more satisfying sound from a lead sheet I needed to beef up my left hand..which I have done

I understand that just because the key is C major it shouldn't have black notes..I was wondering about fills in melody free measures...must have been the C blues scale.

3 stave sheets sound great..take or leave what you want
.
Greener your right I am now just doing my own impro as i see it..just thought i would grab some guidelines.
These things aren't fixed..trills.fills. etc...

Last edited by willywagtail; 11/15/21 03:05 AM.
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Originally Posted by Greener
Aren't they all the same, providing the same basic elements?

Ah, I see. Having seen my first link below, I may have confused, "Lead sheets" with "Fake books", or are they the same? I don't know.

Anyway, if I have the I now owe you an apology! So apologies to you for it.

I do have other lead sheets like you describe too of varying quality.

Originally Posted by Greener
Sorry, I didn't mean to offend.

It is gracious and generous of you to apologise, Please see above!

Originally Posted by willywagtail
I understand that just because the key is C major it shouldn't have black notes..I was wondering about fills in melody free measures...must have been the C blues scale.

I haven't explained myself very well, it seems.

I put "Piano improvising for beginners PDF" in the DuckDuckGo search box and here is one of the results.

https://www.musical-u.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/5-steps-to-piano-improvisation.pdf

Here is something far more complex and it is beginning to go down the road of advanced jazz theory. I think at some point it has to be addressed if you want to be good at improv.

https://corcoranhighschoolmusic.wee...41/improvisation_technique_for_piano.pdf


I hope this proves useful.

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I equate a lead sheet to a page out of Hal Leonard's, Real Book.
Is this correct?


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Yes, that is exactly what I think a complete lead sheet is. His even have lyrics, but many do not.

A band leader may just write out a small section of melody for someone, without any mention of key or chords even, since they already know this and just need the melody. This would also be considered a lead sheet, but not a complete arrangement.

Hal leonard real book is the real deal.


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