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Thread: Piano accompanying tips?

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Oct 2018
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    Default Piano accompanying tips?

    I would like to delve into accompaniment more. I'm late intermediate, with some experience in performing. I know a few other musicians (guitarists, vocalists, and a violinist) whom I've played violin with, but not piano. I've never done accompaniment before.
    Do you have any advice? Piece recommendations? Any pet peeves you have about accompanists?
    The musicians mentioned above are mostly country/rock, but I think they're open to anything. One is I think around intermediate, while the other is late intermediate or early advanced. The violinist (who is also one of the guitarists) enjoys classical, jazz, and some fiddle, but I don't know if he plays jazz on the violin or not. I'm not sure what level he was on prior to "taking a break," but the break he took was quite long, lasting a couple of years. As for me, I prefer classical and early jazz, but I'm open to other genres, as well.
    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    As for jazz/rock comping, I guess it's a matter of listening with more attention to other musicians (this should be the case in any musical situation, though). When the piano is playing mostly chords, the soloist, whoever it is, should take the charge, while the piano and the rhythmic session overall goes after them, at least that's what happens in a more conventional context.

    But in order to make it flow, it's necessary to know the song/piece deeply. I recommend studying the melody (even if you're not in charge of being the soloist), the harmony (voicings, different ways of playing the same chords) and the rhythmic cells. After all of this, it'd be interesting to transpose to other keys.

    It's not something easy in the beginning, but I assure you that if you take a few songs to practice that, after a while you'll be mastering accompanying.

  3. #3
    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Feb 2013
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    I play folk accompaniment which can be fairly basic. Generally, you'll get the melody and some suggested chords. Something like Peter Barnes' "Interview with a Vamper: Piano Accompaniment Techniques for Traditional Dance Music" will cover the basic vamping technique. If you're working from a lead sheet, you won't be bothered too much about voicing. You want to keep the accompaniment below the melody so you want to keep the right hand chords in the range F3 to G4 (around middle C). This means that you have all the chords, albeit not in root position, under your hand. If you get slash chords (which specify an inversion) you can put that note in the left hand.

    If your playing with a violin, you'll often have a specific notated accompaniment. If you're playing with a fiddle, you can be much freer, but remember the fiddle has the mlody and you have the rhythm and harmony section.

    If you go back in time, you can try playing off figured bass as a continuo technique Great fun!
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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