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Playing from lead sheets / fake books


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#1 David Garner

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 22:47

I'm not sure if this is the forum to ask this, really, it being so geared towards "classical" piano but I thought I'd give it a go ...

 

I have done up to Grade 8 in both piano and (classical) organ and have no problem learning and playing repertoire for both from traditional scores (well, repertoire within my ability anyway).

 

However, for various reasons have found myself wanting and indeed needing to be able to play from lead sheets / fake books - i.e., just melody and chord symbols.

 

I'd like to be able to play in a variety of styles from said books - just comping (to, e.g., accompany a singer or play in a band) or playing solo (so, melody + accompaniment). When I say a variety of styles I mean all music from, say, the Victorian era through to the present day - so music hall songs, showtunes, rock, and modern pop. So most styles except perhaps jazz which I'm not so keen on.

 

I have no problems realising chords at the piano from symbols at all in a variety of voicings.

 

However I have a HUGE problem in realising musically accomplished performance with rhythmic contrast, etc. For example, if someone said to me "play this in the style of Elton John" I just wouldn't know where to start.

 

So, my question is, can anyone recommend where to start in learning to play from a lead sheet / fake book. I have looked in the music shop but all the books I have found are pretty much uniformly terrible - just teaching you basic triad voicings and doing a block chord crotchet vamp in the left hand, say, and melody in the right, which always sounds awful on the piano.

 

The only thing I can realise reasonably effective is an oop-ah "stride" style which can be useful for some songs (mostly showtune). Oh, and of course a Karen carpenter-style right hand 'rocking' between root and 3rd/5th of the chord which is OK for playing some carpenters tunes and "Imagine" but not a lot else.

But modern pop or rock, music, say, and I just don't know where to start in doing either a 'comp' or a solo melody + comp.

So I wondered if anyone could recommend a good tutor book, or an approach, or even a London-based teacher?

Many thanks

David.

 


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#2 corenfa

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 07:22

https://online.berklee.edu/handbooks

Maybe something here? They are supposedly free to get with signing up. I am not affiliated with them in any way, I've just heard of them by reputation
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#3 zwhe

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 06:56

If I have read it correctly, it sounds as if you know what chords to play - how are you on all the inversions? If that's a problem, that would be the next thing to work on, as usually you play the version of the chord that is nearest to where you are already playing rather than moving around for the basic triads. eg if you have just played CEG and the next chord is F, you would play CFA, not FAC.

In terms of style, much of it is about careful listening and thinking about what the piano/keyboard player is doing. I can't recommend any books, but there are loads of websites which give advice. If you search online and look for teachers who specifically say they teach pop you could contact them and explain what you are looking for.


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#4 mel2

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 10:22

My best suggestion, and not difficult if you are London- based, is to go to jazz clubs and just listen and listen.

You go to pains to point out that the theory and chord-realisation isn't the problem so much as constructing a convincing bass line. Maybe joining in with scat-singing (with the radio, I hasten to add) or slap-bass parts might offer some clues.
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#5 dorfmouse

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 11:07

I have two books by Jürgen Moser called Rock Piano, professional know-how of contemporary keyboard playing. Vol 1 and 2.
Now, they are in German, but there in not an enormous amount of text and each chapter goes quickly to are clearly written out examples of the standard rock styles and rhythms. I'm looking at Vol 2: each chapter presents a style eg blues, slow blues,boogie woogie, r&b, rock shuffle, straight rock,funk rock, rock ballad, latin rock. Within that are written out examples of the different rhythmic accompaniment for each style and varations. For each style there are also fully written out solo pieces which you can vary using the ideas given. (They are fun to play as they stand). They come with CDs.
Even vol 1 doesn't spend pages on beginner concepts but moves quickly to examples of usable patterns.

I found this also, which is in English
https://www.bookdepo...r/9783795751951
which looks like it covers the same ground but I don't know.
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#6 David Garner

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 20:08

Thanks everyone for the replies!

 

Corenfa: The Berklee Online free "taster" courses are great - have done a couple already (although not related to my original question) - thanks for the link - a great resource there.

 

zwhe and mel2: I'm fine with realising invesions, too, and two-handed voicings as well for triads and sevenths. What I'm not so good at is 9ths, sus chords, etc. I have to stop and think whereas for triads and sevenths I don't have to think. So something to work on there, it's true.In general, I'm not great at learning by listening and/or watching YouTube videos or other people perform. I'm a bit old-fashioned with my learning I suppose - I respond best to tutor books and personal or group tuition. But thanks for the suggestion.

dorfmouse: Those books look like just the thing I'm after - thank you! I do question whether the link you gave me is in English because the same book is on Amazon described as being in English but the reviews are complaining that it is in fact in German. Well, I have an O-level in German dating from 1987 so … well, yeah - it sounds from your description that the text isn't so important anyway. So I'll certainly take a look at those - thanks!

But since I posted I appear to have found a London-based teacher who teaches the things I posted about as well as "traditional" piano from notation so I'm having a trial lesson with her in a fortnight. My first piano lesson in 30 years. A slightly nerve-wracking experience. 

I will report back!

Thanks again all

David.


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#7 corenfa

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 20:41

I bought the books mentioned so when they arrive I'll also report back...

I got interested in this stuff after going on a piano for ballet class course. The teacher of that course also teaches this sort of thing, so if you want her details I can PM you them.
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