Wednesday, June 08, 2005

How to Figure Out What Another Pianist is Doing

A student once asked me; "how can I determine what my favorite piano player is actually doing on the keyboard just by listening?"

An excellent question. Here's how. First, figure out what the left-hand is doing. This is the key to understanding what is being done by any piano player, no matter what the style. Let's take New Age pianist David Lanz as an example. Lanz's style usually revolves around a left hand that plays an ostinato pattern while the right hand improvises. Very few pianists base their compositions on the right-hand.

It has to do with the way the piano is structured. You have the bass notes and midrange section of the keyboard allotted to the left-hand. And this accounts for the "arrangement" of most piano pieces. In fact, once you figure out what the left-hand is doing, you've got it down!

The left-hand will usally be playing an arpeggio, broken or solid chords, or bass-chord arrangement.

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