Last night I was playing around on the piano, doing what my teacher suggested. It was getting boring, and the chords were good, but I wanted something different. So I began to wonder if I could accompany myself with the left hand while playing the melody with the right hand. I have found 2 different ways of using my left hand. One is to play just the chords with the odd passing note thrown in, while the right takes the melody only. The other is to break the chords in the left hand while playing with the right. I still feels a bit strange, but I can see my musical world expanding. I could always pick up hymns quickly, and now I think I will be able to harmonise them quicker too, and they should sound good right away with very little effort. Right now, it’s just a matter of practising and experimenting with these techniques.
It’s been a while. First off, I passed my grade 8 with a b plus!
But the real reason I am bogging is because I’m studying jazz piano, Modern chords and improvisation. This is worlds apart from classical, and it’s a real shock to the system for me, a classical player for so many years. Unlike Beethoven, who expresses what to play via the sheet music, jazz just leaves you with an outline to follow, and then you need to fill it in. It just tells you the chords to play, maybe a little melody, and then the rest is yours. Reminds me a little of the baroque where people played figured bass, a system of shorthand that told the player what chords to play but the player decided how to play them. Jazz piano is total freedom to do anything you want within the structure of the music. Unlike most classical music, where the composer wants me the musician to express what the composer was thinking. For me as a classical musician, it’s about expressing the intent of the composer as much as possible. In jazz, I guess it’s more about self-expresssion.
This is actually quite hard to do. It’s hard to let go and let my hair down for the world to see, I’m a private person and somehow in a strange way, it’s quite confronting having to improvise. I know that sounds strange, but for me, it’s true, and I think that’s why I just find it hard to do. I can play blues because it’s structured so I’m still working to a plan. But if I could just do straight out improvisation, it would really stretch me I think.