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#586262 - 02/13/08 10:25 PM Odd question for piano players  
Joined: Jul 2005
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Scott Campbell Offline
Scott Campbell  Offline

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Lakeland, FL, USA
Guitar is the instrument I play the most. I do a bit of fingerpicking. Nothing fancy like the people who play a rhythm and melody simulataneously. I do what I think is called "pattern picking" which is essentially picking in a repetitive pattern - you shift strings some depending on the chord and you can introduce a few fills to add some bells and whistles. Mostly, it just works nicely for self-accompaniament (that's spelled wrong, I think) when a strum doesn't fit the bill. You can find sound clips and tabs on the net for different patterns. There are several that I use.

I like to add piano to some of my songs but I'd like to do something more than just bang chords. Sometimes I'll make up a pattern for my fingers to follow but I'd like to learn if there are others. Are there patterns that people use for piano self-accompaniament analogous to what I described above for guitar? Left hand follows this pattern on each chord, right hand follows this...

I've tried to find books that might have this kind of info but mostly they just seem to want you to play melodies with the right hand.

Any suggestions for where to look? Or is this something people don't even do on the piano...

I learned a lot of the guitar patterns by jamming with other people. That doesn't seem to work as well for pianos. smile


#586279 - 02/13/08 11:28 PM Re: Odd question for piano players [Re: Scott Campbell]  
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Linda Sings Offline
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Yep, Scott, this is what I do all the time.
I am not always sure what my fingers are doing, but I am always sure of my fingers. smile
If you have a chord chart, you can look up what the piano chords look like in several places on the net. (google search "piano chords") Figure out which keys belong in the chord, and only play those - in whatever patterns you choose.

Experimentation is best, but an easy one to learn is to roll the notes from bottom to top with the left hand, and keep the right hand just holding down the main 2-3 notes of the chord. You can use the right hand to keep the "strum" rhythm if you want. Or you can roll the fingers of both hands. Or take turns.

If you read sheet music, and have some for the song, you can do this with anything you're playing. Fool around with it a bit. It's fun. My sister taught me the basic technique when I was a teen.

It's actually hard now for me to play any sheet music exactly as written, except straight classical pieces.

Good luck and have fun!


EDIT: I read this book from the library about a year ago, and it was fairly helpful. Mostly it validated what I was already doing by instinct - but it answers a lot of the questions you're asking, in plain English: http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Flash-Favorite-Pro-Whether-Lessons/dp/1401307663

Last edited by Linda Adams; 02/13/08 11:32 PM.
#586422 - 02/14/08 05:07 AM Re: Odd question for piano players [Re: Linda Sings]  
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mattbanx Offline
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Northern Minnesota
I wanted to play drums some years back doing metal type covers, but when I started recording originals, I could not very well play drums in my apartment unit.
So I picked up a Casio keyboards with percussion sounds.
I finger tap the keys to drum.
Quite limiting trying to balance like that with my fingers trying to sound like a drummer. And I only do my own compositions, which is far from showing off splendid playing.
I did it mainly to have styles to sing on to demonstrate for cover acts that did some originals in their set, which I have here for a link.
But it has sure seemed to help my timing with playing keyboards. In my first recordings, I would try to go 3 or more minutes straight through a song. Tapping keys for the The bass drum with one hand and rock drum with the other along with cymble accents. Because I stopped using samples to try and be more emotive.
Then I could play a bit more complex piano motives as time went by.

I'm not ambidextrious, but it has got me to where I can play at a simple level using both hands better.

Probably would'nt fly as far as the proper learning method, but for someone that may be uncoordinated it could'nt hurt.

#586909 - 02/15/08 02:17 AM Re: Odd question for piano players [Re: mattbanx]  
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Scott Campbell Offline
Scott Campbell  Offline

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Lakeland, FL, USA
Thanks, Linda.

I know all the chord positions - just looking for different ways to move the fingers on them.

Thanks for the suggestion. I already do what you suggested except do the roll with my right hand. So after I read your post, I tried doing it with my left and got quite a different sound. So I'll add it to my toolbox. Many thanks!


#586911 - 02/15/08 02:19 AM Re: Odd question for piano players [Re: Scott Campbell]  
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Scott Campbell Offline
Scott Campbell  Offline

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Is that you, Matt smile

I think my timing is not bad - but that's an interesting exercise you suggest - and will work on many keyboards I reckon.


#586976 - 02/15/08 05:45 AM Re: Odd question for piano players [Re: Scott Campbell]  
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Linda Sings Offline
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Cool - there you go! Once you have the roll down, you can pretend you're "fingerpicking" the piano keys and come up with more patterns. You're welcome!

#587054 - 02/15/08 01:56 PM Re: Odd question for piano players [Re: Linda Sings]  
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Johnny Daubert Offline
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Johnny Daubert  Offline
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This is just one way to start the porcess I think you are wanting to hear:
Do you know how to play chord inversions? If not, just start your right hand chord with the third of that chord, (E note for the C chord, Notes: E G C for one inversion of the C chord. YOu cold also start on the G note, (Notes; G C E). Just your basic three finger chords,,,which you can of course add notes in that fit the song, say the 6th, or 7th, or sus. You could play those notes one at a time much like picking on the guitar. Simulate the sounds. Make the piano sound as if a guitar that is being played the way you play yours when picking. Find those notes on the guitar, and use them in similar ways on the piano.

For the left hand, you could be either on the root, rocking back and forth on octaves, or if able, to have a rythmic pattern of several notes that compliment your right hand pickng sounds style of playing. (NOt as busy, and focusing more on the downbeat.

(The right hand doesn't always have to stay ont he upbeat either, as that is for the drums to pronounce the snare mostly. You could be playing in bewtween the downbeat and the upbeat, to really get a good rythym going. It then makes the holes at the upbeats, which is cool sounding,,,,and again, lets the snare be the real time keeper. A lot of players will not be dead on the upbeat anyway for all beats, so it's just good practice to be either on the downbeat or in between that and the upbeat. (of course playing on the upbeat here and there,,,,and at a softer attack as to not overtake the snare's job and feel.

For another way, for the right hand, you could play two notes mainly, and if they fit the song or chord changes for some,,,,play the root of the chord with the suspended third, (or the fourth). Like in your making it up song,,,,I played some chords with just the root and the suspended third, (Notes; Gb and B), for the Gb chord,,,and playing them as eight notes for some area, for effect, as the vocal was slowing up in phrasing, for what makes a cool contrast of supportive sounds without being on each other's beat all the time.

For the left hand with that type of playing, it's best to just let the deep root sustain, while jumping up to play some accent notes in the octave above.

Sometime, see if Sub can shoot you just the piano track of "making it up as we go", and see if you can pick apart what I mean.

The thing to remember, for not wanting to pound chord all the way through your songs, is to think of your piano sounds as just that,,,sounds you hear coming in and out,,,,accenting, and not taking over the job of saying, "here's all the chords and this is the beat". Allow for holes. Allow for not always being on the upbeat,,,or even downbeat for the right hand. Less is more.

Make your piano be like picking on the guitar,,,,,,then play the guitar in equal strums, and you'll have the reverse of sounds with the picking style you like too! There are options when you can play with notes,,,,not just with chords. Picture your fngers when typing,,,,,then apply that technique to the piano keys. you don't have to always strike chords with one hit. They can be delayed, and starting with one note of the chord,,,and as I mentioned, with other added notes to the chord that isn't being played on the guitar, (like a 6th, or 9th, or 7th, or anything).

You're creative,,,,so first,,,just hear sounds as you play the song in your head, and start to hear accenting sounds.

Remember too, that you can hold a not on the right hand for say 3 and half beats before even going to another chord or notes,,,,AND that hold of that note may be one that will stay while the chords are changing.

Have fun experimenting. Try everything!


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
Songnado I and II:

#587684 - 02/17/08 11:23 PM Re: Odd question for piano players [Re: Johnny Daubert]  
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Scott Campbell Offline
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Lakeland, FL, USA
Hey John:

Thanks so much for the detailed response. I know enough to understand everything you're saying.

Some really cool ideas to play around with there. Will start practicing!

Cool! Thanks!


#588788 - 02/21/08 04:49 PM Re: Odd question for piano players [Re: Scott Campbell]  
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Dave Derbes Offline
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Pottsville, PA
Having been a drummer/pianist going to guitar... I feel your pain! The piano is cool because you can think of it as both accompaniment and solo at the same time. The left hand does well with octaves and the 5th in the middle. If you have large enough hands or longer fingers, you can play the the 10th (C to E) with the 5th in the middle, rocking back and forth or together.

You an also try some independent hand/finger movements where the left hand climbs up and the right hand moves contrary, and maybe off the beat. Keep in mind that your inner notes can move independently in both hands. (i'm doing poorly explaning this)

I think the beauty of using the piano and what you're trying to do is making use of the non-chordal tones which are very easy to access compared to the guitar. You can visualize them and reach them without being a contortionist.

While I took piano, drum and music lessons for awhile, I did learn a lot just by taking the fake or real book and playing old jazz or standards classics. There you only have melody and chords......so it forces you to be creative in your accompaniment.

Best of luck

#589624 - 02/24/08 03:11 PM Re: Odd question for piano players [Re: Dave Derbes]  
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Scott Campbell Offline
Scott Campbell  Offline

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Lakeland, FL, USA
Hi Dave:

Thanks for the suggestions - I was able to follow your descriptions.

Getting some cool ideas to try here - thanks!


#589685 - 02/24/08 08:13 PM Re: Odd question for piano players [Re: Scott Campbell]  
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Mark Kaufman Offline
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Scott, an idea for hacks like us who can hear it but not necessarily play it...

One of the wonders of multitracking is that you can build a difficult part piecemeal. I know you mentioned doing this with your vocals on "End of the World". So...hammer out one cool "fingerpicking" pattern with two fingers on one track, play the rest on another track or two, then bounce them down to one track.

#591233 - 02/29/08 01:23 AM Re: Odd question for piano players [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
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Scott Campbell Offline
Scott Campbell  Offline

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Hey Lyle:

Ha - I've already done that a few times - though not on anything I've posted. smile

Yes, is a great idea. If I just want to make the best recording I can, I'll do that kind of thing.

Here I'm more interested in further developing my (few) skills on an instrument...


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