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10 Part III: One Hand at a Time
Playing More than drifts vOith \/our Left Hand
You have several options with your left hand: You can play scales, melodies, simple one-note harmonies, chords, or just plain cool-sounding accompaniment patterns. That’s not just a sales pitch — they really are cool-sounding. I show you single-note harmonies and chords in Chapters 10 and 11; in this section, 1 concentrate on scales, melodies, and patterns.
South ~pau! scales
I know scales aren’t the most exciting things to play, but please be patient.
By playing left-hand scales you unwittingly master the following music essentials:
J1 Reading the bass clef
J’ Playing with the correct fingering
J1 Using nifty patterns and harmonies
J1 Realizing how much you miss playing with the right hand
Start with some major and minor scales by reading and playing along with Figure 9-4. (Chapter 8 tells you all about major and minor scales.) As with right-handed playing, remember to use the correct fingerings as indicated by the numbers above each note. How and when you cross your fingers is very important for obtaining a smooth sound and comfortable left-hand technique. Good luck.
C major: Cross Cross g major:
5 4 3 2 1~3 2 1 2 3~? 2 3 4 5
Scaling up with your left hand.
Chapter 9: Hey, Don't Forget Lefty!
Playing scale fragments is one of the most common ways to accompany a right-handed melody. The notes in Figure 9-5 are fragments of major, minor, and blues scales. This piano playing could start sounding pretty darn groovy after a while.
Fragments of a good thing still make a good thing.
*— ?— • • ?— •—s— ll,. H
/ HN -- m —• — ° A
Sometimes it’s nice to play a melody with your left hand. You may tire of playing with your right hand, want to hear the melody lower, want to add a little variety to the song, or have an itch that needs a good right-hand scratching.
Whatever the reason, I do have a hidden agenda here: Playing melodies with the left hand helps you get familiar with the bass clef notes while strengthening your left-hand coordination. Don’t hold it against me for having a secret agenda.
Left-hand melodies are lots of fun, but remember to observe the correct fingerings as you play these classics, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Little Brown Jug” (Tracks 36 and 37). Actually, I renamed the latter “Little Keyboard” to give you a little musical inspiration.
112 Part III: One Hand at a Time
Su>ing Lou/, Su/eet Chariot
1 2 1 2 4 5 2
Swing low, sweet char- i - at, com-in' for to car-ry me home. Swing—
3 1 2 5 3 1 2 3
low, sweet char - i - at, com-in' for to car-ry me home.
3 5 3 4 2 *): 4—s • • •—4—m- 1 2 13 . 1» m * dP~ 2 1 r r
5 3 4 2 * m m J * m i 1 U 1 3 2 r-p— f P f 1 -1——p— 2 » » f
6 4 3 2 3 2 1 2 ?— 1 •
4 3 2 3 2 1 4 1
*=? Ip-f-p i?rr • r IT r r f II
Chapter 9: Hey, Don't Forget Lefty!
Scales and melodies are fine material for the left hand, but this isn’t Lefty’s main purpose. Rather, your left hand begs to be playing accompaniment patterns while your right hand noodles around with a melody or some chords. One of the most user-friendly left-hand patterns is the arpeggio.
(I show you other, jazzier accompaniment patterns in Chapter 14.)
Oh, no! More Italian? Yes, in addition to pizza, rigatoni, and ciao, the other Italian word that should be part of your everyday vocabulary is arpeggio. The word translates to “harp-like,” which means absolutely nothing to piano players. However, after many years of bad translations, musicians have come to understand this word as meaning “a broken chord.”
Well, nothing’s really broken about an arpeggio — it works great. You simply play the notes of a chord one at a time, rather than all at once. (See Chapter 12 for more about chords.)
In my opinion, three-note arpeggios are the easiest and most versatile left-hand accompaniment pattern to play. A three-note arpeggio fits the hand really nicely, too. For example, place your left hand on the keys in C position with LH 5 on C, LH 2 on G above that, and LH 1 on middle C. Fits like a glove, right?
^ The three notes you use for three-note arpeggios are the root, fifth, and top
notes of the appropriate scale. (Chapter 8 tells you more about scales.) |fOjl Using the C major scale, for example, the arpeggio notes are C, G, and C.
Now comes the versatile part: The pattern is the exact same in the C minor scale. So, you can apply the three-note arpeggio to major or minor harmonies by playing the root, fifth, and top notes of the scale, as shown in Figure 9-6.
minor, C arpeggio G arpeggio F arpeggio A arpeggio
of these ^ n u o u „ ° «i *
arpeggios o 0 11
have the same pattern.
u Part III: One Hand at a Time
The easiest way to start playing three-note arpeggios is with a quarter-note rhythm. In 4/4 meter, you play in an “up and back” motion — root, fifth, top, fifth — so that every measure begins with the root note of each arpeggio. In 3/4 meter, you play upwards — root, fifth, top — only, again so that each measure begins with the root note.