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Mathieux

Piano Background Music

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Hey everyone,

Although it might seem sad, I've been playing piano for a little over 10 years now and I don't know how to do one thing: Play background music.

In jazz band, our pianist (whenever we aren't playing) plays the prettiest background music, no matter what you'll always hear him just improving and it sounds so wonderful.. I want to learn how to do that.

He said he'll teach me, but I don't know how serious he is on this... but even still I want to learn how to just improv and make up some nice relixing background music. There are some restaurants in town that hire live pianists, and it's always sort have been a goal of mine to be one of them. I want to learn now so that maybe next year I'll be good enough to be one of those people :P

So does anyone here know how to do this? Can anyone give me a few pointers on where to start, what to do, etc.? I sort of quit jazz band, 'cause we suck, so I don't know if I'll ever see our pianist again, and I do want to learn mostly on my own.... I just don't know how or where to start. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

thanks so very much!

Mathieu

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So are you talking about Jazz music only, or you're also thinking in other kinds of "backgrounds" ?

I used to play piano in a restaurant, but not precisely Jazz music, maybe a little but mostly "well-known" songs like "My Way" "Tenderly" (bossa-nova like) "Corcovado" "Desafinado" and Mexican songs like "Besame mucho" "Fascinacion", movie themes too.....etc, etc...

but sometimes I was able to play just "Backgroud" music, not theme, not song, just "Nice Ambient" is that what you want ?...

Remember Jazz is very much of "improvisation", but there are chords, harmonic cycles, that may funtion like a "Material" to play like that.

I do not concider myself a Jazzist, but I'll tell you what I got:

Get well used to BIG chords, without leaving the tonality (I mean, not to big that sounds atonal music) ninths, elevens etc

(In my very personal opinion) Play in MINOR please...

Get one of those "Fake books" of jazz songs and look at the chords the piano must play, ignore the melody and try to play just the harmony, with "NO RUSH" just cooooool

....I hope that helps...I'll think in more stuff...

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Yeah, the just "Background" music, not theme, not song, just "Nice Ambient" music... I mean I know enough "actual songs" by real composers and are published and well known that I could play for a good hour or two, but once those songs started repeating everyday people would get tired of them. I want to be able to just play that "nice ambient" music and then someone would come and and request a song, or I would just eventually lead into one, playing the "nice ambient" music in between songs for a good 5-10 minutes.

I mean after all you don't go to a restaurant to listen to the pianist, you go to eat. So you don't really need to know that many songs, you need to know how to play that "nice ambient" music, which is what I want to learn.

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Yes you're right, I was saying that you can build 10 minutes of nothing, just Ambient using the chords of a song, or a variation of it.

People won't get a "Song" if they don't hear the Melody quite clear,...

.... so you may hide yourself using a popular Jazzy song like "Tenderly" or "Misty" yes I think "Misty" is better....you use the same chords with no melody, make some delicate arpeggios, cool the beat, almost to the slowest possible, perhaps repeat everything in other tonality, add some other chords, maybe a very short melody, play and play and soon you'll find out that 10 minutes had passed already and now you may continue playing a more vivid Song just to change the mood and avoid boring the audience.

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Play. sit and play.

Improvisation gets better with practice. Be sure to not over think, it is all about fluidity. Being a pianist of 10 years, you should be comfortable with techinique. Just have fun, and try not to care what it sounds like (at least when first starting).

HAVE FUN!!!

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Yeah totally, just play, don't think.

And sometimes you don't even need a real beat... just let it come out of you in whatever way. Pretty much any chord prog. you can turn into 'nice ambient music'... just turn the chords into add9's and minor7ths. Repetition is actually really the key to it... find something ncie and stick to it, just varying it subtley, and then when you play something new it'll really catch people's attention as well :)

Use the pedal lots aswell haha.

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... just turn the chords into add9's and minor7ths. Repetition is actually really the key to it...

Use the pedal lots aswell haha.

Yes, follow this guy, he's right.

I think you have enough for 10 minutes with this kind of chords:

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I posted some chords that could help to the purpose but I wasn't trying to make this thread ends, I may play in a restaurant again, and I'm interested in other advises, those "backgrouds" are very necessary in those places.

I can achieve some "improvised" "backgrounds" using the kind or chords I submitted, but not as good as others I've heard in Jazz Pianists, I would like to learn or enhance this ability.

I'm afraid I disagree with Pieter Smal in the Mozart suggestion, this is not finding "relax" music only, the point is playing without playing a particular piece besides, those "Restaurant Piano backgrounds" are already some kind of music genre or style.

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No I think more like jazz, .....chords, arpeggios, ambient....

Last week I saw this book in a store:

Amazon.com: Jazzology: The Encyclopedia of Jazz Theory for All Musicians: Robert Rawlins, Nor Eddine Bahha: Books

I Think i'm going to buy it, .....can anyone tell me if it's a good book ?, I looked it for a while and I saw useful stuff (unknown to me)

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Look up Keith Jarret's Koeln Concert. The entire thing was made up on the spot, and is just one of the most amazing thing's you'll ever hear when you take up the spontaneity into consideration. There are transcriptions out there of that concert that you could learn that would give you both ideas and a good hour of repertoire to perform.

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Chordschordschords. Fun arpeggios. Get your chord theory (and those awesome color tones and everything) down-pat, and then just go to town. Lots of arpeggios and fun stuff, and you can do a surprising amount of melodic stuff within chordal improvisations. It doesn't even need to be strictly chordal, of course, you can find a nice little ostinato and mess around unobtrusively over top of it. Really, it's whatever you want it to be. But I would highly recommend getting really really comfortable with your chords and all variations thereof. Other than that, my advice is to PRACTICE--because the more comfortable you get with your own improv, and the more little bits you come up with, the more material you'll have to fall back on that you know how to play well.

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Anyone have any good sources (books or jazz wiki type thing) for good reading, research, learning in general about solo piano improv? Or not solo, I'm sure it's all useful to know. I'm interested in learning more about anything that would assist with my "background piano music" capability.

I had a link in an email, but it was to their homepage, which expired >.<

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One suggestion is to learn to play chords in any and every voicing possible in both hands. Not just different inversions. Try playing the entire chord in your left hand while noodling in the right. Try playing key notes of the chord, spaced out, in either hand, IE...left hand...3rd on bottom, root in middle, fifth on top (one of my faves, but I have big hands). Or, left hand root and 7th.....right hand 5th and 3rd. These sort of voicings not only give normal 3 or 4 note chords a much more complex sound, but they also help give you the ability to place the melody anywhere on the piano. I've seen keybaordists who can sustain a constant melody with their 2 thumbs, while progressing the chords above, and below the melody.

Also, I agree with the Mozart suggestion. I played for a department store here for a little bit, and one of my saviors when I'd start running out of music, but didn't feel like looping my song cycle (for the sake of me, and the retail clerks who'd hear the same stuff daily) was classical music. I've used Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy often. Remember, these guys, and countless others, were masters of chord progression. Maybe to us, the music sound is different, because voicings and melody styles and harmonic styles are different, but if you analyze the chord structure, you'll find all sorts of complex things, that rival the progressions of the most renowned jazz improv artists. Take things, out of tempo...add some melodic improv on top, and use a few measures, chord for chord of debussy, or ravel, and you will sound like you are improving and creating all sorts of funky, unique, and interesting chords, when all you're doing is taking a note from the masters.

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Thank you for your nice suggestion. I agree with you. I like classical music mostly. I am also a classical singer. So your

site help me a lot.:toothygrin:

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