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5 Tips for Comping with Your Left Hand

Pick up five tips for comping with your left hand in this keyboard tutorial from Howcast.


Hi, I'm Stephanie from Tomato's House of Rock and here are some tips for comping with your left hand. If you're comping with your left that means that there's a bass player which really opens up your options because you're not responsible for kind of laying down the root or even really laying down the tempo. The base player is going to do that. So you have a lot more freedom to, sort of, express yourself rhythmically with what you're playing.

So, what you want to do is just find some simple versions of the seventh chords, so especially if you're playing blues, but it's really true for jazz and funk, too. Right now, though, the form that I'm going to use, I'm going to have a real shell voicing because again I know that my bass is covering the really important notes to let people know what chord we're on, so again I have a little bit more freedom even harmonically with what I'm playing. So it's just going to be three notes, but from an F seventh chord, what I'm going to do is hang onto the 3. I'm going to lose the 1 and the F because I know that the bass player's got that and I'm actually going to put a 7, the flatted 7, our dominate 7 in the bass so our lowest note is going to the be the E flat.

Then I've got the 3. And the C would be the 5, but I don't really need if I'm going to get just a little bit more sound from it. I'm going to play the 6. So here's that sound. So, I've got the 7, the 3, and the 6 which can sound funny to your ears if you don't hear the root note, so I'm going to play the root note so that you can hear what it sound like all together. Now it sounds like a bright F seven chord, right? So, that's going my first chord and then the convenient thing is from here to do a B-flat dominate 7 is what I would need for my blues form. It's actually very simple. All I would do is just move everything basically down a step. So, thumb is going down whole step, pointer that was on A; it's just going down a half step to the A flat, and pinky is also only going down a half step to D. So now we've got this sound. And with the B-flats you can hear what it sounds like with the root in the B so it would be. . .

Again, so, a really nice B-flat dominate 7 sound and from that chord what I did was basically, if there's our B-flat, there's our 1 or our root on the bottom. I've got D as the 3. I've the 7 in there again, our flatted dominate 7 and then I'm actually putting the 9 or what would be the second, 9 is a more common term, on top. So, there's my nice shell voicing for the B-flat 7. For our 5 chord in F, which is in C, I'm going to take this exact position and literally move everything up one whole step. So same exact thing, just from B-flat we're going to C. That means I'm going to have E as my 3, B-flat as the flatted 7, and D is going to be our 9. So again with the C on the bottom, there's the full sound. And then here it is, just the shell voicing. So you can see all three of those chords, they're really easy to get to from each other. So I've got, there's my F. There's my B-flat. And there's the C. And for the blues that's all you need.

So, once you've got those voicing under your finger, then it's time to start thinking about the rhythm. When you're comping it's really fun to sort of have a conversation between your two hands. So maybe you're right hand has an idea so you want to go off with that a little bit and then let your left hand respond. You don't have to constantly be playing because again this is a bass player and the momentum and the tonality will be there without you having to constantly be playing all these chords in your left hand. So try to make it a conversation and keep it rhythmic. So let's hear what that sounds like with some music. And those are some tips for comping with your left hand.

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