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#2878405 - 09/11/17 10:46 AM Piano playing signature styles
Daniel Wade Offline
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Registered: 05/19/14
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Loc: Houston, Texas
I have discovered something recently, that I just never realized before. Now I started on organs and synths, and never really studied piano. Of course I can play things on the piano when I need to, but of course it doesn't sound like someone who plays piano.

At the Methodist hospital here in Houston they have a grand piano in the lobby, and usually regular or guest playing it in the mornings and evenings. I've discovered that I can almost always tell who is playing, before I see who it is.

On gentleman in particular, is very good, always very precise in is playing, and seems capable of doing very complex, left or right hand anything, equally and independently. Extremely good, but almost sounds mechanical in his precision.

Another gentleman, when he plays, it almost sounds like they brought in a different piano it's so different. Not quite as precise in playing, but his playing seems to have emotion, not just louder or softer but something else also. I really like it, but have no clue as to what he is doing to make it sound so different.

Everyone plays with the lid closed, so that's not it, and its basically a hammer striking strings, dampened, undampened, half dampened. So what else is there that can make it sound different/musical/filled with emotion? And who are some examples of players with a signature style.


Edited by Daniel Wade (09/11/17 10:48 AM)
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#2878409 - 09/11/17 11:02 AM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: Daniel Wade]
Outkaster Offline
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Daniel depends on the style of music and who their influences are and a ton more factors. Some guys are feel players or technically good. Some, a few rare guys can live in both of those worlds equally well.
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#2878419 - 09/11/17 12:04 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: Outkaster]
synthizen2 Offline
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You can hear differences in playing style with synths and organs too... But with the piano, being that it's so old, and figures into many established playing styles (classical, jazz, blues, rock, boogie-woogie, stride, etc.), there are just too many approaches to the instrument to be able to say "this is the way to play a piano".

Solo piano playing also differs quite a bit from band/ensemble playing... with the main factor being to "generally" lay off the bass end of the keyboard when in a band (the bass player takes care of that).

But for solo playing, there are a number of established styles, mainly beginning with the beer-barrel "stride" jazz piano style of Fats Waller... where all bass notes and syncopation are there, due to the fact that you present the whole song as one person on one instrument.

Best bet is to LISTEN, LISTEN, and LISTEN... to old jazz records, old country records, old blues and R&B records. Find the style you like best and try to emulate it.
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#2878431 - 09/11/17 12:51 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: synthizen2]
Daniel Wade Offline
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Loc: Houston, Texas
Originally Posted By: synthizen2
But with the piano, being that it's so old, and figures into many established playing styles (classical, jazz, blues, rock, boogie-woogie, stride, etc.), there are just too many approaches to the instrument to be able to say "this is the way to play a piano".




I see what you mean.


But I'm hearing even more difference than that, it's the different timbres of an acoustic grand when played different. I guess this is done with damper pedals, and velocity of the strikes as well as the style. I don't seem to hear it as much on an electronic piano.


Edited by Daniel Wade (09/11/17 03:22 PM)
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#2878432 - 09/11/17 01:00 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: Daniel Wade]
Daniel Wade Offline
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Loc: Houston, Texas

Fats Waller is pretty cool by the way, thank you for the heads up on him.
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#2878442 - 09/11/17 01:36 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: Daniel Wade]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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You ask a question I too have wondered about. I do not have authority on answer,
I guess touch... piano touch is something we need more knowledge about.

We never studied piano in the classical way... those folks know al about it.

As far as mechanical versus more emotion.. that is another ball park.
We play from what is within our being.. No one really knows what I am referring to when I say "Being". Do I mean mind, or heart, or soul? Or what we hear in our minds?
It all relates to how we play.
But playing is not just about fingers arms on a piano key...
We ought not put cart before the horse.. the horse pulls the cart
And the inner being, the inner man ( "man" as it used to be used, works fine for this being ) is what moves the hands of the pianist.

What Beethoven had within his being, is quite a bit different than what most anyone else has. Although if musicians would spend more time paying attention to what is within them... many discoveries would unfold!


I have posted this genius talking with his brother previously, regarding creative discovery on the piano.
We have to spend large amounts of time, to make these discoveries... as in this case,, making the piano sound differently than where we are at presently.
In other words, a well trained and talented pianist can create a sound on piano that refers to his touch.. that is beyond my capacity. Only IF I study and spend time , will I gradually develop my touch.
I will never sound like a trained talented pianist, without going through the processes he went through.


Edited by I-missRichardTee (09/11/17 01:38 PM)
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#2878445 - 09/11/17 01:41 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: Daniel Wade]
Dave Ferris Offline
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The thing I listen to first and draws me in the most with the pianist -particularly in the Jazz context- is their touch. I can usually hear if they "have it" within 8 bars, sometimes less.

Some have have had an extensive Classical background such as : Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Early Herbie and Chick, Fred Hersch, Hank Jones, John Taylor, to name but a few.

Others not so much Classically influenced but they still have a relaxed, yet solid, touch and flowing legato to their lines : Kenny Barron, Early McCoy Tyner, Wynton Kelly, Sonny Clark, Red Garland, Jimmy Rowles, Cedar Walton, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Kirkland, and even early Nat Cole. Again giving just a brief sampling.

After that I listen to their time feel which I interpret as what people hear as just being "the feel". I like players that play on the back of the beat as opposed to too much on top. I'll use Oscar Peterson and Hiromi as two examples. Both, needless to say, fantastic players ! And Oscar's a legend of course. Again my tastes run to the aforementioned players and styles. But it's all great !
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#2878463 - 09/11/17 03:40 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: Dave Ferris]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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Originally Posted By: Dave Ferris
The thing I listen to first and draws me in the most with the pianist -particularly in the Jazz context- is their touch. I can usually hear if they "have it" within 8 bars, sometimes less.

Some have have had an extensive Classical background such as : Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Early Herbie and Chick, Fred Hersch, Hank Jones, John Taylor, to name but a few.

Others not so much Classically influenced but they still have a relaxed touch and flowing legato to their lines : Kenny Barron, Early McCoy Tyner, Wynton Kelly, Sonny Clark, Red Garland, Jimmy Rowles, Cedar Walton, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Kirkland, and even early Nat Cole. Again giving just a brief sampling.

After that I listen to their time feel which I interpret as what people hear as just being "the feel". I like players that play on the back of the beat as opposed to too much on top. I'll use Oscar Peterson and Hiromi as two examples. Both, needless to say, fantastic players ! And Oscar's a legend of course. Again my tastes run to the aforementioned players and styles. But it's all great !


Helpful. informative... appreciate it.

Ok, I think my touch could be classified as embarrassing.

At my age... given that nothing is impossible grin ... would you say a classical ( only ) teacher would be my only hope of improving my touch? Their are local jazz guys that talk about tech, as if they are qualified.. guess it depends, but generally I am guessing you would say a strictly classical guy gal.
And is doing this even more difficult on a CP5 versus a piano?

After I had time to reflect on your reference to Michel Petruciani's touch being too heavy!... I now see what you mean.

Once upon a time I was comparing Oscar with Evans on a ballad. I strongly preferred Bill Evans. This refers to touch. even though Oscar studied classically. So that points back to tonal conception which in turn points back to the mind, in the final analysis.

And mentioning McCoy and Nat... you used the word "early". explain please?
Did they hear differently as they aged?

Were you saying the great Oscar's beat was a bit on top for your taste, even though you also highly respect his playing?


Edited by I-missRichardTee (09/11/17 03:47 PM)
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#2878522 - 09/11/17 08:16 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Al Quinn Offline
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A persons "touch" on the piano is a bit of a mysterious topic because a piano is just a bunch of metal and wood. It's not like a string or wind instrument where the player can inject human attributes into the sound. So if the pianist is hitting a key that moves a hammer that strikes a string how can their "touch" vary so much from others? The best explanation I've heard was from Chick Corea. He said (I'm paraphrasing) it's all about intention. It begins with a sound in the player's head, which becomes their intended sound, then through very focused and concentrated practice and performance the player's control improves until the sound from the instrument matches the sound in their head. Much of the magic happens subconsciously but intention is the prerequisite. Of course, classical training helps with improving one's control but it's up to the pianist to have an intended sound in their inner ear.
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#2878593 - 09/12/17 08:34 AM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: Al Quinn]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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Originally Posted By: Al Quinn
A persons "touch" on the piano is a bit of a mysterious topic because a piano is just a bunch of metal and wood. It's not like a string or wind instrument where the player can inject human attributes into the sound. So if the pianist is hitting a key that moves a hammer that strikes a string how can their "touch" vary so much from others? The best explanation I've heard was from Chick Corea. He said (I'm paraphrasing) it's all about intention. It begins with a sound in the player's head, which becomes their intended sound, then through very focused and concentrated practice and performance the player's control improves until the sound from the instrument matches the sound in their head. Much of the magic happens subconsciously but intention is the prerequisite. Of course, classical training helps with improving one's control but it's up to the pianist to have an intended sound in their inner ear.


I think my thought expresses the same thing ( only Chick said it better ) Chick was saying

"We play from what is within our being.. No one really knows what I am referring to when I say "Being". Do I mean mind, or heart, or soul? Or what we hear in our minds?
It all relates to how we play.
But playing is not just about fingers arms on a piano key...
We ought not put cart before the horse.. the horse pulls the cart
And the inner being, the inner man ( "man" as it used to be used, works fine for this being ) is what moves the hands of the pianist."
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#2878602 - 09/12/17 08:56 AM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: I-missRichardTee]
David Loving Offline
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Reminds me of the scene in "Good Will Hunting" when he says Beethoven looked at a piano keyboard and it made perfect sense to him.... Discussing touch, just listen to Keith Jarrett. I just play


Edited by David Loving (09/12/17 11:30 AM)
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#2878607 - 09/12/17 09:19 AM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: Al Quinn]
synthizen2 Offline
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Registered: 08/19/04
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Originally Posted By: Al Quinn
A persons "touch" on the piano is a bit of a mysterious topic because a piano is just a bunch of metal and wood. It's not like a string or wind instrument where the player can inject human attributes into the sound. So if the pianist is hitting a key that moves a hammer that strikes a string how can their "touch" vary so much from others?


A guitar is also just a bunch of metal and wood, albeit in smaller form factor. The real culprit is the key/hammer assembly that keeps the player from actually TOUCHING the sound-producing mechanism (the strings) - so there is a kind of "distance" from the instrument.

However, playing piano (in some kind of proper or established way) is a lot more than just pressing some white or black keys to get "notes". There are playing techniques... like trills, glissandos, cross-handed or over-handed techniques, etc. - in the same way like playing a guitar is more than just "strumming" the strings.

Thus, a skilled pianist will be able to make the instrument "sing" in ways a beginner or learner will struggle to do... thinking that it should "sound the same" just because of the distance from the instrument caused by the keys-and-hammer mechanism. But it doesn't quite work out that way. A skilled player can get a ton of nuances out of a piano.
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#2878647 - 09/12/17 12:18 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: synthizen2]
Joe BrokeIt Offline
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Originally Posted By: synthizen2
However, playing piano (in some kind of proper or established way) is a lot more than just pressing some white or black keys to get "notes". There are playing techniques... like trills, glissandos, cross-handed or over-handed techniques, etc. - in the same way like playing a guitar is more than just "strumming" the strings.

Thus, a skilled pianist will be able to make the instrument "sing" in ways a beginner or learner will struggle to do... thinking that it should "sound the same" just because of the distance from the instrument caused by the keys-and-hammer mechanism. But it doesn't quite work out that way. A skilled player can get a ton of nuances out of a piano.
Even the way you approach the keys has an effect. They're not just on/off switches. The speed and force with which you press a key, and how fast you repeat it can change the tone. Also, depending on the piano, it's not only the volume of the note that changes, but the tone. A good piano "blooms" the harder you play it. A good player will (probably instinctively) realize how to use this to the greatest effect.

Another factor I don't think anyone has mentioned is pedaling. Pedaling can make a piano sound richer, but too much pedaling or sloppy pedaling smears the sound.
Quote:
A skilled player can get a ton of nuances out of a piano.
This, absolutely.

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#2878651 - 09/12/17 12:46 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: Joe BrokeIt]
16251 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Joe Muscara
Pedaling can make a piano sound richer, but too much pedaling or sloppy pedaling smears the sound


When I went to Berklee I was in this big band ensemble, and we got to record one day in studio. My teacher over our head phones called the first song "Tie my leg to the piano stool blues," cause I was over pedaling.
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#2878664 - 09/12/17 02:00 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: 16251]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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Originally Posted By: 16251
Originally Posted By: Joe Muscara
Pedaling can make a piano sound richer, but too much pedaling or sloppy pedaling smears the sound


When I went to Berklee I was in this big band ensemble, and we got to record one day in studio. My teacher over our head phones called the first song "Tie my leg to the piano stool blues," cause I was over pedaling.


Piano touch... that quality that most impresses me with Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal .. I suppose Keith ( my friend tells me Keith is one of, or the best pianists technically , - I just never caught on to Mr Jarrett ) this quality seems far away from me.

Can an older guy develop it on a digital piano, like my CP5?
Even leaving scales and arpeggios out of the discussion, and just focussing on tone production.. are there very specific exercises ( not that scales are not directly connected to tone, they are ) for tone production or touch?

On sax, it might be long tones, or the overtones Joe Allard taught me.
What exercise compares to long tones?
I sound more like a brothel pianist than Jamal or Evans.
It is that delicate tone that is missing. I can play softer but it is not the same. On a gig, I might continuously use the soft pedal!!!


Edited by I-missRichardTee (09/12/17 02:01 PM)

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#2878699 - 09/12/17 03:28 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Al Quinn Offline
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I never did any tone exercises for the piano. But, I did have an excellent classical teacher (Julliard grad) who helped me develop command of the instrument and strive for musical balance and tone mainly through learning classical repertoire. She'd call me out if my tone or balance was less then. She'd randomly hit my forearms from below when I was playing to test if I was relaxed (if they didn't move easily it meant I was tight). She expected a lot and could demonstrate anything she expected. It was many years ago but had a lasting positive effect.
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#2878700 - 09/12/17 03:29 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Theo Verelst Offline
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It's strings and metal and wood and felt which can be timed and struck in infinitely many ways, some of which happens to sound great, most of which territory most players cannot accurately reach. Timing notes such that harmonics resound "in phase" in intended patterns is hard to do, some people can do some of those tricks. With concentration, good Jazz pianists in the experimental corner can reach a lot more of those great sounds on a piano, also the exciting and funky ones.

It shouldn't be a pain to play, like on some digitals that allow players a way up only in such a bitchy, ridiculously limited musical way that you's have to be some psycho serving masochist to enjoy it. "Real" piano's for instance for children have the advantage of not enforcing a certain touch to the playing, which in the long run can lead to a certain accuracy to play even different signature styles.

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#2878701 - 09/12/17 03:33 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Al Quinn Offline
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Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee
Can an older guy develop it on a digital piano, like my CP5?

I would say yes provided you don't have physical limitations like arthritis.
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#2878712 - 09/12/17 04:05 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: Al Quinn]
Dave Ferris Offline
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Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee
and mentioning McCoy and Nat... you used the word "early". explain please?
Did they hear differently as they aged?

Were you saying the great Oscar's beat was a bit on top for your taste, even though you also highly respect his playing?


First, I agree with Al on developing tone and touch on your CP5 , although I feel an acoustic piano - of even moderate quality- would give you more honest and realistic feedback.

Find a good teacher and embrace what they know. It's never too late. I had to re-learn at age 25 after much experience.

Regarding McCoy - even though it's not the period he will be remembered for, I love his early Impulse recordings before he joined Trane and then changed his style to what we all associate with him today- "Nights of Ballads & Blues", "Inception", Reaching Fourth", McCoy Tyner plays Duke Ellington" , etc.



Regrading Nat- I was just referring to his early famous trio recordings before he became a star and embraced the pop thing more.


Hank Jones- the King of touch - has often said his main influences with regard to touch were Nat and Teddy Wilson. Solo aside, even on the comping on Besame, you hear that velvet touch that Hank developed. Teddy Wilson was another genius of the piano.

And finally yes, I was referring to Oscar's style of being on top of the beat compared to Wynton Kelly, Sonny Clark or early Herbie for example.
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#2878724 - 09/12/17 04:43 PM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: Dave Ferris]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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Dave
Yes, yes, very nice, great music from these earlier periods. I was especially appreciative of Nat.

No significant hand pain yet! Some, but I seem to be ok for now.
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#2878829 - 09/13/17 07:37 AM Re: Piano playing signature styles [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Daniel Wade Offline
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Registered: 05/19/14
Posts: 386
Loc: Houston, Texas

Wow, just a plethora of information. Wish I'd have asked this a long time ago. This is so cool, I'm still trying to process everything.

So I assume using the damper pedal is similar to a guitarist muting or unmuting strings with their palm or fingers. So, if you dampen part ways can you get harmonics, like partial muting on a guitar or bass? If so, maybe this is some of the difference I'm hearing between different players.
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