Piano Chord Comping Tutorials and Techniques

Here’s an ongoing list of Comping Tutorial and Techniques for reading with lead sheets, writing your own music, or just messing around at the keyboard:

The Chord Doctor: Comping Class By David Cook “Let’s take a simple four-chord progression of Bb minor, Db major, Gb major, and F7 (it or ones like it have been used for decades in popular songs like Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”) and create different comping approaches.”

  • Singer songwriter comping: “I’m adding fourths along with thirds to inject color and variation into my chords.”
  • Fast Jazz: “voicings with a mix of clusters and quartal structures (chords built on fourths), playing them rhythmically to help spur a musical conversation amongst the band.”

How to comp chords – comping chords (Piano with Willie)

R&B Piano Chords Tutorial- How To Decorate Your Chord Progressions: “The chords in this lessons are all minor chords. Most of the time I’m playing the root of the chord in my left hand and the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th of the chord in my right hand. ”


Sheet Music Examples http://www.keyboardmag.com/funk/1300/the-subtle-art-of-rhythm-piano/28469

Pop Piano Chords and Playing Tricks:

The 10 Most Used Chord Progressions in Pop and Rock and Roll


Want to Write a Masterpiece? Here Are Some Chord Progressions to Get You Started 
I-V-IV and I-IV-V
i-VII-VI (key of A minor: Am-G-F).
Ragtime: I-VI-II-V-I

A 9-Second Method to Chord Substitutions

  • In the key of Cmaj
    I > vi (C -> Am7) — Play Cmaj with A/vi in Root
    IV -> ii (F ->Dm7) — Play Dmaj, F/ii in Root
    V -> iii (G -> Em) — Play Gmaj, Em in root

Can tritone substitutions really revolutionize your playing?

  • In key of C: G7 -> Db7

How to take advantage of the power and versatility of primary chords
VII –> ii (Bdim7 -> Dm7) — Play Bdim7 with D in the root


Franz Liszt, Trois études de concert: Analysis and Discussion

Trois études de concert (“Three Concert Études”), catalog number S.144, are a set of three piano études by Franz Liszt.

Liszt originally published the set as Trois caprices poétiques. According to Hyperion Records, a later French edition of Liszt’s manuscript added the three individual subtitles which have since become the popular names: Il lamento (“The Lament”), La leggierezza (“Lightness”), Un sospiro (“A sigh”)

Étude No. 1, Il lamento

“The Lament”

Étude No. 2, La leggierezza


Étude No. 3, Un sospiro

“A Sigh”

Technique for Large Stretches

Graham Fitch has an excellent set of tutorials for Pianist magazine discussing techniques for playing series of notes with large stretches. The tip concentrates on keeping the hand natural and moving as much as possible rather than extended your reach at a fixed position. This active movement involves avoiding having the hand at it’s furthest reach for too long.

Maurice Ravel, Ma mère L’oye: Analysis and Discussion

Ma mère l’Oye is a piano piece that Maurice Ravel wrote originally as a duet on a single piano. The title is French for “Mother Goose”. The piano four hands version was arranged for piano solo by his friend Jacques Charlot in the same year that it was published.

The original piano suite consists of five movements

I. Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant
“Pavane of Sleeping Beauty”, Lent

II. Petit Poucet
“Little Tom Thumb”, Très modéré

III. Laideronnette, impératrice des pagodes
“Little Ugly Girl, Empress of the Pagodas”, Mouvt de marche.

IV. Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête
“Conversation of Beauty and the Beast”, Mouvt de valse très modéré

V. Le jardin féerique
“The Fairy Garden”, Lent et grave

MusiClassroom has written on further details about how Ma mère L’oye was later orchestrated by Ravel. Known for his richly colored orchestra works, Ravel places each melody and harmony on a variety of instruments in unison.

Franz Liszt, Années de pèlerinage: Analysis and Discussion

Franz Liszt’s années de pèlerinage is a set of three suites for solo piano. The title is French for Years of Pilgrimage.

Much of it derives from his earlier work, Album d’un voyageur, his first major published piano cycle, which was composed between 1835 and 1838 and published in 1842 according to The Cambridge Companion to Liszt.

Première année: Suisse. Catalog number S.160, R.10a

The title in French translates to “First year: Swiss”.
1. La chapelle de Guillaume Tell
“William Tell’s Chapel”

2. Au lac de Wallenstadt
“At Lake Wallenstadt”

3. Pastorale

4. Au bord d’une source
“Beside a Spring”

5. Orage
6. Vallée de Obermann
“Obermann’s Valley”

7. Èglogue

8. Le mal du pays

9. Les cloches de Genève
“The Bells of Geneva: Nocturne”

2nd Year (‘Italie’), S.161

Liszt first wrote the three settings of Petrarch as songs. Professor John H. Lienhard of the University of Houston has recorded a history of Liszt’s love of Petrarch discussing how Liszt’s travels at age 26 with the Countess Marie d’Agoult inspired him to write letters about Dante and Petrarch. The countess herself was a writer who published under the name Daniel Stern

The title “Marriage of the Virgin” is a painting by Raphael

2.Il penseroso
Named “The Thinker” after a statue by Michelangelo

3.Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa
“Canzonetta of Salvator Rosa”

4.Sonetto 47 del Petrarca
“Petrarch’s Sonnet 47”

5.Sonetto 104 del Petrarca
“Petrarch’s Sonnet 104”

6.Sonetto 123 del Petrarca
“Petrarch’s Sonnet 123”

7.Après une lecture du Dante, fantasia quasi una sonata
“After Reading Dante: Fantasia Quasi Sonata”. Often nicknamed the “Dante Sonata”

Venezia e Napoli, S.162 (supplement to S.161), R.10d

“Venice and Naples”

Gondolier’s Song


3rd Year, S.163
1.Angélus! Prière aux anges gardiens
Angelus! Prayer to the Guardian Angels

2.Aux cyprès de la Villa d’Este I
“To the Cypresses of the Villa d’Este I: Threnody”

3.Aux cyprès de la Villa d’Este II
“To the Cypresses of the Villa d’Este II: Threnody”

4.Les Jeux d’eau à la Villa d’Este
“The Fountains of the Villa d’Este”

5.Sunt lacrymae rerum en mode hongrois
There are Tears for Things, In the Hungarian Mode

6.Marche funébre
Funeral March, In memory of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico

7.Sursum corda
Lift Up Your Hearts

What do you think about this piece? Discuss in the comments.

The Psychology of Piano Practice

A 2013 study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that piano practice decreased depression and increased positive mood states in older adults. After 6 months of consistent practice improved memory compared to a control group who had no practice. Those recruited for participation in the study were self selected as highly interested in playing the instrument.

Research on a group of fourth graders by the University of Texas found increased self esteem in piano playing children.

Learning to Play with an Audience

A question was asked on Quora, “Why would some one start talking out loud while I am performing on the piano?” With the performer explaining that during an intimate performance with friends, one new friend would talk and interrupt. Here’s my suggestion:

The easiest way to find out why is to ask and set a boundary. “You may not be aware of the etiquette for this situation, so I just wanted to let you know usually people listen during a performance without talking. Is that possible?”
Listen to to the response carefully. Be clear about your own options. “That’s great, thanks for telling me that. Next time just please wait until a better time to talk.” Repeat as much as is needed
And if it’s clear “If it’s not for you, next time I’d prefer that we spend time together doing other things. Thanks!!

Maurice Ravel, Sonatine: Analysis and Discussion

Sonatine by Maurice Ravel is written in three movements:

I. Modéré (“moderate”)
II. Mouvement de menuet (“Minuet movement”)
III. Animé (“animated”)

Richard Downing introduction and analysis of Sonatine with key fingerings. He makes note of how the piece is so purely Ravel, even as it evokes ideas visited by Debussy and Couperin.

Taking a closer look at the second movement, Mouvement de Menuet, Warren Gooch finds the devil is in the detail with the tonal harmonies. Few of the chords and their progressions are what would be expected in the classical theories that came before impressionism. Most passages go completely unresolved, creating movement and anticipation.

Peter Jost uncovered the secret history of the first movement. While researching the commonly repeated anecdote that the piece was created for a contest where Ravel was the only participant, Jost found that many of the details didn’t add up. He may have found more questions than answers, but it’s an interesting read for anyone who has played or listened to the piece.

Why does the piano have 88 keys?

Are 88 keys really needed to play classical piano pieces?

I saw this question on Quora, and enjoyed the depth of the responses.

What do I think? For much of the repertoire it’s necessary and it’s a tough bind to be in if you don’t have the keys you need.