The rootless voicings addressed in lesson #5 can be applied in the following ways:
- Melody (or improvisation) in right hand; voicings / comping in left hand.
- Voicings in right hand; root or shell in left hand.
- Voicings in right hand; walking bass line in left hand.
In settings with no bassist it is often necessary for the pianist to cover the bassist’s role. The rootless voicings previously learned for left hand (LH) can be transferred to the right hand (RH) while the LH walks a bass line. The RH can “comp” with a certain degree of rhythmic freedom.
Left-Hand Walking Bass Line Construction:
If chords change at a rate of one measure per chord the following simple formulas work well, while placing the LH over an octave.
1 5 8 A
8 5 1 A
A = chromatic approach a half step above or below the next chord.
If the chords change at a rate of every 2 beats, use:
1 A or 8 A
If you encounter a chord which lasts for two measures, the following formula works, among others:
1 5 9 b9 | 8 5 1 A
Take the following steps in working towards rhythmic independence in your RH against the walking line:
- Sound the RH chords on downbeats.
- Anticipate each chord by an eighth note.
- Play “the Charleston” rhythm, consistently.
- Play short eighth note anticipations on the “+ of 4” and the “+ of 2”, consistently, in the style of pianist, Red Garland.
In lieu of a walking bass line, another comping option is to play rhythmic punctuations in rhythmic unison with the RH. The LH can play either just a root or a LH shell.