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Playing from a Leadsheet (revisited)

Playing from a Leadsheet

for solo pianists

 

Back in 2014 I did a tutorial video on YouTube titles How to play a Leadsheet on solo piano. A followup to it is below.

The video pretty much tells all you need to know to get started playing a leadsheet. One correction is that the D7/F chord on the first line should be a D7/F#. The following description and addition may help in learning to play a leadsheet.

The video shows three different renderings in addition to the original sheet music. The 1st, with just the bass root note in the LH can be a starting point for a walking bass. Imagine a scale based on that root note but not changing any notes from those already in the key signature. Play the 1, 2, 3 & 5 notes or 1,3,5,7 in a measure with one chord. For example, “F G A C” or “C E G B or Bb depending on taste.”

The 2nd sheet music simply shows the block chord with all the notes we could use to harmonize the leadsheet. It is mainly for illustrative purposes. I would never play a leadsheet with just root position block chords.

The final example is the most like one might play. The examples, with the harmony spread between both hands and with rhythmic variation show various rhythmic possibilities for the accompaniment/harmony. However, there’s too much rhythmic variation going on. The last two lines could be played “as is” but the first two lines have, because it is illustrative and not practical, a variety of rhythmic styles.

The next step in leadsheet playing is to listen or look at sheet music of various styles of music similar to the one you are learning. Try and use the rhythmic patterns and harmonic voicing in those examples in your own playing. Leadsheets, after all, are not meant to be a final arrangement. They are there to remind you of how the piece goes and give you just enough information so you can play it such that a listener is reminded of the song.

This is just a starting point to playing from leadsheets.

Bonus points if you recognize what the featured photo shows (besides a leadsheet).

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