Blues Comping Patterns & Rhythms
In this lesson we will explore some useful voicings, patterns, and rhythmic ideas for right hand comping over the 12 bar blues.
The I – IV – V chords are all related through the circle of 5ths which creates a natural sense of tension and release in the blues progression.
We will now build upon this core principle and introduce some more advanced and interesting harmonies in our right hand.
Triads, 7th Chords, 9th Chords, & 6th/13th Chords
Whilst we can comp with basic triad shapes, the dominant 7th is a very useful sound to incorporate into our chords and voicings when comping.
We can also extend our voicings to include 9ths and 13ths. Steve demonstrates some clean voice leading principles using these colourful extended chord voicings.
The 6th Or The 13th?
If the b7th is not present, the 13th is referred to as the 6th. If the b7th is present, the then the 6th is referred to as the 13th. Having both the b7th and 13th will give you a tense and meaty dominant voicing.
1/2 Step Slides & Chromatics
Sideslipping is a useful technique when playing the blues to add both harmonic and rhythmic variety over our left hand bassline.
We can take any voicing and ‘slide’ into it from a half step above or below. This kind of chromatic movement is excellent for comping. It’s easy to execute and adds lots of motion and interest to our right hand.
Off Beat Comping & Horn Punches
Comping on the off beats is an effective tool which works well with the underlying bassline by accenting the up beat.
Steve also demonstrates the use of more randomly-placed ‘horn punches’ to create rhythmic interest and variety.
Download all rhythms, patterns, and lesson notation in the PDF file below.
Comping Patterns Lesson Notation File Type: pdf
Spend some time to memorise the I, IV, and V of all 12 keys.
The tonic, subdominant, and dominant are the basis of each key and so memorising them will give you a strong foundation to comp the blues.
Use the material covered in this lesson as initial inspiration.
These are very common and useful comping patterns that will allow you to understand the core principles of right hand comping.
It's important that we are spending to listen to the notable blues players and transcribe their comping voicings and patterns.
If you hear something you like, take the time to study it and figure out exactly what it is.
Born and raised 27 years in chicago (half my lilfe), love the blues but (through my own hesitation) I’ve shied away from learning / practicing this sound on the piano. You have demystified them in the very excellent blues series, thank you for investing the time. I’ve just finished the 4th video, what a huge nugget of clarity and the pdf download is a gem (again no skimping on the family recipie).
I can approach these lessons and practice cases with much more confidence due directly to your enthusiasm for this cherished sound.
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