Boogie-Woogie Piano Style & Technique
In this lesson, we will look at the musical characteristics of the style. We’ll talk about the left hand and right hand independently, and then explore how they combine to create complex rhythmic figures and expressions.
Boogie Woogie Left Hand Bass Lines
For the solo piano player, the left-hand becomes a driving force, the freight train engine powering the song. There are a number of standard boogie-woogie left-hand parts, with variations. Most all are based on an 8th note triplet pattern.
The left-hand is clearly the foundation of the driving rhythm, over which the right-hand can… well… dance! We’ll look at the specific bass lines and talk about the rhythms in the next lesson in this course.
Boogie Woogie Right Hand Chords
The right-hand carries the melodic part of the song, which is often delivered in a series of variations on particular riffs and figures.
You will hear these riffs, or motifs, reappear in many different boogie-woogie songs. We’ll talk more about that aspect of the music in lessons 4 and 5 of this course.
The right hand changing rhythms, combined with the left hand’s steady rhythm, together create more complex, syncopated rhythms that can continually change throughout the performance.
Improvisation is an essential aspect of boogie-woogie, as it is an essential aspect in all of the music in this lineage… blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and of course jazz, which has taken musical improvisation into the highest manifestation.
Developing Your Own Sound
Playing boogie-woogie, or jazz, or any improvisational music, is like of like talking. You need vocabulary, words, which then you can put together into sentences and paragraphs to fully express what you want to say.
Improvising on piano is the same; the little riffs and figures are the words which you can put together into longer, more complex figures which become the sentences, played through each trip around the chord pattern becomes the paragraphs, and the song, beginning to end, becomes your statement, your story, the story of what you feel, what your experience is.
When we’re finished with the course, the songs and pieces of songs you have learned will help to give you the elements necessary to express your own inner happiness, to bring a smile to your face and the faces of others.
Boogie-Woogie 12 Bar Form File Type: pdf
Approach learning this piano style as an opportunity to develop an outlet for your own creativity, to develop a piano style within which you can express yourself, your own ideas and emotions, your own joy.
This course will pass on to you the basic tools you’ll need to play boogie-woogie, to explain the fundamental musical parts which you can then take and re-arrange to your own liking, to play music that comes from within you.
It is certainly very good practice, to learn the classic boogie-woogie songs, to learn the way the masters did it, to learn their left-hand figures and their riffs and the way they put it all together, to feel it the way they felt it.
That’s invaluable experience and practice, you need to do that to be able to play in the style.
Check out the lessons on Transcription for information on transcribing your own lines and solos.