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.
The Left-Hand Driving Force
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. We’ll look at the specific bass lines and talk about the rhythms in the next lesson in this course.
The left-hand is clearly the foundation of the driving rhythm, over which the right-hand can… well… dance!
The Dancin’ Right Hand
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