How to Read Lead Sheets: “Georgia”
Welcome to this beginner jazz piano tutorial on the tune “Georgia On My Mind”. In this lesson we will learn how to arrange lead sheets using spread voicings, we will then introduce a stride style in our left hand, and towards the end of the tutorial we will touch upon some more advanced arranging techniques and principles.
Georgia In The Key Of F Major
Georgia is written in the key of F Major and so we start with a quick recap of the diatonic 7th chords and the common chord progressions in the key of F such as the 251 and the 36251 progressions. The notation can be found in the Downloads section below.
Having an understanding of F major diatonic harmony is very useful when arranging Georgia and other tunes written in F major.
How To Play Spread Voicings
The most basic technique to arrange a lead sheets is to use spread voicings. To construct a spread voicing, we take the notes of the any 7th chord, we play the root note of the chord in our left hand in the lower registers of the piano, we play the melody with our right hand, and we ‘voice’ the 3rd and 7th of the chord in between.
The 3rd and 7th can be played in either hand, often this role will be shared between both hands to achieve an even spread of notes on the piano and balanced sound in our voicings.
How To Play Stride Piano For Georgia
Now that we understand the basics of the harmony we will introduce a stride left hand style. To play a stride style, the left hand plays the root in the lower registers of the piano. We then move our left hand up one octave to play a rootless voicing around the middle registers of the piano.
The simplest left hand voicing is to play just the 3rd and 7th of the chord which can be played in any inversion. We can also add the 5th for a stronger sound.
Stride Piano Exercises For Beginners
If you are new to the stride piano style it can be challenging to move between the chords whilst keeping a steady pulse. Here are some useful exercises:
Start with a single chord type, then change inversion of rootless voicing.
Next introduce the second chord A7 and cycle around – focus on accuracy.
Next the 3625 progression, cycle around.
Finally play stride through the whole A Section.
Adding Melodic Embellishment
By outlining both the harmony and the pulse in the left hand, it frees up our right hand for melodic embellishment and decoration.
One of the limitation of the piano is that we cannot bend and play in between the notes like a singer or horn player. The closest way that we can achieve this is to use grace notes which blurs the distinction between 2 tones to create a more human & soulful aspect.
Grace notes are usually very quick and brief and they are used as an ornamentation for the note that follows. Let’s play through the A Section and look at some examples.
So what I’ve covered so far will help you to understand the harmony of the tune, you know how to create a steady pulse with a stride left hand, and you know how to create melodic interest and decoration using grace, scale walkups, and blues licks.
F Major Diatonic Workbook File Type: pdf
To voice a chord with spread voicings, play the root in the lower register, the melody with your right hand, and then find the 3rd and 7th in between.
Outline the quarter note pulse in your left hand to help to you transition to the stride left hand style.
Understand that the tunes that we play are always in a fluid state and as we learn new theory and as we develop as musicians we are always enhancing and tweaking our arrangements.
To learn the advanced voicings shown in this lesson, it may take a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years. Whatever it takes, enjoy the journey that you are taking.