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Keyboards Arranging piano songs

jools28

Member
Messages
78
Hi all,

I want to start arranging piano songs but I don't know how to. Right now I usually play and sing along from sheet music so I play chords with right hand and sing melody line. However if I was to make just an instrumental of the song I'd be playing the melody line with the right hand. Does this mean I switch the chords to the left instead? I know basic theory like chord progressions but find it a bit hard to understand. Basically I like to sing a song if I can but there are some songs out of my vocal range and some I just would prefer to play on piano and not sing. Most sheet music I can find is for piano accompaniment, I know there are arrangements online for just the instrumental of a song but I'm unsure if you are allowed to "take" their arrangement and play it yourself (because I want to put covers on youtube at some point). Thanks for any replies.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
1,765
Ok. Forget chords for a minute. The tune is the important thing. To make things more interesting we add more notes - harmony, chords. The arrangement can have the tune anywhere - high or low - but as Colin (? or Wade ?) said in the other thread, it's usually on top of everything else as it naturally stands out, and it is the solo line, with the harmony/chords being the backing.

An arranger or orchestrator understands how to use ways of placing the harmony notes so that the melody could be played in much lower notes - the crux of it is not swamping it, it needs space or it just won't come through and be heard. There are two ways to make an individual line of notes stand out - play them louder, or give them space from the other notes played at the same time. An arranger incorporates this strategy in his arrangement, and a record engineer/producer will also do similar in the studio.

You almost want to forget most of what you know and start again, you have some really big misconceptions.
 
OP
J

jools28

Member
Messages
78
What are the big misconceptions? It's ok I think I worded this wrong, I'll look up some more tutorials on youtube for tips on how to do it as that is more the sort of thing I'm looking for.
 

Dibbs

Member
Messages
638
There are dozens of ways to play the piano. There's no simple formula. Different techniques are used for different tempos and different genres. It's a huge subject.

For the left hand there are things like stride, walking bass, boogie woogie bass, broken chords, alberti bass all with many variations. For the right. single notes, octaves, block chords and several techniques I don't even have names for. There are 2 handed block chord styles too and two handed arpeggiated styles. You need to think about fills and inner voice movements too.

Youtube is probably a good idea.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,487
To keep it simple, one way of doing this would be to play chords in the left hand by reading the chord changes in the score rather than the notes written out for the piano. Then you simply play the melody with the right hand. Of course in order to do it this way requires knowing the spelling of the chords written as "changes" and some "voicings" that allow an easy progression from one chord to the next. A book I have found most helpful in learning to do this is "Jazz Piano Voicings for the Non-Pianist" written by Mike Tracy as part of the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Series.
 
OP
J

jools28

Member
Messages
78
Thanks Dibbs, it is a huge subject, very overwhelming at times. Going to have a play around and see what I can come up with. I've played with sheet music all my life on the piano so it's a new thing to try and figure it out by ear (melody line not a problem of course that is very easy) I play all my sax songs by ear (not great at reading sheet music when it comes to the sax) and find so much freedom in it compared to being tied down to needing the sheets.

Thank you jbtsax that is exactly the sort of thing I was after, I will have a try playing using your advice, and I will check out that book too. Thanks so much for the help!
 
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