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View Full Version : How to accompany vocalists without looking at a chord chart?



Blanche_Minim
04-03-2013, 10:32 PM
Do I need to take lessons to learn that? I am taking piano lessons by the way, but they are more based on piano repertoire and etudes. Totally nothing to do with what I want to learn. That is I have to sight -read a piece, practice it for a week, play it to the teacher and memorize the piece. And it goes by levels. I am right now level 5 and I will be moving to level 6 soon. I am taking this because you need to be at least level 8 and level 9 to audition for university. Do I need to take more Music Theory? I am actually good at theory but I think there is more theory to learn beyond Harmony and Counterpoint. Or do I have to take a lot of Ear Training to learn that? I am always watching musicians at school and playing with musicians down at my church. They can accompany vocalists just by listening to them singing and they do it with ease. How did they do that? This is not just mainly for piano. It can also apply to guitar and bass.

Color of Music
04-04-2013, 02:57 AM
Most hear and practice with the tune tons of times even when rehearsing with the vocalists. IOW, most would if no chart is available, write out what they think they hear or at least get it in their ear before writing it out. Of course, if you've heard the tune (and I mean just the melody), then what they often do is reharmonize (someone referred to this incorrectly as "harmonic improvisation." It's not incorrect per se, but it is a term rarely if ever used)

Indeed ear training is a must, but you as the accompanist don't want to "think" about anything (as that's what rehearsal is for).

Now, there is the act of improvisation; however, there's the obvious misconception that one is indeed not thinking about anything. All improvisers have are the melody and chord symbols

Long reply short, you most likely need to study/listen/transcribe the piece the vocalist will be doing (hopefully, the vocalist will help you out, too)

Malcolm
04-04-2013, 03:06 AM
................... Do I need to take more Music Theory? I am actually good at theory but I think there is more theory to learn beyond Harmony and Counterpoint. Or do I have to take a lot of Ear Training to learn that? I am always watching musicians at school and playing with musicians down at my church. They can accompany vocalists just by listening to them singing and they do it with ease. How did they do that? This is not just mainly for piano. It can also apply to guitar and bass.
We will always be adding to our theory knowledge. I tried ear training, and a little of it took, chords for instance, individual notes, not so much. I'm 78 years old and this is a hobby so I've let ear training slide. Yes you will need it for your college courses. Now how do those guys accompany vocalists..........

I think you are talking about jamming the accompanment with no sheet music. Usually the song is called and the key given. Once you know the key and the type of music this song fits into, Country, Pop, Rock, etc. you assume a chord progression that is used for that type of music. Understand the vocalist is singing the melody, you will be furnishing the harmony or chords to the song. Most of the styles listed above will be major key and a chord progression of I IV V7 I with one minor chord - the ii or vi thrown in for color will normally let you do what needs doing. The vocalist decides on the key. Yep here is where ear training comes into play. Picking out the I IV V chords is not that hard and only takes a few weeks, perhaps months, to where your ears start hearing the changes. If others are playing watch their hands - when they change chords, do likewise.

You assume and get close, if you assumed wrong you adjust. Surprising how quick this skill can be learned. Call up a video of your favorite song, assume a key and a progression and see what you can do. Google - How to play piano from fake chord sheet music.

I jam rhythm guitar and electric bass all the time. Close works in my neck of the woods.