AMAZING GRACE
Piano Accompaniment

 

We are going to build on what we just learned in lesson 15.  Remember in lesson 15 we learned how to use a simple 3/4 Time Piano rhythm pattern.  The song that we used to illustrate this pattern was Silent Night.  If you haven't mastered this simple pattern, you really need to go back to lesson 15 before you tackle lesson 16, because in lesson 16 we are going to join the alberti bass to rhythm and blues.

We are going to learn a simple "black gospel" piano technique and apply it to Amazing Grace.  The "black gospel" piano sound is a very exciting rhythmic technique.  It is a lot of fun to play.  The idea in this lesson is to learn these rhythms and then accompany yourself on the piano as you sing the song.

One thing I want to say first about accompaniment is that accompaniment is NOT pure pattern devoid of melody. On the contrary,  as an accompaniment player you need to start the song out with the melody interlinked to the chord in order to establish the key, tonality, and beat for the singers before you launch out into a string of runs, and chord embellishments.  And even then, you need to intersperse your patterns with the melodic line to keep everything well grounded and intact. . . . unless you are a jazz player. . . .  then that's another story.

Anyhow, let's look at this pattern.  First, we are going to add a new dimension to the 3/4 time pattern that you learned in lesson 15.  The new dimension is triplets.  "Black Gospel" piano style uses a lot of triplets.  So, we are just going to insert a simple little triplet run at the beginning of the pattern that you learned in lesson 15.  It is so easy to do, and yet it sounds really great.  Below is a picture of the musical notation.  Actually, I like to play the right hand chord an octave lower than what is written below.

To get a better understanding of this 3/4 time pattern, listen to the midi file of the pattern.

But, to make this piano accompaniment interesting we need to add some "black gospel" sound to it.  Below is a picture of the musical notation of an easy rhythm and blues riff.

Remember!  Use the sustain pedal for this pattern.  Or, slur the left hand bass part by keeping your fingers pressed on the keys after you play these notes so that they will keep on ringing.  The Right hand part is not slurred, but distinct in its tonality.  The left hand should ring out as the right hand plays it's distinct rhythm and blues riff.  Now, you can throw this in at any point in Amazing Grace, and that will give you that "black gospel" sound.  NOTE:  The right hand middle finger slides off of B flat onto B natural.  And the Right hand little finger on D should just stay on that key and let it ring out.  This musical notation is not 100 percent true to the actual sound that needs to be reproduce.  But, I chose the simplest musical notation that I could to get the idea across and still keep the integrity of the riff.

 

Listen to the above rhythm and blues riff on this midi file to get a better understanding of how this sounds.

Let's add a third rhythm and blues pattern to Amazing Grace.  Below ia a picture of the musical notation of yet another rhythm and blues riff.

Listen to the midi file to get a better understanding of how the above rhythm and blues riff sounds.

There's a section in Amazing Grace where there is a D chord with a duration of two measures.  Anytime, you have more than one measure of a chord you can add even more embellishments to your riffs.  For example, the riff you just learned above, you can walk it up past the C chord and then walk it back down to the original G chord.  Examine the musical notation below to see how this works for a D chord that covers the two measures in Amazing Grace.

Try the above riff for a G chord and a C chord.  Now remember, for a C chord you are going to have to throw in a B flat at the top of your cycle.

I want you to listen to this full orchestral midi version of Amazing Grace.  It is written in contemporary Christian style.  Listen to the piano accompaniment.  This rendition of Amazing Grace will really help you to see the importance of piano and keyboard patterns and their place in playing piano accompaniment.  AMAZING GRACE.

This rendition of Amazing Grace was written by Kevin Cox and is used with his permission.

Now, you need to get off the internet and sit yourself down in front of your keyboard or piano and try these piano patterns on Amazing Grace.  Of course, you need the sheet music don't you.  You can find the words and chords on the internet.  Just type in Amazing Grace lyrics and chords into a search engine.  You'll find them.  But, to make things simple, here they are.

G chordAMAZING GRACE HOW | C chordSWEET THE | G chordSOUND THAT SAVED A WRETCH

 LIKE |

D chord:  ME.  I  | G chord: ONCE WAS LOST BUT | C chordNOW I AM | G chord FOUND, WAS BLIND,

 BUT NOW | D chord I | G chord: SEE.

You can find the sheet music to Amazing Grace in just about every hymnal that has been written.

 

I have put together a book and audio cassette tape that will show you all kinds of ways to play Amazing Grace.  Once you learn how to play Amazing Grace by using all kinds of piano tricks, runs, and different styles, you are then prepared to transfer this knowledge to other 3/4 time songs.  To get this book and tape mail a check or money order for $19.95 to:

JOHN AXSOM

638 MOORSIDE DR

SAN ANTONIO, TX 78239

ASK FOR THE BOOK AND TAPE CALLED AMAZING GRACE

USING JAZZ CHORDS IN AMAZING GRACE

Before we close this lesson I want to mention that you can get some interesting rhythmic accompaniment sounds for Amazing Grace by using some extended chords.  Instead of using C major chord, use C6.  Instead of using G major Chord, use G13.

Below is a picture of the musical notation for a syncopated 3/4 time rhythm that could be used as an accompaniment pattern using the G13 and C6 chords.  You could use these same extended chords in the left hand for a simple chord and melody approach to the song.  At least the G13 and C6 gives you a lot more color in the left hand ( chord & melody approach ) than does playing just an ordinary G and C major chord.

 

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PIANO LESSON 17

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