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Playing Chords only for accompanying a vocalist

There is nothing MORE FUN – than playing for a vocalist!!! So many musicians – really have a hard time understanding what to play – so that the vocalist – is featured!

The 1st two rules here – has to do with FREEING you up – so that you “compliment” the vocalist – and keep the accompaniment progressive and the chords easy to find and deliver!

  1. Find the Key and put your 5th (4th if it is a black note) on the Name of the Key
  2. Find your Major chords and 7th chords and minor chords that on the KEY line on the Chord Positions All Keys chart – and DON’T MOVE more than 1 note up or down on the keyboard – ALL YOUR CHORDS WILL BE UNDER YOUR HAND!
  3. NEVER WALK ON THE VOCALIST – don’t play the melody when the singer is singing. The singer will NEVER sing right on the beat and will never sing the exact pitched note of the melody!!! You are there for BODY and COLOR!!!
  4. After a vocal break – ALWAYS LEAD the singer to their starting note for the next section – with a 7th chord to the next Major Chord or a “scale” lead in. (Scaling for Comping)
  5. At the end of a vocal phrase or on a long vocal note – don’t let there be DEAD AIR! “DOODLE” on the chord – do an arpeggio, mini scale, Block rhythmically, Roll arpeggio etc.
  6. ALWAYS LISTEN to original recording – for “DOODLE” ideas.
  7. ALWAYS – create an intro – so the vocalist can ZERO IN – to the key and their starting note. (i.e. Last 4 measures of song or last phrase of chorus)
  8. Plan for an instrumental break – either you take the 2nd and 4th trip through – playing the melody or create an improvisation – built on the chord structure.
  9. Plan for a Key Change on the last Verse – there is nothing more powerful than to STEP UP THE KEY by 1/2 step or full whole step – for the last verse. This can be done by simply HOLDING the 7th Chord for the New Key on the last 2 counts before the change!
  10. ALWAYS – Face the vocalist, make eye contact with the vocalist, interact with the vocalist – and by all means – DON’T OVER SHADOW the vocalistTHEY ARE THE STAR! The audience will “follow” your body language – and “look” where you are looking!!
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