Locked Hands Block Chords Style of Piano Playing
Click the play button below to listen to my podcast on block chords:
Here is a transcript of the podcast:
Hello. This is Duane with more “Good Stuff You Really Ought to Know.”
Today we are going to look at the locked-hands-block-chords style. Locked-hands-block-chords style.
Why do they call it a thing like that? It’s because your hands move parallel, it’s like your thumbs are locked together. They’re really not, but they’re going to run closer together.
What happens here is that you play the left hand in the melody, let’s say that you are playing “Danny Boy,” listen (Duane playing), you see that’s the melody. You are playing the melody in the left hand, but you’re also playing the melody in the right hand. Look at the top note. (Duane playing). You’ve got a melody in the left hand and a melody in the right hand.
Under the right hand melody, we put in the chords. Either you’ll see it written that way, or once you know how to do this, you can do it yourself. Just put in whatever chords are appropriate for the song, and to do that, you have to know what the primary chords are and what chord substitutions are, and so on.
You have to know quite a bit of stuff, but you’re learning that, so (Duane playing). That’s the sound that you get. The goal is to make that left hand stand out. There’s two ways you can do that. You can think about the left hand. Just focus on the left hand. Think about it. As you think about it, it will naturally stand out.
(Duane playing) I hope you can hear it standing out there. It is, in this room, I hope the tape recorder is picking it up.
The second thing you can do is you can emphasize it by sliding up to certain notes. You can do a slide into some of those notes. You can do G/A/B very quickly. Third, second, first (Duane playing) Hear it?
As I hit that E, I play D, D sharp, D (Duane playing) Oops! (Duane playing).That gives it a little (Duane playing) impetus to it. If you slide up to that bottom note. I wouldn’t do it all the time because (Duane playing) you could overdo it and it will sound sloppy.
Does this style stand alone? Not really, not unless you have the luxury of playing with a group. If you play with a group you do, because the drummer and the bass player and so on are going to fill up the gaps, but if you’re playing solo piano, which most of us have to do, it doesn’t really stand alone, so you have to do some other things. That’s not the subject of this particular little hint. You could use all of your other arranging styles and just use this for part of it. Let me show you. (Duane playing).
I used it that far. (Duane playing) I am going to go back to it, but I (Duane playing) now I’m using another style. (Duane playing) I’ll come back to it here in a minute. I’m right back to it, and inject a run into the middle of it. I’m using the style now (Duane playing). Maybe I ought to … forgot how the song goes. (Duane playing) What kind of teacher am I anyway, forget how the song goes as I am illustrating?
(laughs) You get the idea. That’s the locked-hands-block-chords style. More “Good Stuff You Really Ought to Know.” You had another lesson there, too, and that is no matter how advanced you get, you can make mistakes. We’re all human. I’m going to leave that on just so you can enjoy the fellowship of mistakes. Bye-bye for now.
For a course on Block Styles, please click here: “Block Chord Styles”