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17) Making an accompaniment - Left Hand Patterns (part I)

[Post #17] This is the first of 2 posts on how to make a left hand accompaniment. Obviously there are no rules but only some advices we could give. In fact everything depends on several elements as the kind of music we play (classic waltz, instrumental easy listening music, pop song ecc.), the melody, personal taste, inspiration etc.

Anyway we can try to learn some accompaniments that fits many musical styles and learn how to modify them or to create ours. As always these are only example and not a complete list (it would be impossible to make one).
Last advice: start the audio file and then enlarge the scores, so that you can follow them.
Standard accompaniment
in major key (part 1)
Standard accompaniment
in major key (part 2)

These are typical left hand accompaniments. The chord progression I used in the first file is the I - VIm - IIm - V (C - Am - Dm - G). I explain this progression in this post at the number 20. In the second file I use different progressions, but they are mostly based on I-IV-V degrees.
The first example (part 1) is an accompaniment based only on the root notes of the chords played in octaves. We have then the root notes played alternately on different octaves (the lower one first then the higher one, but you can also do the contrary) and the classical arpeggios based on chord notes: C-E-G (I-III-V) for the chord C; A-E-A (I-V-VIII, or I-III-VII with the 7th G) for the chord Am etc. We can simply say that for these accompaniments there are endless ways to alternate the chord notes: we could choose the notes I-III-V-III, I-III-V-VIII or I-V-VIII-V of the scales etc. 
The second part contains some other typical accompaniments that sometimes use bichords (2 notes played together), while the last two are mostly used in the classical music. In these accompaniment the left hand has quite a melodic function. 

The following file shows similar accompaniments but in minor mode. In this case I use the chord progression Im - VI - IVm - V (Am - F - Dm - E) that I explain in this post at the number 5:

Standard accompaniment in minor key (examples)


Starting from these standard accompaniments we can build a huge number of alternatives. Let's start from the arpeggios that play only the notes of the chord. This is an example in C, it is the 5th of the upper list of "standard accompaniments in major key (part 1)". We take now a look at the first bar:
With some little changes this bar could become the following one (we still use only the notes of the chord C):
If we now add a note that does not belong to the chord (in the example below D) we could build following accompaniment:
Obviously we can add more than just one note that does not belong to the original chord. Below I introduce a list (as always not complete, it would be impossible) of accompaniments made by changing an arpeggio that uses only the notes of the chord.

I still use in the major mode the chord progression I - VIm - IIm - V (C - Am - Dm - G) but you can change it as you want.
Please note that all these accompaniment have something in common: it does not matter which notes we play, the whole bar is filled with eight notes. This is the reason why we could call these accompaniments "continuous accompaniments".
Continuous accompaniments and
arpeggios in major key (part 1)
Continuous accompaniments and
arpeggios in major key (part 2)

Continuous accompaniments and 
arpeggios in major key (part 3)

I suggest to print these pages and practise the left hand. After learning these patterns you could try to change the progression or the accompaniment itself. Another useful exercise is to use my recordings to improvise some melodies with the right hand.

All these information are also valid for the "continuous accompaniment in minor mode":
Continuous accompaniments and
arpeggios in minor key (part 1)
Continuous accompaniments and
arpeggios in minor key (part 2)

Continuous accompaniments and
arpeggios in minor key (part 3)

In the next post we will take a look to some accompaniments that we could call "discontinuous" because the bar is not filled with a flow of eight notes.


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Learn To Compose And Notate Music - Beginning LevelLook InsideLearn To Compose And Notate Music - Beginning Level (By Lee Evans and Martha Baker). Evans Piano Education. 24 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.9072)
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Complete IdiotLook InsideComplete Idiot"s Guide to Music Composition For composers. Reference Textbooks; Textbook - General. Complete Idiot"s Guide. Instructional and Composition. Instructional book. 264 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing (AP.74-1592574033)
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17) Making an accompaniment - Left Hand Patterns (part I) Reviewed by Guy Grand on Tuesday, August 07, 2012 Rating: 5

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