Is there a secret to getting the right hand down on bar 13 of Hey Now by Professor Longhair. I can’t seem to figure it out.
Great question!!! You’ve homed in on one of the most challenging parts of playing rock piano. And it’s also what separates the great rock pianists from all rest. Cross-rhythms are usually repeating melody patterns that don’t line up with the bass line, such as a three-note repeating melody pattern over a 4-count bass line. Cross-rhythms are common to classical music ( Chopin, Brahms, Debussy) but rock keyboardists challenge the classical approach to cross-rhythms by not just having a melody pattern that doesn’t line up with the bass line, they also syncopate them. These rockers have the coordination of superb athletes.
One approach to learning cross-rhythms is by tapping them out on your knees. This will help you to focus only on the rhythm before complicating things further by introducing the notes. Begin by tapping the beat on your knee with your left-hand. Don’t tap the actual bass line, just a four-quarter note beat(if the part is in 4/4 time). Tap along with a metronome. Now add the right hand. This will be relatively easy because you will be most often tapping repeating 8th or16th notes over a steady four-note beat. Once you have this mastered, now comes the challenge. Continue tapping with both hands but ACCENT THE FIRST NOTE of each phrase in the right hand. If the melody pattern is a three-note pattern then you will only be accenting the first of the three-notes. After the first pattern you find that the accented note does not line up with the beat. Try keeping the left hand constant while only accenting the beginning notes of each phrase in the right hand.
Next, count aloud “1-ee-and-aa, 2-ee-and-aa, 3-ee-and-aa 4-ee-and-aa” while continuing tapping and accenting. Don’t go any faster than you can while still doing it correctly. The speed will come with repetition. When you can tap the beat in your left-hand while counting aloud and accenting the beginning of each phrase, you can now begin tapping the actual rhythm of the left hand. Don’t try playing this on the piano until you can get everything happening at the same time on your knees; 1) counting aloud, 2) tapping the left hand rhythm, and 3) tapping the right-hand rhythm while accenting the beginning note of each phrase.
Let us know how you do. Take it slowly.
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