This piano solo takes the same sixths that are used in Cascading Sixths and gives them an early New Orleans jazz feel. Here is the teaching video for the full performance version. The MS is in the Workbook.
The right hand thumb is the finger most likely to trip you up whenever you’re playing parallel sixths. Watch it to see what it does wrong, and drill it in the right notes.
Note to the manuscript, bar 6:
1o and 2o stand for primo tempo and secondo tempo, the first and second time – a short-hand way of notating this small variation without writing the music out twice.
The left hand in Swinging Sixths is in the style known as a ‘walking bass’ – a single note ‘strolling’ around the chord tones and between the roots of changing chords.
You will learn the walking bass style much more quickly if you understand which chord tones are used.
As a general rule, the walking bass on a single chord will use the root, third, fifth and sixth – that is, the chord tones plus a sixth. In this piece, where there is room, the bass goes over-and-up to the octave.
Note the alternative fingerings. They should both be practised on both C and F chords. Which you will use depends on which note and finger you need to get to next. If you watch the performance video closely, you will see many other fingering variants.
Where there is only one bar on a chord, the bass uses just the root, third, fifth and sixth, in that order. (The little ‘kick’, back to the fifth, is a variant.)
The bass also walks between roots, always using the flattened seventh (last two bars, above).
Practise playing just the bass line along with the audio or MIDI performance.
You can easily make a less difficult version of this piece by not playing all the parallel sixths. Instead, you play just the thumb of the first sixth and hold it a little.
Here is the teaching video. The MS is in the Workbook.
This version has some other variations you might like to experiment with.
You are hoping to be able to play any and all of these options according to your artistic inclination at the time. The more versions of the same piece you have at your fingertips, the closer you are to surprising yourself with a truly improvised variation.
The next module moves on to cover chromatic sixths – the inversions of the chromatic thirds covered earlier.
There are more earthy, boogie-woogie alternatives if you want a break form these finicky semitone steps, but you should understand that an important reason for working so painstakingly through these detailed modules is so that you will know ‘what’s going on’ when you hear sixths in twelve-bar music – as you surely will, now that your ears are ‘tuned in’ to them!
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