hi. have been playing jazz piano for a few years. have just got a 2nd hand rhodes (needs a bit of work) but would really welcome any hints and tips on getting that stevie wonder style technique.
a lot of the books ive seen seem pretty basic in terms of transcription, so are there any players out there who have at least an idea of stevie wonders general approach (is it based on 4ths ? octaves ? does he prefer a particular sort of voicing) at the moment i've got as far as some of his playing is pentatonic/blues based but i've spent the last few years concentrating on bebop - so really could do some advice on how to use the left hand.
any help on this would be welcome.
shaun
There are 11 comments, leave a comment.
well...that's a little hard to say for the following reasons: stevie's parts on record usually aren't what he plays live.  on the albums, he'll overdub multiple keyboard parts one at a time.  but his live keyboard part doesn't usually match any of the individual album parts.

superstition is a good example: you have the main riff, and then what sounds like two separate "rhythm" parts that sound like a funk guitar.  if you look at published transcriptions, they usually place all of the riff in the left hand and a composite of the rhythm parts in the right hand.  if you don't have excellent hand independence, this can be a real pain to play.  

however, when stevie plays it live (i've gathered this from videos) he plays the riff with his left hand and the thumb and index fingers on his right hand, and uses what ever fingers are free on his right hand to play chord accents.  in my opinion, this is much less awkward for the left hand, because it doesn't have to jump around as much to play the whole bass line.  

so the short answer is, the typical "funky" stevie wonder sound is a bass line in the lower end of the keyboard (typically using 1, 4, 5, b7, and some chromatic movement) and syncopated chords in the right.  stevie uses most chords that you would see in jazz: lots of 7th, 9th, and 13th chords among others.  

in some of his other songs, ballads, ect., he uses more conventional pop technique. there's a hal leonard "best of stevie wonder" keyboard book, but i'm guessing it has the composite album transcriptions.
which rhodes model do you have by the way?  i owned a stage 88 back in the 80's.  i blame it for the shape my back is in now.
thanks very much for the help so far - this helps an awful lot. jmkarns its a stage 88 :) (but i think it does need quite a lot of work) and yes - they're not the lightest instruments i've ever seen.
last week i finally cleaned out a corner of my basement to set up my rhodes 73.  not wanting to bother my wife, i attached the legs and then foolishly attempted to set the rhodes upright all by myself, and of course my back didn't like it.  i had to move very carefully for a few days, but fortunately it's a lot better now.  the rhodes sounds pretty good except for a few keys that need new pickups and tuning.  i'm very glad not to be gigging with that beast any more...it's murder on your back!
yeah, as i recall the 73 was called the "suitcase" model.
ha! like you would check that thing at the airport.
i had a vw bus that we loaded all our gear into for our weekend gigs.
the fender rhodes came in either a "suitcase" or a "stage" piano.  the suitcase sat atop it's own amp/speaker with a built in pedal assembly and had that vibrato thingy.  the stage was just the piano with four legs and a pedal assembly.  i have an old fender rhodes 73 stage that i got sometime around 1974.  i think it weighs 140lbs.  my back still hurts as i type this...
ha ha! mine is the stage version, and 140 lbs sounds about right.  i don't want to think about adding an amp/speaker to the package.
i ended up building a stereo pa system for it so i could run my  boss ce1 in stereo and use my furman spring reverb unit and that old blue 10 band graphic eq that everyone had (boss maybe??) ha!  the old days of schlepping.

i should upload pics of my fender rhodes.  it is just about destroyed.  it is so bad that i let a friend grab a tine and tone bar out of it...now i wish i had not done that
okay...(as if anyone cares)  i think it was a ross 10 band eq:)
yeah, those add on effects seemed to go on forever.  i had a fender twin reverb that i ran mine through + echoplex.  back when everyone wanted that ethereal weather report sound.
that was the rig - rhodes through a twin!
Please sign in to post.

Jazz Piano Notebook Series
Scot Ranney's Jazz Piano Notebook, Volume 1 - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 1 of this educational jazz piano book contains 15 jazz piano exercises, tricks, and other interesting jazz piano techniques, voicings, grooves, and ideas Scot Ranney enjoys playing.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version - videos

Scot Ranney's Jazz Piano Notebook, Volume 2 - jazz piano tricks of the trade you can use today
"Latinesque"

Volume 2 has 14 jazz piano exercises and tricks of the trade, and quite a bit of it is Calypso jazz piano related material, including some Monty Alexander and Michel Camilo style grooves. Jazz piano education is through the ears, but books like this can help.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version

Tim Richards' Jazz Piano Notebook - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 3 contains 12 jazz piano exercises and explorations by the acclaimed jazz piano educator, pianist, author, and recording artist Tim Richards.

Tim wrote the well known "Exploring Jazz Piano" and "Improvising Blues Piano" books and has several others to his name.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version

Jeff Brent's Jazz Piano Notebook - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 4 is by Jeff Brent, a jazz pianist, composer, teacher, and author of "Modalogy" and other acclaimed jazz theory and education books. In this book Jeff shares detailed analysis of transcriptions of live performances. He covers everything from the shape of the songs to the tricks and licks he uses in improvised lines to the ideas behind his lush chord voicings.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version

Most Recent Discussions
Volume 5 of Scot Ranney's "Jazz Piano Notebook Series" is up and running!
How to Develop Your Improvisation from Beginner to Advanced
Big Chief
How to Play Bossa Nova
Best Pianos for Beginners
How to Reharmonise a song
more...
Articles

Volume 5 of the "Jazz Piano Notebook Series" is Available!
LearnJazzPiano.com File Downloads News
One Hour of Relaxing Piano Music
Jeff Brent's Jazz Piano Notebook
Fundamentos Físicos del Sonido
Aprendiendo a tocar PIANO gratis con partitura
more...

Top Sheetmusic Picks

Jazzy Christmas Arrangements
Cocktail Piano
Best Songs Ever, 6th Edition
Christmas Medley
Moana Songbook
Late Night Jazz Piano

Jazz piano education is cool.

be the main character in your own story

Rock on. Follow your passion.

Sign In

privacy policyterms of serviceabout • 50,656 messages 63,069 accounts 53,766 logins
LearnJazzPiano.com Copyright © 1995-2019 by Scot Ranney • website software and design by scot's scripts
LearnJazzPiano.com is For Sale - Serious Inquiries Only