Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Goldsmiths, University of London 's online course, Learn Jazz Piano: III. Solo Piano and Advanced Topics. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds So let’s have a look at playing our tune “Stella By Stralight” with an Aerbersold playalong. It’s important that you choose the right Aebersold playalong because there are at least 5 and they vary in the feel - for example, one of them is Latin - and in the key that they’re in. The earliest version is Volume 22 and that’s in C. But I’ve played “Stella By Starlight” hundreds of times with lots of different people and I’ve always played it in B flat. So I think you should learn it in B flat.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 seconds If you’re using a playalong that isn’t in B flat then use your Audacity or Transcribe trick to get it into that key so you’re in a position to play it in the standard key at jam sessions say. The object of the exercise is, first of all, to play the tune with a playalong in voiced position and then to run the appropriate scales. In the first instance, you can go up the scale - you can start from the root. Maybe in the second instance you can go down the scale, but what we’re aiming towards is playing the scale pretty much from wherever you happen to be on the keyboard at the time the scale comes.

Skip to 1 minute and 23 seconds Even though this is a fairly slow version of “Stella By Starlight” that I’d like you to use - and I haven’t said which it is yet - I’d like you to use the version on Volume 93. It has a guitar on the right hand side, but it doesn’t really matter because on the left hand tracks - which we’re going to use - it’s got bass and drums. So we’ll isolate those from the guitar. It’s fairly slow but, even so, I think you’ll find that it goes at really quite a fast lick when you come to running these scales.

Skip to 1 minute and 56 seconds So the object of the exercise is to start the scale and finish the scale wherever - but (only) use the notes of the scale. That’s what we’re aiming to do and then in the next session we’ll take it on from there. Just one thing - if you want to play the tune in the middle of the piano, rather than separate out the hands, you’ll find that the tune clashes quite a bit with the voicings that we’ve been looking at. For example, take the second line So the tune is there and if you’re playing a 6/9 voicing for E flat major7 you can see that there are 2 notes above it.

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 seconds If I only play the 1 note below it, it sounds a little bit thin - which although it’s acceptable it’s not perhaps the best solution. I mean one solution is to play the voicings in a lower position

Skip to 2 minutes and 52 seconds and you’ve got quite a few notes then below the tune. The other thing you can do is just play the notes below the tune - as I said that can be thin - or play all the notes in the voicing but make sure that the tune stands out - that the tune is louder. For example, that second line again.

Skip to 3 minutes and 19 seconds So that B flat comes out louder than the other notes in the chord.

Skip to 3 minutes and 27 seconds OK, as I say, the main object is to run the scales, especially our old friend

Skip to 3 minutes and 36 seconds G altered.

The Object of the Exercise

We discuss an exercise in playing the jazz standard “Stella By Starlight” with a playalong, where the object of the exercise is to play the notes of the scale accompanying each chord, going both up and down the scale and starting it from anywhere.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Learn Jazz Piano: III. Solo Piano and Advanced Topics

Goldsmiths, University of London