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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds So now we’re going to discuss seventh tenths in the left hand. As you might imagine, it consists of the root, the seventh (minor seventh indicates a C7) and the tenth – the third an octave higher.

Skip to 0 minutes and 20 seconds So in the case of C7: we have the root, which we’ll play with the fifth finger, the minor seventh, which should be played with the second finger, and the tenth – the third an octave higher – which is played with the thumb. So there’s the chord. Now I don’t have a particularly big hand and I find that quite a stretch to play. In fact, I cannot play D flat 7 or C sharp 7, which is the same thing, up a semitone, because my hand would just not stretch to it. So what do we do? The answer is I roll the chord.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 seconds So I start from the bottom, roll the chord and hold the last two notes down, but catch the bottom note with the pedal – with the sustain pedal – like this. So my sustain pedal goes down to catch that bottom note.

Skip to 1 minute and 19 seconds When it comes to playing the blues,

Skip to 1 minute and 21 seconds I can play C7: the root, the seventh, and the tenth in C.

Skip to 1 minute and 28 seconds Similarly F7:

Skip to 1 minute and 31 seconds the root, the seventh and the tenth – F, E flat, A – and G7: the root, the seventh and the tenth. I can play all those. But if I were to play in a different key, like a blues in D flat, then I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’d have to roll it. Apparently Oscar Peterson’s hands were so big that he could actually walk in tenths. I certainly can’t. You may remember at the very start of this course, I played for you a solo piano version of “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be”. And it starts off like this …

Skip to 2 minutes and 9 seconds And so – D flat 7, caught with the pedal, coming down to C7. We’ll discuss that device a bit later on. It’s of interest to note … perhaps I’ll play the whole of the tune again if I can.

Skip to 2 minutes and 49 seconds OK, so there you notice at the beginning I play in seventh tenth’s. When I come to walking up, there’s a baseline that I’m playing …

Skip to 3 minutes and 1 second Then I start of using fifth tenth’s, because I can’t reach or I don’t have the physical energy to play seventh tenth’s.

Skip to 3 minutes and 13 seconds and I think when I get to there, I just use single notes. Then I go to tenths – sevenths I mean – I go to sevenths …

Skip to 3 minutes and 25 seconds something like that. So I use all three devices. Right. So let’s have a look now at playing our blues and doing a little bit of improvising on the full blues scales using seventh tenth’s. And what I’m going to do is – you may remember when we did sevenths, I asked you to mark the pulse by playing four to the bar with the thumb, whereas, when we played fifth tenth’s, I suggested you just played one chord to the bar. This time I want to do the same thing, mark the pulse, but I want to use, not just the thumb, but the top two notes to mark the pulse, like this.

Skip to 4 minutes and 10 seconds Etc. So, we are going to use that device now, using seventh tenth’s, using the top two notes to mark the pulse and improvising on our full blues scale. One, two, three, four …

Skip to 4 minutes and 52 seconds Right. So we have three exercises then

Skip to 4 minutes and 55 seconds playing five choruses: the tune, improvising using the American blues scale, improvising using the seventh scales, improvising using full blues scales and then playing the tune again.

Skip to 5 minutes and 5 seconds And we have those three devices: playing the seventh (using the thumb to mark the pulse), playing in fifth tenths (playing just one chord to the bar) and playing in seventh tenth’s (using the top two notes to mark the pulse).

Improvising using seventh-tenths

In this video, I’ll show improvising over the left hand in root position playing seventh-tenths, this time using the top two fingers to indicate the pulse, in preparation for the exercises.

You can download the seventh-tenths referenced in the video in PDF format at the bottom of this step.

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This video is from the free online course:

Learn Jazz Piano: I. Begin with the Blues

Goldsmiths, University of London