When improvising jazz on the piano, the left hand usually plays the chords and bass lines. The chords provide the harmonic foundation for the melody played by the right hand. The bass lines provide the rhythmic and melodic support for the chords. The left hand is responsible for creating a groove and a sense of swing in the music.
The chords played by the left hand are usually constructed using the notes of the scale or mode being used in the improvisation. For example, if the improvisation is in the key of C major, the chords played by the left hand might include C major, D minor, E minor, F major, G7, A minor, and B diminished. These chords are typically played in a rhythmic pattern that complements the melody played by the right hand.
The bass lines played by the left hand typically consist of a series of single notes that outline the harmonic structure of the piece. These notes are usually played in a rhythmic pattern that creates a sense of forward motion in the music. The left hand might also use chord inversions and other techniques to create a more interesting bass line.
In addition to playing chords and bass lines, the left hand might also play counter-melodies or other decorative figures that complement the melody played by the right hand. These figures might be based on the same scale or mode used in the improvisation, or they might be borrowed from other scales or modes.
Overall, the left hand plays a crucial role in improvising jazz on the piano. It provides the harmonic foundation, the rhythmic support, and the sense of groove that are essential to the style. A skilled jazz pianist must be able to use the left hand effectively in order to create a compelling improvisation.
- Levine, M. (1989). The jazz piano book. Petaluma, CA: Sher Music Co.
- Hal Leonard Corp. (1996). The real book: Sixth edition. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corp.