Boogie Woogie piano is a syncopated style of blues piano playing which has served as a major influence on popular American music making. The roots of this style of music are believed to have originated in Marshall, Texas during the early 1900's. The Boogie Woogie piano style is characterized by a steadily repeated left hand bass figure, sometimes called "eight to the bar," as much of it is written in common time (4/4) time using eighth notes. The left hand is also used to play piano chords, while the right hand plays a variety of trills and embellishments. For the most part, Boogie Woogie tunes are composed of twelve-bar blues, (see the picture above) although the style has been applied to popular songs such as "Swanee River" and hymns such as "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."
When asked about Boogie Woogie piano players, some of the all time favorites that come to mind are Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, Blind Lemon Jefferson, "Pine Top" Smith, Jelly Roll Morton and Dr. John. Boogie Woogie music quickly became popular right after the Texas pianist George W. Thomas' release of New Orleans Hop Scop Blues as sheet music in 1916. Boogie Woogie piano soon hit the charts with Pine Top Smith's Pine Top's Boogie in 1929, which garnered the number 20 spot. In the late 1930's, Boogie Woogie became part of the then popular Swing style of music, as big bands such as Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Louis Jordan... all had Boogie Woogie musical hits. Swing big band audiences expected to hear Boogie style tunes, because the beat could be used for the then-popular dances such as the Jitterbug and the Lindy Hop. The Boogie Woogie fad lasted from the late 1930's into the early 1950's, and served as a major contribution to the development of jump blues and ultimately to rock and roll music, epitomized by such iconic musicians as Fats Domino, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Boogie Woogie piano is still being played today and can be heard in clubs and on musical recordings all throughout North America and Europe.
If you have you ever wanted to learn how to play the Boogie Woogie style of piano for yourself, then take a look at Boogie-Woogie Piano: Hal Leonard Keyboard Style Series by Todd Lowry. This comprehensive book/CD is a great guide for beginners to learn the Boogie style of playing. It will teach you the basic skills needed to play Boogie Woogie. It also includes a variety of left hand bass patterns and lots of right hand licks to help you achieve that great Boogie Woogie sound. You will learn the theory as well as the tools and techniques that are used by the genre's best practitioners, from learning the basic chord progressions to inventing your own melodic piano riffs. The accompanying CD demonstrates most of the music examples in the book, with left- and right-channel tracks created for helpful hands-separate piano practice.
In the meantime, be sure to also take a look at the video below as the pianist Johan Blohm from "The Refreshments" band plays some lively, exhilarating rhythmic Boogie Woogie style music for an enthusiastic, toe tapping audience and high-stepping dance crowd.
Greetings to Everyone and A Big Welcome to Infinity Music Studio! My name is Suzanne Brittania. I have been teaching piano and voice lessons for over 40 plus years. It is my hope that you will find all the following information, along with the music videos listed within my blog, to be very interesting, helpful and inspiring all throughout your own musical journey.
The videos listed below are of famous opera stars (that I performed with extensively all throughout my earlier musical career) especially during the 1950's and 60's.
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