Musical “text painting” with jazz piano

If you ever feel like all your jazz piano solos sound the same, here’s a simple remedy:

Musical “text painting!”

Musical text painting, which is also called “program music,” is when you use your music to describe or “paint a picture” of something non-musical.

Beethoven did it in his 6th Symphony when he has the music sound like a rainstorm. Duke Ellington did it countless times, painting musical pictures of trains, old men, and people he knew and admired via his musical “portraits.” The jazz composer and bassist Charles Mingus used the technique as well, instructing his trumpet player, for instance, to “sound like a preacher.”

It doesn’t really matter if the audience knows what you’re trying to describe or not. What matters is that this is a powerful way to get you beyond thinking about the notes so much, and into the land of pure expression.

Check out this video to see how you can apply this technique to the jazz tunes you play.

Once you experiment a bit and become comfortable using this technique, you may find yourself playing jazz piano on a whole new level. Good luck!

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2 thoughts on “Musical “text painting” with jazz piano”

    • Those are good examples! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Beethoven’s 6th Symphony is another one. Also check out Duke Ellington’s musical “portraits.” Chick Corea is doing that now, too.


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