How to Play Soul on the Piano or Keyboard - dummies

How to Play Soul on the Piano or Keyboard

By Holly Day, Jerry Kovarksy, Blake Neely, David Pearl, Michael Pilhofer

Talk about a broad category of music for the piano! Soul can encompass anything from R&B (“rhythm and blues”) to gospel, hip-hop, and rap. Such soulful styles have been made popular by artists like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and Otis Redding, and can feature a lot of wonderful piano playing. It’s also great for dancing, although not so much while sitting at the piano.

Saving your soul

Danceable soul music requires danceable rhythms, so have the following rhythmic concepts in your repertoire before strutting over to the keys:

  • Syncopation

  • Right-hand intervals

  • Dotted eighth-sixteenth pattern

  • Disco ball (rent from your local party supply outlet)

Motown sounds

In the 1960s, Motown Records had a stable of artists specializing in the R&B sound. So popular were these artists that their style became known as the Motown sound. But don’t think the 1960s are gone; you can add the Motown sound to any of your favorite songs.

This example uses a left-hand pattern with a syncopated rhythm. Pretty soon you’ll be hearing the Temptations doo-wopping right along with you.


Funky sounds goin’ round

Soul and R&B styles often incorporate elements of funk — you know, like James Brown, Chaka Kahn, or George Clinton. Heavy syncopation coupled with dotted eighth-sixteenth rhythmic patterns provide the funky feel for this funky sound.