Rhythmic Syncopation for Comping – Peter Martin

I want to talk to you today about rhythmic syncopation for your comping. I want you thinking very basic. Let’s build up. Let’s get our swing going. Let’s really think about some ways that we can enhance the swing with some basic syncopation.

So pretend like we’re comping for a singer or horn player. No bass player, so we’re playing two feel on the left hand and this is basic voicings. So what I’m doing here is nothing revolutionary but if you really get your time going and remember the syncopation is all about resolution. Okay so, so a lot of times we’re thinking syncopation is just playing on the upbeat but it’s got to resolve rhythmically at some point so it can’t just be three, four.

Some down, some up and there’s not really a formula for it but the great thing is we’ve got a bunch of great examples. I mean, you check out Oscar Peterson and he’s just like, everything he does when he’s comping is just a beautiful like, pattern of syncopation and resolution so it’s more about kind of getting the sound in your ears and then just sitting and building up from something very basic and I would recommend that you really get your left hand going first. And one thing you can do is like talk to someone to see if you can do this and just keep these half notes going because you want them to be independent from the right-hand comping syncopation right so:

I’m never playing the left hand on the upbeat but the right hand is total independence. And what you can do is like really kind of think it through at the beginning in terms of like I’m gonna play on the upbeat, I’m gonna play on the downbeat. I’m gonna do all eighth note kind of comping and start to let your ears acclimate to what that sounds like and just use comping, this is not the time to try to get fancy with your voicings and all that just basic stuff shell plus one.

Or just shell. Third and seventh. Cause we’re going for that rhythmic feel because if you get the feel, you don’t have to get that fancy with your voicings.

That’s a basic – I mean there are guys in New Orleans playing that probably in 1917 right? But if you play it with the right feel – Now, I may be cheating a little bit cause I’m kind of playing it like a minor 11. It’s a little bit of a modern sound.

Phrasing, syncopation, feel. You can go basic then with your voicings and have a lot of fun with it.

Happy Practicing.