by Gjermund Sivertsen

Scandinavian Jazz Piano

How can you play open jazz piano chords and make it sound like jazz?
In Europe and Scandinavia, there is a certain way to play jazz piano. Even this way to play jazz is a bit different than the traditional way to play jazz, they are still related to each other.

Watch the video about open jazz piano chords to see for yourself.

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1. Let the piano sing without too much clutter.

In stead of playing the closed jazz piano chords that you would normally do when playing standard jazz, you choose to create open jazz piano chords in stead.

 In stead of adding all the altered jazz notes (Such as b9, b13, #11 etc) like this image:
You would play it more like this:

The goal is to make the piano sing for itself. Don’t play too much of the notes from the third layer (the altered notes).

2. Practice the diatonic scales, played openly.
3. Reharmonize, but keep it simple.

Some examples: Play a G7/D on the II chord in stead of Dmi. Also, play C/E in stead of the Emi on the III step.

4. Combine the diatonic scale with melodic and harmonic minor scales.

In stead of keeping everything close to the diatonic scale, you can try to add the harmonic and melodic minor scale to your left hand. This simply means you’ll rearrange the left hand.

One example is if you play the C scale with your right hand, and A harmonic minor scale with your left hand (Still starting from a C). When you do this, the fifth chord where you before played a G, now will be played as an E/G#:

5. When you work with diminished chords:

Diminished chords are most often used as stepping-stones between the diatonic steps.
When you play a diminished chord in this way, try to keep them open as well.

Here is an example of a C#dim chord:

6. An essential chord you can work on:

If you play a C with an add 9, then with E in the bass (att the bottom), you’ll get an interesting sound that I like to use a lot whenever I play open chords. By just moving this chord around at your piano keyboard, you’ll get a good.

7. Arrange bass lines, especially if you play together with a bass player.

This is one of my favorite things to do when I play with a bass player. When you create a separate line with your left hand, it can move the music forward in a great way!

8. When you play in minor keys, add the harmonic minor scale.

That means that you’ll play the harmonic minor as before, but you’ll start on the first note of the scale.
So if you’re playing in the key of C minor, you’ll add a C harmonic minor scale to your left hand while the right hand plays a “normal” C minor scale (Same as the Eb scale).

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When you play the open jazz piano chords like this, make sure you also listen to people who are playing this kind of music. If you’re interested in getting some tips to what to listen to, I recommend that you download my list of 7 recommended recordings that you can find here.