by Gjermund Sivertsen
How to Play Outside When Playing Jazz Piano

When I discovered for the first time the amazing effect of how to play outside when playing jazz piano, I was really blown away!

First of all: To play outside normally means that you change your harmonics and improvisation lines to something “outside” the normal harmony.

My first real meeting with the concept of playing outside: I had been to many jazz concerts already. This was about 14 years ago. Weekly, I would go to concerts in Bergen (my hometown) where I used to listen to Dag Arnesen (my first real jazz piano teacher) as well as many of the other boys playing jazz – week in, and week out.
Most of the times, jazz musicians plays inside and adds altered notes. (For example, you are playing a G7, then playing the altered notes such as the b5 (C#), #9 (Bb) etc.) 
But this time, I listened to the boys playing some lines that was really pulling the improvisation from the original harmony in such a clever way that they literally blew my harmonic ears away!

I call it: My first jazz experience outside.

After this experience, I was determined to discover how I could play outside too. It was not easy to make it sound good. It wasn’t enough to just add some “wrong” notes every now and then.

To make a long story short, I cracked the code – and now I’m gladly sharing some tips to anyone interested in this topic.

Here are the videos on how to play outside when playing jazz piano that I did together with my “brothers”:

If you liked this video, please subscribe here:

Divider Text
5 Methods for playing outside

1. How to play outside when you’re playing a jazz ballad

To play outside when you’re playing a Jazz Ballad is normally something you should not do so much. However: My first Jazz Piano teacher showed me how you could play outside and make it sound interesting. The specific example that I showed in the video is when you play a Bb13 (with 11). So: While the bass player is playing a Bb, you play a B13 in stead of the Bb13.

When you do: Be careful! This sounds strange, and you should “get inside” as quick as possible. In my experience, it works very well to do this.

2. How to play outside over a minor7 chord using the minor pentatonic scale.

When you play for example a Cminor7 chord, you could play a pentatonic pattern. To get the outside- feeling, you simply need to transpose the pattern (as well as your chords) up a half-step. And: Just like when you played the ballad, you should get back inside. This trick is a lot used when you play funk- style jazz, as well as up-tempo jazz.

3. How to play outside using the “Babbling” effect.t that's punchy, interesting and helps them make a good buying decision.
The babbling effect is a term I came up with to describe the constant stream of notes- effect, that you probably have heard any jazz musician present. I mostly use this effect when I play up-tempo music, or free impro jazz. 
4. How to play outside using the “moving object” principle. 

This principle is an important one, and I present it in detail in the free outside jazz piano course. Get your invitation here

5. How to play outside using the “sneaking up the chords” principle. 

If you find the term “sneaking up the chords” strange, I totally agree with you! This term is something I came up with too, by transcribing lots of jazz piano solos by many masters such as Chick Corea, Alan Pasqua, Michel Petrucciani, Michel Camilo + many others. So in lack of a better description, I think naming it “sneaking up the chords”- principle is something that makes you remember this element and when you have practiced it for a while, you may add it whenever you want. Also, to get exercises + an in depth explanation on this principle get your invitation to the free course here.

A few last words about this lesson and playing outside

First of all: If you haven’t tried to play outside, you should give it a go! Also: The BAH brothers, we’ll hopefully play more together in the future. If you haven’t noticed, they are all the same man disquised as three brothers. I did that for fun, and I hope you enjoyed listening to “us” and this lesson. I think they will be back later, but who knows?