SALSA JAZZ PIANO LESSON: How to play Montunos

Jazz Piano
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LESSON NOTES:
In this video I start by showing you how to write montunos over circle of 5th chord progressions – as in a ii-V-I or an entire circle of 5ths.

Break the chord voicing into 2 sections – an outer part, and an inner part.

The outer part plays an octave – and always plays the 7th or 3rd of each chord in the circle of 5ths. So on a minor 7 chord, play a minor 7th, or a minor 3rd. On a major 7 chord, play a major 7th, or a major 7th. And on a dominant 7th, play a minor 7th, or a major 3rd. It’s up to you whether you start on the 7th or the 3rd, but I usually start on the 7th.

With each chord change (in a circle of 5ths or a ii-V-I) you will switch the outer octave between playing the 7th and the 3rd. So on the first chord play the 7th, on the next chord play the 3rd, on the next chord play the 7th, and so on.

Meanwhile, the inner part plays either the 3rd & 5th of the chord, or the 7th & 9th of the chord – depending which note the outer voice is playing:

When the outer voice plays the 7th of the chord you’re on – the inner voices play the 3rd & 5th.
When the outer voice plays the 3rd of the chord you’re on – the inner voices play the 7th & 9th.

When you follow this voicing rule over a circle of 5ths (or a ii-V-I), you find that the 2 parts of the chord move one at a time downwards throught the scale you’re in. So the outer voice moves while the inner voice stays the same for the next chord, then the inner voice moves while the outer voice stays the same for the next chord, and so on. The 2 voices alternate their movement.

Then I discuss other useful techniques you can use in Salsa (as well as other Latin Jazz styles), such as:
Montuno Turnarounds.
Arpeggiating the inner voices of the montuno.
Playing louder by doubling the montunos in both hands.
Doubling a melody 2 octaves apart.
Adding a Cuban Bassline in the left hand.

And last of all, I demonstrate these techniques as used in one of my own compositions, Road to Havana.

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Thanks for watching!

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