…none of which are really very complicated. Basically, if you want to play rock piano it’s a question of having (and working on) a good rhythmic sense and really knowing your chord shapes. Here’s a short video explaining exactly what I mean:
It’s worth saying that the kind of rock piano I’m dealing with here is really a comping style - I’m assuming that you’re going to playing keyboard or piano in a band, or maybe singing a melody line over the top. You can incorporate melody into this style and make it work as piano solo, but in most contexts this kind of stuff is played to accompany either a vocal line or a full band.
One of the best ways of picking up how rock piano really works is to watch some professionals playing. Tunes like Elton John’s Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting or Ben Folds’ Not The Same (which I use as the example in the video) are both quite hard rocking piano songs. Notice that both make very heavy use of chunky, block chords. Ben Fold’s Landed is quite a slow rocker, and some of the piano part - especially the intro - is quite elaborate and ballad-like. But listen to the chorus and you’ll hear a fair bit of the hand-rocking technique I talk about in the vid.
By the way, that chord sequence I’m playing in the second half of the video goes like this:
E | B | C#m | A |
It’s a pretty good one to practise on. However, like I say, your best bet is probably to get hold of (or work out) the chord sequences to some songs you particularly like and start playing around with them on the piano. Bear in mind that if you buy commercial sheet music you should focus on the melody line and chords. Ignore the piano arrangement, because the chances are it will be heavily simplified to the point of being either useless or completely unplayable. The trick with rock piano, as I’ve said, is to master your chord shapes and develop a good sense of rhythm - don’t get bogged down trying to play an arranger’s third-rate piano adaptation.
I’ll probably post a few other bits and pieces explaining how to play rock piano in the next month or so, because quite a few people seem to be interested in this style of playing. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this, or any other style of piano playing, stick them in the comment thread!