How to Play Old Gospel Songs on the Keyboard

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When playing a gospel song on a Hammond organ, play the bass on the pedal board to add a tuba-like sound. Learn about adding a bass line with the left hand to the bass pedal with help from a professional musician and Hammond organist in this free video on playing old gospel songs on the keyboard.

Part of the Video Series: Hammond Organs
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Video Transcript

Hello, my name is Louis Pain. I'm a Portland, Oregon based Hammond organist and I also rent out the instruments and teach. And today, I'm here to demonstrate how to play old gospel songs on the Hammond keyboard. The Hammond was designed to sound like a pipe organ. This is back in the 1930's. It wasn't a complete success in that because the attack is very sudden and immediate, and whereas, pipe organs; it's a very gradual. You touch the key and it takes a while for that tone to sound. You can see it's an instantaneous attack with the Hammond organ, but musicians, after a while, learn to appreciate that and exploit it, although Mr. Hammond, the inventor of the instrument, didn't appreciate that, and but still, it was kind of a plodding, old timey sound, the way the instrument was approached for a long time. So, if you played a gospel song you would play the bass on the pedal board, and it would sound a little bit tuba-like. But then, a guy named Jimmy Smith came along in the late 1950's and changed everything. And he was a professional piano player and also a professional bass player and he wanted to sound like a modern jazz musician; kind of like an all, a one man band. And he knew what a bass was supposed to sound like and that didn't satisfy him. He wanted a plucking sound and he came up with the idea of playing the bass line with his left hand, and adding to that the bass pedal, going, and you put the two together and it starts to sound like a bass. So, that's a couple of approaches to playing an old gospel song on the Hammond organ. The very traditional way, playing the tuba-like bass pedals, or what Jimmy Smith came up with, a way of making the organ sound more like a real bass. But, there's many others. You could play, you can hold chords with your left hand. There's that. You can play with big block chords with two hands. So, just going to show that there are many ways to approach playing an old gospel song on the Hammond keyboard.

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