Canadian Musician - May / June 2018 - Page 26

KEYBOARDS Hannah Barstow is a Toronto-based pianist, vocalist, and composer. She has an ARCT in Piano Performance and a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from the University of Toronto. She released her self-titled debut EP in the autumn of 2017, which features a mix of jazz standards and her original contemporary compositions. By Hannah Barstow Composing a Jazz Standard-Type Tune W hen I was new to the art of jazz piano 10 years ago, I wondered how it would ever be possible to compose a jazz tune. I was fascinated by jazz voicings and eagerly learned how one voicing can flow seamlessly to another when comping, but I was still stuck when trying to write jazz songs, where I had not been stuck before writing pop songs. Fortunately, I have since learned this skill and I put it in practice regularly. A common mistake made by inexperienced composers is to arbitrarily choose chords for their piece, which often results in chord progressions that do not follow a logical path. This is not to say that one cannot successfully write tunes with unconventional chord choices, but understanding the basic rules of jazz