Top players enjoy using grace note when they play music, these are “passing notes” that make the music sound more interesting.
The Blues genre, which many consider the root of Jazz and Rock, often feature the guitar to evoke emotion from the music usually by bending guitar strings in the solo.If you have ever listened to Freddy King, BB King or Albert King, you will understand what I’m talking about here. Many blues influenced rock guitarists use a similar technique in their songs. The same effect can be achieved in other types of instruments to, like the trumpet, saxophone and harmonica for instance. Another way of bending pitch that was used more in the eary days of Blues was the bottleneck or slide guitar, where the sound was produced by sliding a cut-off neck of a glass bottle up and down the strings.
Unfortunately bending notes on the piano is a bit trickier than any of the above-mentioned instruments. Instead of “bending” notes, we must use our fingers fast. Usually how this is done is to mix in notes that are not part of a scale, to achieve the effect of “sliding” down or up the target note. Some notable musicians who utilized this style of playing were Otis Span, Oscar Peterson and Ray Charles.
To do this yourself, if say you’re playing a blues scale in the key of G, you try to “roll” the C, C# onto D. You do this by playing these notes very quickly. You can then “roll” the D and F close together while the low G (played with the thumb) rings through. When playing down the scale you may slide from C# onto C and Bb to G.
You can, of course do the same thing in any of the other keys, G was just an example. Of course in certain keys you will not be able to do this in the way that you want to. Rather than “slide” you will have to play each instead which requires the insertion of an extra finger and does not produce the same effect. But when the key is right and you execute this technique correctly, you’ll add a certain “flair” to your music. This technique tends to work best with Blues Piano Chords and Scales, but there is no reason why you can’t do it in other scales and modes of play.