Heart and Soul Jazz Piano Arrangement
Get free weekly lessons, practice tips, and downloadable resources to your inbox!
When the average person sits down at the piano at a party, 9 times out of 10 they’ll start picking out Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Loesser’s famous Heart and Soul. This is because of the fun rhythm, nice chords, and catchy melody that everybody instantly knows! Now, what if you wanted to play it in a different way than everybody else to stand out, with a fresh and more advanced take on the song and make everyone turn their heads and say “Wow, that’s cool!”? That’s why in this lesson, we’ll go over how to play heart and soul in a swing jazz piano style.
This song was actually released way back in 1938 and the original style was, well, jazz! In particular, the style of swing jazz which was at its pinnacle in the ’30s and ’40s. Today, the song has often been simplified both to match closer to later styles like rock, pop, and R&B, as well as to be easier to play for beginner pianists. In a sense, we are actually taking the song back to its roots by playing heart and soul in a swing jazz piano style.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn:
- The chords that actually makeup heart and soul, as well as some jazzy substitutions.
- How to play a swing walking bass line in the left hand (easy and a more advanced/hard version)
- Right-hand melody and harmonizations
- Overview of how the different parts of this heart and soul-jazz piano arrangement work
- Downloadable sheet music PDF of the arrangement for reference
Ready? Let’s dive in!
Getting Ready: The Chords for Heart and Soul Jazz Piano
This tune is commonly played in a few different keys. In this lesson, we will be playing in the key of F. The chords are pretty simple, although we will be altering one of them for a jazzier sound (circled). Check it out below, and make sure to play through and become familiar with them if you haven’t already:
As you can see, Heart on Soul mainly consists of a 2 bar pattern of F major 7th, D minor 7th, G minor 7th, and C dominant 7th chords. Pro musicians usually call this a I-vi-ii-V chord progression. Notice how these are all 7th chords instead of triads. This makes a big difference in getting a richer sound. If you aren’t familiar with all your 7th chords then check out Intermediate Piano Foundations.
The circled chord in measure 3 is our little modification for a jazzier/ more colorful sound. Normally, as in the other measures, there would be a D minor 7th, but we changed it to a D dominant 7th. This is actually quite a common modification in jazz on this chord, because dominant chords love to resolve to a chord an interval of a 5th below (4th above) the root. Since D and G are a 5th/4th apart, changing from a minor to a dominant chord works beautifully, even if not all the notes are in F major.
If you want to know more about reharmonization and similar techniques possible in music, then check out Passing Chords & Reharmonization (Beginner/Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced).
Step 1: Learn the Swing Walking Bassline for Left Hand Piano
Now that we know our chords, let’s get swingin’! Here’s what our walking bassline looks like all by itself. Be sure to watch the recommended fingering as well, notated on the sheet music:
Cool, right? If you want a more driving and advanced sound, you can add little pick up notes on every other beat, which on piano usually consists of repeating the note we just played. On a real bass, it’s more of a ghost note (a soft percussive sound without pitch). In any case, it really adds to the swing and groove:
Remember any 8th note on in upbeat (the “and’s”) is literally “swung” or delayed a little bit. That’s why it’s called swing!
Now some of you may be wondering, how does this walking bass line work?
Building A Walking Bass Line
Jazz bassists are required to devote their whole craft to making a great walking bassline, so there of course are many ways and possibilities. But there are only a few basic principles we need to know if we want to get started making a walking bassline that works and that is convincing. Here they are:
- Always land on the root of the chord on the downbeat, every time a new chord is played.
- The note preceding the new chord (which as stated in #1 is always the root) is almost always a half step above or below the next root. In our example, it will always be above. This half step passing tone builds a tension that makes us want to resolve to the root in which we are aiming for.
Check the above two principles in action below in this bassline:
Of course, there are a few more things to building a walking bassline in different contexts. If you want a deeper dive then check out Jazz Walking Basslines (Beginner/Intermediate, Intermediate/ Advanced).
Step 2: Right-Hand Melody and Harmonization
Take a look at the right-hand part now of the Heart and Soul jazz piano arrangement. This includes the familiar melody we all know and love, as well as some harmonizations on it that follow the chords. Circled is a roll to embellish the melody a bit, it can be done as written (A♮), or as an Ab for a more bluesy sound.
Most of these harmonizations follow close note voicings with 4 notes, also called blocked chords. Check out an analysis of the chord tones these blocked chords are covering:
Notice how all the voicings contain the 3rd and 7th (or 6th possibly instead of 7th if a major chord) (Guide Tones), this is important to convey the sound of each chord. If you want to know more about blocked chords, and other harmonization and accompaniment techniques, then check out Jazz Swing Accompaniment (Beginner/Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced).
Step 3: Putting The Hands Together
Be sure to practice each hand slowly and carefully until they are easy separately. Then we can put them together, and don’t forget to swing!
Sounds cool now, right? Let’s take a look at the more advanced version with the pickup notes in the bassline:
Summing It All Up
That’s it for this lesson on Heart and Soul for jazz piano! This was a fun lesson as we took a look at some ways to spice up the tune from the way we usually hear it.
Be sure to download the sheet music below for a reference and if you’re a PWJ Member you can download the smart sheet music to transpose the arrangement into any key you wish. There are many other great benefits available for members as well including live workshops, weekly challenges, unlimited access to courses, and a piano community committed to learning.
If you want an even deeper dive into this topic, including a full in-depth version of this lesson on Heart and Soul with more playing styles and variations, then check out some of the following courses:
- Heart and Spirit (full Heart and Soul course) (Beginner/Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced)
- Ode To Joy in 3 Jazz Styles (Beginner/Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced)
- Fly Me To The Moon (Beginner/Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced)
- Autumn Trees Lead Sheet
- Cycle of 5ths in 3 Jazz Styles (Beginner/Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced)
Thanks for checking out this Quick Tip. See you in the next one!
Blog written by Daine Jordan/Quick Tip by Jonny May
More Free Lessons
Play Hoagy Carmichael's "Heart and Soul" on piano in 5 levels—from beginner to pro. Apply pro tips for jazz, stride and contemporary pop styles.
Discover a fun improv practice game for expanding your jazz vocabulary with original 2-5-1 jazz licks using 3 different dominant scales.
How do Hollywood film composers like John Williams, Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer create gripping chord progressions? Learn 3 tricks to create cinematic chords on piano.
Looking for downloads?
Subscribe to a membership plan for full access to this Quick Tip's sheet music and backing tracks!
The Piano With Jonny Membership
Guided Learning Tracks
View guided learning tracks for all music styles and skill levels
Complete lessons and courses as you track your learning progress
Download Sheet Music and Backing Tracks
Engage with other PWJ members in our member-only community forums
Become a better piano player today. Start your free 14-day trial today!