Thoughts on how to comp on Moody's Mood for Love

Hi everyone,
I am new here - both to PG and to Jazz! So I may ask the wrong question or ask it in the wrong place.

I am forming a duo with a singer and we are working on Moody’s Mood for Love by Amy Winehouse.

We have something going but I find the piano section to be a bit too dull… lacking variety… but I struggle finding other things to do that will respect the “fabric” of the song and not come in the way of the singing.

Would you have any advice for me? Or specific lesson I should look at (I watched all the comp lessons)? Or any musical idea?

Thanks a lot!

Hey @sb-blanc :wave:

Welcome to the community area and yes your question is in the right place.

Firstly understand your roles and responsibilities as the accompanist; which are:

  1. to provide harmonic support to the singer
  2. to tastefully fill in the gaps when the lyrics rest

Let’s dive into a little more detail of what these roles involve:

1) Providing Harmonic Support

It’s important to know a wide variety of chord voicings so that we can add interesting colours and textures underneath the vocals. I would recommend to start simple and make sure that you can play through the entire tune with root-3-7 voicings. Memorise the harmony so that you don’t need to look at the lead sheet and that way you are completely immersed in what you are playing and not distracted by reading the score.

Next, when introducing chord extensions and alterations, make sure that these don’t clash with the melody line of the singer. You might like to check out the following 3 seminars where I break down the most important chord voicings for beginners which are 3-note spread voicings, extended voicings, rootless voicings, and altered voicings:

Quartal Voicings

Quartal voicings are effective for accompaniment because they are often harmonically ambiguous which gives the singer or soloist a lot of freedom. Personally I love the sound of these voicings in a comping setting. Here is a lesson which breaks down some useful 251 comping voicings. Learn these voicing combinations for all of the 251s in the tune:

Developing Your Own Comping Style

Comping is personal to each musician, in the same way that a musician’s improvised solos are unique and personal.

After learning the theory, the most effective way to develop our own personal style is from listening to and emulating our favourite recordings.

If you haven’t already, it would be a good idea to compile a playlist of all of the vocal versions of this tune that you like. Searching on Spotify there are many to choose from. If you are new to transcribing from recordings it could be a good idea to incorporate some ear training into your daily practice routine:

Part 2 of each exercise is a harmonic exercise which will train you to transcribe the voicings from your favourite recordings. Complete an exercise or 2 each day and this will help you to hear the quality of voicings that are being used in your favourite accompaniments (ie. major, minor, dom, dim) and also specific extensions and alterations which are being added.

Part 1 of the ear training exercises are melody based, which will help you with transcribing melodic fills used to fill in space, more on this here…

2) Filling In The Gaps

This is often the more challenging aspect as here we are effectively improvising our melodic or harmonic fills. Again the first and most important step is listening to lots of versions and identifying the styles of fills and accompaniment that you personally like. That way you have something to aim for, and also a list of recordings for inspiration and transcription.

If you take a listen to this recording of the tune, you will hear that the accompanist adds short tasteful fills each time the melody breaks:

Adding fills is effectively improvisation, and so I would recommend checking out the course on cocktail piano improvisation:

After working through the improvisation module, you will understand some of the most important improvisational building blocks which are:

  • chord tones
  • approach patterns & enclosures
  • arpeggios
  • alterations
  • chromaticism

and how all of these areas work together. If you then take a listen to your favourite recordings, you should be able to hear these devices being used.

You can prepare your fills for the sections when the melody breaks, so that when you are performing with your signer you have already prepared and rehearsed ideas. With time, adding fills will come more naturally and spontaneously but to start with, have pre-rehearsed ideas for the sections where the melody breaks:


It’s quite a difficult question to answer as there are many components to effective comping. To summarise the key points:

  • Ensure that you have a nice palette of voicing styles, textures, and colours
  • Learn the harmony of the tune inside out, so you don’t need to look at the lead sheet
  • Start with simple spread voicings and gradually layer in extensions and alterations
  • Identify a handful of recordings that you like, listen and transcribe from them regularly
  • Plan your fills for when the melody breaks, these can be harmonic fills, melodic fills, or both

I hope that helps to give you some direction Seb.

If you have specific recordings where you like the accompaniment style, you can post the YouTube URL here and I can then give you some more specific direction on the types of voicings being used and which theory lessons would be useful for you to study.

Have fun with this stuff!

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