Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Slip Note Piano

I grew up with music all around me. Dad played guitar, but what I really loved most was the piano playing of his friend, Cecil Pryor. Cecil is a great piano player. He was influenced by Floyd Cramer. Cecil was my influence, and still is. At an early age, I copied one of the things Cecil would do on the piano. I didn't find out until later that it is known as 'Slip Note Piano.'

Don Robertson wrote songs for many famous singers like Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Kitty Wells, Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Waylon Jennings and many others, but perhaps his greatest contribution to music came in 1960, when he co-wrote 'Please Help Me I'm Falling.' Today it is considered a country standard. When singer Hank Locklin, first heard Don's demo recording, he asked Floyd Cramer if he could copy the piano style he heard on the demo for the record. It was a major departure from the percussive piano style, which was popular in the late 1950s.

Slip note piano changed the sound of music, especially country music, thanks to Don Robertson. Slip note piano is where an adjacent note slides effortlessly into the correct note. Floyd Cramer adopted and popularized the style with his many recordings, like Last Date. A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of hearing Cecil Pryor play his piano and he played slip note piano style on that very song. I stood in awe. The memories I have of watching and listening to him when I was young came rushing back. It was great.


  1. I love what you wrote about Last Date and the "slip note style". I have been playing keyboards (piano and organ) for 50 years, but when I got a real copy of the score to Last Date (not the "easy version" but the real deal from and it was actually a challenge to play - and I have played a lots of stuff. And yes, when played like the original Floyd Cramer recording, it does indeed bring back chills - it's such a beautiful sound. The "slip-note" style is nothing like any ornaments in classical music, but more like the steel-guitar sound, and it's unique to hear that on a piano. Thanks for your webpage and the recording you put there to hear the song Last Date like it was meant to be heard. Bravo!!
    (David Miller, South Charleston, WV 9-16-16)

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My 78 RPM Disks (1905-1924)

1. Albert Campbell - Dreaming (3701). Steve Porter - Flanagan At The Vocal Teacher's (3705). Standard Talking Machine Company 1907. 2. ...