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View Full Version : Simple methods to fill out chords on piano



urucoug
02-06-2011, 04:15 PM
Hi, guys, I'm interested to see if anyone has some keyboarding experience here on this forum.

Just so you know my background, I can read music, but not proficiently. I've played for a number of years, but not really good enough to sit down and sightread a classical piece or anything (but I can if I put a lot of time into it). I'd like to be able to play chords on piano as easily as I can strum chords on a guitar, and maybe put in a melody line if I'm not singing.

A few years back, a friend of mine taught me the concept of a triad, and how it could be played on the piano, and it really opened up my eyes to many things I had missed all the years I had practiced piano. Previously, I had a very limited view of a chord--just play the notes that are written on the staff, but couldn't identify it, or make my own that sounded any good.

What he suggested to me is play chord tones 1 5 1 on the left hand with fingers 5 2 and 1, and play 1 3 5 on the right hand with fingers 1 3 5. (or, if it's a 7 chord, put the 7 in the left hand in place of the second 1). And then play variations of it--on the left hand, leave out the higher 1, or on the right hand leave out one of the tones. It's proven to be a very simple way to get the chord onto the piano, and sound decent.

My question is this: what simple methods do you use to get a decent sound out of the piano when you play? What do you think about? Do you worry about how many fingers are playing the same chord tone? (We have 10 fingers, but if we're playing a normal triad, only 3 tones that need to be sounded). What simple things can we think about to get big gains in playing the piano at a basic level from just playing chords where fingering is not specified? (Advice other than practice, practice, practice, because that's a given).

Malcolm
02-06-2011, 08:16 PM
There is a method called chord piano - which I use almost all the time. I play piano accompaniment, leaving the melody line to others 99% of the time. Those others can be my voice providing the melody.

http://www.howtoaccompany.com/

Have fun.

urucoug
02-07-2011, 02:43 PM
Thanks, Malcolm. I enjoyed those two videos, gives me lots of ideas.

Yeah, I hate it when the piano is always playing the melody when you're trying to sing it, always stealing the thunder!

kurtdaniel
03-03-2011, 08:07 AM
Using Quartals To Make Richer Chord Voicings. I love the sound of those big, fat jazz chords. Those tensions and ‘extra’ notes really make the song go from dull to dazzling.
check this: piano teacher (http://takelessons.com/category/piano-lessons)

urucoug
03-05-2011, 03:50 PM
I don't think I've heard anyone talk about quartals on this forum. Could you post an example, a link or something, of a good example?

Malcolm
03-05-2011, 07:50 PM
I don't think I've heard anyone talk about quartals on this forum. Could you post an example, a link or something, of a good example?
Good ole Google.........

http://www.pianowithwillie.com/images/articles/rich-quartals/ex1.jpg
C to F = a 4th then F to Bb is another 4th.
Instead of stacking 3rds we stack fourths.

pianochords
08-18-2011, 04:45 AM
How To Practice Piano
I used to practice piano for hours on any given days. Only recently did I realize my time and efforts were not put into good use. Here are a few suggestions that might help you or your children to better make use of their practice time.

1. Only practice a portion at a time. Have you heard of the saying : "How do you eat an elephant?" - a bite at a time. This is true in any given task. Do not practice the whole piece in one day. Breakdown the piano piece you are going to learn in many portions.
You will need time to digest any given measurements. The fingers need to familiar with the location and touch of the notes.

2. Analyze the piece - You may analyze the piece by observing any repeating segments. Very often a music piece has repeating segments. Sometimes the repeating segments might varies slightly. By doing this, you achieve the goal of practice a small segment but covering the repeating portions that appears later on in the same piece.
Also analyze the forms of the piece. A common music form is ABA , AABA, AABB, ABCA etc.

3. Chord/Cadence analysis - The same chord may appears for a few measures. This is true in any musical period (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern, etc). If you notice a same chord is repeating for many measures, then the notes within those measures belongs to the same chord and scale. This also helps your sight reading abilities. You get to predict the chord and notes ahead of time.

4. Warm up the fingers by playing the key of the piece - If the music piece is in the key of A major, you may want to warm up your A major scale by playing them numerous time to have a feel of A major's tone and fingering.

5. Write down the three most important chords of the key - If the piece is in the key of A major, you may write down the tonic, dominant, and subdominant chord respectively. They are A chord, D chord, and E chord. You will soon discover the left hand part of the music comprised mostly of these three chords. This is true in any given music. These three chords are
mostly used and harmonized.

6. Practice each hand separately first - This method is most useful if you are playing pieces from the Baroque period. Music composed by Bach have many themes. Very often each hands is playing a different subject. Practice slowly in the beginning, speed up once you have a good understanding of the piece. This is important when you have a music piece that varies in rhythm (going from quarter nte to half note, dotted quarter note, etc).

7. Do not lose your sanity - Some music can be frustrating to learn. Keep a positive attitude. Though you are practicing a small portion at a time, you are still making progress. Some advanced repertoire may take 4-6 months or even longer to
master.

I hope the above suggestions help make your practice more productive. Check out our "The Practical Guide To Piano Playing (http://www.pianomother.com/Practical_Guide_Piano_Playing.html)" to learn more about steps to improve your piano playing.
__________________________________________________ _
piano chords (http://www.pianomother.com/Piano_Chords.html)
play piano chord (http://www.pianomother.com/Piano_Chords.html)
playing piano chords (http://www.pianomother.com/Piano_Chords.html)

♫ love music ♫
09-18-2011, 07:42 PM
That is excellent advice 'pianochords', I have had a piano for years and was never able to play a complete song as I was just to impatient and tried to learn a song in one go and in one day, yeh right!:rolleyes:
I have now been using this approach and what a difference that has made.
It still takes me a long time to learn (it does when you're 65 years young) but I am getting somewhere now, I am very passionate about it and very exited because now I know that I CAN DO IT!! :D yay....
I am still having problems though reading bass clef, I "cheat" and write down the notes underneath,:confused: treble clef no problem.
Any suggestions there?
Best wishes, Joanne.

Color of Music
07-14-2012, 09:02 AM
That is excellent advice 'pianochords', I have had a piano for years and was never able to play a complete song as I was just to impatient and tried to learn a song in one go and in one day, yeh right!:rolleyes:
I have now been using this approach and what a difference that has made.
It still takes me a long time to learn (it does when you're 65 years young) but I am getting somewhere now, I am very passionate about it and very exited because now I know that I CAN DO IT!! :D yay....
I am still having problems though reading bass clef, I "cheat" and write down the notes underneath,:confused: treble clef no problem.
Any suggestions there?
Best wishes, Joanne.

I color coded the clefs. If they're difficult to see/distinguish:

Treble clef is Red
Bass clef is Blue
Alto Clef is Magenta
Tnor clef is Sea Green

All colored notes (and chords) relate to their respective clef.

What did you use to read the treble clef? "Every Good Boy Does Fine" (Lines) "FACE" (Spaces)

Well, the bass clef can be conquered with the same technique. "Gravy Boats Drown From Awkwardness" For the spaces: "(Do you have an), Ace, G"?

(Once you get confortable with harmony, you'll see that this clef's lines make up an Em7b9 while the spaces make up an FMaj7. Thus, this clef consists of a G9 and an Am7

Btw, Middle C is the split point between the bass and treble clefs; however, it can appear in both places. While it is one ledger line below E, it is also one ledger line above A

Moving on ...

You may run into the alto and tenor or movable C clefs. Usually when analyzing/composing for strings - though the treble/bass clef are the norm now. If/When you do come across them, they look like stylized "B"s.

Moveable C is so because it falls in two positions: either the third or fourth line of the staff. (It's looks like a stylized "B")

If middle C falls on the third line, it's called the alto clef; if it falls on fourth line (from the bottom up), it's the tenor clef.

For the alto clef, the lines are: F-A-C-E-G - the spaces are: G-B-D-F-A (FMaj9 and G9, respectively)

The tenor clef is: D-F-A-C-E (lines) G-B-D-F-A (spaces) (Dm9 and G9)

Notice similarities between the two C clefs? Notice the similarities between all four clefs?

All the lines skip by thirds (one letter) as do the spaces - either on or off the staves.

I'm sure you know the space below the treble clef is D; however, the space above it is G. In relation to the G on the staff - there's an octave between them. Therefore, if a staff note is on a line, the octave above and below it will be on a space. If the staff note is on a space, the note above or below will be on a line. It always works like this and for every clef. (Bass and treble are the only clefs that see a two octave span. The movable C's don't because they just end up in the standard clefs anyway.)

It's also important to know when you're asked about intervals - especially large ones. From D just off the treble clef to G also just off the treble clef?

That is a distance of an octave (Space/Line) + a perfect fourth. This was done by either taking the D up an octave or dropping the G down the same interval. This is what I call "Octave Displacement."

However, you want to be very careful, so you won't be placing notes too incredibly high or low. You want to keep them on or around the staves. If really high or low notes are to be played, you will see 8va or 8vb under the appropriate clefs (8va = Octave Above; 8vb Octave Below. ("Octave Displacement") In some cases you may see 15va or 15vb. That just means a 4 octave span. Two above or below. And 15 is correct, not 16. And those symbols can be under individual notes or chords as well.)

Now, for the last bit:

You know about the C-clefs, but do you know that the bass and treble clefs have names, too? F and G, respectively.

The line between the two dots signifies F in the bass clef (and it kind of looks like that letter as well. (Second line from the top or fourth from the bottom.

The treble clef is known as the G-clef. For three reasons:

The line it curls up on signifies this note (second line from the bottom or fourth from the top.)

It's in the range of string instruments (violin, etc) meaning this is the clef they seen most often. (They can play an octave to nine tones below that; however, that note (F) is notated with three ledger lines below the staff. This would be equivalent to the F in the bass clef, but putting it there isn't allowed in most cases)

And lastly, well, it looks like ... you guessed it - a G (lower and uppercase!)

So, to get all the clefs, do memorize where the notes are, but utilize those reference points till you no longer need to.

Alto and Tenor clefs: C and C
Bass clef: F
Treble clef: G

[Oh, look the primary chords in a song: I-IV-V or i-iv-v) Why's the Treble clef Dominant? Oh, nevermind!

Just a little musical humor there.

I'm sure this is alot to absorb, but I do hope this helps.

Amy
01-28-2014, 02:53 PM
If you want to create more beautiful sound on the piano, I suggest you learn improvisation. Improvisation basically uses chords so you need to expand your knowledge about playing chords. Also, learn different left-hand styles like jazz, rock, march, modern pop, waltz, etc. Teach yourself to play broken chords or arpeggios, and runs and fillers. When you learn these things, your piano playing will improve and it will no longer sound flat, dry or boring. There are many piano courses that offers lessons on these topics.

Malcolm
01-29-2014, 10:17 PM
Amy, old thread, I doubt any of the people are still interested. But, good to see someone is checking in.

anglenasalt
01-31-2014, 07:29 AM
I use almost all the time. I play piano accompaniment, leaving the melody line to others 99% of the time.