Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fun with Chords on the Piano

(This can also be played on guitar, you just have to look up where the notes are and finger pick them. )

Soon we’ll have to talk more about notation and reading music, but here’s an exercise with those arpeggiated chords that sounds pretty and is easy to do.

Going up the keyboard, play the first set of notes with your left hand, the second with your right, then cross your left hand over your right and play the first set again with your left and then your right. Like this:

Left Right Left Right

It’s the same chord, played one note at a time, in four different octaves on the piano.

Try it slowly, as though you’re playing something from a beautifully lilting song. Once you get the hang of it, also try to see how fast you can do it. Then try it with all the chords you just learned in the C scale.

Now try it using the chords C major ( C-E-G) and when you finish the ascending pattern, go below whre you started and do the same things with the A minor chord ( A C-E). Follow that with the same pattern for F major, and then G major. Specifically:


You may think that sounds kind of neat as a pattern when you do it. The reason for that is that we’re moving from one chord to another which either shares tones in common or have other powerful relationships to one another. That will take a lot of explaining over time, but some of it is very simple to understand. This could be described as a “chord progression”. If the chords were numbered the way we talked about C-E-G would be called “ I “ , and A-C-E would be called “ vi “ , F-A-C would become “IV” and G-B-D would become “ V”.

If that sounds confusing, take a deep breath, and just play through it a few times. It’s easy to play and your ears understand already that there is a relationship within the chords.

When you move from the C major pattern down to the A minor pattern, you are moving from the first degree of the C major scale to the sixth degree of the scale. When you move from the A minor chord to the F major chord, you are moving from the sixth degree of the scale to the fourth. When you move from the F major Chord to the G major chord, you are moving from the fourth degree of the c scale to the fifth.

1- 6- 4 - 5
I –vi- IV- IV

One of the reasons knowing that is useful is that if you understand the pattern you can take it into any other key, which is “transposing”. For instance you know that the first chord In G major is the G major chord, G-B-D. To create the same pattern of arpeggios using the G major scale, you’d start with the “ I” chord (which would be G-B-D ) move to the “ vi” chord ( E- G- B ), then the “IV” chord ( C-E-G ) and the “V” (D-F-A)

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