Category Archives: Basic Piano Chords

Cocktail Piano Chords: Opening Up Those Triads

Cocktail-Piano-ChordsWhen it comes to playing cocktail piano chords that are the among the easiest to play while being extremely effective, what we’ll be looking at here will rate high on the list. If you know how to play some simple triads (three-note chords), this will come easy to you. In addition, you’ll discover for yourself that, even if you don’t have a specific tune in mind, you can compliment a nice ambience with these cocktail piano chords when played subtlety and legato.

Again, we’re using simple triads here. For our example, we will look at the C Major triad in Root Position, 1st Inversion, and 2nd Inversion  in their closed postions:

Cocktail-Piano-Chords

By simply opening up these triads and playing them in their open positions, we arrive at some very nice textures. When supported with the use of the sustain pedal, sometimes played as we see below and other times played in a arpeggiated fashion, you can easily grab a listener’s ear with very sparse playing…

Cocktail-Piano-Chords

If the concept of “opening” a chord is new to you, we are simply taking the middle chord tone of each position in our first illustration above and playing it one octave higher. Yes, two hands will be used, and this particular example that we just illustrated can be easily fingered with the right hand by simply fingering a Cmaj in 1st inversion (while allowing the left hand to take care of everything else). Doing so places your right hand fingers within easy grasp of E, G and C as they are played subsequently, as shown above.

Once you are comfortable with playing our example above in open positions, consider playing through a chord progression using these open positions. Doing so will accomplish at least two things: 1) Your confidence with playing triads in open positions will rise tremendously; 2) You’ll be playing something that sounds quite nice when taking those open positions through, say, a I – vii – ii – V chord progression like Cmaj – Amin – Dmin – Gmaj.

Please consider putting the above suggestion to use in addition to understanding it intellectually. Actually take yourself through the three positions over each chord in that chord progressions. You’ll automatically have, at your fingertips, twelve interesting chord textures you can feel good about adding to that “piano playing toolbox” of yours.

Next, take yourself through an entire favorite song of yours and simply play the chords in their open position inversions as if you were accompanying yourself while singing the melody. Experiment with different inversions as you play through the chord changes of the song again and again. Watch your confidence with playing cocktail piano chords grow!

Remember,

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave
www.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com

Cocktail Piano Chords: Inversions

Cocktail-Piano-ChordsAn exploration of cocktail piano chords really ought to include an eventual thorough understanding of chord inversions. Mastery of your inversions is most certainly conducive to increased confidence when it comes to adding some style to those favorite songs of yours.

Whether your focus on chords up to this point has been on only triads or you also have a handle on some of those 7th chords, the basic concept is the same. In addition, even when playing just triads, a familiarity with the inversions can really make those songs have more flair. This adds a whole new dimension to your collection of cocktail piano chords since you are making more out of even those simple ones that you already know.

You are highly encouraged to learn the chords you are already feeling confident with in their different inversions, using both hands. For now, let’s concentrate on the value of learning them with your right hand.

We will use the C Major triad as we use a few illustrations from the popular Right Hand Chord Piano Made Easy program which, by the way, is a great method to ease your way into this right hand chord piano approach (sometimes referred to as chord melody)…

Cocktail-Piano-ChordsCocktail-Piano-ChordsCocktail-Piano-Chords

Notice that each position of the C Major chord has a different note on the top (furthest to the right). If we agree that each of these notes can be melody notes in a given song, then we can easily see how playing these chord positions with the right hand takes care of two roles: 1) The melody  2) The chords

Playing both the melody and chords with the right hand frees up your left hand to have its own role, such as playing the roots in the bass area to add more substance to your playing. This really adds more dimension to your piano playing for sure!

For starters, look for melody notes in a favorite tune of yours and see where the corresponding chords contain those melody notes. For example, if your melody is A and the chord is F Major, ask yourself “what inversion of the F Major chord keeps the A on top? That is the inversion to play.

This is just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to this right hand chord piano concept and there is more to say. You are encouraged to consider taking advantage of the program mentioned above. It uses only basic triads so all beginners can benefit from it but, once you understand and get used to implementing the technique, then you’ll feel more confident when it comes to applying it to 7th chords as well. Whatever level your are at, this is a technique you want to have fun exploring!

Remember,

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave
www.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com

Cocktail Piano Chords: Diatonic 7ths

Cocktail-Piano-ChordsYour exploration of cocktail piano chords must include the eventual understanding and implementation of diatonic 7th chords. In essence, within a given key, the diatonic system represents the “skeleton” of that key that you are playing in.

What do we mean by “diatonic?” Let’s take a look at the scale of C Major:

C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C

Now, if we build chord structures using 3rd intervals (in other words, playing every other note from left to right) beginning on any given degree of this scale, this will result in playing a 7th chord. For example, starting on C, we would have:

C  E  G  B  (Cmaj7)

Keep in mind that we are adhering to the members of the scale (we are not playing any sharps or flats since the scale of C Major contains none).

As we do the same using D as the root of the chord, we arrive at:

D  F  A  C  (Dmin7)

Again, notice that we have built our chord using 3rd intervals while adhering to the members of the C Major scale.

When we adhere to the members of a given scale as we are doing here, we are playing diatonic chords. These are cocktail piano chords that you will want to have mastery over!

Here are all seven diatonic 7th chords in the key of C Major:

C  E  G  B  (Cmaj7)

D  F  A  C  (Dmin7)

E  G  B  D  (Emin7)

F  A  C  E  (Fmaj7)

G  B  D  F  (G7)

A  C  E  G  (Amin7)

B  D  F  A  (Bmin7b5)

So, you see, we have constructed every possible chord in this fashion within the key of C Major. As you play your favorite standard songs, you will want to take note of the key you are in and pay attention to which of the chords are diatonic.

In order to become more proficient at recognizing these chords within a song, you will want to gain familiarity with each of the scales and the chords that are constructed using the members of these scales.

Take note of the following:

The I chord is a maj7 chord

The II chord is a min7 chord

The III chord is a min7 chord

The IV chord is a maj7 chord

The V chord is a dominant 7 chord

The VI chord is a min7 chord

The VII chord is a min7b5 chord

Since the musical system is mathematically perfect, the same will be true for all the major keys. Although the roots and chords will vary, the qualities of these chords will always remain the same (The I chord will always be a maj7 chord, the II chord will always be a min7 chords, the III chord will always be a min7 chord, etc)

You will want to become familiar with the diatonic 7th chords in all the keys. Not only will this enhance your understanding as to how music is put together, but you will also be able to more efficiently improvise your own musical ideas as you become more and more comfortable with the diatonic system. As a cocktail piano player, this will be conducive to your coming up with some pretty interesting improvisations of your own!

Remember,

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave
www.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com

Piano Chord Progressions: This One’s Easy And Fun

Piano-Chord-ProgressionsAs you have fun with different piano chord progressions, one that is easy and yet conducive to achieving some interesting sounds on those keys is shown here:

I-II-III-II-I

We are looking at the first three diatonic chords of a key. Let’s use the key of C Major for our purposes here. In this case, we will be playing:

Cmaj7 – Dmin7 – Emin7 – Dmin7 – Cmaj7

So, we are climbing up to that III chord and back down to the I chord in a stepwise fashion. Now, this is one of those piano chord progressions that you can have a lot of fun improvising with. Actually, if you’re sitting in the corner of a restaurant or club with the lights dim and want to compliment the ambience with something delicate and tasteful, you can really make this sound like something.

The chords in their basic root positions are:

Cmaj7 = C  E  G  B

Dmin7 = D  F A  C

Emin7 = E  G  B  D

However, let’s apply that 1-7-3-5 piano chord voicing to this progression. So, what we will be playing is as follows:

(The Root and 7 of each of these chords are played with the left hand and the 3 and 5 are played with the right hand. Begin with the C below middle C as the first root and simply climb up in steps)

C  B  – E  G  (Cmaj7)

D  C – F  A   (Dmin7)

E  D – E  G   (Emin7)

Begin by playing up and down as you play all the chord tones of each chord at the same time. Then play the 1 and 7 of each chord together while you play the corresponding 3 and 5 in a melodic fashion, playing each note separately. As you do this and become more and more comfortable with it, you’ll begin to see that you can really get a nice cocktail piano sound climbing up and down this progression.

Play through this progression delicately and, as you do so, create some simple improvised melodies with the 3 and 5 of each chord. You’ll become more creative with this. Also, consider playing everything up one octave. Then come back down to the original octave. Then play the voicings in a “rolled” fashion, playing from the bottom chord tone (Root) to the top (5th), too!

Naturally, this chord voicing structure works well in your tunes. However, just using it as you play through this progression really lends itself to complimenting a quiet setting. In addition, just by playing these three chords, you can explore your potential improvising with just these few notes. Experiment with your dynamics as well, using crescendos and decrescendos.

As you really set the scene with this simple yet great sounding combination of chords, remember…

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave
www.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com

Cocktail Piano Chords: Open Voicings

Cocktail-Piano-ChordsAs you explore your world of cocktail piano chords and voicings, you will undoubtedly find yourself investigating open voicings if you haven’t already. In this message, I would like to suggest a concept that is so very easy to get a handle on yet is very effective at the same time.

Consider applying this to any 7th chords you are already familiar with. Simply play any 7th chord in its most basic position. For now, let’s use G7:

G  B  D  F

Here we have a G dominant 7th chord in root position. With your left hand, you would most likely finger this chord with your pinky, middle finger, index finger, and thumb.

Well, perhaps you have often heard the expression “less is more.” A perfect example of this can be realized by doing the following: simply leave out the middle two chord tones and play only the G and F (the Root and 7 of the chord) aith your pinky and thumb. This is often referred to as a “shell.” If you think about an oyster, you can imagine the two shells with the oyster inside. You can think of that 3 and 5 (B and D) as the “oyster” or middle and the 1 and 7 as the outer shell.

Becoming familiar with playing your 7th chords in this fashion will open you up to many possibilities when it comes to cocktail piano chords. For one, playing just the shell voicing (the root and 7) works well on its own without adding anything else to it. Go ahead and do this. Play through a favorite song of yours using only the 1 and 7 of those 7th chords with your left hand and playing the melody with your right and listen to the very open sound that results. You’ll learn to love these shell voicings before long.

In addition, becoming acquainted with these shells and implementing them will lead to your being able to extend the idea to playing other piano chord voicings. One example would be playing the shell with the left hand and playing that 3 and 5 that you left out an octave higher. That’s a nice chord voicing that I’ve often referred to as the “oyster voicing” (it’s just a name I attached to it). So, if you are playing that G7, one way to approach it would be:

G and F with your left hand

B and D with your right hand

The D would be the highest chord tone. Now, if that happens to be your melody note, this works nicely. If your melody note is higher, then you could play this voicing under it, thus creating a 5-note voicing.

Focus on creating shells for a while and you’ll appreciate more and more the “thin” or “open” sound they create. Then you can expand on them, too. As you have fun with them, remember…

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave
www.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com

Cocktail Piano Chords: Getting Your Feet Wet

Cocktail-Piano-ChordsWhat exactly are cocktail piano chords? Well, as we have acknowledged, cocktail piano in itself is a way of playing. Therefore, whatever chords you decide to play can be considered to be “cocktail piano chords.” Of course, when the phrase is used, it is often referring to chords or voicings that are especially tasteful from the perspective of a certain individual. Playing a simple C Major triad (C-E-G) can be considered quite appropriate when played in a context that calls for simplicity.

For fun, let’s consider opening up that triad. Start with playing the chord in its most basic form in root position beginning on the C one octave below middle C on the piano keyboard:

C  E  G

Next, take that E out of the middle and, instead, play it one octave higher. Thus, the order of the chord tones from left to right is:

C G E

Now we are playing a C Major chord in open position. Doing just that much creates a nice alternative to the more basic way of playing it. So, let’s say you’re playing that C and G with the left hand and the E with your right hand thumb. You now have four fingers of the right hand that can enjoy the freedom of playing the melody as long as it’s higher than that E.

The topic of cocktail piano chords, of course, goes way beyond the scope of what we are talking about here but it can rather helpful and encouraging to the beginning cocktail pianist to know that making even the slightest of adjustments to basic chords can be conducive to some creating some nice flavor.

Go ahead and do the same with the inversions of that C Major chord by opening them up as well. This chord played in 1st inversion is arranged like this:

E  G  C

Take that G out and replace it with the G one octave higher and listen to the result:

E  C  G

Again the lower two chord tones can be played with the left hand and the G can be played with the right thumb while the other fingers of that hand can accommodate the melody.

The C Major in 2nd inversion is arranged like this:

G  C  E

Do the same and listen to the texture of this open voicing.

So, you see, it takes very little effort to make what you already know sound like something quite different. We’ll talk more about cocktail piano chords as we progress. Right now, I would like to invite you to begin with a few chords that you already know and begin opening them up. Learn to listen and really appreciate the many different chord sounds that you are capable of. As you do so, remember…

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,
Davewww.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com

How To Learn Piano Fast

How-To-Learn-Piano-FastWould you like to know how to learn piano fast? What’s fast to you may be different to another, of course. Also, what would you like to be playing on those keys within a short amount of time? What your goals are and how devoted you are to learning will absolutely have an impact on what you will accomplish.

That said, you can achieve some pretty impressive results quickly. When a person approaches me saying that he or she wants to learn how to learn piano fast, my first inclination is to have that person learn a few chords and start improvising with them. “The very first time I sit at the piano?” you may be asking. My response:
“Yes.”

When I take this approach with an aspiring player, after demonstrating how to play a few chords on the piano, I quickly encourage that individual to start doing some interesting things on those ivories with them.

If you have no experience at all and you would like to learn how to play piano fast, learn a few chords and become enthused about being creative with them. A few resources that may interest you which can get you to immediately start playing chords and having fun with them are:

1) Piano Chords 101

2) The Ridiculously Easy Way To Master Those 7th Chords On The Piano

3) How To Play Piano By Ear In All 12 Keys Without Knowing How To Read A Note Of Music

It might be worth mentioning that you do not need to know how to read music at all in order to obtain results from any of these programs mentioned above. Yes, I encourage you to learn to eventually read music for a well balanced approach to learning piano, but if you indeed want to know how to learn piano fast, using chords to create some pretty interesting sounds, these programs can be of tremendous help to you. The first includes a piano video session accompanied by a guidebook, the second includes a series of piano video sessions with online commentary, and the third is a guidebook that has you creating chords step-by-step. All are available via instant online access. If you would like to take advantage a package deal, you can get all three and more here.

The key to it all is to choose one and get started. Immerse yourself as you make having fun a top priority. There is nothing that comes close to being able to have a ball playing and improvising with a few chords. Yes, you can be improvising on piano relatively fast. The more you do it, the more you will want to. The more results you start realizing, the more fun you’ll have, and the more fun you have, the better your results!

Remember,

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave
www.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com

Learn Piano Chords Quickly

Learn-Piano-Chords-Quickly“I want to learn piano chords quickly” is a common request and understandably so. There is a certain kind of satisfaction that a beginning player can gain by learning to play even just a few chords on the piano. What’s more is that if they can be played in a confident manner, that confidence is instantly conveyed to the listener.

When you are playing chords, you are playing harmony, which is always pleasing to the ear. Often, when I meet with a student for the first time and I see that they could easily use a boost in optimism, I will demonstrate some chords for them and encourage them to play those chords after explaining how to do so. The result? The eyes light up, the posture improves, and almost instantly, I have an excited student before me.

If you want to learn piano chords quickly, perhaps the easiest way to do so is to utilize a visual approach rather than a theoretical one. I had this in mind when I created my two popular programs Piano Chords 101 and The Ridiculously Easy Way To Master Those 7th Chords On The Piano. The first shows you how to instantly get a grip on how to play the four basic triads (three-note-chords) in all the keys. That results in 48 chords! Once you see the structural formula illustrated in an understandable fashion, you really can learn piano chords quickly… and lots of them. The latter focuses on what the title implies. You’ll learn many types of 7th chords, even more than the most commonly played ones. Also, you’ll learn how to interpret those chord symbols in a way that makes perfect sense. These can really confuse a person at the beginning and it’s quite understandable as to why. This program takes away the mystery.

Having fun with those two programs as you implement the easy strategies will result in your establishing a nice chord foundation to build upon. Video animations along with my narrations make learning those chords quickly a breeze.

Once you’ve learned those triads and 7th chords in their most basic positions, which those two programs will get you to do, you’ll have a nice platform on which you can build, including learning those chord inversions and chord voicings.

If this is all new to you, then you are in for some “aha!” moments because you’re about to explore playing potential that you might not have known to exist. You’re on your way to creative piano playing!

Remember,

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave
www.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com