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#1138564 - 08/23/06 06:23 PM rock accompaniment block chords - 7ths
synthplayer Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/01/06
Posts: 8
Loc: g
Hi everyone,

I've been playing a lot of piano accompaniment on rock songs in my spare time while reading "fake books", and I have a question about how to play the blocked 7th chords.

I usually play accompaniment by playing the root note in some pattern with the left hand, and the chord with the right hand. A lot of times, when I come across 7ths, I play all the tones in my right hand, like for instance, if I want to play an inverted D7, I'd play C-D-F#-A block with the right hand.

Sometimes this can sound a little thuddy. The other day a teacher suggested to me that it would be better to leave the "D" note out of the right hand voicing, since I'm already playing it in the left hand bass. It will have a "cleaner" sound, I was told.

But I was just curious, aren't there times in rock songs where you'd WANT that thuddy sound and play all tones of the 7th in the right hand like in my example above? Does anyone sometimes play it like that, or is it just a good rule of thumb to drop the root note out of the right hand block if you are already playing it in the bass part?


Piano & Music Accessories
#1138565 - 08/24/06 02:44 PM Re: rock accompaniment block chords - 7ths
jasperkeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/05
Posts: 411
Loc: Safford, AZ
Hi there!
Well, from my limited experience I would play the 'D' in the left hand. Sometimes for a 'D7' chord I play the open fifth of D and A in the left hand and play the C and F# in the right. Sometimes I play the D and C in the left and F# and D in the right (you really don't need the A unless it's the melody).
I found when I began to sequence songs on my Korg X3 the sound would get too 'muddy' unless I started opening up the chord voicings to give the music a chance to 'breath' so to speak. The 'open' chord voicing can give room for the other instruments room to operate. However, there are no hard and fast rules. After all is said and done; if it sounds good, it is good.
"I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them." Andy Bernard

#1138566 - 08/25/06 01:22 PM Re: rock accompaniment block chords - 7ths
Rodney Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/04
Posts: 735
Loc: Caledon ON, Canada
I will almost always voice this as:

LH: R-7
RH: V minor chord

In the case of D7, that's LH = D-C, RH A-C-E (Am). Technically, this is actually a D9 (without the 3rd) which is just a little more lush than the D7 but I find it easy to remember the fingering because the right hand is always a minor 3 note chord.


Leaving out the 3rd makes the chord ambiguous (not major or minor) but this isn't an issue since it is accompinament. As well it will be more open sounding which is very important when playing more than one octave below middle C. For solo piano, you'd not want to voice this way as the 3rd is important.

For M7 chords, simply replace the RH minor with the Major chord. For example:

DM7 (Actually DM9)

LH: D-C#
RH: A chord (A-C#-E)

If you don't like the strong sound of the duplicate 7th note, then make the RH: V5 (A-E)


#2274100 - 05/11/14 04:18 PM Re: rock accompaniment block chords - 7ths [Re: Rodney]
Infinity Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/23/10
Posts: 102
Loc: West Orange, NJ
Can anyone explain this further to me? Is there tutorial somewhere I can learn?
Pianist and Teacher
West Orange, NJ

#2274688 - 05/12/14 09:40 AM Re: rock accompaniment block chords - 7ths [Re: Infinity]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 194
Loc: USA
Consider the song, and consider what fits.
LH - Boom-chuck? Walking bass?
RH - How many note phrase/arpeggio/chord fit with the bassline?
2 notes I use 3rd & 5th.
3 notes I use root, 3rd, and 5th.
4 notes I use root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th. (there's your 7th)
To me, a 7ths sounds brite. So if I want a brite sound, maybe 3 notes will be 3rd, 5th, and 7th. Maybe i'll go up an octave.
For a Jazz feel, I use 9ths, and/or 11ths.
I tend to follow my ear first, before a chord sheet, unless there's some very unconventional chord progression. It's way more important to get the changes in the right places, timing-wise, than what's in the chord. Rule 1 of the jammer creed: Thou shalt not forsake the Groove.

Edited by Farmerjones (05/12/14 09:44 AM)

#2274866 - 05/12/14 02:17 PM Re: rock accompaniment block chords - 7ths [Re: synthplayer]
Michael Martinez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/22/12
Posts: 386
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: synthplayer

But I was just curious, aren't there times in rock songs where you'd WANT that thuddy sound and play all tones of the 7th in the right hand like in my example above? Does anyone sometimes play it like that, or is it just a good rule of thumb to drop the root note out of the right hand block if you are already playing it in the bass part?

That range on the keyboard overlaps the guitar so it depends on how heavy the guitar is playing. If the guitar is also playing thick chords then you want to back off. But if the guitar is playing sparse or doing lead, then you can put thicker chords it.

it also depends on the patch your using. some patches you can lay them on thick and it doesn't sound too muddy, but others at most you want only one or two tones.

Anyway, of course you can include the D in your right hand, even if you play it in your left too.

Edited by Michael Martinez (05/12/14 02:19 PM)
Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors

#2275954 - 05/14/14 01:29 PM Re: rock accompaniment block chords - 7ths [Re: synthplayer]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 951
Typically a pop/rock player will drop the root to the seventh in the right hand, since it's covered in the left or by a bass player. You can play the root as well, but it does get a little muddy sounding, and depending on the inversion can also sound a little amateurish too. If you want a thicker sound, you can do what Rodney suggested and add a 9. It'll be close to your seventh and third, so it'll sound thick. If you want that ambiguous sound like he mentioned, you can leave out the third. This is done in a lot of heavy rock music where the singer's melody often defines major/minor, sometimes switching between them. But in those cases I usually leave the sevenths out too (think more like a guitar power chord, root and fifth only). If you want the chord to be defined and it's still too many motes for you, you can leave out the fifth.

Also, as to the left hand. For ballads and more melodic songs, root-seventh in the LH works well. When it's straight up rock and roll, I often use just 2 roots, root-fifth-root, or sometimes root-fifth-9 in my left hand in some sort of rhythmic pattern.
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 21+ year teacher and touring musician
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#2279204 - 05/21/14 11:11 AM Re: rock accompaniment block chords - 7ths [Re: synthplayer]
RonDrotos Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/13
Posts: 58
Loc: New York City
This is a question I used to have too. What worked in my case was to learn it both ways (with and w/o the root) and then you can use whichever you hear in your head. If you want a lighter sound, leave out the root. If you want a fuller sound, put it in.
The daownside of only learning one approach is that you're limiting yourself in the long run. Become fluent in all the ways to voice chords and you'll be able to express anything you like through the piano. smile
Ron Drotos

#2307408 - 07/26/14 03:46 PM Re: rock accompaniment block chords - 7ths [Re: synthplayer]
bharatbash Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/14
Posts: 74
Loc: India
Hi ! All i want to say is don't just limit yourself to a 'particular' way of playimg chords. There are musicians who get so much ' color' in their playing just by playing around with various patterns/inversions/combinations.

Since you are concerned with Rock music, I'd suggest you follow/observe only one name : Nicky Hopkins !

If you want to get a real idea of how 7th chords are 'comped' in a rock/pop song, check out - Sympathy For The Devil by the Rolling Stones !
Further, you can also listen to 'Jigsaw Puzzle' by the stones to get a knack of how 7ths/9ths can be used.
Both songs feature the late. great Nicky Hopkins !

Enjoy smile
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for Music "

- Rachmaninoff

#2307812 - 07/27/14 02:30 PM Re: rock accompaniment block chords - 7ths [Re: synthplayer]
tim treford Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/08/14
Posts: 11
Originally Posted By: synthplayer

But I was just curious, aren't there times in rock songs where you'd WANT that thuddy sound and play all tones of the 7th in the right hand like in my example above?

Hi there

In my opinion, a lot of good things are already said. I just would like to mention another possibility to add some "mud" to your voicing: Try, what's happening when you play the minor and the major 3rd at the same time. Adding a "blue note" can create an interesting, somehow open mood. Jimi Hendrix did this on his guitar. LH: Root, or power chord, or root with 7th. RH: C-F-F#-A; or F#-C-F (this sounds like hendrix).
Have fun with all the colors wink
listen to my compositions for piano here:

#2309660 - Today at 04:38 AM Re: rock accompaniment block chords - 7ths [Re: tim treford]
mc9320 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/04/11
Posts: 10
Loc: London, UK
Yes this can be effective as it results in a 7th with a #9, which can give your playing some real edge wink

But as most of the posts have said, it all depends on context and a lot depends on what the guitarist is doing.
Martyn Croston - Jazz Pianist
- Build A Successful Music Teaching Business - www.musicteacherinfo.com


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