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#2075711 - 05/02/13 08:48 AM How to know what chord?
Fatih Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/12
Posts: 23
Hi guys,

I wonder 1 thing. You know, people who have been playing piano for a couple of years can play songs by hearing. I can play right hand by hearing but i don't know how to know what chord to play with my left hand while playing that song.

Is there a way to know what chord to play? Is there a specific education for this or it comes only with experiences?

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#2075734 - 05/02/13 09:32 AM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 920
Loc: Southern California
Identifying both the melody and harmony is not an easy task. In the last forum survey 27% said they play by ear, and I'd guess many are like me, at a level one ability, which doesn't include listening for the harmony.

Some people get there quickly because some ears are better than others. Some people take longer. Many musicians never get it, many never get close. Part of the reason is because they neglect ear training, part of it is a low aptitude before the start of training. Those with low aptitude often don't do much ear training because it is so frustrating for them.

A person can train their ear. There are apps and programs that train for chord identification. Identifying chords is level four of a tablet app that I have. Level one is higher/lower, level two is match the pitch, level three is identifying intervals between two notes, level four is identifying chords. I am still on level one and two, and who knows when I will progress.

A person can study sheet music and theory. Certain composers, certain styles follow guidelines, such as using the chord that corresponds with the note. For example, the C chord for the C note that starts the bar of music. For the chord progression, the most common cycle follows the circle of fifths.

/edit to add: Another skill a person can learn is arranging. If a person has that skill, and they can get the melody line by ear, they can do their own harmony on the fly. For some people (like me), this is easier than trying to listen and copy the harmony. Again, for many styles of music, there are certain guidelines to follow. For modern pop tunes, there is a wide latitude.


Edited by Sand Tiger (05/02/13 10:21 AM)
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#2075882 - 05/02/13 12:38 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
jjo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 593
Loc: Chicago
Do you want to figure out the harmony on a recorded tune, or do you want to know how to create your own harmony for a melody you've figured out? If you're trying to figure out the harmony on a recorded tune (I'm pretty bad at that) listen to the bass note. That's sometime easier to hear, and if you play the base note and melody, a lot of times the harmony becomes clear.

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#2075923 - 05/02/13 02:03 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Sand Tiger]
carolinagirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/13
Posts: 54
Sand Tiger, can you share the names of the apps you like? The cord training one sounds great. I could use something like that.
_________________________
Yamaha CLP 440 Delivered on April 16 2013
Started playing piano April 16 2013

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#2075947 - 05/02/13 02:45 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8086
Loc: Georgia, USA
Well, my meager, by-ear playing is pretty elementary, non-typical, and unorthodox; but years ago I asked a highly skilled “by-ear” pianist how they know what notes to play with the left hand, and their reply was… you play the notes that “go with” the key you are playing in.

So, having a good working knowledge of key combinations, chord variations and interval associations go a long way toward knowing what notes or chords “go with” a particular key.

I find that I play a lot of arpeggio style bass accompaniment with the left hand, and try to mix it up with different patterns.

Happy playing!

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#2075961 - 05/02/13 02:55 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 179
Loc: USA
many many non-classical/pop standards have simple chord progressions. To me it's difficult when I learn a melody(by ear)in an unfamiliar key. The tune usually gets slid into a familiar key. First I find the key. Next, I listen for the changes. Next, I test to hear if it go to the IV, or the V for the first change (not every tune goes to the IV or V) Then I test to hear where it goes on the next change. (best fit) Mistakes will be made. Mistakes will be corrected. Music will be made.

I better back up and qualify: The tune in question would be something recorded. I would know it well enough to hum or whistle. Easier if you know your ax. Easier if you're familiar with the musical style.


Edited by Farmerjones (05/02/13 03:04 PM)

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#2075997 - 05/02/13 03:44 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: carolinagirl]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 920
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: carolinagirl
Sand Tiger, can you share the names of the apps you like? The cord training one sounds great. I could use something like that.


The one I have goes by the generic name: Piano Ear Training Free, for Android. I am sure there are even better ones for Ipad/Iphone. Like I said, there are four games in the one app:
1) higher/lower, plays two notes
2) match the note, plays one note and you press the key on the screen keyboard that matches.
3) intervals, plays two notes, you guess how many intervals between the two.
4) chord identification. Plays a chord, you identify from the list. The free version only has C chords, C, C7, C6, C9, Csus, C diminished, etc.
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#2076811 - 05/03/13 07:14 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
pianopaws Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/18/13
Posts: 66
Loc: North Carolina, USA
For alot of pop songs, you can narrow down your chord options by knowing what key you are in and picking a chord that contains your melody note. For example, if you are in the key of F major and your melody note is an F, the most likely chord options are F major, D minor, and Bb major, which all contain an F. Then you play each option and decide which fits the best. This isn't a foolproof method, but it gives you a starting point. With practice, you'll find yourself hearing the differences between the chords more easily.
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#2076840 - 05/03/13 08:19 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: pianopaws]
Ahmediy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/27/13
Posts: 43
Fatih how much do you train this? I have tried a lot and am still bad :-(
I have done what pianopaws says but still can't always choose the right chord.
I also try to do this with very easy traditional songs and can't seem to get it.

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#2076916 - 05/03/13 11:45 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: pianopaws]
Polyphonist Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 6512
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: pianopaws
...if you are in the key of F major and your melody note is an F, the most likely chord options are F major, D minor, and Bb major, which all contain an F.

Or Gm7, or Abdim7, or Eb9, or Ab6, etc...

Of course, the ones you listed would probably be most common (along with Gm7) but it is by no means always the case that you have one of these chords.
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Polyphonist

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#2077175 - 05/04/13 02:07 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Polyphonist]
pianopaws Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/18/13
Posts: 66
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: pianopaws
...if you are in the key of F major and your melody note is an F, the most likely chord options are F major, D minor, and Bb major, which all contain an F.

Or Gm7, or Abdim7, or Eb9, or Ab6, etc...

Of course, the ones you listed would probably be most common (along with Gm7) but it is by no means always the case that you have one of these chords.


That's why I said in my post that they were the most likely chord options (not the only chord options) and that this method is not fool proof. For a beginner trying to play by ear it gives you a place to start.
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#2077216 - 05/04/13 03:32 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
Rostosky Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/30/11
Posts: 3339
Loc: Lost in cyberspace.in the UK.
One thing that is allways a constant is this; (Given your instrument is in tune) a "c" note on a piano will allways ( unless it goes out of tune) sound the same. A "b" will allways sound the same, etc etc, and you can train your ear to hear these notes.

By the same token, a chord of Cmajor will allways sound like a chord of Cmajor, it will for instance never sound like a Dminor chord. etc etc etc.

You can train your ears to "hear" all the chords, just like you can with single notes.
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#2077359 - 05/04/13 07:43 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: pianopaws]
Newman Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/27/11
Posts: 695
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: pianopaws
For alot of pop songs, you can narrow down your chord options by knowing what key you are in and picking a chord that contains your melody note. For example, if you are in the key of F major and your melody note is an F, the most likely chord options are F major, D minor, and Bb major, which all contain an F. Then you play each option and decide which fits the best. This isn't a foolproof method, but it gives you a starting point. With practice, you'll find yourself hearing the differences between the chords more easily.


That's true.

And as Rickster pointed out, the first bass note in the bar will 90% of the time give you your root note. So, take that and try the major, 7th, maj7, min, min7 and so on until you get it.

I've been doing it that way for 40-50 years. It works.

It's trial and error and after a while you can hear it without so much 'trial'.
_________________________
Guitar since 1966. Piano (Kawai DP80) since 2011.

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#2077363 - 05/04/13 07:46 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: pianopaws]
Newman Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/27/11
Posts: 695
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: pianopaws
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: pianopaws
...if you are in the key of F major and your melody note is an F, the most likely chord options are F major, D minor, and Bb major, which all contain an F.

Or Gm7, or Abdim7, or Eb9, or Ab6, etc...

Of course, the ones you listed would probably be most common (along with Gm7) but it is by no means always the case that you have one of these chords.


That's why I said in my post that they were the most likely chord options (not the only chord options) and that this method is not fool proof. For a beginner trying to play by ear it gives you a place to start.


Which is why listening to the bass root will help 'eliminate' non starters (mostly). Pop music can, generally, be figured out this way. There are always exceptions. Slash chords can be problem.
_________________________
Guitar since 1966. Piano (Kawai DP80) since 2011.

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#2077686 - 05/05/13 02:19 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
Fatih Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/12
Posts: 23
Guys, i thank you very much. I am a total beginner. So i think it is too early for me to start doing an education that is particularly for chords.

And actually i don't even get what a chord is? It has to have a definition in music? When you mix 2 or 3 colours you will have a new color. And mixture of 2 or 3 sounds should mean another sound.

Lets say yellow = 1 and red = 2 . When you mix red and yellow, you will get orange which is 2.5 . So in music , lets say C = 1 and D= 2 . So when i press them together , will i have 2.5 , which is between C and D ? ? ?

I thank you all again.

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#2077713 - 05/05/13 03:06 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
Polyphonist Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 6512
Loc: New York City
First of all, the average of 1 and 2 is not 2.5 - just making sure we're clear on these things. ha

And no, when you mix two or more sounds you don't get a single sound with a frequency that is the average of those of the original sounds. Have you ever observed that happening with any other types of sounds, besides notes being struck on the piano? wink

You can't compare colors and sounds; one is visual and the other is auditory. They are perceived in different ways.

When you strike a chord on the piano, you hear all the notes at once. Everyone hears all the notes of a chord, but only someone with a good ear can hear them separately and individually identify them.

The only way to hear a C# is to play it. You can't play a C and a D at the same time and hope to hear the note between them; if that were the case then what would be the difference between playing C#, C-D, B-D#, Bb-E, A-F, Ab-F#, and so on? Intervals would not exist; music theory would be out the window.
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Polyphonist

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#2077724 - 05/05/13 03:20 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Fatih

And actually i don't even get what a chord is? It has to have a definition in music? When you mix 2 or 3 colours you will have a new color. And mixture of 2 or 3 sounds should mean another sound.

Interesting question. I think that generally for something to be considered a chord it has to involve at least 3 different notes. But if you play two notes together such as your CD, then you'll get an effect from those two tones sounding together.

The best way to get a feel for this is probably by experimenting and listening. We can start by "qualities". Major and minor are qualities. Play these major chords:
CEG, DF#A, Eb G Bb Do you hear what they have in common?
Now lower the middle note of these same chords:
CEbG, DFA, EbGbBb. Now you have minor chords. Do you hear something in common?

If you play CD you get an "major 2nd" which has a kind of rubbing friction kind of feeling to it. CE is more smooth, while CD CG and CF are quite smooth. CBb probably gives you that friction feeling again. CDb and CB probably are very rough to your ear. You could probably create a chart of impressions from different intervals.

The tones we hear are also elements of physics. They are vibrations in the air and they have properties that we respond to. The different pitches relate to each other in various ways and proportion. You might think of white light which can be split by a prism into the colours of a rainbow. There are complicated theories with mathematical numbers. But the magic of how it all works together remains.

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#2077741 - 05/05/13 03:47 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: keystring]
Polyphonist Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 6512
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: keystring
If you play CD you get an "major 2nd" which has a kind of rubbing friction kind of feeling to it. CE is more smooth, while CD CG and CF are quite smooth. CBb probably gives you that friction feeling again. CDb and CB probably are very rough to your ear. You could probably create a chart of impressions from different intervals.

Is there an error in this paragraph? wink


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Polyphonist

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#2077798 - 05/05/13 05:36 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
Typo. Fixed. Wanna edit your quote? wink

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#2077803 - 05/05/13 05:47 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
Polyphonist Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 6512
Loc: New York City
Nope. There's still an error in that paragraph. wink
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Polyphonist

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#2077831 - 05/05/13 06:38 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Polyphonist]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
You'll have to point it out. I've only given one specific "major 2nd" and CD is a major 2nd. If there's an error, I'm missing it.

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#2077936 - 05/05/13 10:12 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
Edtek Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/26/10
Posts: 235
Loc: El Paso
Sand Tiger,
I installed Piano Ear Trainer and tried it. It had a problem on my LG Optimus L9. It would play say an Eb. I hit Eb and it would come back and say: Correct! It's a D!

It did this every time, off a semitone. Do you see anything like this or is it operator/phone problem?
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Yamaha T118, Yamaha PSR-S710

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#2077949 - 05/05/13 10:30 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: keystring]
Polyphonist Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 6512
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: keystring
You'll have to point it out. I've only given one specific "major 2nd" and CD is a major 2nd. If there's an error, I'm missing it.

"A" is used before a consonant, and "an" before a vowel. smile (with a few exceptions, of course - everything has exceptions, but this is not one of them.)
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2077985 - 05/05/13 11:36 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Polyphonist]
Fatih Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/12
Posts: 23
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
First of all, the average of 1 and 2 is not 2.5 - just making sure we're clear on these things. ha

And no, when you mix two or more sounds you don't get a single sound with a frequency that is the average of those of the original sounds. Have you ever observed that happening with any other types of sounds, besides notes being struck on the piano? wink

You can't compare colors and sounds; one is visual and the other is auditory. They are perceived in different ways.

When you strike a chord on the piano, you hear all the notes at once. Everyone hears all the notes of a chord, but only someone with a good ear can hear them separately and individually identify them.

The only way to hear a C# is to play it. You can't play a C and a D at the same time and hope to hear the note between them; if that were the case then what would be the difference between playing C#, C-D, B-D#, Bb-E, A-F, Ab-F#, and so on? Intervals would not exist; music theory would be out the window.
Ops. Sorry man. You are right. I meant "1.5" smile .

And i guess i understand your point. Let's say i have 2 brothers. And my voice is Bass , and my younger brother's is baritone, and my youngest brother's is tenor. When i and my youngest brother scream at the same time , my parents won't say "oh , our 2nd son is screaming" laugh . They will now that is the scream of 1st and the 3rd together. I hope i gave a fine example.


Edited by Fatih (05/05/13 11:37 PM)

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#2077986 - 05/05/13 11:38 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: keystring]
Fatih Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/12
Posts: 23
Keystring, ty man. I guess i am starting to understand smile .

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#2077991 - 05/05/13 11:49 PM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Edtek]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 920
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Edtek
Sand Tiger,
I installed Piano Ear Trainer and tried it. It had a problem on my LG Optimus L9. It would play say an Eb. I hit Eb and it would come back and say: Correct! It's a D!

It did this every time, off a semitone. Do you see anything like this or is it operator/phone problem?


I did not have this problem. I just tested the app using a software tuner and a microphone and the app seems to be generating the correct tones on my Android tablet with an 8" screen, when I press the keys on the screen. The C4 sound hits C4 on the tuner, and on the down the line.

My guess is that it may be a programmer error. One problem with Android apps is that there are so many different screen sizes and resolutions, that it can be difficult for the programmer to calibrate the touches correctly for every screen.
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#2078065 - 05/06/13 02:21 AM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Polyphonist]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist

"A" is used before a consonant, and "an" before a vowel. (with a few exceptions, of course - everything has exceptions, but this is not one of them.)

Ah, another cum grano salis moment. Tbh, my attention was on not having inadvertently given wrong musical information, since people are trying to learn here. I'm not too worried about anyone picking up typos.

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#2078071 - 05/06/13 02:30 AM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
Polyphonist Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 6512
Loc: New York City
I only pursued the point because you asked. wink
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Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2078077 - 05/06/13 02:39 AM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Polyphonist]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I only pursued the point because you asked.

You pointed out mistakes. We are helping people who are learning about music, and mistakes can mislead. That is why I asked.

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#2078084 - 05/06/13 02:45 AM Re: How to know what chord? [Re: Fatih]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Fatih

And i guess i understand your point. Let's say i have 2 brothers. And my voice is Bass , and my younger brother's is baritone, and my youngest brother's is tenor. When i and my youngest brother scream at the same time , my parents won't say "oh , our 2nd son is screaming" laugh . They will now that is the scream of 1st and the 3rd together. I hope i gave a fine example.

An interesting but different thought. This doesn't work on piano but it does with other instruments. Among singers you will have different ranges of voices, with the four main ones being bass, tenor, alto, and soprano. Their voices still overlap, though. A male tenor might reach middle C, and a female alto could sing that same middle C. But because of the quality of the voices, the thickness of the vocal chords, that same pitch will have a different quality. The same is true when different instruments play the same pitch. It's just another interesting thing about music and sound.

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