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#2261114 - 04/13/14 04:16 PM How to flavor chords on piano?
Visalia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/14
Posts: 87
I'm a guitar player who wants to get good a piano too. But unlike guitar, since there's two hands involved, I'm not good enough to improvise with new melody while doing the bass and chords at the same time. Also... in songs, when a chord is held for a measure, I don't really know what to do with it(when I play the song), apart from just alternating between the bass and chord, which sounds boring. What's the best way to find out how to flavour it?

I've tried watching piano synthesia of songs, but that makes things seems more complicated as I can't identify, what seem to be random notes that sound good, as being part of certain key elements.

For now... I want to continue to learn piano without having to learn how to read music. So does anyone know of any good online videos(as opposed to PDFs since I can't read) of exercises to help me get used to doing certain techniques without thinking.... so that I will be able improvise from there onwards??

Thank you

Edited by Visalia (04/13/14 04:20 PM)

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#2261239 - 04/13/14 08:48 PM Re: How to flavor chords on piano? [Re: Visalia]
hreichgott Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 2056
Loc: western MA, USA
A good exercise for pop piano by ear is to find recordings of songs you like with prominent piano parts that aren't too complicated and listen to them very carefully. Some that my students have recently learned are "Someone Like You" by Adele, "The Gambler" by fun., and "Fall for You" by Secondhand Serenade. Depending on how precise your ear is, you may or may not be able to copy every note, but you'll be able to get a feel for what the chords are and how the pianist varies the pattern. Once you understand how other pianists do things it will be a good bridge to making your own arrangements.
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Working on:
Bach, Partita no. 3
Memorizing Beethoven, Op. 2 no. 2
I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music

#2262978 - 04/17/14 09:08 AM Re: How to flavor chords on piano? [Re: Visalia]
mdb2303 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/02/09
Posts: 24
Loc: Birmingham - UK
Here are some ideas:

break the chord up
change the octave
add a rhythm
omit some of the notes

Tim Richards Exploring Jazz piano would be a good starting point.

#2263052 - 04/17/14 12:19 PM Re: How to flavor chords on piano? [Re: Visalia]
JamesPlaysPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 125
Hi Visalia,

It might help if you could give a little more info about the style of music you're playing, since the left-hand approach can vary with different styles.

Example: you mentioned bass and chords. If you're thinking of stride-type playing, there are a couple of things that can break up the usual bass-chord back-and-forth motion. However, if you're looking for something like light, pop-piano, there are a few patterns that are commonly used. Then there are boogie-woogie pattern etc., all the way up to the alberti bass used in some classical pieces.

I'm looking at maybe creating some more materials that address LH motion, but right now the closest thing I have to what you might be looking for (something that gives you something to do with the left hand, but that doesn't require reading music) is this:


It actually involves both hands, but if you listen to the very last example at the bottom, you'll hear how the technique can be "adjusted" to facilitate improvising in the right hand. The article contains notated examples, but you don't have to be able to read them. Instead, you can check out the audio files and written explanations about the notes.

Good luck!

Free book, yadda-yadda- go here.
Facebook groups: Jazz Piano Chat Blues Piano Chat Pop Piano Chat

#2263126 - 04/17/14 03:44 PM Re: How to flavor chords on piano? [Re: Visalia]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3487
Loc: Virginia, USA
gotta go practice

#2263144 - 04/17/14 04:36 PM Re: How to flavor chords on piano? [Re: Visalia]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3462
Loc: Western Canada
I use sus chords a lot to color/flavour chords.

Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher

#2263745 - 04/18/14 07:27 PM Re: How to flavor chords on piano? [Re: JamesPlaysPiano]
Visalia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/14
Posts: 87
Originally Posted By: JamesPlaysPiano

It might help if you could give a little more info about the style of music you're playing, since the left-hand approach can vary with different styles.

Thanks James,

I guess these would be a good examples of styles that I'd like to try play... if you've got the time to check them out? I guess you might even consider them to be quite different though


I had a brief look at that. It seemed pretty straight forward though. It doesn't seem to give the context of the key or chord it is from(not that I don't know anyway)



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