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Chord Study: What’s really important?

by Bruce Siegel on September 17th, 2012

A recent visitor to DoctorKeys asked me why my course doesn’t get into more complex chords like 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths.

It’s because our focus so far has been on building a strong foundation, on helping you to grasp simple chords in a truly practical way, before moving on to more advanced harmonies.

As a teacher, I’ve learned over the years that students can often build the most complicated chords without knowing how to actually use even the simplest, including:

–how to create smooth chord connections using inversions
–how to play a bass line
–how to set chords into motion to suit various songs and rhythmic styles
–how to use chords to accompany your own singing
–how to play chords using relaxed, efficient, piano technique
–how to transpose chord progressions from one key to another

So that’s what I’ve been teaching you up to now. In a nutshell: how to use simple chords to play music you love.

It’s a great place to start, don’t you think?

From → Theory, Uncategorized

6 Comments
  1. Virginia Larson permalink

    I’m play (attempting…) a piece that has the following chord changes:
    G,D,Ab,D,Ab,D,G,D,Ab,D,G,C,G,Bb,F,Bb,D,G,D,Ab,D,Ab,D,G,D,Ab.D,G,Ab,D,G. I think that’s all of them. I can’t figure out how to use your chord inversion lesson to make these transitions smoothly. If I play the 3rd inversion of the G chord to get closer to the D chord, the sound produced is not the same.

    I have the melody memorized but have to look at the sheet for the chord changes and I loose my place often…not smooth at all.

    Any suggestions?

  2. Virginia Larson permalink

    I think I figured it out…at least part of it after going over your chord inversion tutorial again. I start with G chord in root position, then switch to C chord in the 2nd inversion using fingers 5,2,1, then Ab chord in root position using fingers 4,2,1.

    I can’t see an inversion that will work for the transition from G to Bb to F# to Bb to D. It seems that chord inversions don’t work out well for chords that contain sharps or flats. Is that true or am I missing something?

  3. Bruce Siegel permalink

    Unusual chord progression, Virginia! What’s the piece?

    “I start with G chord in root position, then switch to C chord in the 2nd inversion using fingers 5,2,1, then Ab chord in root position using fingers 4,2,1.”

    Excellent. You’re evidently playing these chords with the left hand, correct?

    “I can’t see an inversion that will work for the transition from G to Bb to F# to Bb to D”

    How about: G root position, Bb 2nd inv, F# root, Bb 2nd inv, D 1st

    “It seems that chord inversions don’t work out well for chords that contain sharps or flats. ”

    Not true!

  4. Virginia Larson permalink

    The piece is, “Somewhere My Love” from Dr. Zhivago.

    Left hand, yes.

    “How about: G root position, Bb 2nd inv, F# root, Bb 2nd inv, D 1st”….Thank, Bruce!

    I think these will work. I will practice this all day tomorrow.:)

  5. Virginia Larson permalink

    Thanks again for your chord inversion tutorial and for your help with this particular unusual chord progression. Using these chord inversions allows me the advantage of staying within the same 7 white keys while playing 6 different chords.

  6. Bruce Siegel permalink

    Glad to be of help!

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