How to Really Play the Piano: The Stuff Your Teacher Never by Bill Hilton

By Bill Hilton

The right way to particularly Play the Piano

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For example, if you look at bar 11 here, it contains four – C, C7, F, Fm (a very common ‘closing’ sequence, and in fact a bit of a cliché, in blues, traditional jazz and early rock’n’roll). Each chord has one beat. If there were two chords listed for the bar – as there are in the final C, G bar – you could usually assume that each chord has two beats. Sometimes you’ll come across bars that contain two or more chords which share the beats unevenly – for example, the first chord might carry three beats and the second chord only one.

Don’t worry if that sounds excessively technical. Understanding it isn’t critical for now, and it’s something you’ll begin to grasp instinctively as you get used to playing these chords in practice. 40 Part 1: Understanding Harmony As we saw in the section on ninths on p41, minor seventh chords can be extended to minor ninths by adding the note a major third above the minor seventh: Less common chords The chords listed above are by no means the only ones available to you as a pianist. Virtually any combination of notes you play can be described as a chord, though sometimes the more complex ones are difficult to define and are written in a variety of ways.

If you play the example chords you’ll notice that major sevenths have quite a rich, dreamy sound. They are very common in popular music from the 1930s to the 1960s and became a staple jazz chord after the genre began to move away from its roots in the blues, ragtime and marching band music in the years leading up to the Second World War. You can still hear them in the work of modern songwriters, although it’s now more common to hear a major seventh as a passing chord or a chord in a development section rather than as the first or last chord of a progression.

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