• What The Top Players Are Not Telling You About Playing Bigger Chords

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Piano

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    In this lesson, I’ll be exposing you to what the top players are not telling you about playing bigger chords.

    The goal of every beginner is to graduate from triads (which are the most basic chords) to bigger chords (like seventh and extended chords.)

    For the most part, suffice it to say that it’s okay to do so. However, there are vital things that every beginner who wants to start playing bigger chords must know.

    Quick Insights On What Bigger Chords Really Are

    A chord is a product of the relationship between three or more notes (agreeable or not), which may be played or heard together.

    The C major triad (which is arguably the world’s most popular triad):

    …is a product of the relationship between three notes – C, E, and G:

    …which are related by the C major scale:

    …and third intervals.

    “Take A Closer Look…”

    The notes of the C major triad:

    …are the first, third, and fifth tones of the C major scale.

    In addition to that, the notes are related by third intervals. C to E:

    …is a third, and so is E to G:

    How To Transform A Triad Into A Bigger Chord

    The C major triad:

    …is a product of the relationship between the notes of the C major scale:

    …stacked in third intervals – C to E:

    …and E to G:

    The C major triad can be transformed into a bigger chord by adding other tones of the C natural major scale in third intervals.

    “Here’s How It Works…”

    A third above the C major triad:

    …which is B:

    …can be added to the C major triad to produce the C major seventh chord:

    …which is a bigger chord than the C major triad:

    “In The Same Vein…”

    A third above the C major seventh chord:

    …which is D:

    …can be added to the C major seventh chord to produce the C major ninth chord:

    …which is a bigger chord than the C major triad:

    …and the C major seventh chord:

    “Following The Same Procedures…”

    The addition of a third above the C major ninth chord:

    …which is F:

    …produces the C major eleventh chord:

    The addition of a third above the C major eleventh chord:

    …which is A:

    …produces the C major thirteenth chord:

    “In A Nutshell…”

    Bigger chords have four notes or more, and are bigger than the compass of an octave when the notes are played in thirds

    What The Top Players Are Not Telling You About Playing Bigger Chords

    Going beyond triads into seventh and extended chords can give anyone a sophisticated chordal vocabulary. However, there are little known implications of using big chords that top players are already acquainted with and you should learn about.

    “Pay Attention…”

    All the tones in the major key can either be classified as stable or active.

    Stable tones are tones that resonate in the key. The first, third, and fifth tones of the scale are considered to be stable.

    Active tones are tones that DO NOT resonate in the key. The second, fourth, sixth, and seventh tones of the scale are considered to be active.

    Stable tones are basically the notes of the triad of the first degree of the scale (aka – “tonic triad”‘). For example, in the key of C major:

    …the notes of the tonic triad — the C major triad:

    …are the stable tones in the key, while every other note in the key is active.

    “Now, Give Me Your Undivided Attention…”

    When a tonic triad is played, only stable tones are used.

    The introduction of the seventh tone, and other chord extensions like ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth increases the activity of that chord.

    For example, when the C major triad:

    …is played, only stable tones in the key are used. The introduction of the seventh (which is B):

    …or other extensions like the ninth (which is D):

    …eleventh (which is F):

    …and/or thirteenth (which is A):

    …introduces active tones to the tonic chord and this increases its activity.

     

    Final Words

    Although it’s cool for anyone to play bigger chords, however, it’s important for all beginners and intermediate players to be mindful of the little known harmonic implications of bigger chords.

    See you in the next lesson!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Linda Lane

    I think there is a mistake on Active toneS. Should be second, FORTH, sixth. Not second, THIRD, sixth.

    Reply

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