• Ask Jermaine: “How To Create Those Fancy Jazzy Chords”

    in Chords & Progressions

    This edition of “Ask Jermaine” was posted by Ronald Verwer in our Free Lessons area. He writes:

    Hi Jermaine,

    How fabulous the way you are explaining the composition of the various chords. Your flash cards are a great help. It becomes so easy to follow. By just sitting on the piano and practicing with the flashcards improves my playing tremendously. Even after 60 years of playing!

    You are a legend.

    The thing I want to know is how to create that Jazzy sound, not the rhythm but the Jazz chords. I have not been able to figure that out as yet. I look forward to your last and may be following videos. God Bless you and your family.

    Kind regards, Ronald

    Here’s what I replied to Ronald with inside the free video area:

    Hey Ronald,

    Thanks again for your kind words.

    You create the really jazzy chords from the same old fantastic four chords from video 3: major, minor, diminished, augmented.

    Try some of these out and let me know what you think:

    C major 9
    (C major) + (G major)
    (C + E + G) + (B + D + G)
    (C + E + G) + (D + G + B)
    *Using numbers: 1-major + 5-major

    C major 9 (#11)
    (C major) + (B diminished)
    (C + E + G) + (B + D + F#)
    *Using numbers: 1-major + 7-minor

    C minor 11
    (C minor) + (Bb major)
    (C + Eb + G) + (F + Bb + D)
    *Using numbers: 1-minor + b7-major

    C minor 11 (b5) — really dissonant but nice-sounding. Many places to put this:
    (C diminished) + (Bb major)
    (C + Eb + Gb) + (Bb + D + F)
    *Using numbers: 1-minor + b7-major

    I can go on and on. But it goes back to video 3 on the “magic chords.” That’s why I think those flash cards for the basic chords are so important. The rest is memorizing and retaining formulas like above.


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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.



    { 4 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Jaime

    Hi, Jermaine:
    I´ve just finished viewing videos 1 – 4 of your great series about Keys, Numbers and Chords. Let me tell you how grateful I am for this help. I suppose hundreds, maybe millions, of student have the same feeling all over the world, now going to be able to “speak” the unique language of music: the number system.
    By the way, Jermaine, I would like you to ask you something that I found, exploring a few web pages that talk about basic jazz music, my main interest.
    What is “Roman Numeral Analysis”? Let´s say, in the key of C?
    On a work sheet, a jazz instructor says: “Write all possible roman numerals/key for each chord ( Example: CMaj7= I in C; IV in G). And then adds different chords: Emin7; C7; GMaj7; F#min7; Bbmin7, etc.
    Thanks a lot for your help and I´ll be looking forward for your next helping tools in piano playing.
    God bless you.
    P.D.- I already wrote you this message in other link, but it didn´t work. Hope this time it arrives to your desk.


    2 Jermaine Griggs

    Hey Jaime,

    Thanks for your message.

    The roman numeral system is pretty much the same number system I teach. I’m just using the regular old arabic numbers – 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 instead of I ii iii IV V vi vii.

    And as you noticed in video 4, we also assign a chord to each tone of scale:

    1 – major7
    2 – minor7
    3 – minor7
    4 – major 7
    5 – dominant 7
    6 – minor 7
    7 – half dim 7

    You can also take 1 tone and find out its relation in other keys. That’s essentially what the flash cards are testing you on (number system / pattern flash cards, etc).

    C major 7 is:

    1 major7 in C
    4 major7 in G

    C minor 7 is:

    2 minor7 in Bb
    3 minor7 in Ab
    6 minor 7 in Eb


    3 Emmanuel

    Hi Jermaine Griggs,
    This is the first time sending you a personal message since I subscribed to your site to help me play the piano much more better than I was doing. Anyway things are going on well and will try to finish up watching the 4 four videos on the site. I want to thank you for helping me understand some basic stuffs and terms in music. I recently accepted a request for the free Cds and I used my uncle’s postal address in the USA, so i want to know when it will arrive even though I did not request rush shipping because I want them to arrive before Saturday since my sister will leave the USA on this Saturday and will be arriving on Sunday in Ghana. Pls how do I check th postal address i used to know if i wrote the right thing. I would be posting a video to you on how much I have gotten so far since i saw your site, so where and when can i post the video? Thank you very much. See you later.


    4 Wisdom Abengowe

    Hi Jermaine, my name is wisdom from Nigeria. Please Jermaine i need you to train me on playing piano, cause this is what i have been longing to get desperately. I am the only keyboardist in my church but it seems like i play the same thing often for years now. I really need to get training on how to improve in my chords i.e the types of chords that i can be using i.e both major and minor chords that are heard in most music that will make me sound like a professional to surprise my church members. I play in the key of F major. We sing mostly hymns and other worship and praise songs. the chords that i use is just the triad, and i want to go into playing jazz, blues and if possible applying them in worship songs. I want to share in the testimony of your great website. Please help me, thanks.


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