• Beef Up Your Left Hand With The Octave Shrinking Technique

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,Piano,Theory

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    In this lesson, we’ll be focusing on the octave shrinking technique.

    If you belong to the category of pianists who play root notes on the left hand, for example, playing C:

    …on the left hand for the C major seventh chord:

    …C:

    …on the left hand for the C minor seventh chord:

    …C:

    …on the left hand for the C dominant seventh chord:

    …C:

    …on the left hand for virtually everything.

    You know how annoying this can be and I’m doubly sure you’re tired of playing the same root notes on the left hand. How would you feel if I show you step-by-step, how you can “beef up” that left hand and transform it to something better? If you’ll feel great about that, then read on.

    We’re getting started in this study by doing an overview of the concept of the octave. So, what is an octave?

    An Overview Of The Octave

    If you’ve been into music for a while, you must have come across the term octave.

    The root of the term octave is derived from the Latin word octava, which means eight. So many years ago, I probed myself further by asking this profound question “Why is the number ‘eight’ so important in music [and to musicians] that there’s a Latin word for it?”

    In a bid to answer this question, I understood what I’m about to share with you.

    Pay attention…

    In traditional scales, there are seven notes (aka – “scale degrees”.) Take the C major scale:

    …for an example, there are seven unique notes – from C to B:

    …however, another note is added to this set of seven notes to make it eight notes altogether and in this case, the eighth note that was added is C:

    …which is a duplicate of the first tone (aka – “tonic”):

    …of the C major scale.

    The first tone of any traditional scale is the key center and consequently the most important tone of the scale. Due to the fact that the eighth degree (aka – “octave”) of any given traditional scale is the duplicate of the first tone (aka – “tonic”) of that traditional scale, the octave is also considered to have the same importance as the tonic.

    Here’s a simple definition of the octave…

    An octave is the duplicate of a given note that lies eighth notes above [or below] it.

    Suggested reading: Beyond The Number “Eight” – Four Dimensions Of The Interval.

    The octave of C:

    …is C:

    The octave of Eb:

    …is Eb:

    The octave of Gb:

    …is Gb:

    The octave of A:

    …is A:

    Check out these octaves that are below the given note…

    The octave of F:

    …is F:

    The octave of G#:

    …is G#:

    The octave of B:

    …is B:

    The octave of D:

    …is D:

    Now that we’ve covered the octave, it’s time for you to learn a new octave-based technique that will transform your left hand.

    The Octave Shrinking Technique

    Shrinking an object reduces its size. The octave shrinking technique has to do with the reduction of the size of the octave.

    This is done with the intention of deriving other useful intervals that are smaller than the octave. Although there are lots of ways to shrink the octave, we’ll be covering two in today’s lesson.

    Check them out…

    Shrinking Of The Octave By A Half Step

    The C octave:

    …can be shrinked by raising the lower C by a half step to Db:

    …to produce Db – C:

    Conversely, you can shrink an octave by lowering the higher C by a half step to B:

    …to produce C – B:

    In both cases, the outcome of the octave shrinking technique is the major seventh interval…

    Db – C:

    …a major seventh interval.

    C – B:

    …another major seventh interval.

    A major seventh interval is the interval formed by the relationship between the first and seventh tones of the natural major scale. In the C major scale:

    …the relationship between C and B:

    …which are the first and seventh tones of the C major scale, produces the C major seventh interval.

    Attention: We’ll stick to the octave shrinking technique that has to do with lowering the higher note.

    Let’s shrink the octave in all twelve keys by a half step.

    The C octave:

    …if shrinked by a half step, produces the C major seventh interval:

    The Db octave:

    …if shrinked by a half step, produces the Db major seventh interval:

    The D octave:

    …if shrinked by a half step, produces the D major seventh interval:

    The Eb octave:

    …if shrinked by a half step, produces the Eb major seventh interval:

    The E octave:

    …if shrinked by a half step, produces the E major seventh interval:

    The F octave:

    …if shrinked by a half step, produces the F major seventh interval:

    The Gb octave:

    …if shrinked by a half step, produces the Gb major seventh interval:

    The G octave:

    …if shrinked by a half step, produces the G major seventh interval:

    The Ab octave:

    …if shrinked by a half step, produces the Ab major seventh interval:

    The A octave:

    …if shrinked by a half step, produces the A major seventh interval:

    The Bb octave:

    …if shrinked by a half step, produces the Bb major seventh interval:

    The B octave:

    …if shrinked by a half step, produces the B major seventh interval:

    Shrinking Of The Octave By A Whole Step

    The octave can also be shrinked by a whole step. The C octave:

    …for example, can be shrinked by raising the lower C by a whole step to D:

    …to produce D – C:

    …or by lowering the higher C by a whole step to Bb:

    …to produce C – Bb:

    Whichever way produces the minor seventh interval…

    D – C:

    …a minor seventh interval.

    C – Bb:

    …another minor seventh interval.

    A minor seventh interval is the interval formed by the relationship between the first and seventh tones of the natural minor scale. In the A minor scale:

    …the relationship between A and G:

    …which are the first and seventh tones of the A minor scale, produces the A minor seventh interval.

    Here are the minor seventh intervals and how they are derived in all twelve keys using the octave shrinking technique.

    The C octave:

    …if shrinked by a whole step, produces the C minor seventh interval:

    The C# octave:

    …if shrinked by a whole step, produces the C minor seventh interval:

    The D octave:

    …if shrinked by a whole step, produces the D minor seventh interval:

    The Eb octave:

    …if shrinked by a whole step, produces the Eb minor seventh interval:

    The E octave:

    …if shrinked by a whole step, produces the E minor seventh interval:

    The F octave:

    …if shrinked by a whole step, produces the F minor seventh interval:

    The F# octave:

    …if shrinked by a whole step, produces the F minor seventh interval:

    The G octave:

    …if shrinked by a whole step, produces the G minor seventh interval:

    The G# octave:

    …if shrinked by a whole step, produces the G# minor seventh interval:

    The A octave:

    …if shrinked by a whole step, produces the A minor seventh interval:

    The Bb octave:

    …if shrinked by a whole step, produces the Bb minor seventh interval:

    The B octave:

    …if shrinked by a whole step, produces the B minor seventh interval:

    Shrinking the octave has provided us with two useful intervals – the major and minor seventh intervals. But that’s not all. We’re rounding up this lesson by looking at how these intervals can be applied to the left hand.

    Application Of The Octave Shrinking Technique

    The major seventh interval can be used as the left hand accompaniment for major triads. The C major triad:

    …over C major seventh interval:

    …produces an overall C major seventh chord:

    In a nutshell, instead of playing C:

    …in the bass for the C major triad, you can beef up your left hand [using the octave shrinking technique] by playing a major seventh interval.

    Conversely, the minor seventh interval can be used as a left hand accompaniment for the major, minor, and diminished triads. This accounts for the formation of 60% of common seventh chord qualities.

    The C major triad:

    …over C minor seventh interval:

    …produces an overall C dominant seventh chord:

    The C minor triad:

    …over C minor seventh interval:

    …produces an overall C minor seventh chord:

    The C diminished triad:

    …over C minor seventh interval:

    …produces an overall C half-diminished seventh chord:

    Final Words

    It’s possible for triads to be under-rated, however, with the left hand accompaniment we derived using the octave shrinking technique, we can “beef up” the overall chord formed and the left hand as well.

    I’m grateful for the time you invested in today’s lesson, see you in another lesson.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    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.

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




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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Bobby Twine

    Thank you for this teaching it was extremely helpful in creating my original music compositions!!!

    Reply

    2 Tola Andrew

    i so much love this lesson… its wonderful.

    Reply

    3 Favour

    i had to go through it again and again,now i can move fromt trn to seventh octave shrin tebh with on my left hand.great staff.

    Reply

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