• Have You Heard Of The 5-7-10 Principle Of The Left Hand Yet?

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    In this lesson, I’ll be exposing you to the 5-7-10 principle of the left hand.

    Guarantee: This is one left hand idea that can revolutionize your playing and turn your left-hand from empty-sounding to full-sounding.

    This lesson would benefit everyone — beginners, intermediate, and advanced players — and this is because this principle cuts across skill level and a variety of musical styles, tastes, and orientation.

    So, pay attention and let’s invest the next 10 minutes into learning a principle that will take your left hand to another level.

    A Short Note On The Root Note

    The note that determines the name of a chord is described as the root note of the chord. Although the root note is not always the lowest-sounding note in a chord, in a root position chord, the root is the lowest sounding note.

    In the root position of the C major triad:

    …C is the root note:

    …because it is the lowest tone and also considering the fact that the major triad is named after C:

    …and not E or G which are also the other tones of the triad.

    The Use Of The Root Note On The Left Hand

    The root note is arguably the most important tone in a chord, therefore, it is usually played on the left hand to provide a melodic bottom to right hand chords.

    The C major triad:

    …is accompanied (most of the time) on the left hand with the root note (which is C):

    This is the rationale behind playing the C major triad:

    …with C on the left hand and playing any chord with its root note on the left hand in other cases.

    Going Beyond The Root Note On The Left Hand

    It sounds boring and empty to play the root note on the left hand, although most beginners are okay with this. However, beyond the left hand lies the 5-7-10 principle and you’ll be learning about it shortly.

    With the 5-7-10 principle, you’ll never have a boring left hand again.

    Introducing The 5

    In addition to the root note, you can add the 5th tone, which is usually a perfect fifth above the root note. Think of the fifth as the fifth scale tone from the root note.

    So, given D as the root note:

    …let’s count five scale tones:

    D (1) E (2) F (3) G (4) A (5)

    The corresponding fifth for the D root note in the key of C major is A:

    Altogether, “D-A” is a fifth:

    The D minor triad:

    …sounds fuller with the fifth (“D-A”) on the left hand:

    …compared to when it’s played with just a root note.

    “Here Are All The Fifths In The Key Of C Major…”

    1st tone (C-G):

    2nd tone (D-A):

    3rd tone (E-B):

    4th tone (F-C):

    5th tone (G-D):

    6th tone (A-E):

    7th tone (B-F):

    Recommendation: Feel free to derive fifths in other keys too.

    “Let’s Talk About The 7”

    Another option you can add to the root note is the 7th tone, which is usually a major seventh or a minor seventh above the root note. Think of the seventh as the seventh scale tone from the root note.

    So, given A as the root note:

    …let’s count seven scale tones:

    A (1) B (2) C (3) D (4) E (5) F (6) G (7)

    The corresponding seventh for the A root note in the key of C major is G:

    Altogether, “A-G” is a seventh:

    The A minor seventh:

    …sounds fuller with the seventh (“A-G”) on the left hand:

    …compared to when it’s played with just a root note.

    “Here Are All The Sevenths In The Key Of C Major…”

    1st tone (C-G):

    2nd tone (D-A):

    3rd tone (E-B):

    4th tone (F-C):

    5th tone (G-D):

    6th tone (A-E):

    7th tone (B-F):

    Recommendation: Feel free to derive sevenths in other keys too.

    “Here Comes The 10”

    The tenth tone can also be added to the root note. The 10th tone is usually a major tenth or a minor tenth above the root note. Think of the tenth as the tenth scale tone from the root note.

    So, given D as the root note:

    …let’s count ten scale tones:

    D (1) E (2) F (3) G (4) A (5) B (6) C (7) D (8) E (9) F (10)

    The corresponding tenth for the D root note:

    …in the key of C major is F:

    Altogether, “D-F” is a tenth:

    The D minor seventh chord:

    …sounds fuller with the tenth (“D-F”) on the left hand:

    …compared to when it’s played with just a root note.

    “Here Are All The Tenths In The Key Of C Major…”

    1st tone (C-E):

    2nd tone (D-F):

    3rd tone (E-G):

    4th tone (F-A):

    5th tone (G-B):

    6th tone (A-C):

    7th tone (B-D):

    Recommendation: Feel free to derive tenths in other keys too.

    Final Words

    We’ve learned a lot and using the 5-7-10 principle, I’m very certain that your left hand will take a new turn and will sound fuller.

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll be focusing on melodic ideas that govern the right hand.

    See you then!

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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.

    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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