• Harmonic Devices: Here Are Three Things To Do With Your Left Hand

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano,Theory

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    We’ll be focusing on what to do with the left hand in today’s post.

    One of the challenges up and coming piano players face is what to do with the left hand. The list of ideas for the left hand is inexhaustible, ranging from the use of notes…

    C:

    …for the C major seventh chord:

    …to the use of intervals…

    C major seventh interval:

    …for the C major seventh chord:

    …and sometimes, chords too can be played on the left hand. But in today’s post, we’re focusing on three harmonic devices that can help transform your left hand.

    Without further ado, let’s get started with an overview of harmonic devices.

    An Overview Of Harmonic Devices

    In music, harmony is the relationship between notes that are played or heard at the same time. Intervals and chords are said to be harmonic because at least two notes are played/heard at the same time.

    Considering that harmony serves as an accompaniment to melody – which is simply the tune of a song, harmonic devices are intervallic and chordal elements that provide accompaniment to melodies.

    In this lesson we’re focusing on the harmonic devices for the left-hand that can accompany right hand chords and melodies. Out of the several harmonic devices out there, you’ll be learning theses three:

    • Tenths and sevenths
    • The Open Triad
    • Filled-In Tenths

    These harmonic devices are commonly used in gospel and jazz styles, however, they can be applied to a variety of styles. Take a look at tenths and sevenths.

    Tenths And Sevenths

    The third and seventh tones of a chord are known as its skeleton. The skeleton of a chord is related to the concept of tenths and sevenths.

    Give me a minute to explain this!

    It is possible to outline a chord just by playing its third and/or seventh tones.

    C-E:

    …or C-B:

    …can outline the C major seventh chord:

    …notwithstanding that other chord tones are omitted.

    C-Eb:

    …or C-Bb:

    …can outline the C minor seventh chord:

    C-E:

    …in the case of the C major seventh chord, or C-Eb:

    …in the case of the C minor seventh chord can be played as tenths…

    C-E:

    …or C-Eb:

    …which are extended intervals. This is done by expanding the third [a simple interval] into a tenth [a compound interval.] Consequently, C-E:

    …becomes C-E:

    …while C-Eb:

    …becomes C-Eb:

    …from simple to compound intervals respectively.

    The concept behind tenths and sevenths has to do with changing the skeleton of a chord, which consists of its third and seventh tones, into tenth and seventh. Instead of a third, we’re basically using a tenth.

    Now, you can use either a seventh or a tenth to outline a chord. Here’s how it works…

    C-E:

    …a major tenth and C-B:

    …a major seventh, can be used as left hand harmonic devices for the C major seventh chord:

    D-F:

    …a minor tenth and D-C:

    …a minor seventh, can be used as left hand harmonic devices for the D minor seventh chord:

    E-G:

    …a minor tenth and E-D:

    …a minor seventh, can be used as left hand harmonic devices for the E minor seventh chord:

    F-A:

    …a major tenth and F-E:

    …a major seventh, can be used as left hand harmonic devices for the F major seventh chord:

    G-B:

    …a major tenth and G-F:

    …a minor seventh, can be used as left hand harmonic devices for the G dominant seventh chord:

    A-C:

    …a minor tenth and A-G:

    …a minor seventh, can be used as left hand harmonic devices for the A minor seventh chord:

    B-D:

    …a minor tenth and B-A:

    …a minor seventh, can be used as left hand harmonic devices for the B half-diminished seventh chord:

    To know more about tenths and sevenths you need to check out my post on tenths and sevenths and also expect a post on the diatonic perspective to tenths and sevenths in a subsequent post.

    To take your left hand to another level is the open triad. Check it out!

    The Open Triad

    A triad is chord of three notes and there are four classes of triads…

    • Major triads
    • Minor triads
    • Augmented triads
    • Diminished triads

    ….known to HearandPlay.com’s students as the fantastic four. However, most of the time, the open triad is used as a left hand harmonic device for the major and minor triad.

    “What’s An Open Triad?”

    The octave transposition of the middle note of a triad produces an open triad.

    This is the C major triad:

    …its first inversion:

    …and its second inversion:

    The octave transposition of the middle note of the triad [whether in root position or inverted] to a higher or lower octave produces an open triad.

    “Here’s how it works…”

    Using the C major triad in root position:

    …if you play the middle note (E):

    …an octave higher, this produces a C major [open] triad:

    Also, using the C major triad in first inversion:

    …if you play the middle note (G):

    …an octave higher, this produces a C major [open] triad:

    Finally, using the C major triad in second inversion:

    …if you play the middle note (C):

    …an octave higher, this produces a C major [open] triad:

    Attention: It’s not so easy to play the open triad of the second inversion of the C major chord because it spans an eleventh from from G to C:

    …eleven degrees of the C major scale.

    “Here are the open triads of the D minor triad…”

    Using the D minor triad in root position:

    …if you play the middle note (F):

    …an octave higher, this produces a D minor triad [open] triad:

    Also, using the D minor triad in first inversion:

    …if you play the middle note (A):

    …an octave higher, this produces a D minor [open] triad:

    Finally, using the D minor triad in second inversion:

    …if you play the middle note (D):

    …an octave higher, this produces a D minor [open] triad:

    Alright! I recommend that you go ahead and learn the open triad for major and minor triads and their respective inversions.

    We’re nearly done for today. But before we end this lesson, let’s look at the final left hand harmonic device on my list – the filled-in tenths.

    Filled-In Tenths

    We already covered tenths in an earlier segment on tenths and sevenths. The concept of the filled-in tenth is to add another note to the tenth, that would precisely outline the quality of a chord.

    Check this out…

    G-B:

    …is a major tenth.

    This major tenth if used as a left hand accompaniment, could imply a G major seventh or G dominant seventh chord. This is because the major and dominant seventh chords have the same quality of tenth – the major tenth.

    One of the ways to distinguish between the major and dominant seventh chords is to fill-in the tenth with another note. The note that fills in the tenth and precisely narrows down the quality of a chord is the seventh tone.

    Filling-in G-B:

    …with an F:

    …produces the G dominant seventh chord:

    which differs from the G major seventh chord:

    …which is formed by filling-in G-B:

    …with an F# tone:

    In a nutshell, a filled in tenth consists of the third and seventh of a chord, which for all intents and purposes is the skeleton of the chord.

    Kindly check out the filled-in tenths for the scale degree chords in the key of C major.

    Chord 1:

    …filled-in tenth of the C major seventh chord.

    Chord 2:

    …filled-in tenth of the D minor seventh chord.

    Chord 3:

    …filled-in tenth of the E minor seventh chord.

    Chord 4:

    …filled-in tenth of the F major seventh chord.

    Chord 5:

    …filled-in tenth of the G dominant seventh chord.

    Chord 6:

    …filled-in tenth of the A minor seventh chord.

    Chord 7:

    …filled-in tenth of the B half-diminished seventh chord.

    Final Words

    At this point, someone is probably asking, “So, how I apply these devices?”

    Well, I’ll be presenting the application of these harmonic devices in another post. But before then, check out what you can do with your left-hand over Bishop Marvin Sapp’s Never would have made it.

    Are you ready? Alright!

    Never would have:
    Chord 6:

    …filled-in tenth of the A minor seventh chord.
    …made it:

    …[1st passing chord]:

    …[2nd passing chord]:

    Never would have:

    …made it:

    …without:

    …you:

    Oh my goodness! Did you see how much more we’re doing with the left hand? Well, that’s the idea.

    See you in another post.

    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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    { 15 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Ogechukwu

    This is awesomely helpful. Thanks.

    Reply

    2 Peter

    very educative. Bless you

    Reply

    3 Anyanwu Uzoma

    This is awesome. Been using them,but didn’t know their musical implications. Thanks alot HearandPlay

    Reply

    4 Michael James

    Hi guys,
    I need an instructor on piano to enlighten me more, please add me on WhatsApp to discuss about the requirement 09055837921 thank you

    Reply

    5 samson

    good. please how do i combined Diminised, sus2, sus4, major7 etc in any song on Cmajor key.

    Reply

    6 UTIBEABASI

    Awesome

    Reply

    7 clinton

    Thanks so much..am jst beginning bt ur lessons has helped me a great deal..thanks so much HearandPlay

    Reply

    8 Daniel

    Thanks sooo much am learning alot

    Reply

    9 Francis

    How can i play chord combination under Key Cmajor

    Reply

    10 Barnabas

    Thank you for this helpful post. I want to ask could you please send me some beginner’s notes on how to play salsa and jazz? hope to hear from u soon. would be grateful if the answer is yes

    Reply

    11 green

    i’m regulary blessed by your post,keep the fire burning.

    Reply

    12 Jo

    Great post. You said the filled-in tenth of A minor 7 is A G C but in your Bishop Marvin Sapp’s example you said C B don’t understand please help. Tnx.

    Reply

    13 Jo

    Great post. You said the filled-in tenth of Aminor7 is A G C but in your Bishop Marvin Sapp’s example you said C B don’t understand please help. Thanks.

    Reply

    14 Emmanuel

    Nice One. Thanks Alot

    Reply

    15 Zino

    Good

    Reply

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