• Here’s What Beginners Should Know About The Accompaniment Of Songs

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,General Music,Piano

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    In today’s lesson, we’ll be focusing on the accompaniment of songs.

    One of the basic roles of the pianist is to provide accompaniment to the melody of songs using chords and other harmonic devices.

    However, to most people who just started with the piano, accompanying a song looks challenging for a variety of reasons. If you belong to this league, then this lesson is for you. Therefore, kindly invest the next 12 minutes or so in this blog.

    A Short Note On Accompaniment

    The relationship between notes that are heard separately produces a melody. The notes of the C major triad:

    …if played separately, sounds like the melody of the song “Kum Ba Yah.”

    “Check It Out”

    Kum:

    Ba:

    Yah:

    Although the melody above can be harmonized thus:

    Kum:

    Ba:

    Yah:

    …it’s a lot easier to create an accompaniment for the melody.

    To accompany a melody, you don’t necessarily need to harmonize each melody note – a group of melody notes can be accompanied by a given chord. For example, the first three melody notes of the song “Kum Ba Yah” can be accompanied with C major triad:

    The Three Important Scale-Degree Chords Used In Basic Accompaniment

    As a starter on the piano, there are three important scale-degree chords to look out for and they are:

    • The tonic chord
    • The dominant chord
    • The subdominant chord

    Let’s go ahead and explore these chords.

    The Tonic Chord

    The term tonic is the technical name that music scholars associate with the first degree of the scale. Consequently, the tonic chord is the chord of the first degree.

    In the key of C major:

    …where the tonic is C:

    …the tonic chord is the C major triad:

    The C major triad can also be inverted using the octave transposition technique to produce its first and second inversions respectively.

    “Here’s How To Invert The C Major Triad”

    Given the C major triad in root position:

    …the transposition of C:

    …to its higher octave (which is also C):

    …produces the first inversion of the C major triad:

    In the same vein, given the C major triad in first inversion:

    …the transposition of E:

    …to its higher octave (which is also E):

    …produces the second inversion of the C major triad:

    Altogether, there are three known ways to play the C major triad:

    In its root position:

    …in its first inversion:

    …and in its second inversion:

    The Dominant Chord

    Due to the fact that the technical name of the fifth degree of the scale is the dominant, the dominant chord is the the chord of the fifth degree of the scale. For example, in the key of C major:

    …the fifth degree (aka – “the dominant”) is G:

    Therefore, the dominant chord is the G major triad:

    The G major triad can also be inverted using the octave transposition technique to produce its first and second inversions respectively.

    “Here’s How To Invert The G Major Triad”

    Given the G major triad in root position:

    …the transposition of G:

    …to its higher octave (which is also G):

    …produces the first inversion of the G major triad:

    In the same vein, given the G major triad in first inversion:

    …the transposition of B:

    …to its higher octave (which is also B):

    …produces the second inversion of the G major triad:

    Altogether, there are three known ways to play the G major triad:

    In its root position:

    …in its first inversion:

    …and in its second inversion:

    The Subdominant Chord

    The scale degree that lies a fifth below the tonic is known as the subdominant. The term subdominant literally means the dominant below.

    So, in the key of C major:

    …where C:

    …is the tonic, going down a fifth below the tonic takes us down to F:

    …which is the subdominant.

    It is also important to note that the subdominant is the fourth degree of the scale. In the key of C major:

    …the fourth degree (aka – “the subdominant”) is F:

    Therefore, the subdominant chord is the F major triad:

    The F major triad can also be inverted using the octave transposition technique to produce its first and second inversions respectively.

    “Here’s How To Invert The F Major Triad”

    Given the F major triad in root position:

    …the transposition of F:

    …to its higher octave (which is also F):

    …produces the first inversion of the F major triad:

    In the same vein, given the F major triad in first inversion:

    …the transposition of A:

    …to its higher octave (which is also A):

    …produces the second inversion of the F major triad:

    Altogether, there are three known ways to play the F major triad:

    In its root position:

    …in its first inversion:

    …and in its second inversion:

    “In A Nutshell…”

    The tonic, dominant, and subdominant chords are collectively known as primary chords and we’ll be learning them in all twelve major keys in the next segment.

    Chord 1, 4, And 5 In All Twelve Major Keys

    Before we round up today’s lesson, here are the primary chords in all twelve major keys.

    Primary Chords In The Key Of C

    Chord 1:

    …is the C major triad.

    Chord 4:

    …is the F major triad.

    Chord 5:

    …is the G major triad.

    Primary Chords In The Key Of Db

    Chord 1:

    …is the Db major triad.

    Chord 4:

    …is the Gb major triad.

    Chord 5:

    …is the Ab major triad.

    Primary Chords In The Key Of D

    Chord 1:

    …is the D major triad.

    Chord 4:

    …is the G major triad.

    Chord 5:

    …is the A major triad.

    Primary Chords In The Key Of Eb

    Chord 1:

    …is the Eb major triad.

    Chord 4:

    …is the Ab major triad.

    Chord 5:

    …is the Bb major triad.

    Primary Chords In The Key Of E

    Chord 1:

    …is the E major triad.

    Chord 4:

    …is the A major triad.

    Chord 5:

    …is the B major triad.

    Primary Chords In The Key Of F

    Chord 1:

    …is the F major triad.

    Chord 4:

    …is the Bb major triad.

    Chord 5:

    …is the C major triad.

    Primary Chords In The Key Of F#

    Chord 1:

    …is the F# major triad.

    Chord 4:

    …is the B major triad.

    Chord 5:

    …is the C# major triad.

    Primary Chords In The Key Of G

    Chord 1:

    …is the G major triad.

    Chord 4:

    …is the C major triad.

    Chord 5:

    …is the D major triad.

    Primary Chords In The Key Of Ab

    Chord 1:

    …is the Ab major triad.

    Chord 4:

    …is the Db major triad.

    Chord 5:

    …is the Eb major triad.

    Primary Chords In The Key Of A

    Chord 1:

    …is the A major triad.

    Chord 4:

    …is the D major triad.

    Chord 5:

    …is the E major triad.

    Primary Chords In The Key Of Bb

    Chord 1:

    …is the Bb major triad.

    Chord 4:

    …is the Eb major triad.

    Chord 5:

    …is the F major triad.

    Primary Chords In The Key Of B

    Chord 1:

    …is the B major triad.

    Chord 4:

    …is the E major triad.

    Chord 5:

    …is the F# major triad.

    Final Words

    It’s very important for every beginner on the piano to learn and master the primary chords in all keys and I’m sure you’re already on your way to the mastery of these chords.

    In another lesson, we’ll be taking our discussion to another level by exploring how beginners should approach the accompaniment of songs.

    See you then!

    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 the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of 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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