• How small changes to chords can lead to HUGE results!

    in Playing songs

    In today’s post, I want to take our ballad chord progression
    from yesterday a step further.

    I recommend reviewing the following lessons to catch up…

    Tuesday: How to play pretty ballads with just two chords

    Wednesday: How to use my secret 9 trick to add flavor to your chord progressions

    Thursday: The secret to using circular chord progressions in ballads

    Once you’ve caught up, this lesson will fit right in line.

    Let’s look at where we left off yesterday…

    C major (add 9) (C + D + E + G) *** Bass: C
    G major (add 9) (A + B + D + G) *** Bass: B

    A minor 7 (G + C + E) *** Bass: A
    D9 (F# + C + E) *** Bass: D

    G minor 7 (F + Bb + D) *** Bass: G
    C9 (E + Bb + D) *** Bass: C

    F major (F + A + C) *** Bass: F

    G major (add 9) (A + B + D + G) *** Bass: E

    C major (add 9) (C + D + E + G) *** Bass: D

    G major (add 9) (A + B + D + G) *** Bass: G

    (I hope you practiced that 6-2-5-1 turnaround
    [A chord > D chord > G chord > C chord]
    from yesterday. Remember that you’ll have to play the turnaround a little faster than your regular chords because it needs to fit in the same amount of space as the chords from the first lesson. See Thursday‘s lesson for details.)

    I have specifically emphasized the chords we’ve already changed. Now let’s start with the F major chord.

    Right now, we’re playing a regular major chord. But after coming off such a nice sounding turnaround, I think this F chord should be jazzed up a little bit.

    The good news is that you can turn any major chord into a major seventh chord by lowering one note. Yes, one note!

    Since you’re already playing “F” on your bass, you don’t necessarily have to play it on your right hand. So let’s simply lower “F” to “E” on our right hand.

    F major 7
    F major (E + A + C) *** Bass: F

    See what I see? Yup, it’s what I talked about in a previous lesson. If you look closely, you’ll see that you’re now playing an A minor chord (A + C + E) on your right hand. You’re just playing it in second inversion, which puts “A” in the middle. But that’s another lesson. All together, this chord is an F major 7.

    So, let’s review our chord progression with this latest change…

    C major (add 9) (C + D + E + G) *** Bass: C
    G major (add 9) (A + B + D + G) *** Bass: B

    A minor 7 (G + C + E) *** Bass: A
    D9 (F# + C + E) *** Bass: D

    G minor 7 (F + Bb + D) *** Bass: G
    C9 (E + Bb + D) *** Bass: C

    F major (E + A + C) *** Bass: F

    G major (add 9) (A + B + D + G) *** Bass: E

    C major (add 9) (C + D + E + G) *** Bass: D

    G major (add 9) (A + B + D + G) *** Bass: G

    Here’s the next change I’d make…

    See the chord on “E” bass right after the F major 7 chord?

    Let’s change it!

    There’s actually many things we can do to it. For starters, we can invert it so that it’s closer to our F major 7 chord.

    Since we have made many changes to our previous chords, it’s sort of changed where we play our chords over time. So by going back to these original chords like we’ve done, it’s kind of awkward because our new chords are so far away.

    So the first thing we can do is invert what we already know to play and see if that makes things sound better.

    Here’s what we’re already playing…

    G major (add 9) (A + B + D + G) *** Bass: E

    Now, let’s invert it so that it’s closer to our “F major 7” chord…

    G major (add 9) (D + G + A + B) *** Bass: E

    Sounds good to me! So let’s save this one! We can use it!

    But we also have other options…

    Remember this lesson on quartal chords? They’re basically chords built on fourth intervals.

    I particularly like the way major 7 chords sound when they progress to quartal chords. Here’s a quartal chord you can use over “E” bass:

    D quartal / E (D + G + C) *** Bass: E

    Let’s plug this into our progression…

    C major (add 9) (C + D + E + G) *** Bass: C
    G major (add 9) (A + B + D + G) *** Bass: B

    A minor 7 (G + C + E) *** Bass: A
    D9 (F# + C + E) *** Bass: D

    G minor 7 (F + Bb + D) *** Bass: G
    C9 (E + Bb + D) *** Bass: C

    F major (E + A + C) *** Bass: F

    D quartal / E (D + G + C) *** Bass: E

    C major (add 9) (C + D + E + G) *** Bass: D

    G major (add 9) (A + B + D + G) *** Bass: G

    It’s getting better and better!

    For the chord on “D,” I’m just going to play an F major chord
    on my right hand. That makes it a D minor 7 chord.

    D min 7 (F + A + C) *** Bass: D

    And here’s the thing about ending songs. Remember yesterday, I talked about circular progressions?

    That’s exactly what D >>> G >>> C is! We call it a “2-5-1” chord progression. It’s probably one of the most widely used progressions in music. It’s perfect for ending songs.

    And if you review yesterday’s lesson and look at the circle of fifths, you will see that “D >>> G >>> C” are all neighbors!

    The best part is that you can keep the “F major” you’re playing on “D” bass the same! No need to change it. Just change your bass to “G.” (This goes for most song endings, by the way!)

    Fmaj / G (F + A + C) *** Bass: G

    And this will naturally bring you back to the beginning of the ballad!

    ~~~~~~~So beautiful ~~~~~~~~~

    So let’s put this all together…

    C major (add 9) (C + D + E + G) *** Bass: C
    G major (add 9) (A + B + D + G) *** Bass: B

    A minor 7 (G + C + E) *** Bass: A
    D9 (F# + C + E) *** Bass: D

    G minor 7 (F + Bb + D) *** Bass: G
    C9 (E + Bb + D) *** Bass: C

    F major (E + A + C) *** Bass: F

    D quartal / E (D + G + C) *** Bass: E

    D min 7 (F + A + C) *** Bass: D

    F maj / G (F + A + C) *** Bass: G

    How do you guys like the additions?

    Until next time —

    The following two tabs change content below.
    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.




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    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Bill

    At first this lesson seems intimidating to someone like me but if you read it, Jermaine really has a way of breaking things down so don’t let all the notes and names fool you.

    Thanks again J

    Reply

    2 Roland

    Yes…this is really good!
    I like the creative part and seeing how you think it through.
    The ii-V sounds really good at the end :-)

    Reply

    3 Roland

    And the F maj7 to the D quartal is a great sound…

    Reply

    4 Jessica

    Awesome series of lessons jermaine. It feels good to really be playing something that sounds like something :-). I was already excited about what i was learning on wednesday. Then you added yesterday’s lesson and today’s lesson just puts it over the top.

    Jessica
    A daily reader

    Reply

    5 Eresmas

    Hey, i’m so sleepy i can barely fix my gaze on the screen. Had overnight prayers in church last night. I’ll read this lesson thoroughly on Monday.

    Reply

    6 TRUMUSIC1SOUL aka BRIAN

    STROKE OG GENIUS!! EXQUISITE SOUNDS!
    THANKS

    Reply

    7 Louise

    You teach so well, I caught on in 5 min. I have been playing for over 40 yrs. and now it is time to learn new things. As President Elect Obama put it, It time for change.
    God Bless You!

    Reply

    8 Daniel Abakah

    Sweet sweet sounds. I love the ending progression. You’re a great teacher and you’ve stirred my desire for piano. God bless Mr. JG

    Reply

    9 tiffany

    Love this! great teaching :)) i play the walk down progression allllll the time in church. never knew how to change it, until now – thank you!

    Reply

    10 Marcella Guemmer

    a useful submit many thanks!

    Reply

    11 zino

    nice lessons

    Reply

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