• Spicing up your worship playing, Mike Bereal-Style!

    in Gospel music

    I recently sent out a couple of tutorial clips from Mike Bereal’s dvd and musicians literally ate them up! Some even talked about using these chords for their worship services the very next day! So that was great news for me to hear… that people were benefiting even before Wednesday, when the course officially launches.In this special newsletter, I actually wanted to take the first clip and break down some of the concepts you’ll learn in the dvd even further. It doesn’t matter if you’re personally interested in the dvd or not… I want you to benefit from this newsletter. So pay attention below and take out your pen and pencil because it’ll be good!!!.

    So let’s get started!


    There’s several ways you can learn this worship progression.

    1) You can watch the tutorial first, then return to this newsletter.

    2) You can read this newsletter first, then put it all together when you watch the tutorial.

    3) You can mix and match. Play the tutorial up to a certain point, then return to the newsletter to see what I have to say about it. Then back to the tutorial. Or you can read my newsletter up to a certain point and then play the tutorial.

    Up to you!

    Note: There are two tutorials on the same page. I’m only referring to the first one.


    (You may want to print this out)

    Let’s start off with the basic chord progression. Just like the video tutorial, we’ll start with the basics and then get into “Mike’s” changes later on in the newsletter.

    This progression will be in the key of Db major.

    The bass for the entire progression is also Db (the first tone in the scale) so you won’t have to worry about memorizing a super-complicated left hand arrangement… at least not right now.

    So let’s focus on the right hand:

    (It’s amazingly simple but once you start adding Bereal’s feel to it, you’ll see the power of basic chords arranged in such a way…)


    7 Chords (from illustration above)

    Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: Ab + Db + F

    Left Hand Bass Db // Right Hand: Db + F + Ab

    Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: Bb + Eb + G

    Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: Eb + G + Bb

    Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: Db + Eb + Gb + A

    Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: A + Db +Eb + Gb

    Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: Ab + Db + F

    So as you can see, the foundation for this progression isn’t very hard. In fact, incredibly simple to be coming from a pro like Mike Bereal right?

    Here’s the thing…

    Nothing is really that hard. It’s what you do with what you already have that makes the difference, as you’ll soon see below.

    So let’s keep it moving…

    Recall that the Db major scale is:

    Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C Db
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7

    While our bass is constantly holding down the “1” (the first tone of the scale: Db), the chords are moving in a particular pattern.

    Notice that every two chords, the progression switches scale tones.

    In other words, the first two chords are simply Db major chords (one is voiced in second inversion with Ab as the lowest note on the right hand —and— the other Db major chord is voiced in root position with Db as the lowest note on the right hand).

    Then it moves to the second tone of the scale, which is Eb.

    But what’s so different about this chord is that it doesn’t naturally occur on the second tone of the scale.

    If you have our 300pg course or any of our other GospelKeys courses, you’ve probably ran into a chart like this:


    Scale Tone Chord Type
    1 Major
    2 Minor
    3 Minor
    4 Major
    5 Major
    6 Minor
    7 Diminished

    This chart basically tells you what chords naturally occur on what tones of the scale. So if we’re in the key of Db major and the second tone of the scale is Eb, we would normally play an Eb minor chord.(Keep in mind that I’m only talking about triads or three-toned chords here since that’s what Mike uses in his tutorial. There are some small changes you make when you play four-toned or what we call “seventh” chords and you’ll notice differences in a chart that references seventh chords).

    So why doesn’t Mike just play a regular Eb minor chord?

    Well, first of all, it wouldn’t give him the sound he’s looking for. With the Db constantly held down in the left hand (or by the bass player), an Eb minor chord would produce a TOTALLY different sound… but altering the minor chord to a major chord gives the intended sound he’s looking for during the worship part of the church service.

    I could talk all day about secondary dominants but we’ll reserve that topic for another lesson.

    For now, understand that when you change a minor chord to a major chord, it CAN work and just may produce the exact sound you’ve been trying to imitate but couldn’t figure out what it was in the past (especially if you’re confident you’ve figured out the bass note but the “normal” minor chord just doesn’t sound right).

    So Mike uses the Eb major chord and does the same pattern with it. He goes from the Eb major chord (in second inversion with Bb as the lowest note on the right hand) to an Eb major chord in root position (with Eb as the lowest note on the right hand).

    Let’s move on…

    Next comes a couple of different chords.

    He uses a half-diminished chord on the right hand. This is also known as a minor seventh chord with a flatted 5th tone in it.

    He uses an Eb half diminished chord. I know it’s hard to tell because Db is the lowest note of the first one and then A is the lowest note of the next one (…if you haven’t figured it out already, there’s two of each type of chord in this progression… Mike just plays them differently).

    But in your mind, temporarily try to look at this chord with Eb on the bottom even though he doesn’t play it that way. It would look something like this:

    Eb + Gb + A + Db

    (It’s the same notes, it’s just arranged with Eb on the bottom).

    Now, try to recall what the regular Eb minor 7th chord looks like:

    Eb + Gb + Bb + Db

    What’s the only difference?

    Well, you tell me!

    Eb + Gb + A + Db
    Eb + Gb + Bb + Db

    The “A” and the “Bb” right?

    And since the A is a half-step lower than the Bb, that’s why we call it a “flat 5” or “flatted 5” because Bb is the 5th tone in that chord and we’re literally lowering it by a half-step. But that’s just some information about the chord. Let’s get back to the actual progression.

    So we’re working with an Eb half-diminished chord (or Eb minor b5… however you want to look at it).

    Mike then goes on to do the same thing with this chord. He starts it off in this inversion:

    Db + Eb + Gb + A

    And he inverts it to:

    A + Db + Eb + Gb

    (Note that there is no difference in ACTUAL notes played, just a new order).

    Then, to end the progression, the very last chord in the series is the SAME as the first chord.

    So now you have a great understanding of all 7 chords. Let’s take it a step forward, making some of the changes Mike would make to this chord progression.

    Are you ready to review what we’ve covered so far by watching the live tutorial?


    “The next phase”


    Did you catch that?

    Here are the notes written out:

    Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: Ab + F

    Left Hand Bass F // Right Hand: Db + Ab

    Left Hand Bass: Eb // Right Hand: Bb + G

    Left Hand Bass: G // Right Hand: Eb + Bb

    Left Hand Bass: Gb // Right Hand: Eb + A

    Left Hand Bass: Eb // Right Hand: A + Gb

    Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: Ab + F

    This is a very popular west coast secret.

    What you basically do is take most chords you normally play (especially triads) and take the middle note out of the right hand and play it on the left hand.

    So notice that we took the normal Db + F + Ab chord (Db major triad) and took the F out of the right hand (leaving us with Db + Ab) and played it on the left hand.

    We did this for every chord. When we got to the four-toned chords, we had to make a decision of which note to move to the bottom (…since those chords had Db in them and we know that the common underlying bass for the ENTIRE progression is Db, there is no need to repeat the Db).

    Wait! I can just hear someone getting confused here.

    One of the first things I pointed out in this newsletter was that the entire progression is played over a constant Db bass, whether played by an organist or a bass player or occasionally by you in between chords. So that is a given now.

    Now that we are actively changing our left hand, we can’t play that constant Db as much as we’d like (you’ll sometimes see Mike playing the deep Db note in between chords when it’s convenient). But it’s still present as the underlying bass note for everything.

    So when it comes time to figure out what notes to keep and what notes to omit, always look at what’s already being played as you don’t always need to “double up” notes.

    So that’s why this chord:

    Db + Eb + Gb + A
    (Eb half diminished)

    Ended up being:

    Bass: Gb /// Right hand: Eb + A

    We basically ignored the Db in the chord and proceeded as if it didn’t exist. That would give us:

    Eb + Gb + A

    We took out the middle note (Gb) and that’s how we got:

    Bass: Gb /// Right hand: Eb + A

    Same thing for the next chord.

    It would have normally been A + Db + Eb + Gb

    We left out the Db:

    A + Eb + Gb

    Then we applied Mike’s special rule and took the Eb out of the middle and put it on the bass. Thus we got:

    Bass: Eb /// Right hand: A + Gb


    Can you apply this to virtually all your chords?

    The answer is a resounding yes! If you didn’t get the formula, just re-read this section of the newsletter or watch the tutorial.

    This is what I call a PRINCIPLE. It is something that you don’t just apply to the situation you’re using it in but it works in MANY situations. It changes the way you think. It’s everlasting. It can work for you many places.

    You’ll learn many PRINCIPLES, not just tricks, in the master class dvd releasing on Wednesday, June 18, 2008. More info here.


    Now, I realize this is already a life-changer for someone who wasn’t doing this kinda stuff before (i.e.- omitting notes in the right hand just to play them in the left). The good news is that there’s more!

    Changing the order of chords

    Realize that you’re only really playing three chords:

    Db major >>> Eb major >>> Eb minor 7 (flat 5)

    Yes, there’s 7 chords but all the other ones are either duplicates (as in the first chord and the last chord) or inversions (just the same chord played differently).

    So Mike invites you to flip the order of the chords to get a different feel.

    But you must stay in this MASTER order:

    Db major >>> Eb major >>> Eb minor 7 (flat 5)

    Here’s an example:

    1) Left Hand Bass F // Right Hand: Db + Ab

    2) Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: Ab + F

    3) Left Hand Bass: G // Right Hand: Eb + Bb

    4) Left Hand Bass: Eb // Right Hand: Bb + G

    5) Left Hand Bass: Gb // Right Hand: Eb + A

    6) Left Hand Bass: Eb // Right Hand: A + Gb

    7) Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: Ab + F

    In this order, I basically switched every other chord (compare this one to the order above). I chose not to do it to chord #5 and #6 because they were already descending. In other words, before I made this change, our left hand was going from Db UP to F, then from Eb UP to G.

    But now, I’ve made the left hand and the chords go from F DOWN to Db, from G DOWN to Eb and since our #5 and #6 chords were already going from Eb DOWN to Gb, it worked perfectly!

    You can even mix-match them! What if you went DOWN from F to Db in the first two chords but UP from Eb to G in chords #3 and #4? And then kept chords #5 and #6 the same. Essentially, you’re doing like an “DOWN-UP-DOWN” type of movement.

    1) Left Hand Bass F // Right Hand: Db + Ab

    2) Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: Ab + F

    3) Left Hand Bass: Eb // Right Hand: Bb + G

    4) Left Hand Bass: G // Right Hand: Eb + Bb

    5) Left Hand Bass: Gb // Right Hand: Eb + A

    6) Left Hand Bass: Eb // Right Hand: A + Gb

    7) Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: Ab + F

    The idea is that you have many possibilities to explore!

    Now are you starting to see why some of the best musicians sound so much better than average musicians?

    Is it really super-hard chords or is it about being more creative? Even though the first can be true, I believe the latter question can apply to more growing musicians!


    Adding even more “Mike” flavor

    You’ll have to see the end of the video tutorial for this one but I just wanted to give you a heads-up.

    The last part of the tutorial talks about little “grace notes” you’ll add to your chords both on the right AND left hands.

    These little “grace notes” are characteristic of the west coast sound and if you’ve heard the albums Mike has played on, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

    For example on this first chord:

    Left Hand Bass: Db // Right Hand: Ab + F

    You wouldn’t just hit the Ab + F. You’d add a quick “Eb” that won’t stay for long. You’ll just press it very quickly right before you hit the Ab + F. These little “filler” notes are the secret to that contemporary sound you hear on albums.

    But for this one, I won’t dare try to explain it with words. Check out the end of the video tutorial for details as he covers grace notes to add to just about every chord in the sequence.


    Well, I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I didn’t expect it to be this long but I get carried away when it comes to explaining music.

    hear and play

    Mike Bereal's GospelKeys Master Class Volume 1

    In this 3-hour master class series, the legendary Michael Bereal, who has played for just about everyone in the gospel industry (Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary, Kim Burrell, Judith McAllister, Marvin Sapp, etc), will show you how to spice up various parts of your church service by applying his closely-guarded chords, progressions, "runs," and tricks. By the end of the course, you'll have new and exciting chords and movements to play during worship, praise, shouting, and even "talking" moments of the service.

    If you've always wondered how the professionals voice their chords and movements, then you can't afford to miss this master class series! Click here to learn more | Buy now

    Until next time!

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    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!

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