• Week #3: “How To Accompany Christmas Songs On The Piano”

    in Piano

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    I’ll be showing you how to accompany Christmas songs on the piano.

    Christmas is almost here and in the spirit of the Holiday we’re doing the Christmas On The Piano series that is specially dedicated to people who are interested in investing their holiday to improve their playing — beginners especially.

    We started out with a lesson on the notes, key, and scale you’ll be needing this Christmas, and then we proceeded into learning how to play jingle bells and twelve other Christmas songs.

    In this lesson, we’re going to be learning how the melodies we covered in the last lesson can be accompanied on the piano using diatonic and chromatic chords. Don’t let the big and fancy terms — diatonic and chromatic –scare you!

    Let’s start by learning the chords before proceeding to the accompaniment.

    “Here Are The Chords And Passing Chords You’ll Need…”

    The accompaniment of songs requires harmonic and melodic materials among other things.

    While I can’t provide you with everything, the most basic material you need is the harmonic material which consists of chords and there are two categories of chords you’ll need:

    Diatonic chords

    Chromatic chords

    Let’s break them down before we proceed.

    The Diatonic Chords

    Diatonic chords are basically chords that are taken from the major scale and they are easily recognizable because they don’t have tones that are outside the major scale.

    The C major chord:

    …is a diatonic chord (in the key of C major) because all the tones (C, E, and G) are part of the C major scale:

    There are seven unique bass notes in the major key and in the key of C major:

    …they are C, D, E, F, G, A, and B and we’ll be learning the diatonic chords that are to be played over each of the bass notes.

    “The 1-Chord…”

    You can either play the C major chord:

    …or the C major seventh chord:

    “The 2-Chord…”

    For the 2-chord, we have the D minor chord:

    …and the D minor seventh chord:

    “The 3-Chord…”

    Here’s The E minor chord:

    …and the E minor seventh chord:

    “The 4-Chord…”

    The 4-chord is pretty much like the 1-chord: we have the F major chord:

    …and the F major seventh chord:

    “The 5-Chord…”

    There are a variety of chords you can play over the fifth tone of the scale. However, we’ll limit it to the G major chord:

    …the G sus2 chord:

    …and the G dominant seventh chord:

    “The 6-Chord…”

    The A minor:

    …and the A minor seventh chord:

    …are two chords you can plunk down over the sixth tone of the scale.

    The Chromatic Chords

    Diatonic chords are nice. But it’s always cool if we connect two diatonic chords with a chromatic chord.

    The term chromatic literally means colorful and the reason why you need to learn chromatic chords is because you can make your accompaniment sound colorful if you insert them in between diatonic chords.

    Chromatic chords are simply known as passing chords because of the role they play in helping us move from one diatonic chord to another and one thing about chromatic chords that distinguishes them from diatonic chords is that you’ll find one or more notes that are outside the key you’re in.

    For example (in the key of C major):

    …the C dominant seventh chord:

    …is a passing chord and you can see that there’s a Bb note:

    …which does not belong to the key of C major:

    Even the root of a passing chord can be foreign to the key we’re in. For example, we can have the C#:

    …as the bass note of a chord in the key of C major:

    …and that’s a chromatic chord.

    “The 1-Chord…”

    “The #1-Chord…”

    “The 2-Chord…”

    “The 3-Chord…”

    “The 4-Chord…”

    “The #4-Chord…”

    “The #5-Chord…”

    “The 6-Chord…”

    “The b7-Chord…”

    “The 7-Chord…”

    How To Accompany A Dozen Christmas Melodies

    Last week, we learned how to play twelve Christmas melodies and we’re taking it a notch higher in this lesson by learning how to accompany those melodies.

    We’ll be using the chords we just covered in the previous segment and I know you should be familiar with them.

    Keep in mind that all the examples will be given in the key of C major:

    Song #1 — “Deck The Halls”

    Deck the halls:

    …with:

    …boughs:

    …of:

    …holly:

    Fa la la la:

    …la, la:

    …la la:

    …la:

    ‘Tis the sea:

    …son:

    …to:

    …be:

    …jolly:

    Fa la la la:

    …la, la:

    …la la:

    …la:

    Don we now our:

    …gay appa:

    …rel:

    Fa la la la la la:

    …la la:

    …la:

    Troll the an:

    …cient:

    …Yule:

    …tide:

    …carol:

    Fa la la la:

    …la, la:

    …la la:

    …la:

    Song #2 — “Away In A Manger”

    A:

    …way in a:

    …manger, No:

    …crib for a:

    …bed, The:

    …little Lord:

    …Jesus laid:

    …down His sweet:

    …head, The:

    …stars in the:

    …bright sky, Look:

    …down where He:

    …lay, The:

    …little Lord:

    …Jesus:

    …A:

    …sleep on:

    …the:

    …hay:

    Song #3 — “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

    God rest ye merry gentlemen, Let:

    …nothing you dis:

    …may, Re:

    …-member Christ our Savior, Was:

    …born on Christmas:

    …Day, To:

    …save us all from:

    …Satan’s pow’r, When:

    …we were gone as:

    …-tray, Oh:

    …tidings of:

    …comfort and:

    …joy, Comfort and:

    …joy, Oh:

    …tidings of:

    …com:

    …-fort and:

    …joy:

    Song #4 — “Once In Royal David’s City”

    Once in:

    …royal:

    …David’s:

    …city:

    ..Stood a:

    …lowly:

    …cattle:

    …shed:

    Where a:

    …mother:

    …laid her:

    …baby:

    …In a:

    …manger:

    …for a:

    …bed:

    Mary:

    …was that:

    …mo:

    …ther:

    …mild:

    Jesus:

    …Christ her:

    …li:

    …-ttle:

    …child:

    Song #5 — “Go Tell It On The Mountain”

    Go tell it on the:

    ….mountain:

    Over the hills and:

    …every:

    …where:

    Go tell it on the:

    …moun:

    …-tain Our:

    …Jesus:

    …Christ is:

    …born:

    Song #6 — “Silent Night”

    Silent night, holy night:

    All is calm:

    …all is bright:

    Round yon Virgin:

    …Mother and Child:

    …Holy infant so:

    …tender and mild:

    …Sleep in:

    …heavenly:

    …pea:

    …eace:

    …Sleep in:

    …heavenly:

    …peace:

    Final Words

    Getting to this point lets me know that you’re serious about learning how to accompany Christmas songs on the piano.

    I’m very certain that by now you should know that these chords aren’t limited to just Christmas songs; these are real chords that you can apply to other songs and in other genres of music.

    See you on the final lesson next week and have yourself a merry Christmas.

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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 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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    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Terry

    Awesome lesson
    Thank you so much
    I love hear and play❤️❤️

    Reply

    2 Anth

    This was good. Thank you.

    Reply

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