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Chord Hacks #5: Making It Fancy

Jordan Leibel - Jun 20, 2017

It’s time to make things fancy!  Inversions and left hand patterns are awesome ways to sound pretty darn good at the piano, but there’s even more you can do to really make things sound awesome!  


The first fancy trick you can learn...we’ll call the twinkle.  You can call it whatever you like, but it goes like this.  Make a simple C major triad.  That means the notes C - E - G.  But instead of playing them all at once, use finger 2 to really quickly throw in a D note in there before landing on the E.  This sound adds a tiny about of additional texture to the chord.  


If you’re still new to piano, this might feel a little weird to move your fingering quite this fast.  So try making a simple exercise out of it.  Just move nice and slow, transferring between the default triad and the ‘twinkled’ version.  Try to think of this twinkle note as outside of rhythmic time, visualize the note bending or gliding up into the third.  


You can also use the notes above and below the major third to create a gentle tension in your chords.  These are called suspended chords.  If you voice a chord with the I, II, and V, you’ve created something called the sus2 chord, named because you’re creating this suspended sound by holding the 2nd note before resolving into the major 3rd, creating a major triad.  Or you can create a suspended 4th sound by making a chord with a I, IV, and V.  This time the suspended note hovers just above the triad shape, wanting to resolve down into the major triad.  




Of course, you don’t have to stick to just one chord to try all of this out.  You can try this technique with any triad chord, be it a major chord or a minor chord.  Try this motion on all the big chords you’ve learned in this chord hacks series.  Suspended 2nd and 4th chords sound way different when they’re resolving to a minor chord vs a major chord, so listen out for that big change when you get to the minor vi chord.  


The next thing you can do to make things fancy is to use passing notes in the left hand.  This smooths out your chord movements as you jump from chord to chord.  An example of the passing note in action can be shown when moving from the minor vi chord to the IV chord.  Starting on A in the left hand, stop by the G note just before landing again on the F note in the bass.  This creates an awesome sense of motion as you gently step down to the next chord.  


Once you’ve mastered the twinkles and the passing notes in isolation, it’s time to put your own musical spin on them.  So play through this progression that you’ve been learning and experiment with different combinations of these techniques!

#Learn Piano

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#Beginner Piano Lesson


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#Left Hand



Hi, I'm Jordan Leibel

I've worked as a composer for film, commercial, and theatre projects as well as a session musician and producer for recording projects. And now, I'm super excited to teach you a thing or two through Pianote!