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Create Drama With 3 Chords 🎭

Sangah Noona  /  Chording / Aug 19

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You don’t need dozens of different notes to create dramatic music on the piano. In this quick lesson, Pianote Coach Sangah Noona will show you how to build beautiful, impressive, and moody music using just three chords. And guess what? All three of these chords are super similar to each other—you can even think of them as variations on a single chord.

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The 3 Chords

The chords we’ll use are:

Dm | B♭maj7 | Dm/C

And here’s how to play them:

For the sight-readers, here are our chords plotted on the grand staff:

As you can see, these chords are very similar to each other. In our exercise, we’ll play them across both hands. Which means, essentially, you’ll play the same Dm triad in your right hand.

Easy Ways to Create Drama

You don’t need super advanced technique to create music that sounds advanced. Here are some easy, beginner-friendly techniques to add an extra dimension to your playing:

Break Up the Chords

Try playing broken chords instead of solid triads.

Turn Eighth Notes Into Sixteenth Notes

Double your speed and double the tension!

Go Up an Octave

Another way to add variety is to change to a different octave. Same notes, different octave, big effect!

Sangah also expands her right-hand triad into four-note arpeggios played in triplets.

Dynamics

Finally, don’t forget the power of dynamics. Crescendos and decrescendos are perfect for dramatic playing.


Take Piano to the Next Level With Sangah Noona

Sangah Noona has been playing piano since she was five years old and her livestreams and lounge performances are beloved on YouTube. Her course on Pianote, Expanding Your Musical Style, is all about getting out of your comfort zone and expanding your breadth as a musician. Learn how to play your favorite pieces in classical, jazz, funk, and more. Want a sneak peek? Sign up for a free trial of Pianote Membership.

You’re good enough! Your piano and you—that’s it. Just have more conversation [with your piano].

Sangah Noona
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Charmaine Li is a Vancouver writer who has played piano for over 20 years. She holds an Associate diploma (ARCT) from the Royal Conservatory of Music and loves writing about the ways in which music—and music learning—affects the human experience. Charmaine manages The Note.

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