Create Emotion With 4 Notes

Lisa Witt  /  Improvisation / Aug 28

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One of our most popular Pianote lessons of all time is Create Emotional Piano Music (Just 3 Notes). Today, we’ll show you how to create emotion with 4 notes (not 3)!

But don’t worry, even a total beginner can have fun with this lesson in no time.

The Right Hand

First, let’s park our right hand in C position. I like to use the octave above middle C.

Place your thumb (first finger) on C and play G-D-E-C in that order with fingers 5-2-3-1 respectively.

Here’s an image to show you which notes to play with which finger:

Create emotion with 4 notes

Spend a few moments to get comfortable with this shape.

If you’re new to the piano and this shape feels awkward at first, don’t worry! That’s totally normal. Just practice a few times. Holding down the pedal can help connect the notes and create a dreamier sound too. You can even write down 5-2-4-1 on a piece of paper if that helps.

The Left Hand

Once you’re comfortable with the right-hand shape, we’ll play a series of fifths with fingers 5 and 1 on our left hand.

Place your fifth finger (pinky) on A and your first finger (thumb) on E. Play this shape in the octave below your right hand.

Left hand A chord

Play the right-hand shape over these notes for as many times as you’d like. Then, shift the same left-hand fingers over to C and G:

Left hand C chord

Next, shift the same shape to G and D:

Left hand G chord

…And finally, move the same shape to F and C:

Left hand F chord

To review, here is the order of the fifths you’ll play with your left hand. In other words, your chord progression is:

  1. A-E
  2. C-G
  3. G-D
  4. F-C

Also, you don’t have to play both notes of each fifth on the left hand. This tune will still sound great if you just play the root notes:

  1. A
  2. C
  3. G
  4. F

Building Emotion

Now for the fun part: let’s experiment with these notes!

For some darker energy, try playing some solid octaves on your left hand in place of the fifths. This will add some intensity to the riff! Feel free to add some heaviness to it too.

You can also play with rhythm. Try repeating those octaves to build some tension.

Then, to ease up from that tension, bring it back to the fifths. Separate the fifths for a slightly gentler sound.

Also, try varying the order of your left-hand notes. In fact, I quite like F-G-C-A.

Add More Notes

Here’s a bonus challenge: once you’re comfortable with playing with your right and left hands, try throwing in a B.

The B adds some tension to the piece, and it can honestly go anywhere you want. Experiment!

Another crazy challenge: if you’ve watched our previous lesson, you can add those notes in here too! Connect these two patterns to make something new. It works because both patterns are in the key of C major.

Share what you come up with!

Now it’s up to you to explore what you can do with these notes. You can check out our other lessons on how to add emotion to your piano playing.

Then experiment to create emotion with 4 notes. You’ll see that it doesn’t take a lot of notes or complicated patterns to play something truly beautiful.

Feel free to send us video clips and tracks of you experimenting with this. You can share them on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram.

Good luck, and have fun!

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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