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Break out the tissues, because this one’s a sad song.

“Falling” is a beautiful ballad about heartbreak by Harry Styles. The song is characterized by a piano riff during the intro. The riff is melodic, fitting, and easy to play.

In fact, this is a simple song to learn because it only uses 4 chords. The hardest thing about the song is the key signature (E major) because there are 4 sharps to get used to.

The easiest way to learn the song is to learn the 4 chords that we’ll be using first.

The 4 chords

This song uses a 1-6-5-4 progression. It’s very similar to the 1-5-6-4 progression found in most pop songs. It’s the same chords, just in a different order.

If you’re not sure what those numbers mean, make sure you watch the lesson on the Number System.

Because we’re in the key of E major, the 4 chords we’ll be playing are E major, C# minor, B major and A major.

Here’s what those chords look like:

E major:

C# minor:

B major:

Now there is a funky looking chord on the lead sheet, which is a B/G#. This just means that you play a B major chord in your right hand while playing a G# note in your left. So it looks like this:

It’s called a “slash chord” and you can learn more about them in this lesson.
A major:

And that’s it for chords! These are the ONLY chords you’ll need for the intro, verse, chorus and even the bridge. It’s really that simple.

The intro riff

This is the riff that identifies the song, and it’s beautiful. It’s also only 3 notes. Those notes are G#, F#, and E. The rhythm might take a little bit to get used to, and I find it helps to listen and play along to the recording to get it perfect.

The riff lasts for one measure and then repeats while you change the notes in the bass. You can choose to play single notes with your left hand, or you can play octaves to really give it some emotion.

For the verse and chorus, you just have to play simple chords underneath the melody. You can also choose to play the melody line if you don’t want to sing it, but if you’re trying to replicate the recording then simple chords are best. You can choose to play these in root position or experiment with some inversions.

The chord progression doesn’t change for the intro, verse or chorus. It only changes when we get to…

The bridge

The order of the chords changes here, but the chords themselves do not. It’s still the same 4 chords you’ve been playing up until this point.

And really, all the bridge adds is an extra A major chord for an entire measure before returning to the same pattern:

As easy or complicated as you like

One of the reasons I love pop songs so much is that you can play them however you like. To make this song harder you could try playing the intro riff underneath the chorus while you sing (it’s not easy).

You can also experiment with adding in more complicated left-hand patterns if you like.

Or, you could just play it simple and sparse. It works for Harry, so who are we say it needs to be harder than it already is?

Have fun!


Lisa Witt

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 18 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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