“Gravity” Piano Tutorial (Sara Bareilles)

Lisa Witt  /  Song Tutorials / Mar 11

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“Gravity” by Sara Bareilles is a lovely piano ballad. You get to feel all your feelings with this song! But we’ll be honest—this isn’t an easy piece. That being said, once you get the chords down, you can play this as simply or as ornamentally as you wish!

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To master this song, we recommend getting super familiar with the original recording. Listen to it a few times. Then, interpret the vocal part YOUR way. 

And as long as you stay in time and keep to four beats per measure, you’ll do well 🙂

How to Play “Gravity” on Piano


We’ve notated a few key riffs and the vocal melody in the lead sheet. A lead sheet is a score with the melody notated and chord symbols written above when the chords change. Lead sheets are an excellent introduction to reading sheet music. And they leave plenty of room for creating your own accompaniment.

The first chords you’ll encounter in this song are C/E and Fmaj7. C/E is a slash chord. To play a slash chord, play the chord to the left of the slash (C) with your right hand and play the note to the right of the slash (E) with your left hand. You can learn more about slash chords here.

Fmaj7 is a major seventh chord. It’s created by stacking a seventh on top of the F major triad — so F-A-C turns into F-A-C-E. You can learn more about seventh chords here. In the lead sheet, we’ve notated the top three notes of the Fmaj7 chord.

Core Progression

Most of the song is built on a 2-5-1 progression. The 2-5-1 is your typical jazz progression. It is a progression of chords built on the second, fifth, and first note of the scale. Since we’re in C Major, we’ll be using the chords Dm7, G7, and Cmaj7.

Now, if we play these chords all in their root position, we’ll be leaping big distances all over the keyboard! A more efficient way to change chords is to use inversions. The inversions we used in the video are:

Dm7 – 2nd inversion
G7 – root position
Cmaj7 – 2nd inversion

With your right hand, practice moving between these chords until it’s familiar.

When you’ve gotten familiar with these chords, you may want to add riffs and fills to fluff out the chords. Start by borrowing notes directly from the chords you’re already playing. If you really want to master riffing between chords, check out our riffs and fills course.

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In the chorus, the progression changes slightly and there are a few new chords. You’ll notice that we’ll recycle quite a few chords but change their bass note to slightly alter the sound.

To smoothly transition between chords, consider using inversions. For example, I use inversions to move through the C – G/B – Am progression. The hardest part is playing these chords in time!

You’ll notice that we have a new chord: Bbsus. Bbsus is a suspended chord — that’s when the third of a chord is switched out for the second or fourth note of the scale. You can learn more about sus chords here.

And if you want to learn more about using chord inversions to play more efficiently, check out our lesson on chord shortcuts.


As promised, we get lots of sus chords in the bridge!

You’ll see that we play a number of Csus chords with our right hand while our left hand pushes through a series of bass notes. Either Csus2 or Csus4 will work here.

We then go into a beautiful little riff. Then, we return to the 2-5-1 progression, which ends the song.

How to Play “Gravity” on Piano

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations!

If you’re struggling, that’s okay. As we’ve mentioned, this song isn’t easy. But the rewards are great!

There are tons of different chords here. If you want to get deeper into chords, check out these free lessons:

Also, check out Chord Hacks, our free six-part course on everything to do with piano chords. Happy practicing!

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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