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If you haven’t checked this band out yet, you’re in for a real treat. ‘Fake Empire’ by the National is the next song you’re about to fall in love with.  

The main groove is a total blast to play, and it’s just further proof that you don’t need a ton of fancy chords to make a great song. So let’s take a look at what makes this song so great…

The Main Chords And Groove

The main opening riff of this song uses the oldest chords in the book: C, F, G and Am. You’ve probably encountered these chords already in your practice, but what makes this song special is not what the chords are, but how they’re played. This song uses a very unique rhythm pattern to move from chord to chord, one that will really boost your hand independence abilities if you take the time to practice it! So get your metronome ready, and I’ll walk you through the rhythm process…

Even though both hands are playing the same chords, they each play with a different time signature pulse. The right hand plays in a 4/4 pulse while the left hand plays in a ¾ pulse. This can be tricky to sync up together, so if you’re having troubles, take your practice away from the piano and just work on tapping out the rhythms!

Sure, Matt Berninger of The National, you can play to the rhythm of your heart.  But don’t forget that metronome!

Remember, the piano is actually a percussion instrument, and you can always be working on those percussion chops! So if you’re having trouble at the keys, give that opening chord progression a good listen and drum out each hand’s rhythm part on your steering wheel, your desk or your lap….anything goes. You’ll thank me later when it comes time to take that rhythmic motion and put it back on the piano!

How Bromantic: The National’s instrumental members consist of two set of brothers, Bryce and Aaron Dessner and Bryan and Scott Devendorf.


The Interlude

After the song runs through that opening theme for a bit, you’ll hear a shift in the chord progression as the song’s arrangement pauses for a breath before the whole band comes in. The progression for this part of the song is F, Am, G. Again, the most challenging part of this progression isn’t the chords, but that polyrhythm. Once you have the feel of the progression, swapping out your chord changes is a breeze. Just remember to take it suuuper slow at first!

The Breakdown  

The last part of the song to tell you about is also the easiest, since it momentarily ditches that complicated rhythm pattern in exchange for easy peasy long-held chords. It’s also a great opportunity to practice your chord inversions! The chords of this progression move from an Am chord to a straight up G chord, moving down an inversion with each repetition. The first iteration of these chords is in root position, before moving down to play each chord in 2nd inversion.

Fake Empire:  The coolest way to train for hand independence.


Putting It All Together

So that’s the song! It’s a perfect one to learn if you wanting to jumpstart your hand independence. One you learn that rhythm pattern, you can continue boosting that skill by choosing different sets of chords and working on that rhythm further. So get to your piano, become friends with that metronome, and go practice!

Have fun,


Jordan Leibel

Jordan Leibel is passionate about songwriting, improvisation, and helping you become a creative musician! He’s worked as a composer for film, commercial, and theatre projects as well as a session musician and producer for recording work.

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