Maroon 5’s ‘This Love’ has one of the most unique piano parts in a modern pop song. It’s also a great (if a little unique) example of the power of the Major V - minor i chord progression. Let’s get right to it and take a look at that classic opening riff.
The Opening Riff
This riff consists of a pretty simple right hand (yaaay) and a left hand part that’s a little tricky. So let’s start with the easy bit…
The right hand uses a steady 8th note rhythm for each chord. What are those chords, you ask? Well, the opening progression starts with
G - Cm - Fm7 - Ddim7
Most of these chords are pretty standard, but let’s look deeper into how to voice that Ddim7 chord, since it’s such a cool chord. The Ddim7 chord is is voiced with the notes B, D, F, Ab. If you play it on the keyboard and take a good look at the spaces between each note, you can see that each note is a minor 3rd apart from each other. This is what creates the striking, dissonant sound of the Diminished Chord.
So the right hand pulses out each of these chords in straight 8th notes, while the left hand uses an offset rhythm pattern to accentuate the melodic component of the riff. That’s right, for this opening riff, the left hand takes the melodic lead! This makes it a pretty sweet tune to work on if you want to improve your left hand control.
To get a good sense for how to count the rhythms of the left hand, it’s best to count not simply in quarter notes, but in 8th and 16th notes as well. Try counting like this...
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 ee and ah
...as you play your right hand part. This allows you to count the whole bar in 8th notes and the final beat in 16th notes. This is super helpful since most of the action in your left hand occurs at the end of the each bar. The left hand notes come in groupings of 3, with each phrase starting on the and of 3, then moving to the ee of 4 and finishing on the ah of 4.
That’s a lot of notes crammed into the final stages of each bar. It’s useful to note that the left hand part for this riff is used to help smoothly transition from chord to chord. So get that metronome out and drill those rhythmic note placements!
The chorus of this song simplifies things quite a bit. Here’s the chord progression…
Cm - Fm7 - Bb - Eb
You can play this progression as straight quarter notes rhythms in both hands. No more offset rhythms! For your left hand you have a few options. You can play root note octaves, 5ths or full bodied chords. It’s up to you what you want to do with it. I’ve demonstrated the chorus using octaves of each root note, but don’t let that stop you from finding your own way to play this part!
The bridge in this song brings in some new jazz chords to play with. Here’s the chords!
Fm - Ebmaj7 - G - Cm
Fm - Ebmajy - G - G7
Rhythmically, all you’re doing with these chords is holding out whole notes, making this bridge pretty simple despite the chords themselves being a little more complex that the rest of the song. The bridge is 8 bars long, consisting of two repetitions of the same chord progression except the final bar of the bridge swaps out that Cm chord for a G7 instead.
Tying It Together
‘This Love’ is a song all pop piano players should learn. The opening riff alone is super valuable for hand independence and rhythmic confidence, and both the chorus and bridge are simple enough to tackle from a few angles, giving you options on playing it using different inversions and rhythms to make the song your own. That bridge also gives you the option to build a bit of jazz chord vocabulary as well!
So get that metronome primed up and that left hand prepped for the opening. Make sure your chord inversions are all tuned up so you can make those choruses into something really unique. Now get to your piano and go practice!