Learn to Play the Piano By Ear – Adding Chords to Right Hand Melody

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Adding Chords to the Melody

Adding chords to the right hand can be a wonderful benefit to playing the piano. It can make your playing sound full and beautiful. The problem is that some people who play by ear want to just chord with the right hand. So, when they play a song, all the listener hears is chords rather than the chords and the melody. In order for your audience to know what song you’re playing you must play the melody. Playing the melody with the right hand and chording with the left hand is a simple way to play songs. But, adding chords to the right hand melody will make your songs sound richer and fuller. Before I begin, I must say that you MUST know chord inversions for the chords you will be using in a certain song. For those of you who have purchased the “Piano By Ear for Beginners” DVD, you will have learned (or are learning) inversions.

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The melody must stay at the top of the inversion at all times. For instance, if you are playing the simple children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me” in the key of C, while you are in the C chord change (1st change), you play the inversions of C chord while the melody stays on top of the chord. When you switch to the F chord change (4th change), you will play the F chord inversions, keeping your melody on the top of the F chord.

Let’s back up…in case you’re not familiar with chord inversions. I will explain and list the inversions for the chords in the key of C (C, F, & G). To make a chord, you play 1-3-5 of the scale of the chord you are playing.

Example: C scale

CDEFGABC 12345671

So, to play C chord, you would play the notes C-E-G together to make the C chord. That’s the first inversion of C chord. The next inversion would be arranged by moving the C to the top as in E-G–C. I added the extra space between the G and the C because there are actually two notes between the G and C. As you continue to move up the keyboard, for the next inversion you would move the bottom note, E, to the top to arrange the third inversion of C chord to appear like this… G–C-E. When you finally move the G to the top, you have the first inversion again (C-E-G) only now it is an octave higher than when you began. To do the F and G chord inversions, you would follow the same procedure. They are listed below:

C CHORD INVERSIONS C-E-G, E-G–C, G–C-E, C-E-G

F CHORD INVERSIONS F-A-C, A-C–F, C–F-A, F-A-C

G CHORD INVERSIONS G-B-D, B-D–G, D–G-B, G-B-D

Now that you know the inversions for each of those chords you can add the appropriate chord to the right hand’s melody. To do this you will follow these simple rule. *While playing in the key of C, while in the C chord change, if the melody falls on any of the notes in the C chord (C-E-G), then you will play the appropriate inversion of C chord with the melody note on top. If the melody note does not fall on one of the notes for the C chord, then you play that note on the right hand alone. While playing in the key of F, while in the F chord change, if the melody falls on any of the notes in the F chord (F-A-C), then you will play the appropriate inversion of F chord with the melody note on top. If the melody note does not fall on one of the notes for the F chord, then you play that note on the right hand alone. While playing in the key of G, while in the G chord change, if the melody falls on any of the notes in the G chord (G-B-D), then you will play the appropriate inversion of G chord with the melody note on top. If the melody note does not fall on one of the notes for the G chord, then you play that note on the right hand alone.

Look at the melody notes in the key of C for the song “Jesus Loves Me”.

G E E D E G G

Jesus loves me this I know…

During the first phrase of that song, you are in the C chord change. Therefore, you will play and inversion of C chord with the melody on top with your right hand on every melody note except D (over the word “me”) because all the other notes are part of the C chord. Moving to the next phrase, you change to the F chord change.

A A C A A G G

For the Bible tells me…..so

During this phrase of that song, you are in the F chord change. Therefore, you will play an inversion of F chord (with the melody on top of your chord) with your right hand on every melody note except G (over the word “me”) because all the other notes are part of the F chord. Keep in mind that on the word “so” you will move back to the C chord change so the “G” note there will be played with an inversion of C chord with the melody (G) note on top.

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chords

Source by Matthew Stephens

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