How to Construct Chords and Improvise

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How To Construct Basic Chords on the Piano

The easiest way to start learning how to build chords is to practice their constructions in the key of C Major. You're just playing all white keys.

All you have to do is play every other white key to create a 3-note chord. A 3-note chord is called a triad. A 4-note chord is called a 7th chord. And a 5-note chord is called a 9th chord.

Now you have the option of playing your chords in one hand or you may use both hands! It depends upon the sound you want to produce.

How to Improvise Melodies

There's something irresistible about a real melody. If you can convince the listener that they're hearing a melody when you improvise, they will stay riveted to every note.

Well, you can - and it's not really that difficult. The one element that is common to almost all good melodies is: repetition.

To your success,

Mr. Ron

Repetition. Repetition and more repetition. I'm referring specifically to the repetition of ideas (motifs, as they are often called). Sometimes the idea is repeated exactly as it occurred the first time, as in the Holiday tune "Jingle Bells."

More often, the motif occurs higher or lower than it did originally. The notes are different but the rhythm and the shape of the line remain intact, as in "Happy Birthday." This type of repetition can be defined as "pitch-shifting."

What I'm describing here is a process often called motific development: the spinning out of ideas through the use of repetition, pitch-shifting, and extension.

So that's it... if you want your improvisations or solos to sound like a melody, you need to use a lot of repetition.

Ironically many musicians avoid using repetition for fear of sounding repetitious, i.e., boring. You bore a listener if you try to elicit the same emotional reaction from him/her two or three times in a row, but that's not what you're doing when you repeat an idea.

When you first introduce an idea, it's new. The listener waits with open anticipation to hear how the idea spins itself out. But when you repeat the idea, their reaction is very different. Now they can gain a certain sense of control, by connecting what they're hearing to what went before.

Just listen to some of your favorite songs, and you will definitely hear repetition!

Ron Worthy is the owner of He is a Music Eductor and Performer. His site offers online piano instruction for all ages. He specializes in Rock, Pop, Blues and Smooth Jazz Piano disciplines.

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