Want to learn Gavin DeGraw’s opening Chariot piano riff?
If so, you’re in the right place. Today we’re going to break down this killer blues rock riff.
This is a great riff to learn if you love playing pop and rock.
Today’s fun lesson will teach you how to play the intro riff to Chariot and more!
After this lesson you’ll walk away with a better understanding of how blues scales are used in rock and pop music. Also, you’ll learn an exciting new (gracing) technique.
Sounds like a good time right? Let’s get started learning!
Chariot Piano Tutorial: Video Tutorial
Launch your learning instantly! Take 4 minutes and watch this video tutorial.
This is important! After you’ve finished watching this tutorial be sure to keep reading. If you continue to scroll down I’ve given you some excellent tips to help you master this riff.
5 Fun Tips So You Can Master This Lick!
Tip #1: You Must Know The Blues Scale
Because this Chariot piano lesson begins with (E) blues scale notes, it’s a very good idea to know the blues scale.
Remember your standard blues scale is made up of 6 different notes. A quick trick to build your blues scale is to start with a standard pentatonic scale. From here just add a flat 5th.
Let’s try this out with the E minor pentatonic scale.
The E minor pentatonic scale written out is (E G A B D). Now just add your flat 5th.
When you add your flat 5th into the E minor pentatonic scale your scale becomes the E blues scale: (E G A Bb B D). Simple as that!
If you want to learn more about using blues sounds in your playing we’ve got a course that shows you everything.
You can check it out here —> The Breakthrough Blues Method, is packed full with over 2 hours of useful lessons and secrets for you to learn how to play amazing blues piano!
Tip #2: How To Spice Up This Chariot Piano Tutorial With Gracing!
Now that you have your E blues scale figured out you’ll notice a note sliding technique used in the beginning of this riff.
This technique is called “gracing a note”.
To get the hang of grace notes, start by sliding from a note a half step below and quickly resolving up into your resolution notice.
Let’s get even more specific. In the video, watch how I grace into the B by quickly playing a Bb right before hand.
Gracing is an awesome technique for adding some extra pizzazz to a melody or introduction to a chord progression.
It helps you emulate more of the sound of a singer. That’s why grace notes can sound very soulful when used properly.
I highly recommend you not only practice the grace note technique in this riff.
Also try adding some grace notes to some licks you already know.
Tip #3: Hand Independence Is Key.
A (must have) for mastering this lick is hand independence. Gavin has a lot of independent motion between his left hand and right hand in this lick.
So, being able to separate chords in your left hand and the melody in your right is helpful.
To get the hand independence in this lick, I recommend you work out one hand at a time.
It doesn’t matter which hand you work out first. Just focus on nailing the individual part for each hand by itself.
If you want to take on the chord progression first great! If you want to take on the melody first that’s fine too…
Once you have the individual parts down in each hand then you can start to piece the chords and melody together. Make it as easy for yourself as you can!
Hand separation is a huge building block in your piano learning process…
Tip #4: Know Your Chord Progression.
Knowing your chord progression for this lick or any riff you’re trying to learn is vital.
The chord progression for Chariot is (i minor), (flat VI major), (flat III major), (flat VII major).
This chord progression is very common in pop-rock! Not only does this song use this progression but other famous songs also feature the same pattern.
These are 3 famous songs that also use this chord progression.
Ex. 1 – Scientists by Coldplay features this progression with a slight variation.
Ex. 2 – Snow by Red Hot Chilli Peppers features this chord progression.
Ex. 3 – Apologize by One Republic also uses this same pattern.
Try picking out this chord progression from your favorite pop-rock songs!
Once you start recognizing this progression, you’ll be surprised at how many hit tunes use it.
Tip #5: Repetition Over Changing Chords Is Your Gateway To Success!
By now you’ve certainly noticed the repetitive nature of this riff. The only thing that changes throughout the intro is the chord progression.
You’ll find lots of songs feature a repetitive pentatonic or blues scale melody and changing harmonies below it.
This is really common technique you’ll find in many pop tunes. We’ll be diving a lot more into these songs and more riff techniques in future tutorials.
This was a lot of fun wasn’t it! Let’s see what’s next in store for you…
What You’ve Got To Look Forward Too!
My passion is to help you grow your piano playing skills so you can become the best piano player you can be!
Today’s lesson is just a glimpse at all that this site has to offer you…
If you enjoyed learning this Chariot piano lesson, I know that you’ll love learning this Purple Rain Chords: Piano Lesson.
This is another fast and fun tutorial that will teach you how to play the the chords to Prince’s hit tune Purple Rain.
But that’s not all…
You also have to check out this Hallelujah Piano Tutorial. If you want to quickly learn how to play one of the most popular songs of all time than you’ll enjoy that lesson.
Whatever you do, make sure to check in to the site regularly. We are constantly posting new lessons to help you grow into an awesome piano player.
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In the meantime enjoy your practice. If you have any questions or concerns about this Chariot piano lesson and the video tutorial above please leave your comments below.