Do you play the same old tired piano chords every time they come up in a chord chart?
Well, in today’s free piano lesson I’m going to teach you an easy way to spice up you major piano chords. We’re going to talk about how to add the 9th (sometimes called the 2nd) into your chords in a very musical way.
These simple variations on major piano chords will add a lot of variety and interest to your playing.
Major Piano Chords Variation Video
Why not take 3 minutes and watch the piano lesson video where I demonstrate how to play the variations.
We break down step by step the theory behind them how to play them, and how to use them in a band situation or when you’re accompanying another instrument or a singer.
In the second half of the video you can hear me demonstrate the piano chords with the drums playing behind me with a groove. (Make sure you scroll down for the notation and extra tips as well.)
Piano Chord Notation
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7 Tips To Help You Master These Piano Chords
1. Adding the 9th to your major chords create a really nice variation that seems to brighten the sound of major chords.
2. To find the 9th of a chord you can simply go up the major scale and find the 2nd scale. The 9th is the same as the 2nd but just up an octave.
3. I recommend you practice breaking up these chords and arpeggiating them in a number of different ways. If you need ideas how to do that watch how I approach this technique in the video above.
4. You can also remove the 3rd from the chord entirely and just play the root, the 2nd scale degree, and the 5th. ( I love this sound!) 🙂
5. You don’t have to play all 4 notes of this piano chord at the same time. You can break them up in several different ways.
6. It’s important that you eventually learn to play those chord voicings in all 12 keys. This should especially be true if you love this sound!
7. If you have 2 bars of a chord you can use this technique and create a little harmonic motion where there is none. As an example, for the first measure you can play Cadd9 and the second measure you can just play your basic major triad.
4 Famous Songs That Use This Sound
There are so many songs that use this technique that there’s no way I could list them all. I will list 5 very famous ones for you though. This should give you a great start.
1. Angel by Sarah McLachlan
Sarah McLachlan uses this chord and fill concept on the Gb chord in the verse and all over the place in the chorus. Take a listen…
2. Fluffhead by Phish
This is one of the favorite devices of Phish’s keyboard player Page Mcconnell. You can hear him using hear in the Phish song Fluffhead.
3. Fire And Rain by James Taylor
You can hear it in the main riff in this classic. James Taylor plays it on guitar but the piano player picks up on the riff later on too.
4. Love Song by Sarah Bareilles
In the second chord of the song Sarah Bareilles plays a Bb2 chord (no 3rd). This is a perfect example of using this sound!
Your Next Steps
Now that you’ve heard some songs that use this chord concept spend some time at the piano exploring the sound of this chord.
Try to listen for it on your favorite recordings too. It’s used all the time. Definitely try using it in your next band practice or piano arrangement.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick and easy piano lesson. Have fun practicing and remember to check back for many more piano lessons!
Do you like the sound of this chord? Where can you use it in your music? Please leave a comment below and share with the community!
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