Archive for February, 2010


How To Predict Which Chord Comes Next In a Song

Saturday, February 27th, 2010
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How To Predict Which Chord Comes Next

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could predict which chord would probably come next in a song?

I’ve got some good news for you.

It is possible. Not 100%, but somewhere on the order of 75% to 85% accurate.

That’s because music has FORM — like the skeleton that holds your flesh, muscles, and skin up. If you had no bones — no skeleton — your flesh and all the other parts of you would fall in a heap on the floor. Not a pretty picture. But because you DO have a skeleton, you are able to walk around and pretty accurately predict which way your next step will take you.

It’s the same in music. Music has FORM — a skeleton to hold it up, hold it together. And that skeleton is made out of chords — harmony — the tonal center of the song or piece.

You Can Predict Which Chord Comes Next
In any given key you can play in, there are PRIMARY CHORDS — chords that occur way more than other chords. They are like family members of that particular key.

At your house, let’s say you have 3 people in your family — your spouse, your child, and you. On the same block, but down the street a few houses, lives your cousin and her family.

At any given moment, who are the most likely people to be in your house?

Al Gore? George Bush? Mark McGwire?

I don’t think so.

It’s possible, of course, but not too likely. If I had to guess, I would say it would be either you, your spouse, or your child. It might be your cousin down the street — there’s a much better chance of that than, say, Mark McGwire — but my best odds would be to guess that the family members would be there.

It’s the same way with chords. In any given key, there are 3 “family members” that are residents of that key — the I chord, the IV chord, and the V chord. They are far and away the most likely chords to occur in any given key.

For example, if I am playing in the Key of C, and the first chord is the C chord and I have to guess what the next chord is, I would guess that it would be either the F chord or the G chord. Why? Because those are the other “family members”. So we have narrowed the odds a great deal just by knowing who the members of the family are.

What chord comes next?
So how could I tell whether it should be F or G?

If the melody is a “B”, then the chord is probably a G chord. Why? Because “B” is in the G chord, but is not in the F chord.

If the melody is a “A”, than I would guess that the chord is F. Why? Because “A” is in the F chord, but is not in the G chord.

Does that mean that there are always just 3 chords in a song? No, but there are literally hundreds of songs that are made of just 3 chords.

What if there are more than 3 chords in a song? What then?

That’s what we’ll take up next issue of this blog.

See you then.

(If you would like to SEE how this all works on video, we have a great video course titled “How To Predict Which Chord Comes Next”.

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The 4-Note Straddle

Friday, February 19th, 2010
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A straddle in piano playing is where you play a chord, but leave one note out of the chord — you “straddle” the note you leave out with other chord notes. Watch this 5-minute video and you’ll understand:

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Walking Around The Circle of Keys

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
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There are 12 major keys one can play in (more if you count enharmonic keys, but we won’t here). To learn those 12 keys, it is useful to learn the “Circle of Keys”. It is often called the “Circle of 5th” or the “Circle of 4ths”. It is all the same thing — just depends which way you move on the circle. Watch this 5-minute video on the circle:

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Chord Progressions #1

Friday, February 12th, 2010
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One of the most familiar of all chord progressions is the I, vi, ii, V progression. I played it when I was a kid, and you probably did too. It is used in literally hundreds of different songs in a variety of ways. Watch this short video about it:

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Locked Hands Style Of Piano Playing

Monday, February 8th, 2010
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There is a style of piano playing used by several artists, mostly jazz artists, called the “locked-hand” style. It is created by playing the melody of a tune with both hands, but making the left hand stand out over the right hand. Under the right hand melody are the chords of that particular point in a song. Hard to explain in words, so watch this short video using “Silent Night” as a simple example:

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