Make your piano playing sound proffesional

Piano Keyboard Reharmonization

Wouldn’t you like to enhance your piano playing technique and sound more professional?

Learning a new song with the basic chords is always rewarding, but what if could tell you that you could learn how to replace these basic chords with more elaborated ones and sound like a proffesional?

This technique is called reharmonization and the concept represents studying the harmony that makes up the original chords of the song, and replacing it with a new set of chords, or adding more chords in between. This enables a richer and more professionals sound.

The technique sounds hard, but once you get to play with it you’ll discover that it’s easier than you thought and that the results you’ll be able to make will sound completely at other level, gradually incrementing your knowledge about harmony, and what makes music sound well.

To let you have a good start on reharmonization techniques, we invite you to read an example of reharmonization of Christmas Music by the hand of our friend and experienced pianist, Paul Tobey:

Christmas Sheet Music is generally like every other kind of sheet music except for one thing; because of the well-known melodies it is more open to re-harmonization. What does that mean exactly? Well, simply by virtue of the fact that everyone knows the melody it’s easier for the piano accompanist to take more harmonic chances.

Christmas songs like Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, Silent Night and Joy to the World are so entrenched in our consciousness that few people even have to think about the words or the melody. It just comes naturally for most of us, at least in western culture, to sing the lyrics and melodies without any thought at all.

That’s what makes it all the more fun for pianists who accompany carolers to take some really neat harmonic chances with the underlying chords. Generally speaking no matter what you do, and as long as you keep the beat going, no one’s going to get lost.

Christmas sheet music is very often notated with accompanying chord symbols to help pianists make good chord choices. Of course, the more talented the pianist the more interesting the choices. That’s why I like chord symbols on Christmas sheet music because, it gives me a general guide to follow and makes it easier to add more chords to the mix.

How is this done? Let’s take a song like Jingle Bells for example. If we’re in the key of F, the basic chord symbols at the chorus are as follows;

| F |F |F| F | Bb | F | C7 | C7|
| F |F |F| F | Bb | F | C7 | F |

Now, how would one approach re-harmonizing this very simple chord progression (as there are many repeated chords making the progression sound kind of dull)? Most jazz players would know the answer to that question but for everyone else the trick lies in something we call the 2-5-1 progression or II – V – I. This basically means that in front of every landing chord we can put a II – V progression with the one (I) being the landing chord or destination chord.

If in the chord progression above you were to put a II – V in front of the Bb landing chord you would get a whole new sound. What is a II – V? In the scale of Bb (our landing chord) C is the second note of the scale and F is the fifth note of the scale. Therefore the chord progression would be C – F – Bb. However, because the second chord of the Bb scale is a C minor chord the progression would be notated like this |C- | F | Bb|.

Would you like to try something a bit trickier? Try adding sevenths to each chord. That means add a seventh interval, either major or minor 7th to each chord as reflected by the Bb major scale. Therefore the final II – V – I progression, with Bb as the landing chord, would be notated as |C-7| F7 | BbM7|.

So how would the chorus of Jingle Bells be notated if you used II – V’s in front of each landing chord? Like this;

| F |F | C-7 F7 | BbM7 | F | G-7 | C7 |
| F |F | C-7 F7 | BbM7 | F | G-7 C7 | FM7 |

As you can likely hear if you play these chords on the piano it makes the progression seem much more interesting and rich. So, the next time you pick up a sheet of Christmas music have a look at the landing chords and see if you can’t put a II – V in front of them. You’re music will have so much extra color to it and everyone will marvel at your new found ability.

As you can see reharmonization is not that difficult, and it can provide you with astonishing results that can take your piano playing to another level.

These techniques are not only useful for playing other pieces, but also for composing, and improvising at your own.

You are welcome to ask any harmony related question or tell us what you’ll be interested in reading next!




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4 Responses to Make your piano playing sound proffesional

  1. Baldwin says:

    Why don’t you have someone help you with your spelling. If you ask an English major to edit your website you would probably get more business. Think about it. I’m just trying to help.

  2. Questir says:

    Hi Baldwin. Thanks for your comment.
    This site is about sharing information we find about different ways of making learning easier. It’s a place we really enjoying building and we love this community. If you tell us the spelling mistakes we’ll correct them. One always learns from it’s own errors.

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