Major Seventh Chords

piano blog

Major Seventh Chords appear a lot in jazz as well, because they appear on the scale degrees I and IV of the major scale. The I major seventh chord is the home base to which all resolutions lead, the most common one being the 2 – 5 – 1 chord progression.

These chords are major chords which also include the major seventh of the respective key, thus consisting of the root, major third, fifth (the major triad) and major seventh. You can find the major seventh [...]  read more

Dominant Seventh Chords

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To expand your chordal vocabulary, let’s start with dominant seventh chords. These chords include the flatted seventh of the respective key, thus consisting of the root, third, fifth (the major triad) and flatted seventh. You can find the flatted seventh by moving down two half steps from the root. In the key of C the flatted seventh is B♭ (two half steps down from C), in the key of F it is E♭ and in the key of G it is F and so on.

Dominant Seventh Chords (with the seventh marked in blue)

C dominant 7
F dominant 7
G dominant 7

If you add these notes to [...]  read more

Seventh Chords

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If you use the tones of the major scale to create triads on each scale degree, you will get three types of chords: major, minor and diminished. The Roman numerals indicate the scale degree from one to seven with uppercase depicting major, lowercase depicting minor and ° depicting diminished chords.

The diatonic chords of the C major scale

If you go one step further and place a seventh on top of these triads, you will get four types of chords: major [...]  read more

Funky Chord Segment

piano blog

Another important element of funk music is chord progressions. While some tunes can stay on just one or two chords for minutes, others feature characteristic harmonic movements. These are often in the domain of the keyboard, piano or organ player.

A very common chord progression in funk and jazz is to start on the ii chord and then move to the V chord. In the key of C these would be Dm7 and G7.

Diatonic seventh chords for funk piano

The diatonic 7th chords in the key of C (with the seventh marked in blue)

Instead of Dm7 and G7 the following funk chord segment features [...]  read more

Funk Riff 2

piano blog

Having a bassline in place makes it easy to turn the groove into a funk riff. While the rhythm section in a funk band creates the foundation of a groove, guitars, keyboards or horn players usually play just short attacks – chords or melody notes – to give the tune its characteristic style.

The secret here is to spread the different instruments across the beat. Whereas in rock or blues music most instruments play together in layers over the beat, in funk they are disparate and play only certain accents together.

With that in [...]  read more

A Funk Bassline

piano blog

Funk, more than most other musical styles, is based on rhythm and groove. Any good funk tune will make you want to get up and dance! It is hard to listen to the likes of James Brown, Sly Stone or Stevie Wonder without tapping your limbs with the tune.

This groove in funk music is usually created by a strong rhythm section, consisting of a bass player and a drummer. The bass player not only locks in with the drums to create a funky groove, but also lays the basis of the harmonies and melody of the tune.

Playing funk [...]  read more

Funk Riff 1

piano blog

You can take the funk exercise of this previous blog post and take it a step further. By adding a few notes here and there and a turnaround at the end, it can be developed to get a funky riff.

In addition to the single note attacks in the right hand, some double stops are added to the groove. This creates a change between the C minor and F major chord, which is a typical movement in funk and blues. A walk down from G to Eb at the and of the riff creates a turnaround which leads you back to the beginning of the riff.

To practice [...]  read more

Funk Rhythm Exercise

piano blog

Funk is a very riff-based style, where a certain motive is played repeatedly, sometimes throughout the whole song. On the piano it can be both challenging and fun to play funk in a solo setting. All parts that would otherwise be played by the bass player, the guitarist, a brass section or other instruments are now played by the piano.

In contrast, the funk keyboard parts in a band setting can be rather limited to a few notes or chords, but none the less rhythmically challenging!

The different instruments in a funk setting are interlocked [...]  read more

Blues Beginnings

piano blog

One way to make the basic piano blues sound more interesting and musical, is to start with a beginning before you play your repeated 12 bar blues scheme. Below are two blues beginning examples in the key of F which you can try and practice.

Both examples are using notes of the F blues scale.

The F Blues Scale

f blues scale piano chart

The first beginning starts with a repetitive theme of triplets moving down from the blue note or sharp fourth (B). Then the blues is introduced by one bar played with the left and right hands [...]  read more

How to read Piano Sheet Music 4

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More symbols

Here are some more musical symbols, which are used to notate more detailed variations of written music.


The final barline indicates the end of the piece.

ending-piano sheet music
The repeat sign indicates that a section of the music should be repeated (think brackets).

If there is only the second repeat sign, start over from the beginning and play [...]  read more