Pop Ballad Piano – Creating A Chord Progression

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In the next posts you will learn how to create ballad style arrangements in a few simple steps. This will serve you whenever you want to play a chord progression in a beautiful way, interpret a song or accompany a vocalist on the piano. You can use the same steps to get a fuller and richer sound out of any chord progression that you want to play in a ballad or pop piano style.

Finding the right chords

Let’s start with a simple chord progression. Just take a look at the circle of fifths, and you can use the six chords surrounding any key to find chords that fit together. In this case let’s use the key of F. You can use these six chords, because they are all diatonic chords made of the notes of the F major scale. The same formula to find the right chords to a chord progression works in any other key as well!


The diatonic chords in the key of F major

So here is a chord progression moving consisting of just the I, IV and V chords F major, Bb major and C major.

Pop Ballad Piano Chords


F major
C major
Bb major

Playing inversions

The first step is to use inversions to create a better voice leading, so that the right hand can move more easily between the chords. So instead of playing Bb major and C major in root position, you can use the second inversion for Bb major and the first inversion for C major.

Pop Ballad Piano Chords Inversions


C major, 1st inversion
Bb major, 2nd inversion

Adding bass notes

Now lets add bass notes in the left hand. This will instantly create a much richer sound for the chord progression. You can simply play the roots for each chord and place them where you like on the keyboard. Use your ear to find a sound that you like!

In the next post I will show you how to add the ninth to the chords, to create a much sweeter sound to this ballad piano progression.