From the category archives:

Jazz Piano

Jazz Piano Chords

by Erik Thiede on March 11, 2015

Believe it or not, jazz piano chords are easy to master and enhance your chord repertoire. Whether you want to become the next jazz legend or simply sit in on a jam, you can learn what you need to hold your own.

Jazz owes its roots to the music of African American laborers in the South, particularly New Orleans. If you’ve been to New Orleans as many times as I have, you’ll discover that it’s as much a part of the city’s culture now as it ever was.

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You’ll also find that jazz is interpreted in a variety of ways. While jazz standards are well recognized and have been performed and repeated by countless musicians, jazz remains one of America’s improvisational genres. A song may be played differently each time it is performed depending on the musician’s mood, style, or even the venue. Imagine not having to remember exactly how you played a song the last time you played it!

To play jazz, it is important to know the types of jazz piano chords used in the music. Jazz usually goes beyond simple major and minor chords, so you will need to understand chords that add a note or two.

One common chord is the sixth. On a chord chart, this can be represented as C6 or Cadd6. The C6 chord is formed by simultaneously playing the notes C-E-G-A, the A being the sixth. A Cadd6 means you replace the fifth with the sixth, or C-E-A.

Another very popular chord in jazz music is the seventh. In musical notation, a seventh in the key of C appears as C7. To play a seventh, add the seventh note of the scale, lowered a half step. In this case, B flat. The notes of this chord are C-E-G-B flat.

Equally popular is the major seventh, notated Cmaj7 in the case of the C chord. This chord adds the seventh note of the scale to your chord. A Cmaj7 is played using the notes C-E-G-B. The major seventh may look similar to the seventh chord, but as you will hear when you play them, they are distinctly different.

You may be familiar with one of the most popular chord progressions, commonly referred to as 1-4-5. In the case of the key of C, that progression consists of the C, F and G chords. But that progression is not as common in jazz. Most often, you will find a 1-4-2-5 progression. In the key of C, that would be C, F, D, G. They may not be all major chords; the D, for example, could be a minor.

With a good amount of practice, you will learn jazz piano chords with ease. Remember, jazz isn’t “perfect.” Improvise, let loose, and have fun!

Click Here To Learn The Different Jazz Piano Chords And Start Playing Like A Pro!


Opportunities To Extend Your Expressions Exist In Jazz Piano

In learning to play jazz piano and other known styles, you’ll not only find opportunities to express yourself, you’ll also find opportunities to improvise. The same opportunities follow jazz music and although they provide for great fun, we want to warn you that
learning to play jazz piano and controlling its elements requires a bit of practice. There aren’t any real shortcuts however one solution to learning how to master its art is to understand what differentiates it from traditional, classical piano.

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What Distinguishes Jazz Piano Music From Classical Piano Music

In essence, jazz piano incorporates several unique chords and inversions. Inversions are instances in music where ascending intervals are replaced by descending intervals (and vice versa). Playing both these chords and inversions at various times and places is what contributes to improvisation. From major or minor chords and inversions to suspended or augmented chords and inversions, jazz triads work to create sounds that are unique to this particular genre.

Improvisation Follows A Structure Yet Gives The Impression Of Impromptu Entertainment

If you’re unfamiliar with inversions, you can rest assured that they can be learned just as easily as traditional chords can be learned. Perhaps the ironic part about improvisation is that it follows a structure. So that means that although you’ll learn how to play differently, you’ll learn how to play jazz piano based on traditional methods. Yes, there are many different approaches to playing its music and some may not agree with our position here, but you can learn to play jazz piano by pulling knowledge from your classical background.

Classical Music Provides a Foundation To Learn

While some people may derive their sense of jazz skills naturally or from growing up by listening jazz, a classical student can build upon past lessons by shifting away from basic scales and three-finger chords to extensive 2-note inversions or even upside- down inversions. It’s important to remember that there’s no real conflict between the two courses of study and the transition from one to the other is similar to learning how to paint after drawing for many years.

As an analogy, one craft involves the use of widespread color and brush movements while the other involves the use of gray tones and pencil. Both crafts however, involve the use of eye-to-hand coordination and the art of drawing serves as a stepping stone toward learning to paint. It’s the same with learning to play jazz music. Both styles of music involve the use of ear-to-hand coordination and the art of playing classical music serves as a stepping stone toward learning jazz piano.

The only barrier in making a smooth transition is a reluctance to let go of traditional methods. There’s not much practicality in learning jazz riffs, runs, or rhythm combinations unless you’re willing to acknowledge and appreciate how they differ from traditional scales or harmonies. The lessons in jazz piano requires at once, the ability to let go, yet build upon a basic foundation at the same time. Soon enough, you will instinctively grasp its concepts without a second thought.

Click Here And Expand Your Repertoire By Learning How To Play Jazz Piano!


Learn To Play Jazz Piano and Abandon Past Traditions

February 22, 2015

No Other Genre of Music Offers Better Opportunities For Expression If you want to learn to play jazz piano, you must first value its opportunities for self-expression that this style grants so unselfishly. In almost any way that you please, jazz music becomes the vehicle for uniquely improvised sounds and rhythms — all to the […]

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How to Play Jazz Piano

February 21, 2015

If you’ve always wanted to know how to play jazz piano, you’re about to get started. Jazz may be a complex musical genre, but you can play it if you master the basics first. Before you know it, you’ll have developed the skills you need to emulate jazz greats or compose your own music. Jazz’s […]

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Piano Jazz Lessons – Learning Through Its History and Its Music

January 31, 2015

Jazz Is The Answer To Story-Telling Questions Piano jazz lessons through studying notation and chords alone is not an easy feat because its very nature requires us establish how jazz is a reaction to meaningful explorations. This gives us sufficient reason to investigate its development from the late 18th and 19th centuries on through to […]

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Learn Big, Rich Jazz Chords On Piano

January 29, 2015

Jazz chords can sometimes be confusing at first glance. In this article, I am going to explain how jazz players usually interpret chords and pick tensions to create lush chords. Bear in mind, every musician has their own “tricks” that they use to form their jazz chords. However, there are some basic harmonic concepts that […]

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In Introduction To the Jazz Piano Chord

December 24, 2014

The Distinguished Sounds Of Jazz One of the things that distinguishes jazz piano from classical piano, blues piano, or any other style is its chords. The Jazz piano chord move beyond the typical 3-note triad to a four-note combination (as well as extended chords) — making them an interesting “filler” of sorts. And since they’re […]

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A Jazz Piano Book – Is It Possible to Learn Jazz From a Book?

December 12, 2014

Supplement ‘Play Time’ With ‘Book Time’ Learning from a jazz piano book requires a serious approach — even when studying the basics. And part of achieving this success is arming yourself with a high quality jazz piano book. One of your most important goals in becoming a jazz pianist therefore is to surround your musical […]

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Preserving Your ‘Style’ In Jazz Piano Instruction

November 28, 2014

Wisdom And The Chance To Demonstrate It Hardly anyone believes that learning jazz piano instruction is a simple matter of sitting at the instrument and randomly pounding on keys. The context of this music is just too complex to be disregarded as a mishmash of unrelated notes and beats. The secret to learning its genius […]

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Playing Jazz Piano Sheet Music

February 2, 2014

Traditional Piano Is Beneficial Although it isn’t a strict requirement, learning traditional piano is beneficial for learning how to play jazz piano sheet music. This is largely due to the fact that jazz is “classical deviation.” The problem with learning jazz before learning traditional methods is that the beginner may learn to deviate, but might […]

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