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Upper Structure Chords
October 14, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011


Before I start this lesson on Upper Structure Chords, I have to tell you a joke that I wrote. (I don't normally make up my own jokes). Here it goes. What does a chicken say who loves classical music? Baaaach, bach, bach, bach.

One more. This one I didn't write but I heard on a live broadcast from Symphony Hall in Boston on New Year's Eve maybe 5 years ago. I just love it. Okay, a well-dressed man goes into a bar and sits at the bar. He hears "Nice tie you're wearing". He looks around and doesn't see anyone. He goes back to his drink. Then he hears another voice say "Great pants". He still doesn't see anyone except the bartender. So he says to the bartender "Who is saying these things to me, I don't see anyone here but you and me". The bartender says, "Oh, those are the peanuts, they're complimentary". If you don't like that joke, you are in company with the rest of my family....okay, onto the lesson.

I have not made a video or audio lesson here because this is a theoretical concept I want you to learn. Next week, I will demonstrate at the keyboard. Promise.

What is an upper structure chord? Upper structure chords are 3 or 4 part chords that are built on a chord tone from the overall chord needed. For example, if your chart designates that you play a G13 chord or G7 chord, you might try this upper structure chord.

You would play the root and the seventh of the chord in the left hand. That would be G and F (above). The right hand would go to the 13th of the G which is an E (3 half steps below the G)and then build a major chord from that. So the right hand would play E-G#-B. Put the hands together and you automatically get a beautiful jazzy sound.

The left hand is playing the root and seventh and the right hand is playing the 13th, flat 9th, and 3rd. It sounds very cool and you don't have to think too hard about creating these altered notes. It just "happens" by playing the E Chord above the G7 chord.

To make it sound even better, take the E major chord and invert it to the second inversion. This means that you would play B-E-G# rather than root position E-G#-B. The left hand will stay the same.

Holiday Piano Class

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17 and TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22nd, I will be having a Piano Class at my house from 7-9PM each night. Every student will have their own keyboard and you will learn how to play two Holiday songs.

Price includes homemade chocolate chip cookies and cider, sheet music and a complete fake book of your choice. $150. Limit 4 people. This class will be held in Burlington, MA. Please contact me through website if you are interested.

Upcoming Classes

Have a great weekend and we'll talk soon. Video on this lesson forthcoming....
p.s. I'm working the kinks out for the new Music Club. More info coming soon! EasyPianoStyles
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