The Chord Doctor - Expand Your Chordal Command Worcester MA

The chord chart for what I play could be the same for accompanying a number of different artists, but how I voice those chords may be radically different depending on the music. To illustrate that, Examples 1-5 present the same eight-bar chord progression in a variety of contexts — proof positive that the same chord can sound completely different depending on how you voice it.

Kathleen N.
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Uxbridge St
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Trombone, Theatrical Broadway Singing, Music Theory, French Horn, Music Performance, Piano, Trumpet
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5 to 99
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A Performers Path To Sound And Healing Composers throughout time have sought for and attempted ascension upon Sound’s invisible wings. For me this sacred connection was remembered at the age of 5 on a Christmas morning when a toy trumpet sat calling to me from under the tree. I remember the tears of joy and recognition welling up from some deep and sacred place inside of me. Now, it is comical and precious to consider my parents’ bewilderment at this unexpected response to a plastic trumpet i…
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Bradford College - Creative Arts - 1979-1983 (Bachelor's degree received) University of Phoenix - E Commerce - 2003-2005 (Master's degree received)
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I teach beginning piano students using the Schaum Piano Method Books. The primary genre of music that I teach is classical.
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Milford High School - - 2000-2004 (not complete) University of Massachusetts, Lowell - Music Education - 2004-2009 (Bachelor's degree received) University of Massachusetts, Lowell - Organ Performance - 2004-2009 (Bachelor's degree received) University of Massachusetts, Lowell - Music Education - 2009-present (not complete)
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Longy School of Music - Opera Performance - 2006-present (Master's degree received) University of Maine - Music Education - Voice - 1999-2004 (Bachelor's degree received) Edward Little High School - H.S. Diploma - 1995-1999 (High School diploma received)
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Ming-Hui L.
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Stella Matutina Girls' High school in Taiwan - - -1999 Taipei National University of the Arts - Music - -2003 Peabody of Johns Hopkins University - Music - -2005 Boston University - Music - current
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Bradford College - Creative Arts - 1979-1983 (Bachelor's degree received) University of Phoenix - E Commerce - 2003-2005 (Master's degree received)
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Kyle B.
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Regal Road
Milford, MA
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I teach beginning piano students using the Schaum Piano Method Books. The primary genre of music that I teach is classical.
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Milford High School - - 2000-2004 (not complete) University of Massachusetts, Lowell - Music Education - 2004-2009 (Bachelor's degree received) University of Massachusetts, Lowell - Organ Performance - 2004-2009 (Bachelor's degree received) University of Massachusetts, Lowell - Music Education - 2009-present (not complete)
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Kyle B.
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Regal Road
Milford, MA
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Music Performance, Piano, Music Theory, Organ
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1 to 99
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I teach beginning piano students using the Schaum Piano Method Books. The primary genre of music that I teach is classical.
Education
Milford High School - - 2000-2004 (not complete) University of Massachusetts, Lowell - Music Education - 2004-2009 (Bachelor's degree received) University of Massachusetts, Lowell - Organ Performance - 2004-2009 (Bachelor's degree received) University of Massachusetts, Lowell - Music Education - 2009-present (not complete)
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Christine K.
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Bishop Fenwick - - 09/99 - 06/03 (High School diploma received) Umass Lowell - Music Studies - 09/03 - 06/07 (Bachelor's degree received) Umass Lowell - Music Education - 09/07 - 12/07 (not complete)
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The Chord Doctor - Expand Your Chordal Command

by Clifford Carter

You hear that the government is contemplating another multi-billion dollar stimulus package. That’s an intimidating number I can’t even digest. A much kinder, gentler number is 12 — the number of notes in the chromatic scale. This month, we’ll scratch the surface of combining those notes into chord colors appropriate for different styles of music.

The chord chart for what I play could be the same for accompanying a number of different artists, but how I voice those chords may be radically different depending on the music. To illustrate that, Examples 1-5 present the same eight-bar chord progression in a variety of contexts — proof positive that the same chord can sound completely different depending on how you voice it. Example 6 gives you hands-on practice material to start expanding your chord comfort zone. The ultimate goal is that regardless of whatever curve the music throws you, you can choose your next voicing without overthinking.

One last thing: Notice the simple left hand parts in the bass clefs throughout. It’s good to practice more than one thing at a time, and you don’t want an idle hand. By playing a bass line, you give the right hand a musical context, while developing hand independence. You’re also working on your timing, and making what could be a somewhat tedious exercise a bit more fun and musical.

Click the sheet music thumbnails for super-size versions suitable for playing! Click the example headers for audio clips.

kb0210 Plat It Chord Doc 1 Ex. 1 - click for audio. Here’s an eight-bar progression I’d play on, say, the first verse of a Patti Scialfa song. It’s simple and sparse with not a lot of movement — a nice bed. All chords are either triads or four-note chords with one of the triad’s notes doubled. The exceptions are bars 3 and 6, where I’m just playing the root and fifth in each hand. Why? Because Nils Lofgren is next to me playing some fat, soulful chords unique to the guitar, and I want to get out of his harmonic space. By eliminating thirds at that moment, it avoids any clashes or unnecessary doubling.

0210 Play It Chord Doc 2 Ex. 2 - click for audio . I’d play in the second verse with more character and rhythmic action. By simply using the ninth of each chord, we get a new sound, moving the piano a little more to the forefront.

0210 Play It Chord Doc 3 Ex. 3 - click for audio . In this variation on Example 2, I add the fourth in addition to the ninth. It’s similar in style but adds new harmonic identity. This style of adding fourths and ninths (or “twos and fours”) is very guitar-like, and a signature sound of guitar bands like the Byrds and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Many pianists have taken cues from guitar-oriented voicings when playing triad-based music. Listen to Elton John, Billy Joel, Matt Rollings, and the E Street Band’s Roy Bittan to get these new sounds into your hands and ears.

0210 Play It Chord Doc 4 Ex. 4 - click for audio. Here’s the same basic progression, played with a gospel or R&B style. I recently played in the Baltimor...

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