You have been passionately playing the piano for some time now – probably for years. Whenever you listen to yourself playing the piano, it just sounds like you playing. On the other hand, when you listen to some of the pros playing the piano, they seem to have some magic they use to make their music sound so tantalizing.

The piano is the same, the music piece may even be the same, but there’s something totally…different! Well, there are secrets they use to differentiate their piano playing from the usual. These secrets are in their technique.

There are so many different piano techniques that pianists can learn. One of them is using chord inversions while playing the instrument. The following article describes what chord inversions are and how to go about them:

a piano performance in the open square
Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Chord Inversions – The Key To Smooth Playing

Chord inversions are simply different ways to rearrange a chord.

Some believe root position (how the chord is normally played with the keynote or title on the bottom) is not an official “inversion.” Others don’t make that distinction.

I’m more with the latter perspective and prefer the easy definition: The number of notes in the chord equals the number of inversions (or ways you can play/rearrange the chord).

Simply put, if the chord has 3 notes, it has 3 inversions or ways to rearrange it. If it has 4 notes, it has 4 inversions. 5 notes, 5 inversions. Via Hear and Play

Chord inversions give you several different ways of playing the same chord, and that offers a vast number of ways to play the piano. You already have a lot of discovery to do with that secret. However, before you try it out, read on to see what other techniques the pros have in their tool boxes.

man playing a double keyboard
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Another technique that is employed in piano playing is the use of suspensions. Chord suspensions are described in more detail in the post below:

HOW TO PLAY SUSPENDED CHORDS

I don’t want to create expectations, but I find suspended chords fairly simple to learn and play. They’re usually just 3-note chords, and require only one note change from your average major or minor chord.

The two most common chords are your “suspended 2”, written “sus2”, and “suspended 4”, written “sus4”.

So let’s take a really easy, basic chord like C major chord, which you’re probably all familiar with. C major chord has a C, E and G. If we were to give each of these letters a number, we would number them 1, 3 and 5.

Why? Because if you were to play those notes in order, like a scale – CDEFG – C would be the first note, E would be the third note, and G would be the fifth note. Via Piano TV

You can see from the explanation above that suspended chords can be learned quite easily, and you should be on your way to great piano playing by incorporating them into your practice sessions. Suspended chords bring a sense of “suspense” when a chord is played, since it brings about an open sound that is not obvious. They make piano playing so interesting to the listener. You can get the complete list of suspended chords from online resources and learn how to play them.

One more piano playing technique you should arm yourself with is piano chord straddles. Have you ever heard of them? Well, you have an opportunity now:

Piano Chord Straddles- What Are They?

A triad is a 3-note chord- everyone knows that. If you omit the middle note and only play the outside notes, that is called a piano chord straddle. It’s like you were standing in the middle of a highway (don’t do it) and your right foot is on one side ofthe white line and your left foot on the other side- you are straddling the white line. It’s the same here. You are leaving out the center note of the 3-note chord, giving it a “hollow” sound.

Now invert the chord upward or downward one inversion and do the same. Now another inversion-and so on across the keyboard. You have a wonderful sound called a piano chord straddle.

You can do the same with a 4-note chord. Play two of the four notes, but always leave a space between any two chord notes. That’s a 4-note straddle. Via Play Piano

girl playing the keyboard
Image Courtesy of Flickr

Isn’t it amazing the number of techniques that you can employ in your piano playing? The article above explains how you can begin to play piano chord straddles. That’s just three techniques we’ve covered here. Get busy mastering these techniques as you explore others on your journey towards becoming a piano expert! Enjoy!

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Related Articles:

Top 10 Tips to Tackling and Transforming Piano Technique

sneak peak 1We have all attended concerts where a performer dazzled us with technique that seemed hardly humanly possible – a phenomenon that has been a part of musical performances throughout history. In a 1783 anecdotal memory by Johann Matthias Gesner, the ability of J. S. Bach’s playing was described to “effect what not many Orpheuses, nor twenty Arions, could achieve.” And who can resist the Franz Liszt caricature in the April 3, 1886 edition of La Vie Parisienne, replete with eight arms flailing about in technical wizardry, to showcase a talent some say resulted from a pact with the devil? Although achieving Lisztian or Bach-like technique may be elusive, by turning to the wisdom and advice from eighteenth-century keyboard masters, tackling and transforming one’s personal technique is within reach. Via OUPblog

 

Secret Tip: How to Play (and Practice) Inversions!

sneak peak 2If you are not sure what an inversion is, this quick definition will likely help: The term “inversions” refers to playing any chord NOT in root position or in other words— playing a chord in any position other than in root position (with the chord name being the lowest note).
Here is a 2-part exercise that you can do to quickly lock in a chord’s inversions. First, play the inversions of a chord up the piano in an arpeggiated version through about 3-4 octaves or until your hand starts to get all contorted, then move your way back down the piano playing the arpeggiated chord inversions. Accuracy is the goal, NOT speed. Via Piano In A Flash

 

Eight Hands Performing On One Piano Is Chaotic And Wonderfully Skillful

sneak peak 3In the video below you can appreciate how the performance requires amazing coordination, patience, humour – and generosity in page-turning duties. In fact, the four pianists here are so comfortable with each other, that two of them start playing pat-a-cake half-way through.
‘Galop-Marche à huit mains sur un seul piano’ was composed by Albert Lavignac, a nineteenth century French music scholar and teacher who counted Claude Debussy among his pupils.
As well as this wonderful, jaunty piece, Lavignac’s achievements include categorising all the major and minor keys by what he saw as their characteristics (C# minor = brutal, sinister). Via Classic FM