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Using Chords as Piano Accompaniment

Updated on August 31, 2012
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JohnMello is a writer, composer, musician and the author of books for children and adults.

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Basic Accompaniment Chords

You can play a lot of songs using just the standard 3-note solid chords also known as triads. These chords are formed by combining the 1st, 3rd and 5th degrees of the scale. In C major, that would be the notes C, E and G.

In the graphic below you can see the three notes that make up the C chord are C, E and G. The image in the left of the graphic shows where they are on the keyboard, while on the right you can see what the C chord looks like in musical notation. Middle C is shown with a red dot so you know exactly where to place your fingers.

Try playing this chord on your piano a few times before continuing.

Accompany with the C Chord

A Minor Chord for Accompaniment

Now here's a picture of the A minor chord, showing you where it's located and what it looks like written out. Practice finding and playing it a few times before moving on to the next step.

F Chord for Accompaniment

The third graphic features the F chord, again showing you its location and how it looks in notation. Remember that any of these chords can be played anywhere on the piano, just by combining the three notes that make up the chord, such as F, A, C in this case.

G Chord for Accompaniment

Finally, here's the G chord, formed with the notes G, B and D. Play it a few times before we attempt to put all four of these chords together.

Four Chords Accompaniment Pattern

Here’s what the four chords would look like written out in musical notation. Play them through once to get a feel for them.

Accompaniment Chord Riff

The next trick is to try to play all four chords in a steady and continuous pattern or riff as you might do in a song. Think of a song you’re already familiar with such as Heart and Soul, which you might recall hearing in the movie Big starring Tom Hanks.

Practice playing the four chords over and over until you get used to moving your hand down and back up again. You can try it with either hand if you like. Go slowly to start with until you’ve got the general idea. As you're practicing, see if you can imagine how the tune goes and how it fits in with the accompaniment you're playing.

And if you enjoyed that, why not check out my hub on Boogie Woogie piano at http://johnmello.hubpages.com/hub/Play-Boogie-Woogie-Piano?

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      Brandon De VITO 3 years ago

      Thanks, this was both interesting and valid. I'm playing with a very simple progression in order to turn riff poetry into story songs to convey my moods. And this is the method that best suits! I appreciate the insight.

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      JohnMello 3 years ago from England

      That's great Brandon... glad it was useful to you!

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