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Improvise R&B using the key of F

Updated on December 21, 2014

For piano and keyboard players, the key of F is a very easy but soulful sounding key. The reason being is that the key of F Major is very similar to C, the only difference is the key of F has the note B flat instead of B as in the key of C major. Since this is the only black key it is very easy of the fingers especially when doing the be-bop scale. It is the B major chord which gives it the soulful sound, be sure to extend your chords to at least the 7th or even 9th where possible to give it some depth.

There is a lot of Neo Soul / Jazzy type music that uses the key of F, so if you are familiar with all the chords that belong in that scale. You should be able to improvise and play along with the music.

What are the chords in the key of F Major?

What are the chords in the key of F Major?

1 - F maj
2 - G min
3- A min
4 - Bb Maj
5 - C Dom or 7
6 - D min
7 - E Dim (or Diminished)

As mentioned in other tutorials, the basic chord sequence to start off with is the 2-5-1 sequence, in this case it will be G min, C dom or 7, F maj. If playing the keyboard remember to try to use an inversion for the C dom chord, this is neat little technique to use so that you don't have to move far along the keyboard. This can be achieved by the following:

Start with G min 7th - G, Bb, D, F

On the keyboard you can simply slide D and F one step to the right and that will give you G, Bb, C, E which is an inverted C Dom or 7. To get back to the root you do the same but this time shift G and Bb to F and A. You now have F A C E which is back to the F maj.

This simple concept can be applied to any scale however the step maybe 1/2 or whole depending on which key you are in. This is a good way to practice improvising Since there are 7 chords per scale it is a good idea to try other combinations too. You can't really go wrong doing adlibs once you memorize the chords.

See below for the keyboard chord diagrams.

G Minor 7th
G Minor 7th
C 7 or Dominant
C 7 or Dominant
F Major
F Major

The Melodies

While the left hand plays the chords, you play the melody at the same time with your right hand. Basically you can hit any of the white keys except for B for this scale. In stead of B you will be using B flat, so it's very similar to the scale of C.

You may see some people playing the chords with the right hand and bass keys on the left, I would say that this way is good for singing and playing at the same time, since the melody won't interfere.

Video Tutorial

Check out this little video tutorial I made using a screen capture, showing you some chords in the key of F.


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