February 26, 2024


Entertain Reaching Stars

Beyond the Open Position Piano Chord

2 min read

Those of you who have been reading my articles for some time know that I’m a big fan of the open position chord. This is where both hands play a chord together. It’s a great technique that allows beginners (and pros) sound good at the piano right away. But, it’s just one method or way to approach chord piano playing.

Another method I use is something called the crossover technique or arpeggio. Here the left hand plays a cascade of notes ascending or descending (usually ascending) while the right hand plays melody. This technique is especially suited for New Age piano playing because we can get a gentle flow of notes in the left hand. In fact, you can use over 2 octaves just in the left hand. This covers a lot of musical space so to speak and creates a lovely backdrop over which melodies may be composed or improvised.

For example, in the upcoming lesson, “Winter Sky,” we have a 16-bar phrase in the Key of B flat. The chords are all charted out for you and you can hear me playing the left-hand crossover pattern. This pattern uses much of the left hand right away. The right-hand plays octave melody notes and the whole piece is finished in a few minutes.

Usually, when we use the open position chord, we skip the third in the left hand. In this lesson, we use the third to create a denser sound. And it works out well! You see, when you block out or chart the chords using the crossover technique, you create a harmonic background, a canvas of sound over which you paint in your foreground using melody instead of paint! A unique, but very helpful way of seeing how an improvisation or composition can be structured!

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