Once you learn how to read sheet music and play the piano, you can learn to play practically any music that has ever been written for the piano. There are still many other things that you will need to know before you have really mastered the piano, however. You should study the history of the piano, and the famous piano players and composers of piano music of history, and you should also learn about the history of music notation and how music came about, thousands of years ago. Another part of music that you will want to learn about is called music theory.
Music theory explains how the structure of music is put together and why composers choose to use certain notes in certain situations. Music theory can answer questions you may have such as, why does this note seem to sound right, or why does certain music sound sad and haunting while other music sounds upbeat and calm. It is helpful to understand music theory because you can use it to put together your own music in a way that makes sense and is pleasing to listen to. Another benefit of learning about music theory is that you will be able to improvise. Improvising is a skill that allows performing musicians to make up the music as they go along without having anything written down on sheet music in front of them to look at. Besides improvising melody lines, when musicians understand how the harmony of a song is made up, they can make it up themselves, and play along with the soloist or group of people that is performing the melody. To do this, musicians must know about the chords of the music.
A chord is two or more notes (most of the time at least three notes) that are played at the same time. Chords are the foundation of all of the music with which we are familiar. To understand how chords work, you first have to know what an interval is. An interval is the distance between any two notes. If you move from an C to a D, the interval is called a second. Moving from C to an E would give you a third. Moving from a C to a F would give you a fourth, and so on. The most basic kind of chord, called a major chord, starts on one note, and adds a third and a fifth above that note. Using C as our example, the C major chord would be C, E, and G. Three note chords are very common, and if you play these three notes on a piano keyboard at the same time, you will hear that they have a very relaxed, enjoyable quality to their sound. Sometimes, you have to add sharps or flats according to the key based on the first note of the chord. After you have listened to a lot of these major chords, it will be easy to tell how the chord is supposed to sound.
The way that people use chords to build harmony to support a melody line is pretty simple to understand. If part of the melody line has the notes C, C, E, G, A, G, then a C major chord would probably work well behind it because most of the notes of the melody line are part of the C major chord. If you lower the middle note of a major chord (the third) by half a step to make it a minor third, then the chord becomes a minor chord. Try playing C, Eb, and G on the keyboard and you probably recognize the eerie, unsettling quality that this type of chord has. Other types of chords include diminished chords, augmented chords, and seventh chords.
Learning to build chords made out of three notes (also called triads) will help you begin to understand and experiment with the basics of harmony. You can play around with building and using different chords to see which ones you like best depending on the style and key you are playing in. There are plenty of references available with more information about the many different types of chords and their uses. Some even have charts and pictures of the keyboard with the correct keys shown for easy reference. You can also find some information on the internet that will help you learn about chords. The more you know about chords, the better you will be able to improvise new music, and harmonize while someone else plays.
Once you have mastered building chords, you can implement those skills into different types of piano, such as jazz piano and blues piano. Here you can improvise your own progressions and get creative while composing your masterpiece.
Claim Your FREE Subscription To Nate Bosch's
Piano Secret-Lesson Online Video Series!
Fill out the form below for instant access to the FREE secret lessons!