Jazz Piano Chords

4 Steps to Learning How to Play Any Song on the Piano

1. Determining the melody - Melodies determine what chords will be played. If you can use your ear to figure out what notes are being played in the melody, you are 1/4 on your way to learning a song! More resources on learning how to determine melodies

2.Harmonizing the melody - Once you have figured out the melody (using some of my techniques on the resource page), it is time to harmonize it. This is simply choosing various chords to accompany the melody. There are several techniques and tricks to doing this. More resources on learning how to harmonize melodies

3. Altering Chords - This is the best part! Now that you have strategically figured out the melody to a song and have harmonized it, altering your chords to produce certain sounds is the next step. If you were playing gospel music, you would alter your chords differently than if you were playing classical or country music. More resources on altering chords

4. Listening - After you have determined the melody, harmonized the melody, and altered some of your chords, there are various techniques you can use to make sure that your song sounds right. More resources on listening techniques

I personally recommend "The Secrets to Playing Piano By Ear" 300-pg Course and through my relationship with Jermaine (the author of this course), I've been able to get him to throw in a few bonus items (3 additional piano software programs). He has taught literally thousands of musicians how to play the piano by ear. If you understood just half of what he discussed above, you'll definitely benefit from his 300-pg course. Click here to learn the secrets to playing absolutely any song on the piano in virtually minutes! I highly recommend it.

To learn to play jazz piano chords you will need to learn about chord extensions and how to play them using jazz chord voicings

In this lesson you will learn what these chord "extensions" sometimes called "tensions" are and where and how to use them.

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If you add a flatted 7th to a major triad progressions you start to get more of a bluesy sound.

When you start adding 9ths and 11th and 13ths to your chords you are moving into the realm of jazz piano chords.

The numbers 7, 9, 11, and 13 signify a distance up the major scale from the root of the chord.

As you can see in the graphic above if we wanted to add a 9th, 11th or 13th to a basic Cmaj7 chord we would add the notes D, F and A.

(notice that the notes D, F and A notes also form a D minor chord so you can look at it as a C maj7 in one hand and a D minor in the other. I encourage you to look for those kinds of patterns while learning chords.)

The graphic below shows some basic chord symbols found in jazz and the way they would look in block form. (seldom played that way)

Of course there are dozens more crazy chord symbols you may encounter in jazz chords. The most common of those would be both #9 and b9, #11.

The Chart below by Mark Prigoff will give you a few more chord symbols you may encounter and the notes you would find in those chords in the key of C.

Chord Extension Chart by Mark Prigoff

So Now What??

There is enough information on chord extensions found in jazz here to keep the mind occupied but while learning the notes and especially the formulas will help you figure out the chords, your fingers will rarely play them it the basic root up block position 1st inversion.

Learning interesting ways to voice the chords will keep your fingers busy as well.

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Check out the link below for more information on this great program

Hear and play Jazz 101

from Jazz Chords to Piano Chords

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