If you're ready to start filling in your piano chords and working on creating music in those gaps and silences, I've got some great tips for you.
Here we're going to go through what you need to know in order to fill in your piano chords. This includes:
Let's get to it!
When you play chords, you don't need to just play the chord - as in those specific notes of the chord - and be done. You can add more to you music.
This "more" can be a number of things.
The main thing you want here is for it to sound good. Or at least not bad.
Often fills come in outside of the main beats or notes you're emphasizing. Think of it like adding in a few bits a pieces, a few accents, just a bit extra to make it all come together nicely.
Sometimes people learn specific patterns - musical sentences - called riffs or fills.
Let's answer the "should" part of this question. Should you learn those? Well, I wouldn't put it that way. Can you learn these? Sure.
Do you need to learn riffs? I don't think so.
If you understand what to do in order to fill in your music, you don't need to learn and replicate specific patterns.
However, if you here something you really like or you really want to focus on jazz and blues, learning riffs or specific fills can be fun and helpful and even a "should do".
The very first thing you need to know in order to fill in your chords is where to get your notes. What this really means is you need to know your key.
In order to play fills, you need to know which scale, key, and black notes to play.
Lots of times the key is written out for the song you're playing. Or if you have a lead sheet, you can see the key signature.
If you're not sure how to find the key out, there are a few places you can go:
Subscribe below and get free access to the (printable) Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet.
Now that you know you're key, you're going to use the notes from that key (and that key only) to play your fills.
So if you're in the key of G, we're going to use the G scale for our fill in notes. Any note from this key will generally work. You just need to remember to play F# instead of F - that's in the key signature.
Chords for song: G, C, Em, D
For the G chord, fill in notes come from the G scale.
For the C chord here in this song, fill in notes come from the G scale.
For the D and Em chords here in this song, fill in notes come from the G scale.
So we're using that scale for them all.
The other place you can find fill in notes is from your chord itself. You don't necessarily need to add in extra notes, you can pick a few of the chord notes out and play them.
If your chord is Em7, you can use all of those notes for the fill in notes. E, G, B and D.
What you're going to do now to fill in your chords is:
This can be one note or a couple.
If you're playing notes from the chord, you can play one, you can repeat the chord, you can play the chord broken (one note at a time), just pick out a few notes to play around the keyboard and just make stuff up.
We are definitely in the "make stuff up" phase of things now and you do have some structure to work with. You're going to play your chord and then play something from the key or chord.
If you are playing chords and melody and you want to fill things in, just note that your melody needs to stand out more than your fills.
You can also use bits of melody for your inspiration for the fills.
Also, this is a good time to have something specific - a pattern or set of notes - you play to fill in. You can make a little riff that comes before the melody starts, before a chorus, after a verse, for the intro, something like that.
You now have the basics and a great place to start when filling in your chords.
To keep going and learn:
This course of part of the Piano Chords Club and only $29 / month. (You can do the fills course within that time if it's the only course you're after.)