Beyond the open position piano chord
Those of you who have been reading my articles for a while know that I am a big fan of the open position agreement. This is where the two hands play a chord together. It’s a great technique that allows beginners (and pros) to sound good on the piano right away. But, it’s just a method or a way to approach chord piano playing.
Another method I use is what is called the crossing or arpeggio technique. Here the left hand plays a cascade of ascending or descending notes (usually ascending) while the right hand plays the melody. This technique is especially suitable for playing the New Age piano because we can get a smooth flow of notes in the left hand. You can actually use more than 2 octaves in just the left hand. This covers a lot of musical space, so to speak, and creates a nice backdrop against which to compose or improvise melodies.
For example, in the next lesson, “Winter Sky,” we have a 16-bar phrase in the key of B flat. All the chords are mapped out for you and you can hear me play the left hand crossover pattern. This pattern uses much of the left hand immediately. The right hand plays octave melody notes and the whole piece is over 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 turns out well! You see, when you block or trace chords with the crossing technique, you create a harmonic background, a canvas of sound upon which you foreground with melody rather than paint! A unique, but very useful way to see how an improvisation or composition can be structured!
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