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Playing seventh chords on keyboards


Mr Songwriter

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OK, I was going to post this in the keyboard forum but it seems to be more oriented towards gear discussions and the like. I'm primarily a guitarist but I like to mess about with keyboards (electronic ones most of the time) and quite a lot of the songs that I like make use of seventh chords; I find it quite easy to make them sound 'right' on the guitar, but whenever I play the same song on a keyboard (with the right hand playing the melody and the left doing the chords) I never seem to be able to find inversions of the seventh chord that sound as good as they do on the guitar.

 

Any thoughts/pointers?

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You may be subconsciously adjusting your playing on the guitar to ease the essential 'out of tuneness' of a major seventh when it's played on an equal temperament instrument.

 

An equal temperament major seventh interval is almost 12 cents sharp from the pure, mathematically correct (justly intoned) interval.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_temperament#Comparison_to_just_intonation

 

 

 

The compromises implicit in the equal temperament system are often very poorly understood by even many trained musicians. While many keyboardists simply accept 12TET (12 tone equal temp) as an a priori (to the extent that they often claim that 12TET intervals do sound in tune when there are clear beta frequencies!), guitarists faced with continually tuning their instruments tend to try to trust their ears -- and so are continually vexed when they try to use techniques like relative tuning or harmonic overtones.

 

http://www.doolinguitars.com/intonation/intonation1.html

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OK, I was going to post this in the keyboard forum but it seems to be more oriented towards gear discussions and the like. I'm primarily a guitarist but I like to mess about with keyboards (electronic ones most of the time) and quite a lot of the songs that I like make use of seventh chords; I find it quite easy to make them sound 'right' on the guitar, but whenever I play the same song on a keyboard (with the right hand playing the melody and the left doing the chords) I never seem to be able to find inversions of the seventh chord that sound as good as they do on the guitar.


Any thoughts/pointers?

 

 

 

Sure ,,, Your single keyboard stage piano rigs ,,,really dont like more complex chords with the left hand..when you start voicing them in the lower octives... its too low a tone to hit the sweet spot. Try the same chord a little higher and you will find it sounds a whole lot better. The hammond B3 has two keyboards for a reason. The typical combo organ rig from the 60s were typically played with the chords being in the right hand ,, and bass notes in the left. This all worked in rock and roll because you had a rhythm guitar player covering the chords....when the keyboard guy did a solo ..... lots of monden key players use two boards ...say a stage piano and a synth.......The lets them open up their left hand in a sonic range that hits the sweet spot.... rat

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Also open up the harmony of the chord in the left hand.

 

For instance, if you play a simple C triad (C, E, G), place the middle tone on top, thus; C, G, E. This is a simplistic explanation, but open harmony usually sounds better with the left hand. You may have to break the open chord to reach the stretch (use sustaining pedal).

 

Also try leaving a few notes out of the chord. For instance, the C7 chord (C, E, G, Bb). If the right hand melody is playing a

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Also open up the harmony of the chord in the left hand.

 

For instance, if you play a simple C triad (C, E, G), place the middle tone on top, thus; C, G, E. This is a simplistic explanation, but open harmony usually sounds better with the left hand. You may have to break the open chord to reach the stretch (use sustaining pedal).

 

Also try leaving a few notes out of the chord. For instance, the C7 chord (C, E, G, Bb). If the right hand melody is playing a

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Thanks everyone, everything so far has been brilliant. Rat: with the sampled keys I'm using, the chords definitely do sound better an octave up from the default setting, what you said about the B3 having two keyboards makes perfect sense.

 

Johnny-Boy: thanks for the tips, I have just been trying some of that out, the bit about leaving notes out is especially useful because I have trouble making four note chords with my right hand, let alone the left.

 

Blue2blue: you could be right about me adjusting my playing - I do dig in harder on some of the strings and avoid others to get the chords to sound the way I want.

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Voicing dense chords with the left hand is very problematic for me. Most of the time, I am playing single note bass lines with my left hand, and chord/melody with my right hand. If I do need to cover a full chord with my left hand, I move up an octave.

 

As far as the micro-tuning issues, I find that the particulars of the keyboard patch to be very important. With a clean Rhodes sound, I can be quite dissonant in my note choices, but on a fuzzy B3 sound the dissonance very quickly turns into an ugly mud (acoustic piano falls somewhere in between).

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Thanks everyone, everything so far has been brilliant. Rat: with the sampled keys I'm using, the chords definitely do sound better an octave up from the default setting, what you said about the B3 having two keyboards makes perfect sense.


Johnny-Boy: thanks for the tips, I have just been trying some of that out, the bit about leaving notes out is especially useful because I have trouble making four note chords with my right hand, let alone the left.


Blue2blue: you could be right about me adjusting my playing - I do dig in harder on some of the strings and avoid others to get the chords to sound the way I want.

 

 

 

Another deal I use ,, is octaves with my left hand ... or say in C get the C with your pinky and then get the E above the octave, ,, yea thats a big span. I can hit them with ease in the key of C .. but other keys you may have to kinda slide or hop them in due to the span.

 

work on your right hand chords .... learn to voice them up with 5 to 6 notes ,,, learn to catch that octave on top of a 7th. Or on alot of chords you can hook the 7th right next to the root with your thumb..... those full fisted voicings are great for blues because when you roll them they are the blues scale... you can rock chords with that octave tagged on top to get that honky tonk sound. Jonny is a very good piano player ,,,,i am more of a junk yard dog lol rat

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Cheers, I'd worked out the trick with using your thumb to get the 7th next to the root myself, I was playing a song by Starsailor before that has a seventh in it and it seemed to work well for that, I've also had a look at the piano tracks in a few MIDI files and I've noticed John Lennon seems to do that octaves thing with the left hand quite a bit too.

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Cheers, I'd worked out the trick with using your thumb to get the 7th next to the root myself, I was playing a song by Starsailor before that has a seventh in it and it seemed to work well for that, I've also had a look at the piano tracks in a few MIDI files and I've noticed John Lennon seems to do that octaves thing with the left hand quite a bit too.

 

 

 

give the C to E above the C octave thing a whirl. you have to come in from the front of the keys instead of above .....It sounds sweet .. but takes a little practice. rat

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...


Blue2blue: you could be right about me adjusting my playing - I do dig in harder on some of the strings and avoid others to get the chords to sound the way I want.

 

 

 

Yeah... and a lot of what people sometimes try to blame on a particular guitar's intonation is simply due to equal temperament itself. People get most of the strings "perfect" via harmonics overtones only to find that it doesn't "come out right" no matter how they try. They blame the guitar but they should be really sharping up those "perfect" fourths a couple cents -- or just use a tuner (which will test for the appropriate equal temp value).

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Missing out notes is a good option.

 

The most essential note is generally the 3rd

The 5th is the most optional of all notes.

You can sometimes even miss out the root completely, especailly in a band sitaution.

Just becuase it says 7th doesn't mean you need to play one. Use your ears.

Don't play notes too close together in the lower register also.

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Generally speaking, although there were a lot of great explanations on here, the guitar's tuning esp. if using standard E-tuning can be the biggest difference. The Dominant seventh chords of popular progressions, often have very "open" chord structures, and when you go to play these on the keyboard, if you wanna replicate exactly the structure you found on the guitar, it often has you reaching all over the place.

 

I am a pick about arrangement, so I usually sequence these parts if they are out of my skill level. Using open chord variations of the triad dominant seventh can help as said above. It just sounds awkward to the ear because strumming rhythmic patterns on the guitar is what makes it special, try beating and moving the individual strings on a piano/or synthtic keyboard samples to get that same effect!!....that's a no go. :freak:

 

That's why I try to stay at least a novice on the guitar, for those awesome strumming open patterns. Then I just sequence in some pads or rhythmic samples for texture.

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Generally speaking, although there were a lot of great explanations on here, the guitar's tuning esp. if using standard E-tuning can be the biggest difference. The Dominant seventh chords of popular progressions, often have very "open" chord structures, and when you go to play these on the keyboard, if you wanna replicate exactly the structure you found on the guitar, it often has you reaching all over the place.


I am a pick about arrangement, so I usually sequence these parts if they are out of my skill level. Using open chord variations of the triad dominant seventh can help as said above. It just sounds awkward to the ear because strumming rhythmic patterns on the guitar is what makes it special, try beating and moving the individual strings on a piano/or synthtic keyboard samples to get that same effect!!....that's a no go.
:freak:

That's why I try to stay at least a novice on the guitar, for those awesome strumming open patterns. Then I just sequence in some pads or rhythmic samples for texture.

 

 

 

Its pretty hard to compare keys to guitars. Two different animals. I think you mean 440 pitch when you mean standard E tuning. rat

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check out the left handed voicings developed and used by bill evans.

 

he was brilliant at getting the most out of a few tones. rarely would he use more than three voices in the left hand to represent even the most complex chords; rarely would he use the root.

 

however, the result of his technique was astounding. more inportantly, i think it is just what you are seeking; it is @ least as close as you'll come to it, imho, on a keyboard. tatum and powell used some of the same techniques but bill evans is much more approachable.

 

good luck.

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Its pretty hard to compare keys to guitars. Two different animals. I think you mean 440 pitch when you mean standard E tuning. rat

 

 

I only referenced the standard Guitar tuning with E-A-D-G-B-E, or B-E-A-D-G-B-E(if you like seven strings), for a comparison of chord structures. Some of the dominant seventh chords on a guitar are strange to a piano's hand(esp only one)

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I only referenced the standard Guitar tuning with E-A-D-G-B-E, or B-E-A-D-G-B-E(if you like seven strings), for a comparison of chord structures. Some of the dominant seventh chords on a guitar are strange to a piano's hand(esp only one)

 

 

I play both....keys and guitar. Like i said they are different animals. I think the original thread was about a guy trying to mash down on triad chords on octaves that are too low to not sound muddy. You either use partial voicings and spread things out,,, move the chord up higher ,invert the thing, or use an octive , or an arpegio or weave the melody into a full fisted chord with your right hand. ya just make it work so it sounds good. you ok with that? I just play piano and organ and guitar ....I dont program key music and layer it up.....I only play what i can do with my own two hands on one take......I am oldschool. Dont shoot me ,, i am only the piano player. rat

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:lol:
That's what I said. I am a piano player too, 14 years now.


:poke:


I seconded the above said opinions on open voicings, and was making a joke with beating on the piano strings. It was just my 2cents.


Speak again and I will shoot you.
:lol:

 

LOL i hope you are a good shot ,, because this piano shoots back lol. Bullets by dillon. happy new year ...rat

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