7th DISSONANCE AND GERSHWIN!
Today’s video on 7th Dissonance is in an area that even, dare I say, many experienced musicians often mix up. This is the one area of piano harmony that really trips people up. Many students despite playing piano their entire life, still have ABSOLUTELY no idea about the different functions of these 7th chords.
By mastering and knowing the content in this video I’m about to share with you, you are going to be light years ahead! Get your notebook out, this is not just any YouTube tutorial. This is the stuff of all of the music we enjoy and listen to in all genres.
The example I use at the end of this video is Gershwin’s Summertime, because it’s such a lovely example of these beautiful chords.
This video is worth going back to on multiple occasions for reference, so please MARK this page.
I hope you’ve been practising the seven chords. Let’s now have some more fun with it and add dissonance. Dissonance is when you add an extra note to the chord that isn’t normally there. It can really make piano music sound just absolutely beautiful.
The seventh is one of the most popular forms of dissonance. The trusted C major scale gives a great context to explore this with.
To add a 7th dissonance to all of these chords, count seven notes above the root note of each chord. Add this note to make C major seventh, which sounds warmer, more mellow.
[1:30] Some artists have made a career out of these chords. Think Alicia Keys for example, who does this in pretty much all of her songs. She does 4-7, 3-7, 2-7, 1-7 with the right hand, while adding the base note with the left hand. Bach too used this chord regularly, it sounds so lovely.
To introduce a 2nd dissonant, add a second note above the root of the chord. It’s a slightly more clashier sound than the seventh. Now the second dissonance comes with a few rules as it doesn’t work on every chord. This dissonant technique does not work on 3-2 or on the diminished chord 7 but you can use it on every other chord to add variety.
Chords as Finger Exercises
A really nice way to practice chords with extra notes in them is by turning them into finger exercises. In the video, you’ll find a wonderful finger exercises that you can use. Start with the seventh chords, using fingers 1, 2, 3, and 5 to play the four notes of each chord. We’re not going to use the fourth finger.
[3:40] Break them up, playing it all at the same time. Don’t be too heavy as that will sound horrible. Play very gently when you play the piano, you’re actually playing with your wrist, you’re not using your fingers.
Break up the notes in the chords while moving your wrist almost in a semi-circle. Then add a base line with the left hand. And of course, you can start to compose your own examples. Remember, as I’ve said in other tutorials, always work in groups of four chords.
Practice the Second Dissonance in the same way. You’ll hear this one in a lot of Elton John songs as well as Country music.
You can compose your own and use them as very effective finger exercises, when you start working on breaking up these chords. They also sound really nice, particularly if you use a pedal with it.
Have fun composing lots of your own music.
Watch our videos on Scales and Chords