Note: I don't have any formal music training/knowledge.

I play notes of songs on harmonium which appears exactly like a piano. But when I shift to playing same notes on piano I have one hand extra(left hand).

So my question is :

  1. What is the left hand supposed to do? I mean what does it adds to the music? What is the motive of using your using left hand?

  2. I know piano chords and that left hand is supposed to play chords on the bass side but how do I come up with bass given that I have notes of the music I want to play

Don't get hard on me I don't know any music. Thankyou!

  • Welcome. You answered your first point in your second. The bass is primarily for the left hand although, not always. Your second point I think is all about harmony which is a very broad and complication topic. Perhaps, grab a book online?
    – cmp
    Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 14:53
  • 1
    There are thousands of you tube videos featuring piano players. Why not look through some ?
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 15:02
  • When you play the harmonium, do you play cords? Not all instruments have the option but many do.
    – Willeke
    Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 16:07

1 Answer 1


Typical Roles of the Left Hand

  1. Bass line
    As you mentioned, the left hand almost always plays the bass line. Some expressive pieces, especially from the romantic era, have a very subtle, or practically non-existent "bass line", so "left hand" and "bass line" are not perfectly synonymous.
  2. Rhythm
    Rhythm is another thing the left hand often plays (no pun intended) a large part in. The downbeat and pulse are often (though not always) given by the left hand while the right hand is more likely to play runs, ornamentations and syncopation. (Once again, more advanced and expressive pieces often don't adhere to this at all).
  3. Additional voicing
    In addition to the bass line, the left hand can add more voicings or harmonies, much like the right hand often plays more notes than just the melody. These middle voicings (what you might call alto and tenor) are crucial for certain voice leadings.

Additional Benefits of the Left Hand

  1. Independence
    It is much easier to play the hands independently (with distinct rhythms) from one another than it is to play fingers on the same hand with independent rhythms.
  2. Greater range
    A single hand cannot span much more than an octave. With two hands, any two notes can be played simultaneously.
  3. Open chord voicing
    Related to the above, the left hand allows chords to be spread out over more than one octave (I.e. C-G-E-B instead of C-E-G-B). This is often more desirable and allows for greater diversity.

As for your second question When in doubt, you can always play the root of the chord. To spice it up a little you can try playing a different chord tone, creating an inversion without altering the harmonic structure. From there you can try inserting passing tones in between chord transitions. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even try playing non-chord tones, giving you a slash chord (I.e. Dm7/G).

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