I'm starting playing piano and have a trouble with memorizing sequences of complex chords.

For example (this is beginning of "Turbine Womb" by Soap&Skin):

enter image description here

When chords like simple triads (major, minor, etc), I just memorize it by names, e.g. "C Am Cm...". But I can't think up any suitable name for chords from the picture above.

  • 6
    It's worth noting that most of these chords are simple major and minor triads... – Pat Muchmore Nov 4 '14 at 22:00

There is nothing really complicated about these chords. What I think is throwing you off is that some of the chords are missing 5ths and some notes are above the staff. Here is the basic analysis of the chords broken down by measure:

C           | D7   Em     | Am7/G   Em/B | F#m/A  Gmaj7sus2/A | C/G  D/F# |  C  |

C5/G   Em/B | F#/A  Gmaj7sus2/A | C/G     D/F# | C/G  |  C  | B | B ||    

The only odd chord in this is the Gmaj7sus2/A which is odd because the only 3 notes you have are F#, G, and A. Again most of these chords don't have 5ths, but typically it is ok to omit the 5th of a chord.

I think it is slightly better for memorization to look at how the notes move rather then what chord you are moving to since most of the motion is stepwise and there is a good chunk of common tones between chords. There are even places where two notes resolve inward to one note as seen in measure 4.

  • That strange Gj7sus2/A chord I wouldn't classify thus at all: it just remains F♯m/A, with a superimposed melody tone going to G. – leftaroundabout Nov 10 '14 at 21:28

This passage is actually based on just 3 chords: C, D, and B. The only complicating factors are that (1) the melody has a lot of non-chord notes, and (2) there is a bit of the vocal harmony trick of accompanying the melody at the third below. Thus in the second chord, we have melody on F#, bass on D, inner voice still holding C as the root, creating what sounds like a "D7" chord.

In summary, just learn the melody and the chord progression:

C C C D C C C D C C B B (one chord per bar)

And remember that when the melody is on F# you can also play a D, and you should be able to pull off a good rendition.

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