# How to play chords notation above staffs on keyboard/piano?

Like this:

Yes, I mean figuring out which key my left hand should press. This score (taken from the book FastTrack Music Instruction - Keyboard) marks the left hand finger numbers. But I have lots of scores just have the chord notation:

Seems like this is a five-finger exercise, where you place your hand so that it can press 5 notes, each with one finger. R.H. puts thumb on middle C, so little finger plays G.

Left hand - put little finger on the C below middle C, and the hand will reach up to thumb when playing the G. That's why there's a '2' by the 'F' - you will press F using your index (number 2) of your left hand.

It's very apparent that when there are no numbers for l.h., you use the same numbers that relate to the top copy. Thus, C=5, F=2 and G= thumb. The writers expect you to do a little bit of deduction.

• See my update... how about a score without left hand numbers? Nov 21, 2016 at 8:57
• thanks for the answer, but how to do the DEDUCTION... Any book or material? This may be silly, but I just learn on my own. Nov 21, 2016 at 9:21
• You follow the previous tune, and its clues. If the course is any good, it will work sequencially, and build on what was done previously. You're at the very beginning, so for now, keep your hands where you're told, and associate each finger with a particular note. Oh, and, if you can, find a teacher...
– Tim
Nov 21, 2016 at 9:27

This is (electronic) keyboard music which means that you are supposed to trigger rather than play the respective chords and the execution, in particular the used inversion, is typically left a bit to the device itself (similar to how the chord buttons on an accordion work).

Just how you do this depends on the keyboard in question. Usually you have a "split point" on your keyboard and stuff fingered to the left of it is accompaniment. For major/minor chords it usually is enough to finger the base note and its third and the keyboard will fill in the rest. If it produces arranger-like accompaniments, this will consist of whole phrases in the current rhythm/style.

If you are actually playing a piano or have switched the automated possibilities of your keyboard off, you'll have to finger something yourself. Playing the whole chord is sort of the dullest variant and works better with continuous-note instruments like an organ (though you might want to use a split point or a second manual in order to make the chords quieter than the melody part). If you have a foot pedal, playing the named base notes alongside chords that employ inversions in order not to jump too much in the chord manual (part).

Putting those inconspicuous keyboard harmonies into a good piano accompaniment manually is a skill at a level somewhat exceeding the level required for the right hand here. So if you don't let the keyboard take over control of the accompaniment (a skill in itself since then the speed is determined and you have to keep with it), expect this to be more work than it looks like until you are satisfied with the result.

• I'm not convinced that the intention is to use auto accompaniment here. I've never seen that implied by a chord symbol. Do you have any sources that I could have a look at? It seems strange to me that a beginner book would rely on such features. Nov 21, 2016 at 21:17

What you just stubled upn is, in my opinion, the most rewarding part of music. It's scary because no one is telling you what to do, but then again no one is telling you what to do. There are hundreds of styles, if not thousands. You just need to find what works best and sounds the best to you.

One of the most popular is stride piano, where you play the base note in one hand at the bottom then jump an octave higher and play the chord - then you play the fifth and jump up again and play the chord. This can be simplified by playing the 1st then playing the 8th then the fifth then 8th. Probably more famous is playing the chord all the way up, then back down, like 1-3-5-8 -5-3 for waltz (3/4 time, but its actuAlly in 6/8 or 12/8) and 1-3-5-8- 10 -8-5-3 for four time. Look at hallelujah as an example of the waltz doing this. A lot of the best sound also comes from 'walking' up and down the notes (not necessarily the notes in the scale), much like a bass guitar does in popular music. Walking is a lot harder to do then what I mentioned before, but it sounds great once you understand it.

Just listen and learn what the notes sound like. For example, the third is much more powerful than the fifth and, because of that, should not be used liberally in a lot of the songs out there. A lot of rock songs are in power chords. Power chords completely skip the third for a purpose.

That all is about the left hand. For the right hand you need to learn what to emphasize. Every note you play in the right hand, other than the melody, makes the music sound much more powerful. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. Different notes make this effect much more powerful then other notes on the keyboard. There are several notes that you should be aware of as a beginner at the right hand. Most notably are the 6th, 7th, major 7th and the 9th. These will usually be pointed out to you on the sheet, but it's still good to know them in case they aren't. The 6th is a pretty weak note and can be played most anywhere and won't really effect your music one way or another - it is mainly used to break the chord up a little bit without going overboard. Just keep in mind the others, for now, and play them when the music calls for them. Skipping these notes will really deduct from the music. There are many other notes, but the notes I just mentioned should cover 70 percent of the songs your playing.

That being said, if your just learning to play from the melody and chords, I would recommend a few things. Start by playing just the base note on the chord changes. That is just the note written in the chord. Then try adding to your right hand by playing the full chord on your right hand at the chord change while keeping the melody on top. Learning to do that is half the battle. It requires you to think differently then what you're used to. Next you have a choice. Learn to play the right hand chords more frequently to emphasize things, or learn to play more notes in your left hand to emphasize things. Once you attempt one, attempt the other. I personally chose the left hand first, but just because my teacher was a genius at the left hand.

After this, look at some of the sheet music you learned and look for what you liked the most and how they did that. Really try to understand it in the view of chords and melody and you'll get ideas that you can use to move past the simplistic views that I just suggested in the above paragraphs. I personally liked Alan Menken's arangements, but do whatever feels best.

• Some misinformation here. Halleluia (L. Cohen) is in either 6/8 or 12/8, neither is waltz time (3/4). House of the Rising Sun is usually 6/8, although I've seen it as 12/8, 3/4 and once, 4/4. Power chords skip the 3 mainly because with overdriven guitar, the harmonics make the triad very muddy. In jazz, it's more often the 5 that gets left out. Apart from that, the OP is obviously a raw beginner, and won't be playing stride l.h. or 6,7 or 9th chords any time soon.
– Tim
Nov 21, 2016 at 14:18
• Yea, you're right about House of the Rising Sun. I don't take back what I said about hallelujah since the way to play the left hand that I described works perfectly well, no matter what time signature you try to use. Nov 22, 2016 at 19:51
• Plus did you read my whole post? I thought I gave a pretty good explanation of how a beginner can get started in the second half. Nov 22, 2016 at 19:53
• Yes, I read it all. Doing less would be totally unfair. I still feel it's not a good answer on this site. I'm sorry, but your answers do not appear to address the actual questions involved. Time sigs will affect how one plays the accompaniment. Please think carefully before answering any questions here, as unsafe facts will invalidate your answers, and lose you credulity. Yes, I'm being direct.
– Tim
Nov 22, 2016 at 20:22