I need help. I'm struggling to play chords per word on the piano. I love the piano and know a decent amount of information and songs on it, however i struggle with playing the chord per word.

Here is an example:

           C                               AM
Now I've heard there was a secret chord

         C                                    AM
That David played and it pleased the Lord

         F                          G                          C       G
But you don't really care for music do you

These chords i can never get correct and they always sound off. Could i be playing them wrong?

  • Unfortunately, your example doesn't show how the words scan timing wise. 'One chord per word' can't be the case, as there is one chord for 8 words/9 syllables, then 4 chords for 9 words/11 syllables. Can you be more clear, please? The chord shapes are o.k.
    – Tim
    Oct 20 '18 at 11:01
  • Note to others: the example song in the OP is Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".
    – Dekkadeci
    Oct 20 '18 at 11:04
  • That edit provides a better idea, thanks, Shev., but even so, it's not easy reading stuff written like that, unless you know the song. In which case, why read it?
    – Tim
    Oct 20 '18 at 11:45

You'll have trouble playing from that page, because the chords are marked at the wrong places.

Refer to the sheet music. It will make your life much easier.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Clarified nicely! Don't you (like me) just hate it when chords are stuck on the end of a line - no clue as to how long they last, or when to play them? And this sounds to me more like 6/8 than 12/8, certainly in parts.
    – Tim
    Oct 20 '18 at 11:42
  • 2
    I suspect the chords were aligned better in an original version. Formatting can fall apart when a document goes online. But lyrics and chord symbols are merely a mnemonic for someone who knows a song. Oct 20 '18 at 13:12

In general, we don't play chords per word, Normally chords change at measure/phrase level, depending on the style, however we play notes per melody line syllables.

Check the following answer for some suggestions.

Piano Chord example

More about melody line:

In music, a song will generally have two parts, one is melody and another is chord. Melody is the song lyric lines that we sing, while chords are the harmony music that supports the melody, normally melody will be played in the higher octave range and chords are played in the lower octave range(if we are just accompanying someone else's vocal, then we play just chords, chord in the higher range and the root of the chord in the lower range). We can assume of the melody as vocal solo and chords as background music to the vocal. In four part songs/chorals, it will have four voices generally the top voice soprano would be the melody line and the lower voices (alto, tenor, bass) would be like chords. Normally for each syllables in the lyric words, there would be a note (melody note) assigned, (in special cases a syllable would have more that one note(melisma)), but a chord will continue for a measure/phrase,

Try the following lesson Piano Accompaniment Styles

  • Hey guys, i dont think i was as clear as i could have been (and yeah the formatting changed i only just realised) what i mean to say is that i don't know where to go for the chords, do i go a higher octave, a lower octave, stay the same? I just don't know. Also when i play it, it always seems out of place and doesn't fit to the song at all. It sounds like someone forgot the chords and just pressed whichever chord they thought would work. But it doesn't. Also with the sheet music i can't find for a lot of the songs i wish to play (this isn't just about Hallelujah)
    – Jules
    Oct 21 '18 at 12:11
  • Also Bruce i think you understand what i mean, although i don't think i completely understand the melody line syllables, could you please elaborate? Thanks
    – Jules
    Oct 21 '18 at 12:24
  • updated my answer with more details.
    – Bruce
    Oct 22 '18 at 4:44

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