Chord Voicings- Which Chords with Which Notes?

Cover of "Now He Sings Now He Sobs"Cover of Now He Sings Now He Sobs

* What Is A Slash Chord?

A slash chord is any triad played above a bass note:
D/C, Bb/C, F/C, and Ab/C are all examples of slash chords

* Improvisation:

Most young improvisers are taught that every chord has a scale to which it is married.
Try playing melodic lines over:

Slash Chord - Substitution For

E/C Cmaj#5
G/C Cmaj7(9)
A/C C7(13,b9)
Eb/C C7#9
D/C C7sus(9) (Dom or Maj7)
Bb/C C7sus(9)

* Arranging:

As composers and arrangers, we can easily fall prey to utilizing the same chord voicings over and over. Get yourself out of the funk by thinking in slash chords. Each time you invert the triad above the bass note, you'll get a different melody note in the lead voice.

* Add to Your Bag of Tricks

Hopefully this post has been an intro to using slash chords to your improvisation. Remember to experiment. I haven't covered all possible triad and bass note combinations... not by a long shot. Try developing a few of your own voicings to add to your bag of tricks. Then let me know what you come up with!

Two of my favorites are:
Gmaj7/C, which gives you a C Lydian sound and E7/C which gives you a C Lydian Augmented sound.

* GREAT Article by Gary Ewer (love this)

1. Every song needs a basic harmonic rhythm. It’s the frequency of the chord changes. For many songs, chords will change every four to eight beats. Determine what it will be for your own song. This usually means identifying the time signature for your song. If your song exhibits a continuous STRONG-weak-STRONG-weak pattern, you’re probably in 4/4 time.
2. Identify the key of your melody. Often the first and (especially) last notes of your melody will be the key note (tonic) of your song. Once you know the key, you’ll be able to identify the three chords that you’ll uyse the most: I, IV and V of that key (for example, in A major, you’ll find that A, D and E will be the chords that work best.
3. Chords will usually change on strong beats. This means that beats one and three of every bar of your song will be good spots for you to change chords.
4. Identify the melody note on the strong beat. Usually the note or two after it will also offer a good clue as to what the chord should be. Let’s say your melody has the notes A and C# at the beginning. These are two notes from the A chord, and it’s a safe bet to use that chord. But you’ll also find that the notes A and C# also exist in F#m, so consider that chord as well.
5. In general, your chord progressions will start on the tonic chord, then go to the IV-chord, moving on to the V-chord, then return to the I-chord. There are other chords you can use, of course, but that I – IV – V pattern will be a workhorse that will work well for you.
6. The faster your song, the less frequent your chord changes should be. Changing chords frequently in a fast song makes the song sound frantic, and so unless you’re looking for that effect, make chord changes less frequent in faster tempos.

* Suggested Playlist:

Kind of Blue- Miles Davis
Now He Sings, Now He Sobs- Chick Corea... listen to him on acoustic piano.
My Favorite Things- John Coltrane

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Learn How To Play Chord Patterns

A-flat-7Image by Caitlinator via Flickr

I have taken online courses with Jermaine Griggs from and also with Willies Myette on Both of these fantastic musicians and teachers explain the importance of knowing and understanding music theory, especially playing chord progressions or chord patterns. Here are some you need to know that I have found helpful to my piano playing. I share these chord patterns with my piano students to free them up from using and depending so much on sheet music or chord charts.


I - IV - V - I Chord Pattern

Key of C: C - F - G - C
Key of D: D - G - A - D
Key of E : E - A - B - E

I - iii - IV - ii - I Chord Pattern

Key of F: F - A - Bb - G - F
Key of G: G - B - C - A - G
Key of A: A - C# - D - B - A

I - vi - ii - V - I Chord Pattern

Key of B: B - G# - C# - F# - B
Key of Db: Db - Bb - Eb - Ab - Db
Key of Eb: Eb - C - F - Bb - Eb
Key of Gb: Gb - Eb - Ab - Db - Gb

I - ii - iii - IV - V - I Chord Pattern

Key of Ab: Ab - Bbm - Cm - Db - Eb - Ab
Key of Bb: Bb - Cm - Dm - Eb - F - Bb

I - vi - ii - IV - I Chord Pattern

Key of C: C - Am - Dm - G - C
Key of D: D - Bm - Em - A - D

1-7-2-6-5 in C

1 – C = CCF
7 – G/B = CCF
2 – Dm7 = D / A D F
6 – Am7 = A / C E G
5 – G = G / B D G

5-1 Walk-up in G minor

E7 = E / D E G# B
D/F# = F# / D F# A
G#o7 = G# / D F G# B
Amin7 = A / E G A C

Other Chords

Fmaj9 = CCF
G#o7 = F# / D F G# B
Amin7 = A / E G A C
C13 = CCF
Fmaj9 = CCF

7-1 in C minor

C#o7 = C# / Bb C# E G
Dm7 = D / A C D F

I = D / D F A
Shall = E / F A D
Re = F / E G C
Co- = G / D G B
ver = A / E G C
It = B / F A D
All = C / E G C

G11 = CCF

It is really a 2-5-1 progression with a little bit of the Disney theme song added in.

Eb/G-Bb-Eb or Eb-G-Bb

* Note from a Friend:

From time to time, I get a little help from my friends... sounds like a song! lol
A note was posted in the forum by Rueben explaining chord patterns from

The pattern: you have to establish if it is a repeating pattern like 1st stanza:
Glorify Thy Name
C Dm G C I ii V C
Father I love you I praise you I adore you
C F G G7 I IV V V7
Glorify they name in all the earth
Glorify thy name
E7 Am Fm III vi iv
Glorify thy name
C Em Dm I iii ii
Glorify thy name
G4 C V I
in all the earth

in the second stanza Father is replaced
with Jesus while the third--you use Spirit.
the pattern will be the same in 2nd and 3rd
Notice: E7 in glorify thy name is an "altered chord" because diatonic family of C should be Em. The other exception in that line is Fm...the 4th chord should be an F but this one is also an altered exception because in key of C the diatonic chord family should be C Dm Em F G Am B*..... The III and iv signifies that you are altering that chord.

LadyD, I hope you will now have a clearer picture of what I am saying. It is not the 2-5-1 or 1-4-5 pattern...It is the pattern of the song that you are trying to establish/analyze.
Enjoy....God bless

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Cyndi Lauper Time After Time

"Time After Time" was a single by singer Cyndi Lauper, the second from her album She's So Unusual. It reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart on June 9, 1984[1], and remained there for two weeks. Worldwide, the song is her most commercially successful single after "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," and reached number 3 on the UK Singles Chart and number 6 on the ARIA Singles Chart.

"Time After Time" was nominated for "Song of the Year" at the 1985 Grammy Awards. The ballad is considered a classic of the 1980s and is still played frequently on adult contemporary radio. The song is known for its numerous covers by a wide range of artists.

* Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper Songfacts

"Cyndi came up with the title when she saw it in the magazine TV Guide. "Time After Time" was the name of a 1979 science fiction movie starring Malcolm McDowell as a man who invents a time machine. Says Rob:
"When she saw 'Time After Time,' something clicked - she said 'I think I have a title.' I was sitting at the piano and just started banging out what would eventually be the chorus, hook, and the way we sing it. It almost had like a Reggae feel, it was a little bouncier and a little more upbeat. We started getting off on that chorus, then the verse melodies started to appear. It's a deceptively simple song. The verses are just a little repeating 3 note motif - almost like a nursery rhyme, a very simple song. Then we started to realize we were on to something. The mood of the lyrics came from both of us. I think Cyndi came in and really started the lyric flow, then all of the sudden we realized it wasn't such a bouncy song, but it was a little more bittersweet and a little deeper in its feeling and a little more poignant, so the music started to change. We wrote a little bridge section and I think the last thing we really wrote was the chorus. We had 'Time After Time,' we just had to get the words that would surround it."

* This classic '80s ballad was one of the biggest hits for the unusual NYC pop princess. At least 97 different artists have covered Time After Time... including myself! My piano students love playing this very catchy tune and so do I!

Time After Time Chords by Cyndi Lauper
* Chord Chart:
Intro: F G Em Fmaj9 (repeat)
Ly - ing in bed I hear the clock tick and think of you.
Caught up in cir - cles confu - sion is nothing new.
F G Em F G Em
Flashbacks, warm nights. Almost left behind
F G Em F F Fmaj9
Suitcase of memories, time after
Some - times you picture me, I'm walk ing too far ahead.
You're calling to me I can't hear what you've said.
F G Em F G Em
Then you say go slow, I fall behind.
F G Em F
The second hand undwinds.
( G Am7 F Fmaj9 C)
If you're lost you can look and you will find me. Time after time.
If you fall I will catch you I'll be waiting. Time after time.
If you're lost you can look and you will find me. Time after time.
If you fall I will catch you I'll be waiting. Time after time.
Af - ter my picture fades and dark-ness has turned to grey.
Watching through win - dows, you're wondering if I'm o - k.
F G Em F G Em F G Em F
Secrets stolen from deep inside. The drum beats out of time.
You said go slow, I fall behind. The second hand unwinds.
F Fmaj9 C
Time after time.
Time after time.
Time after time.

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Israel Houghton- No Limits

City of Oceanside, CaliforniaImage via Wikipedia
Israel Houghton (pronounced, ho-tin [ho as in hope])is a two time Grammy Award winning, Christian worship leader and singer, mostly known for his cross-cultural style of Christian music that fuses elements from Gospel music, Jazz and Rock. Houghton is usually credited as Israel & New Breed and currently signed to Integrity Music. Houghton is also a worship leader at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston, TX.

I discovered that Israel was born in Oceanside, California in 1971. Wow, it really is a small world because my church is in Oceanside and that's where I play music when I'm able to make it and do worship with the team... here is the video and chords to this song that is easy to play for the beginner piano player.

* NO LIMITS cd version sung by Israel Houghton and New Breed

No Limits (Enlarge My Territory)
Israel Houghton & New Breed
Arranged by: 76_keYz
Key of C
*this is where more of the light/soft part of the song is
F C F / G C E G No limits
A / G B D No boundaries
F C F / G C E G I see increase
A / B D G All around me
Bb / Bb D F Stretch Forth
A / A C E Break Forth
F / A C E G Release me
D / A D F Enlarge my territory (C / E G C)*you can end on this note if you want
*Use these chords for when the whole band joins in. There are only a few changes. For the most part, you’re only going to add an octave note or a 5th to the chord. If your fingers can’t quite get it, omit the octave notes
F C F / G C E G No limits
E B E / G B D G No boundaries
F C F / G C E G I see increase
A / B D G All around me
Bb F / Bb D F Bb Stretch Forth
A / A C E A Break Forth
F C F / A C E G Release me
D / A D F Enlarge my territory (C / E G C)
This is where it gets hyped!!
C / C E G Take the limits off
D / D Gb A Take the limits off
Eb / Eb G Bb Release me
F / C F A Release me
Repeat 2x
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Church Band Setting

The Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument...Image via Wikipedia

I have played on various worship teams for over 30 years. I am so grateful for the band experiences I have gained over the years. Plus, the wonderful friendships of so many talented musicians. I am always excited to discover reading material on how to jam with a band. I came across this post that I had saved from a friend and zone member over at One of the moderators, Hammondman wrote a neat post from his own experiences. Here it is... enjoy! (written May 7, 05)

"Getting your church band in total harmony with each other will take time, practice and dedication. There’s rules to apply for a setting like this…
one: you can not play like you’re the only one around! You have other musicians to consider. You have a pianist, organist, bass player, guitar player, keyboard, (synth) player, and drummer. Each has a part to do.

You have the drummer… that’s your time keeper… the most important cog in the band. He’s what keeps it together. DON’T DIS THE DRUMMER! The drummer should keep his/her beats to the basics until the group can get it all together.

The bass player is the second cog in the machine. They hold the bottom down for you, give you a rhythmic pattern for you to follow. That bottom provides the foundation for you to flesh out your chords.

The piano will be the melody instrument, it’s timbre is pretty high, especially if miced. The piano will be used more during a melodious song and maybe quiet music, all depends on the setting. The keyboard/synthesizer is the special effects maker. It’ll supply the horns, bells and whistles, strings..etc.

The organist, he/she will be the pad king/queen. They supply the body to the song, putting it all together… sometimes barely even heard except for the high end part of
a song or intros and endings. The two or three keyboardists should not “step” on each
other, or always play the same things… and PLEASE don’t radically play different
chords. Remember the organ can play the full chord. The piano will play around the full chord and the synth will play the solos and flavorings around both, at certain points in the melody/chords.

Remember, this can apply to devotional, choir songs, and solos. The church setting is a “on the seat of your pants” type of thing especially during praise service when people will sing anything at any given time… if the pianist or organist can find
the key first, let everyone else know!!! Remember.. be on one accord!

Preaching chords and “house raising’ chords are usually done with the organ… they should have it…. The bass player and drummer usually comes in also, then the synth... all depends on the church. The band should practice all forms of music too, different
breaks, shout patterns, things of that nature, remember, you
must be together at all times… all four or five of you are one!

Now if you desire… if you want to dress similar to each other, that’s o.k. Matching tops and bottoms look nice and professional, something that will accommodate both male and female musicians. Please, no matter how good you get as a church musician…
your gift is on loan from God and share it to any and all who
are interested... remember, somebody shared their gift with you at one time also. Freely given, freely received!"

Thanks so much Hammondman for these great treasures here. Being a keyboard player, I have often been called "the carpet" or "pad queen" during certain 'string" or "air pad" patches on my Yamaha Motif keyboard! lol

All the best,
~ LadyD

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Will You Be There- Michael Jackson

Reflecting upon yesterday, I received a song request from the movie Free Willy Soundtrack, Will You Be There by Michael Jackson. Then I discovered this really cool review by
bilbopooh titled Remembering Michael Jackson With the Aching, Inspiring Will You Be There? Read the entire article at:

"If I had to choose a favorite among all of his songs, I would almost certainly have to go with Will You Be There?, the theme song from the 1993 movie Free Willy, about a hard-on-his-luck street kid who befriends an imperiled orca. It was my favorite movie of the year, and whenever I heard the swelling chorus of the accompanying song, I felt inspired. In fact, I had a hard time thinking of it as a pop song; it sounded more like gospel music to me, a plea for friendship and understanding from such a deep place in the soul, it felt more like an impassioned prayer, with an addressee far more transcendent than even the most magnificent whale. That jubilant choir and Biblical imagery did nothing to dissuade me from that notion. I still find listening to it a spiritually stimulating experience. Just as Ben is about more than just a rat, Will You Be There? is about more than just a whale, or at least it can be."

Bilbopooh goes on to say, "This is a song that fits in well with Jackson's other epic efforts. Though the spotlight remains on him, it's the choir that brings such majestic depth to the song, making clapping, dancing and singing along hard to resist. And as an encapsulation of the movie, the official video is so perfect that it almost renders watching the film itself unnecessary. I love the transitions between his free-spirited twirling and Willy's exuberant splashing, his synchronized hand motions and Jesse's nonverbal signals to his enormous friend."

Will You Be There(Free Willy Soundtrack)-Michael Jackson - The best bloopers are a click away

* Will You Be There Chords

* Will You Be There Chord Chart (I love the key changes)


D Em/D (x16)

Verse 1:

D Em/D D
Hold me, like the River Jordan,
Em/D D Em/D D Em/D
And I will then say to thee; you are my friend.

Verse 2:

D Em/D D
Carry me, like you are my brother,
Em/D D Em/D D Em/D
Love me like a mother; will you be there?

Verse 3:

D Em/D D
When weary, tell me; will you hold me?
Em/D D Em/D D
When wrong will you scold me; when lost, will you find me?

Verse 4:

D Em/D D
But they told me; a man should be faithful,
Em/D D
And walk when not able,
Em/D D Em/D
And fight 'till the end, but I'm only human.


D Em/D (x16)

Middle 8:

F Eb D
Everyone's taking con-trol of me,
F Eb D
Seems that the world's got a role for me.
F Eb D
I'm so confused; will you show to me;
You'll be there for me, and care enough to bear me?



E F#m/E E
(Hold me, lay your head lowly,
F#m/E E F#m/E E F#m/E
Softly, then boldly; carry me there.
E F#m/E E
Lead me, love me and feed me,
F#m/E E F#m/E E F#m/E
Kiss me and free me; I will feel blessed).


F# Abm/F# F#
(Carry, carry me boldly,
Abm/F# F# Abm/F# F# Abm/F#
Lift me up slowly; carry me there.
F# Abm/F# F#
Save me, heal me, and bathe me,
Abm/F# F# Abm/F# F# Abm/F#
Softly, you say to me; I will be there).


Ab Bbm/Ab Ab
(Lift me, lift me up slowly,
Bbm/Ab Ab Bbm/Ab Ab Bbm/Ab
Carry me boldly; show me you care.
Ab Bbm/Ab Ab
Hold me, lay your head lowly,
Bbm/Ab Ab Bbm/Ab Ab Bbm/Ab
Softly then boldly; carry me there).

Ab Bbm/Ab Ab
(Need me, love me and feed me,
Bbm/Ab Ab Bbm/Ab Ab Bbm/Ab
(Kiss me and free me; I will feel blessed).

(Repeat to Fade)

Tabbed by Joel from cLuMsY, Bristol, England, 2005

Visit this site for many more chords to other Michael Jackson songs:

* Free Willy Tribute RIP Michael Jackson by JayFoxFire

I love the song, Will You Be There and I enjoyed the movie Free Willy.
Have fun playing this song, especially through the key changes. It always sounds so professional when one modulates, don't you think?

~ LadyD

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