How to Use Cluster Chords in Worship Songs

Posted by Yoke Wong on 7/21/2014 to Christian Music

What is a cluster chord? It is a chord made by playing three consecutive notes on the keyboard, either all white keys or black keys. It is used in many contemporary songs.

Here is a simple way to build a cluster chord. Start with the keynote (C) add the second (D), and then add the next note, the third (E). By itself the chord sounds dissonant. But when you play it as a broken chord with rhythm, the sound can be beautiful. It can be used as a praise and worship chord to makes a pleasant ending to some worship songs.

For interest in the rhythm, in the left hand play D-E together using fingers 4-3 alternating with C on finger 5. Play back and forth between D-E and C in eighth note rhythm. In the right hand, play D-E using fingers 2-3, alternating the thumb on C. Practice this pattern of a broken cluster chord in each hand separately. It will feel awkward at first, but when your hands get used to it, you will play it easier.

To add an attractive run at the end of a song, try this: Play the C major chord and add the second (D). You’ve created a cluster chord. Now break it apart, playing C, D, E, and G with the sustain pedal as a run going up the keyboard, ending on the keynote C.

Repeat this pattern up with the right hand fingering

1-2-3-1-2-3-4-1-2

C-D-E-G-C-D-E-G-C

Play this as a run on the last note of the song, ending on the keynote, C. Practice the fingering until it flows easily.

Below a simplified melody line from the refrain of Chris Tomlin’s worship song “How Great is Our God.” Experiment by incorporating cluster chords and the run at the end. On the last note repeat the cluster chord pattern going up the keyboard to make a pleasant ending.

How Great is Our God piano sheet music

Many worship songs use a second chord, which where you can insert a cluster chord on the piano for a contemporary sound. It is an easy technique to add to your skills.

- written by a piano teacher

Want to learn more how to play piano with chords?

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Definitive Piano Improvisation

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17 Comments

Yoke
Date: 7/22/2014
Thank you for sharing this technique. This is a powerful yet simple to apply technique used by many professionals. Cluster tone is a type of color chord that can add beautiful sounds to any piano arrangement.
Jo
Date: 7/23/2014
I love receiving your tips and encouragement!
pat
Date: 7/23/2014
I am not a pianist. I am a "senior" intermediate harp student. But, most all techniques you describe can be utilized on harp also. Thank you.
Betty Wilson
Date: 7/23/2014
I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR ALL IDEAS TO MAKE MY MUSIC MORE BEAUTIFUL AND FUN. I TRIED THIS RUN AT THE END OF THE HYMN, "TIS SO SWEET TO TRUST IN JESUS" AND IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. THANKYOU SO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR IDEAS AND HELP. I THANK GOD EVERY TIME I PLAY, FOR LEADING ME TO YOUR WEBSITE. ALL THE COURSES I HAVE TAKEN FROM YOU AND ALL THE IDEAS YOU HAVE SHARED, HAVE ADDED SO MUCH PLEASURE AND FUN TO MY PLAYING AS WELL AS ENJOYMENT FOR OTHERS. THANKYOU BETTY
Nathan Michael Tabtab
Date: 7/23/2014
I am 14 yrs old and studying and learning piano mainly playing classical pieces. I am in the intermediate to advance level. I would be interested to learn how to play church hymns in accompaniment. This is a good start. Hope to receive similar sample lessons. Thank you.
emiliorodriguez
Date: 7/23/2014
all the tips and tricks that you shows in the news letter are so good iam lear ning fromthem iam asenior startin tolearn somelessons keep it going thanks so moch emilio..
Marlene Balmir
Date: 7/23/2014
Thank you for sharing the Cluster Chord Method with me.
annie smith
Date: 7/23/2014
Your tips were very helpful
Regina
Date: 7/23/2014
Thanks for showing the tips, as a run it sounds very pleasant. I like to hear the run on 4 beats or ending, it does make the song sounds sweet and more interesting. Thanks again
Emomine.
Date: 7/24/2014
Wow that is tremendous, I am really grateful for the knowledge you have impacted in my piano life I am indeed pleased that I am growing speedly. God bless you with more and more knowlegde. More grace ma.
mekidiso
Date: 7/24/2014
thank you for sharing the cluster chard method with me.
Jack cerveny
Date: 7/26/2014
the colour chord is one of my favourite chords for variation
Paul ngusa
Date: 7/27/2014
Thank you to show me how to use cluster chords in worship songs, That is one step ahead to me.
Jawaid
Date: 8/5/2014
Yes! you can play it as a triplet on three notes OR in a fast sequential C to E or even F - forward or reverse if I understand correctly. Its a great effect. Thanks.
aly seraj
Date: 8/13/2014
I purchased your sight reading document and CD.It didn't help me much.My problem is by reading the Piano notes i always look to the piano key and so i interrupt the music flow of the playing peaces.could yo advise me pls how can i get stop this bad habit to improve my piano playing?.I hear that there is two methods to solve this problem.the 1st is the proprioceptiv method and 2nd the Alexander technique.It will be very nice if you can elaborate from this 2 methods a new method to help your students to avoid looking at the piano keys during musical recital performances and concentrate only on the sight reading. Profound regards Aly
sally tan
Date: 8/29/2014
Dear Yoke Wong , I wonder whether you've got the modern worship songs like Days of Elijah ,and others? Thank you.
LL
Date: 1/10/2015
Thanks for sharing this cluster chord run. I think it will do well as an ending for The Tennessee Waltz.

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