This can be done by selecting a chord and changing the bass note foundation of the chord. Here are the steps to try it.
- With the right hand, choose a basic chord. For this exercise, we will use the C chord. (C-E-G). Play the notes of the chord in different order, or inversion (G-C-E). Practice playing it as a broken chord using eighth notes. Let the right hand get accustomed to playing the same pattern, as it doesn’t change.
- With the left hand, play the keynote of the C chord (C) on the first beat of the measure as a whole note.
- Combine the two hands, playing broken chords with eighth notes in the right hand and the bass note on the first beat with the left hand.
- Change the bass note, but keep the right hand eighth note pattern going.
- Change the bass note again. Repeat this several times. The sound of the chord changes, even though the notes in the right hand are the same. Sometimes there is dissonance, but this makes it interesting.
- Add pedal at each measure to smooth out the sounds of the notes.
- For a more modern sound, finish with the notes C-G in the left hand and C-D-G in the right hand.
- Add a measure with quarter notes, slowing the tempo.
- Return to the C chord keynote to finish the piece.
This pattern can be played in any key.
Here is an example.
In this example, the bass note changes while the broken chord remains the same. The sound of the flowing broken chords can sound like picking on guitar strings and can create a meditative mood.
When practicing the right hand broken chord, occasionally vary the rhythm from straight eighth notes to a quarter note at the end of a measure. Create another variation of the exercise by playing the right hand an octave higher. Try playing it without the music, thinking of the chords and bass note changes while not seeing the written notes. The sound of the flowing broken chords can create a meditative mood.
Some people can improvise easily because they have a naturally good “ear,” while others can learn the skill of improvisation by experimenting with chords, the building blocks of musical composition. It takes practice to build confidence to spontaneously play music through improvisation.
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