How to Make Piano Melodies Sound Better

Posted by Yoke Wong on 10/4/2011 to Piano Improvisation

Playing a single melody note can sound a bit boring. So, what are some of the ways to make the melody note sounds more interesting and exciting? Why not consider playing piano chords notes that belong to the left-hand chords?

Knowing your piano chords will help you know what harmony notes to add to the single melody note. For example if you’re playing the basic melody lines of “Ode to Joy” in the key of C. You know you can harmonize the melody lines with the C chord, and the C chord contains of C, E and G. If you add any notes that belong to the C chord into the melody lines, you get that richer sound.

Below is a four-bar melody line of 'Ode to Joy':

Ode To Joy Melody

Applying the piano chord principle you’ve just learned, you can make the melody notes of this song more complex by adding chord notes that belong to the left-hand chords.

Ode To Joy Chord
  1. As you can see on measure 1, you play the C piano chord to harmonize the melody notes. By adding in any notes that belong to the C chord (C, E and G) to the existing melody notes, the melody notes will sound fuller and nicer. It takes a little time to experiment with chord voicing. With this example, I added in a C note below the melody notes to give it a closed voicing.
  2. On measure 2 - I can choose to play any notes that belong to the G major chords in order to make the melody sound fuller and more interesting. The G major chord has G, B and D notes. In this example, I added in G or D notes below the melody notes.
  3. On measure 3 - A minor is used to harmonize the melody notes. Using the music theory principle, we can add in any notes that belong to A minor (A, C and E) to layer the “Ode to Joy” melody lines. In this case I picked the A note.
  4. This last measure of the example is an easier one because you can choose the G note to harmonize all melody notes in this measure.

Knowing your piano chords is fundamental to playing music. If you can play piano chords well, you can harmonize many songs effectively.

If you are thinking about mastering piano chords and improvising, I highly recommend our award winning course - Definitive Piano Improvisation.

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Rose H.
Date: 10/4/2011 6:31:18 PM
Hey, i have been doing this when i do improvisation. Thanks a lot for sharing this piano lesson. Now i can rest assure i'm on the right track. Still i notice i still do some mistakes. Better learn it now. Thanks so much, Yoke.
Lam kah Hoong
Date: 10/6/2011 5:25:49 AM
How can i buy from malaysia ? Is there any bookstore like popular bookstore or mph bookstore selling your cd ? It will be great...
Yoke Wong
Date: 10/6/2011 2:59:37 PM
Hi Kah Hoong, We ship all of our dvd courses from USA (main office) directly to customers throughout the world. We have shipped many dvds to Malaysia before. You can also consider our downloadable courses:
Barry Nystrom
Date: 10/7/2011 4:19:10 AM
I am an accordionist. Would any of your courses relate relate to that instrument or maybe only to right hand. Points of interest chord structure harmony or maybe jazz fills and runs or take offs. thank you Barry
Douglas O'Neal
Date: 10/7/2011 3:49:33 PM
Excellent idea and of course I would never have thought of it. Even though I can pick out the melody of every song I have heard of so far, I cannot cord it! I understand the triads can be played in in different combinations (C -E -G can be E-C - G or G-C-E,etc,but that doesn't help. The first melody I managed to make was "Oh Christmas Tree" C F F F G A A A G A Bb E G FF./ C A D C C Bb Bb-Bb - G C Bb Bb A A.repeat beginning. NO WAY CAN I FIND SUITABLE CORDS "Oh Christmas Tree" is the first
Yoke Wong
Date: 10/8/2011 1:11:20 PM
Hi Barry, The hand coordination course as well as our other course are applicable to accordion players and organ players.
Date: 11/8/2011 11:58:06 AM
hmm...the key to proper improvisation is understanding the hows!thanks for the tips..looking foward to more.
Jenny H.
Date: 1/16/2012 11:06:37 PM
Great video and tips! Please share more on how to play piano chords and how to accompany with piano chords. Thanks! Jenny from Seattle - Interested in taking piano lessons!
Date: 2/19/2013
i love to play piano like u are good really. i love u.when as you are playing it is give me joy in my soul, if i could be like u.teach me teach me teache oooooh abeg in name of JESUS.
Date: 5/20/2016
Thanks Yoke, you really demystified playing from lead sheets. I was always trying to figure out what goes with the melody and how to make music sound 'thicker'. I really like your tutorials they are so simple and easy to understand.

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