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  • Chris Anderson

GCSE Music Revision - Melody Part 10 - Chords 4

In this short blog I’ll help you revise the different methods of playing chords.

There are many ways you can play chords. Some of them sound interesting, some not quite so interesting. You can mix the methods up within your playing and/or composition to add a bit of variety.

Block Chords

These are the most basic and probably the easiest to do. You simply play the notes of the chord all together and just hold each one for the required duration.

In this example, and indeed the following examples, we are in A major. As you can see the chords are held on until the next chord is needed.

Rhythmic Chords

Another, fairly straightforward, method is to play block chords in a rhythm. Often keyboards or guitars will play in this manner.

Arpeggiated Chords

These are similar to block chords only there is a wiggly line beside each chord. This means that play each note of the chord from low note to high note one at a time, but with very little gap between each note. Think of how a guitar sounds when you strum a chord.

You will notice in the last chord that there is an arrow this means that instead of going from bottom to top, you go from high to low instead.

Broken Chords

Those of you that have taken piano exams, and maybe guitar with certain boards, will have experienced broken chords before. A broken chord simply means that each individual note of the chord is played separately, in rhythm. You can play the notes of the chord in any order and a little bit of experimentation will help you find the one(s) you like. Below are some examples.

Another well known pattern is called the Alberti Bass. It was used a great deal in the classical period. Traditionally it goes root, fifth, third, fifth - but why not take it as a starting point and make it your own?

Walking Bass

The walking bass can be used fast or slow (crotchets or quavers for example) and can move in step or arpeggios, or even a mixture of the two. Three examples follow….but you are only limited by your imagination (and the playability!).

Droning On

A drone is a loooooonnnnnnnng note, often in the bass. The bagpipes have a drone. Usually the drone stays on one note throughout.

Pedal Notes

These are similar to the drone in that they tend to be one note. The difference is that the note gets repeated…lots! Think “Chariots Of Fire” by Vangelis.

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