Bill Hilton



Sometimes as a pianist it’s easy to get ‘trapped’ in just a few keys that you feel comfortable with. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it can mean that you find yourself in trouble if you’re playing piano in a band, or accompanying a singer, and you’re asked to play in a more difficult key – working the chords out on paper is straightforward enough, but you can find that they don’t fall under your fingers on the piano keyboard as easily as chords do in more familiar keys. In this tutorial I look at a simple exercise you can do to get familiar with the different chord shapes in every major key (and ever minor key, if you use a minor chord progression).

Duane Shinn

Eric Edberg

Dudu Yzhaki


Professional teacher with a Bachelor Degree in Music offering Piano, Guitar, Music Theory, and composition lessons in the Los Angeles area. For more info regarding lessons contact Ramin Saber at (818) 445-5910

Bill Hilton


In this tutorial I look at some constructions you can use as turnarounds in a couple of contexts where you might find a 1 – 4 – 5 progression – namely, the blues and country/folk/pop piano.

Turnarounds are most useful in songs with simple structures, such as 12-bar blues. In this type of chord sequence you can’t rely on a verse-chorus-bridge pattern to tell the listener that the progression is starting again.

In general, turnarounds are very simple, and rely on briefly returning to the 5 chord to signal the start of a new section. This chord is the dominant chord, which wants to pull us back to the tonic to start the progression again.

You may find that in rock or country songs playing the dominant chord or note sounds a little too predictable. If this is the case, try playing the 4 chord but including the dominant somewhere in the chord, such as in the bass. This creates a sound *like* the dominant without actually having to use the dominant chord.

Some songs won’t need a turnaround at all, and you’ll find that you can stay on the tonic chord and start over. This is especially common in pop songs where the verses, bridge and chorus often simply run into one another.

Regardless of the key of the progression you’re playing, you should find that playing the 5 chord (or similar) as a turnaround will bring you back nicely to the start of the progression.

If you found this video useful, take a look at my other videos. You might also be interested in my book, How to Really Play the Piano, which is full of the basics of harmony and chords, as well as tips on improvisation

4 Chords – 72 Songs

November 23, 2014


Music Education For All

Thanks to Gaylordrama for suggesting a follow up video! I am discussing where Major/Minor/Dominant 9, #9, and flat 9 chords are used.


Chord Function

November 23, 2014

Pete Whitfield

An interpretation of the concept of chord function. (My first attempt using Final Cut Express.) I try to show that in any major key, chord I feels like ‘home’, II and IV are ‘away’, III and VI are ‘neighbours’ and V is returning. Do you agree?

Nathaniel Moore

In this beginner jazz guitar lesson Nathaniel shows you the 12 most essential dominant jazz chords. These are an excellent place to start if you are new to jazz guitar.

Learn these 12 chords and you can play almost any Jazz tune. Sit in with bands at jam sessions, accompany a singer, etc.

Be sure and go to

and get your free lesson sheet which has the chord diagrams for each of these chords.


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Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers a viewers question…

Q: I recently received a bunch of my Uncle’s old pop and rock guitar sheet-music books, but I have questions regarding the sheet music. There are chords in the charts with a letter and a slash with another letter. They are written like this; G/B. Could you make a lesson explaining what this notation means and the reason why it gets used? Thank you.
Riley — Hamilton, ON. Canada

A: With most players grabbing charts off of the internet these days, those classic guitar-tab books and old guitar-chart books are an excellent way to work at understanding the world of classic written notation. However, the problem that can often arise when using them, (without a teacher to guide you along through the notational symbols), can be when there’s a notation that gets used that is either only half-understood, or possibly not understood at all. For many guitar players the concept of using slash-chords is one of those often mis-understood symbols. Most players who are unfamiliar with them will either think that the symbol means that there are two optional chords to play, or that the slash-chord represents a chord that is played by combining two different chords together. The video combines live examples on guitar with an explanation of the basic theory for applying and using Slash-Chord notation.

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Bear Rose

Upcoming lesson for GMC!



Here are 10 popular guitar chord progressions. The key to relating to all of these is the number system – once you understand the number system you can easily transpose all ten of these guitar chord progressions into any of the 12 keys, potentially giving you 120 chord progressions.

Each of these chord progressions have been used extensively in popular music of all genres (blues, rock, country, etc etc) over the last 60 years.

Get creative and modify these on your own too!

Come checkout my website for more great guitar lessons!

To learn more about music theory and how chords work, checkout:

Michael Pitluk

This video is part of my songwriting techniques series, where I give songwriting tips for beginners and advanced writers. Some of my songwriting techniques rely on a basic understanding of hot to build chords, piano music theory, guitar music theory, and the music theory about intervals.

Basically, there are 7 notes in a scale such as C major. Each one of those 7 notes serves as the “root” note or the first note of a chord. For example: the seven notes in the C major scale are C D E F G A and B. That means there is a C chord, D chord, E chord, F chord, G chord, A chord, and B chord in the key of C major.

The next question is, “What other notes are in those chords?” My video walks you through how to build these chords. First, each basic major or minor chord is made up of only 3 notes. These notes are 1, 3 and 5. What does this mean? Well, let’s start with the C chord. As we said earlier, the C note in the C major scale serves as the “root” note of a chord in C major. Specifically, C serves as the “root” note for the C major chord. The next thing we do is count up from the C note 3 and 5. So starting with C as 1, we then count to 3. 2 would be D and 3 would be E. That means that E is also in C major. Then we count to 5. So since E is 3, then F is 4, and G would be 5. So the C chord is C, E, and G. This is C major.

There are reasons why this is C major and C minor, but that is for a different video on intervals. For now, just take my word for it 🙂

Let’s try building the A chord in the key of C major. Just like building the C major chord, we start with A as the “root” note and let A be 1. Then we found to three starting with A as 1. So, since A is 1, B is 2 and C is 3. So, C is in the A chord. Finally, we go to the 5th note after A in the C major scale. So, since C is 3, D is 4 and E is 5. Therefore, the A chord is A, C, and E. This is A minor.

The chords of C major are the following:

1. C major
2. D minor
3. E minor
4. F major
5. G major
6. A minor
7. B diminished

Please like and subscribe if you found this video helpful! And please give feedback so I can make the videos as informative, comprehendible, and helpful as possible! Thanks!


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Listening to Music (MUSI 112)

Professor Wright explains the way harmony works in Western music. Throughout the lecture, he discusses the ways in which triads are formed out of scales, the ways that some of the most common harmonic progressions work, and the nature of modulation. Professor Wright focuses particularly on the listening skills involved in hearing whether harmonies are changing at regular or irregular rates in a given musical phrase. His musical examples in this lecture are wide-ranging, including such diverse styles as grand opera, bluegrass, and 1960s American popular music.

00:00 – Chapter 1. Introduction to Harmony
03:36 – Chapter 2. The Formation and Changing of Chords
19:50 – Chapter 3. Harmonic Progressions
35:54 – Chapter 4. Major and Minor Harmonies in Popular Music
42:38 – Chapter 5. Modulation through Harmony

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://oyc.yale.edu

Bill Hilton


In this video I introduce two types of chord, namely sevenths with a flat ninth, and tritone substitutions. Flat ninths and tritone substitutions are really useful piano chords, especially if you’re interested in playing jazz.

Both of these chords are solutions to the problem of straightforward dominant (or dominant seventh) to tonic resolution, which can sound too neat and tidy in the context of a jazz piano performance.

The seventh with a flat ninth is created by taking a simple seventh chord and adding a flattened ninth. The ninth is the ninth note above the root chord, or simply the second note. The key thing to remember with a flat ninth is to make sure that you include the root note of the chord somewhere. Without the root note, the chord will sound like another chord altogether: a diminished seventh.

One of the most common ways of playing a flat ninth is with the root note in the left hand and the rest in the right hand. Try to make sure that the top note of the chord isn’t too far from the note you’re resolving to. This may mean playing the chords in different inversions. I’d also recommended trying to include the leading tone if you can.

Tritone substitutions are one of the most common effects in jazz, and create a really jazzy resolution. As with the flat ninth chord, they’re actually very straightforward. To form a tritone substitution, use the note three whole tones above the root note to create a new dominant chord, then remember to add the root note of the original chord back in.
If you’re stuck with the basics of chords, intervals, or anything else mentioned in this video, have a look through some of my earlier videos. You might also be interested in my book, How to Really Play the Piano, which teaches the basics of various elements of piano playing, including harmony, chords and improvisation.