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