Some situations also lend themselves to playing seventh chord instead of triads. Since the root is often played in the left hand (or by the bass player in the band), it can be left out of our right hand chord voicings. By moving this pitch down a half step we can turn a major triad into a major seventh chord. Moving the root down a whole step will transform a major triad into a dominant seventh chord, and a minor triad into a minor seventh chord. This substitution of the seventh for the root along with the addition of the ninth (called 9 instead of 2 because the 7th is present in the chord) makes for an even richer voicing.
The add 2 (or add 9) can also be incorporated in our left hand playing. Our left hand arpeggio of root – 5th – root can extend one more pitch up to the 2nd (or 9th) for added color. We can also use the 2nd to lead further up to the 3rd of the chord as the final pitch of the arpeggio. Finally, we can add the 7th into this mix of pitches to add even more interest to out left hand arpeggios. Any combination of these pitches can be assembled to create left hand arpeggio patterns that fit within the timeframe of the given chords. Finally, left hand movement can be combined (in an alternating fashion) with right hand movement (using the given chord and color tones) to create even more elaborate and expressive patterns.
These patterns can be practice both in specific chord exercises (like running through the cycle of 5th’s) or by applying them directly to worship songs (both practice techniques are shown in the video). We should start by applying one pattern at a time to the exercise or song until it is mastered. Later on, we can try alternating between two or more patterns. Finally, we can create a song arrangement by establishing a pallet of patterns and planning which one will be applied to each chord. This type of variety also adds to the musicality of our playing.
When playing with a band, a piano player should always take care to avoid playing left hand pitches that conflict with the bass player’s part. We often use rootless chord voicing in these situations to avoid competing with the roots being played by the bass. However, in slow worship, this style of left hand arpeggios helps to fill in the empty space created by hanging on a chord for several slow beats. In some cases, this fits well with the bass part (depending on what style or pattern that musician is playing). It is also a great style for solo piano worship playing (like playing alone during an alter call or during other quiet parts of the service).
This Learning Music With Ray video discusses the use of the add 2 (or add 9) color tone when playing slow worship songs on the piano. In it, I explain how the add 2 (or add 9) can be used in the right hand to add color to your chord voicings. I also explain how this pitch can be added to the material played in the left hand. I demonstrate several versions of left and right hand patterns, and discuss how we can alternate between these patterns when creating an arrangement. I demonstrate the application of these patterns to both a cycle of 5th’s chord exercise and the performance of a worship song.