How to Learn Gospel Chords on the Piano

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Gospel chords have some slight differences in play, especially with rhythm. Play Gospel-type chords for any occasion with help from a professional pianist in this free video.

Part of the Video Series: Piano Instruction
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Kirk Wilson and I live in Los Angeles, California, and I perform in the area, as well as studio sessions in Burbank and Hollywood. I also teach at Orchepia School of Music and today, I'm going to show you how to learn gospel chords on the piano. And we'll start by, by the key of C. When playing in C, gospel chords are very, very, very similar to blues chords; pretty much one and the same. The difference with gospel is the rhythm, the basic rhythm. For example, when, whenever you play blues, you have like a simple 4/4 shuffle, like. Now in, in, in gospel, we take those same chords and just change the rhythm into a 6/8 instead of a four shuffle. Okay, and that was still sort of bluesy, but, that is how we play gospel chords on the piano. One other thing that I want to add to show you is that, when you play gospel chords, typically, when, whenever you play a, a basic triad, you have C, E and G and you, you play those three, those three notes together to make C major. In gospel, we tend to play that more openly and you play the, the C down here in, in octave lower and then you play the, you skip the E and then you play the G above that and then, you play the E right above that. So, it becomes an open, more of an open chord like this. So, instead of hearing a lot of close end chords like this; you hear open chords like this. So, a complete song with the open style would be an example of this. So, what we want to do in gospel, you want to make sure you, you; it's not wrong to play close, but, more, more often, more often when you're in accompanies what you want to do is play open. So, I'm going to play the, the root here, the fifth here and then, I'm going to play the, instead of playing like that, I'm going to play like this. And if your hand is big enough to meet the stretch, then you got to use this hand. Or, an example is the, the song Holy, Holy, Holy; those, those, the voicings are spread apart. I'll do the close voicing again; close voicing on Holy, Holy, Holy. So, if you play that open, you have much more of an area especially when you're playing accompanying piano. So, what happens with Holy, Holy, Holy or any other choir anthem that you would do in gospel music, you want to keep the chords open like this, not more, this is too close; but this G up here is how you want to make a major, a major chord like this. And then, when you end the song, you want to use. And my name is Kirk Wilson and that is how you learn gospel chords on the piano.

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