Broken Chord Piano Technique What It Is And How To Use ItBroken Chord Piano Technique What It Is And How To Use It

Ah, broken chords. The sound. The cascading pattern of chordal notes. It's beautiful. There's no doubt about it. And this technique is one of the easiest to learn. After all, all you need to do to create it is have a chord under your fingers and be able to "break it up."

What do I mean by break it up? You've probably heard of solid chords. This is when all tones are heard at once. For example, if I finger a C Major triad and play all three keys at once, I'm playing a solid chord. But, if I break this chord up into it's 3 notes and play them one at a time you get a broken chord.

Broken chords are used frequently in New Age piano music. There's something about playing notes of a chord in broken style that's very appealing. Maybe it's because it makes the piano sound fuller. Or it could be that it just sounds lovely.

Now, let's take a look at how we can easily create it.

In the lesson "Reflections in Water," we have 4 open position chords. These chords are ideal for "breaking up" because they are so wide-spaced. Over two octaves of notes lay under your finger tips. Once we finger this chord position we are able to play the broken-chord style. How? By simply letting your fingers play around with the note possibilities! And there are many of them.

When you listen to me play this piece, you'll notice that it's nothing to write home about. That is, I'm not after a "sophisticated" sound here. I'm just gently playing around with the notes and using the element of time to create a calm ambiance. And it works! The notes float out into the air and music is created. Not by planning or trying to come up with material but by following a few simple guidelines and letting go of the need to control the outcome.

by Edward Weiss
References and Bibliography

Edward Weiss is a pianist/composer and webmaster of Quiescence Music's online piano lessons. He has been helping students learn how to play piano in the New Age style for over 14 years and works with students in private, in groups, and now over the internet. Stop by now at for a FREE piano lesson!

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