So, you want to learn how to play piano by ear. You think this skill is reserved for those with "special" talent. You're wrong about that!
What does it mean to play by ear? Simply that the musician understands the fundamentals of diatonic harmony. To understand this, you just need to know a little about chords.
For example, in the Key of C Major we have 7 chords. These are: C Maj. D min. E min. F Maj. G Maj. A min. and B half-diminished.
Notice that these chords are lined up in order and that they are triads.
Most harmonic theory in the western world gives a number to these chords using roman numerals. Simply put, we can call the C Major chord 1, the D minor chord 2, and so on. You see how it works.
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THESE CHORDS!
Now, once you familiarize yourself with these chords you get to learn something that most composers have know for centuries and that is certain chord progressions have tension and other's don't.
To play piano by ear, you need to learn the most frequently used chord progression and that is the 1-4-5 progression. To put it into chord terms it's simply the C Major chord followed by the F Major chord and then the G Major chord.
Knowing these 3 chords will help you play piano by ear guaranteed. How? Because these chords are used in almost ALL the music here in the west! Which is to say, most pop songs use them. and many, many classical compositions use them. They are the bedrock of modern western harmonic theory.
You may be asking yourself why these chords are so important. You see it all has to do with the scale! When you play a C major scale you are defining the chords that can come from it. When we construct triads using this scale, the chords that are generated give a certain sound. Composers discovered that the most tension exists between the 1 and the 5 chords.
Now, the early composers prized tension because it meant that they could control how to build up to climax and how to release as well. To play the piano by ear, learn these 3 chords in ALL keys. You'll soon get the secret!
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. Visit http://www.quiescencemusic.com/ now and get a FREE piano lesson!