Rock Piano Chords – 3 (More) Tips

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Previously we discussed 3 tips for building rock piano chords and playing these chords in various ways. Learning all 12 major and minor triads, inversions, and being able to double certain notes are critical first steps in playing rock piano chords. But once you’ve got that down, check out three more tips we have in store for you below. This article will show you how to build dominant 7th chords, inversions, and will explain how to interpret slash chords.

Rock Piano Chords Tip #4: Build Dominant 7th Chords

Dominant 7th chords are a staple in jazz playing, but they are also very common in rock music, so you’ll want to master them and add them to your rock piano chords database. Being able to build dominant 7th chords one at a time in all 12 keys is the first step, of course. So we’ll again look at the formula for constructing dominant 7th chords.

The first 3 notes of a dominant 7th chord are simply a major triad.

rock piano chords 7

To that major triad we are going to add a minor 7th, and that’s all there is to constructing dominant 7th chords.

rock piano chords 8

Rock Piano Chords Tip #5: Dominant 7th Chord Inversions

Once you’ve learned all of the dominant 7th chords in root position you should then begin practicing the dominant 7th chords in the various inversions. As we’ve already seen with major and minor triads, we can play chord in root position, 1st inversion, and 2nd inversion. But because dominant 7th chords have four notes in the chord (root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th) there is another inversion that you should be sure to practice – a 3rd inversion that has the 7th as the lowest note in the chord.

rock piano chords 9

Rock Piano Chords Tip #6: Slash Chords

Slash chords are commonly encountered in playing and reading rock music. Many students are a bit confused when it comes to playing slash chords but it’s actually quite easy. Slash chords are sort of like music fractions – we have a top number (chord to the left of the slash) and bottom number (note to the right of the slash).

The first few measures of Billie Joel’s “Piano Man” are filled with slash chords.

rock piano chords 10

So what’s really going on in these slash chords? How do we interpret them correctly?

The chord is broken up into 2 parts: the chord to the left of the slash, and the note to the right of the slash. The chord to the left of the slash is the chord that you will play with your right hand. The note to the right of the slash is the note that you will play in the bass with your left hand. So a slash chord, such as the one in measure 2 above, says “play a G major triad but instead of a ‘G’ in the bass, play a ‘B’ in the bass.” If you play in a band, this information is helpful to the bass player as well, as he or she would play the note to the right of the slash as opposed to the root of the chord.

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Jazzedge Teachers

Welcome Paul Buono

Paul Buono has returned to the JazzEdge family as an instructor.  His professional piano/keyboard experience includes national and international touring, university professor, musical director, pit

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  1. Hi Im very self concious about that 40 years have past since I last sat at a piano. I just dont think I can actually do this fast fingering at 64 yrs. I want to be able to sort of catch up some to play for a little enjoyment for me and my friends. I am disabled but ambulatory my idea to play enough some songs at my LUPUS benefit diners and walks. Do yo think you can give an idea of what I could play that would make look a bit professional.

    Thank You,
    Margie (Margaita Carrion)

    Born here in USA but have the carribean PR blood music.

    1. Hello Margarita,

      Make up 5 finger exercises each hand and play the one chord in each key. eg initially play key of c f and g major, then key of d e and a major as these six keys might be enough to start with. While you are at it convert to minor as well. If you don’t understand what I am saying please contact me.

      Just keep to the five finger positions. We have to get those fingers moving from the main knuckle joint and keep each finger rounded if possible. The thumb moves up and down and play the piano key with the corner of the thumb near the nail.

      Not sure if I am on the right track trying to help. By the way each finger moves straight up and down and the fingers are hugging the keys. The aim is to get the optimum result with the minimum of effort.

  2. Magic Box Dancer by Liberace and Frank Mills has jumbo notes that are simple and easy to read and includes 100’s of old time favorites !

  3. Hello Willie.

    Thanks for the keys, fairy helpfull.

    mayby also for the left hand ????

    Greetings Jan