Gospel Music by Ear
by Reve' M. Pete
Learn to Play Traditional Gospel Music by Ear!

How to Develop a Musical Piece

  1. Play the melody note by note (i.e. tone by tone).

  2. Find the melody chords. Use the following procedure to find melody chords:

    1. From the major scale in which the song is to be played, identify th notes of the following scale degrees: 1, 4, 5, 3, 6, 2. The notes must be identified in the sequence given.

      1. Example:  For songs played in the key of C major, identify the following notes:
        C, F, G, E, A, D.

    2. Select and test chords identified by the notes found using Step A. The chords should be tested in the order specified by the sequence of scale degrees given in Step A.

      1. Example:  Test the following chords in the order listed:
        C chords, F chords, G chords, E chords, A chords, D chords.

        1. When playing in the key of C major, melody chords may usually be found by choosing C major triad, F major triad, G major triad, and G dominant seventh chord. Those chords should be tested first. However, if those chords are not sufficient to provide all the melody chords of the song, other chords from the list given above hould be tested. (i.e. Test E chords, A chords and D chords.)

    3. Once the melody chords have been found, invert them so that the melody note is the highest pitch in the chord.

    4. It is not necessary to play a chord for each note in the melody. Some melody notes may be played alone. This allows smoothness when changing from chord to chord.

  3. Add alternate, change, lead-in, and fill-in cotds to give the musical piece color, depth, spice and flavor.

  4. Add bass notes to the musical piece.

    1. Use the root note of the melody chord and play a two-tone chord consisting of the two root notes spanning one octave.

    2. It is not necessary to play a bass chord for each melody chord in the musical piece.

    3. Use fill-in bass notes to add rhythm lead-ins to chord changes. This gives the musical piece spice and flavor.

    4. The same rules for playing bass notes with melody chords apply to bass notes played with alternate, change, lead-in and fill-in chords. Bass chords should be played to add color, depth and grace as if "seasoning to taste".
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