The Musicarta Canon Project - Supplement

Accompaniment Practice Patterns

Most pieces of music have a regular musical background which supports the melody. This background often repeats the notes of the chords in the chord sequence in regular rhythmic patterns.

The successful modern keyboard player needs to be able to devise left hand accompaniment patterns from chord symbols to provide this background in solo keyboard styles.

A four-note left hand chord accompaniment pattern is most likely to use the root (R), fifth (5), octave (8) and tenth (10 - third an octave higher) of the chord in use, ranged from the bottom up. This module give you the opportunity to learn and practice those notes on the Canon chord sequence in a methodical, productive way.

Some of this module duplicates parts of the Canon Project Modules Seven and Eight. Repeating the duplicated material will always be time well spent.

Naming the chord tones

Accompaniment patterns are usually made from the root, the third and the fifth (the chord tones) of the chord named in the chord symbol. You find them by counting scale tones (in this case, D major scale tones) up from the root/name-note of the chord, as shown in the next illustration. The root is number one – there is no zero in this kind of counting.

APPM_01

Find the notes and play-and-say them.

Same note, different names

See if you can follow this logic.

  • F# is the third of a D chord but the root of an F# minor chord.
  • A is the root of an A chord but the third of an F#m chord and the fifth of a D chord.
  • B is the third of a G chord but the root of a B minor chord.

Here are the chord tones of our five Canon chords, played and named from the D and C# below middle C.

APPM_02

Find and play the notes, saying the chord tone names.

Typical accompaniment patterns

We can make a four-note accompaniment pattern by playing another root note an octave above the first one. We call this second root note ‘the octave’ (8), to show it’s a different key on the keyboard. We say we have ‘doubled’ the root because we play the second root (the octave) as well as, not instead of, the first.

APPM_03

It’s essential going forward that you can find these notes with minimal delay for all five of the chords we are using. Copy the performance using two hands and be sure to say the chord tone names out loud.

The R, 5, 8, 10 accompaniment pattern

The most attractive four-note chord tone pattern takes the third (3) of the R, 3, 5, 8 pattern up an octave. To show that the third is in a new place, we call it ‘the tenth’ (10), carrying on counting up from the octave (8).

APPM_04

Note that:

  • The tenth (10) is the third (3), but an octave higher. (We call it the tenth to remind ourselves it’s above the octave.)
  • The octave (8) is the root (R), but an octave higher.

Practicing R, 5, 8, 10 accompaniment patterns

Find the root, fifth, octave and tenth, in that order, of all the five chords, playing the root (R) with the left hand, and the fifth (5), octave (8) and tenth (10) with the right hand.

Play through the Canon chord sequence.

APPM_05

There is a lot of information in the illustration above. Reading from the top, you see the chord symbol (D, A, etc.), then the chord tone order R, 3, 5, 8. Then comes the actual music, with fingering, and lastly the reminder to play the notes one with the left hand and three with the right (L, R, R, R).

Finding all four notes quickly is your first priority, but you should also try to use sensible bass line (LH) fingering given. Here is a bass line diagram showing the fingering given in the music above.

You can use your own preferred fingering if you wish, but always start on LH1 (thumb) on the top D and get down to LH5 for the bottom D and back up without running out of fingers.

Useful practice techniques

In the accompaniment pattern above, the right hand always uses fingers 1, 3, 5.

If you make the octave (8) your right hand ‘target note’ when you move to a new chord and always play it with your right hand third finger (RH3) over it, your right hand thumb (RH1) and little finger (RH5) will be in the right place for the other chord tones (fifth and tenth) almost automatically.

Here’s an exercise to rehearse finding the target note (the octave, 8).

APPM_06

Another good way to get to know the root, fifth, octave and tenth accompaniment pattern notes thoroughly is to split them up between the hands in different ways.

Run through the chord sequence using these three different combinations.

  • Type One: Play the root with the left hand and the other three notes with the right (L, R, R, R)
  • Type Two: Play the root and the fifth with the left hand, and the octave and tenth with the right (L, L, R, R)
  • Type Three: Play three notes with the left hand and just one with the right (L, L, L, R)


The practice patterns

The modern keyboard player needs to be able to build root, fifth, octave, tenth accompaniment patterns from chord symbols ‘on the fly’ and play them in the left hand almost automatically while the right hand plays the music the listener mostly listens to.

Playing these accompaniment patterns with the left hand alone is made possible by passing the left hand second finger over the thumb (on the ‘octave’) to play the fourth chord tone – the tenth (10).

Twelve left hand accompaniment practice patterns follow. In every case, your two fundamental tasks are:

  1. To find without hesitation the root, fifth, octave and tenth chord tones of the chord indicated by the chord symbol at the start of the pattern, and
  2. To develop a balanced hand position and the muscle memory needed to get to the notes.

Expect to find this practicing quite tiring. Rest your hand and arm periodically and shake out the tension before resuming.

The practice patterns are mostly in six-eight time. Six-eight meter (rhythm) is usually counted “One-and-a Two-and-a”, and having this count going on in your head will help you get better at ‘keeping the notes coming’.

The practice patterns are divided randomly among the five chords used in the Canon. You should transpose the patterns into all the other Canon chords using the R, 5, 8, 10 coding above the music manuscript.

You can, of course, play R, 5, 8, 10 accompaniment patterns on any chord and in any rhythm.

CPM_PP_01
CPM_PP_02
CPM_PP_03
CPM_PP_04
CPM_PP_05
CPM_PP_06
CPM_PP_07
CPM_PP_08
CPM_PP_09
CPM_PP_010
CPM_PP_11
CPM_PP_12

Playing by ear

Here are the twelve practice patterns in a random order. Find the right chord on the keyboard and copy them to cement your command of the R, 5, 8, 10 accompaniment pattern chord tones.







Here is a Canon chords diagram to help you find the notes.







The more of this work you do, the easier it will be for you to find chord tones and accompaniment patterns for any piece, in any key.


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