The Pyramids Variations
Further Variations

The Pyramids Variations keyboard creativity course shows how elements like the melody line, the bass line, the triad-based accompaniment and the rhythm can be varied and combined to create new versions of Pyramids. The additional variations in this section show some more possibilities.


Starting an accompaniment pattern and keeping it going all the way through a chord sequence is a valuable part of the accomplished keyboard player’s skills.

A teacher working with a more advanced pupil (or a mature student working alone) could study just the first line of any of the variations in this section (as on the web page), work out what pattern they are built on, and try to complete the variation by playing the rest of the chord sequence in that pattern.

It isn’t suggested that you instantly improvise arrangements, but rather work arrangements up over time, modifying ideas in whole or in part according to the possibilities and limitations and what ‘sounds right’.

Variation: Mixed inversions in six-eight

This relatively simple variation is a supplement to the Mixed Inversions module. It is ideally suited to the ‘method’ described at the start of this section and to a simple bass-line 'circle of fifths' treatment.


Watch it on MisterMusicarta YouTube

Variation: Melody over rising and falling inversions

This variation has already been presented on page 103 XXX, but here it is written out on three staves. Sheet music often presents melodies-plus-accompaniment like this.

This way of presenting the variation shows more obviously how the melody is added onto the accompaniment pattern. It also models the skill of the keyboard player who is meeting the challenge of playing a melody while keeping a rhythmic accompaniment with a regular pattern going. Playing from this arrangement is useful even if you have already played the previous version.


Watch it on MisterMusicarta YouTube

Variation: Developed melody with developed bass line

This variation adds the developed bass line to the six-eight developed melody version and could be attempted as a continuation of the Developing the Bass Line material. Only the two extra bass line approach notes in each bar are new.


Watch it on MisterMusicarta YouTube

Variation: Melody in the left hand

Playing the melody in the left hand is an obvious way of getting more out of familiar material. You will benefit from painstaking counting and together, left, right (TLR) analysis. See the ‘Mixed inversions in four-four with syncopation’ variation in this section for a fully worked-out example of counting and TLR analysis.


Watch it on MisterMusicarta YouTube

There are more melody-in-the-left-hand variations on the Diaries Overview page - TPVD 17-04-16: In Three-Four, LH Melody (MMYT) and TPVD 08-04-16 (MMYT).

Playing the melody in the left hand can be a real brain-teaser, but often the left hand brings a different character to a melody. From a music-development point of view, it's well worth the trouble.

There's a melody-in-the-left-hand version of the 'chopping chords' variation below, too.

Variation: Melody plus LH-over patterns plus developed bass line

This variation combines the developed melody with 12-note left-hand-over patterns and the developed bass line. The melody sits inside the LH-over patterns, which run both below and above it.

The variation is shown on three staves; the task is to play all three lines of music at once. The stems-down developed bass line can be left out to simplify the task and added later.


Watch it on MisterMusicarta YouTube

Variation: Melody over falling-then-rising inversions

This variation combines the melody and a new accompaniment pattern consisting of falling then rising triads, incorporating second inversion triads for the first time.

Both the left and right hand triads are shown on the lower stave, the right hand stems up and the left stems down. The fingering given is for rehearsing the falling-then-rising inversions only, and has to be changed to incorporate the melody (also played with the right hand.


Watch it on MisterMusicarta YouTube

Variation: Mixed inversions in four-four with syncopation

This variation shows how material in the more classical six eight rhythm can be adapted into the ‘rockier’ four-four rhythm.

The rhythm of the left hand is a rock staple. Together, left, right analysis will help. Always let yourself abandon the rhythm temporarily while drilling the TLR ‘sequence of events’.


Watch it on MisterMusicarta YouTube

Variation: Suspensions and syncopation in four-four

This variation is again set out in a way which models a good keyboard player’s thought processes and skills.

The variation is presented in skeletal form, as it exists in the creator’s mind, first. The first line of the ‘realisation’ (the playing-out of the version) is very simple, but developments of the melodic line created by the suspensions and resolutions soon follow. Count the left hand rhythms carefully.


Watch it on MisterMusicarta YouTube

Next, go on to the Diaries Overview and Diaries and More Variations section.

Variation: Left-hand Chopping Chords

With the video, you won't need music for this simple variation, but it's good practice for keeping a rhythm.

The first time through, the left hand plays root position triads.

The second time, it mixes root position and first inversion chords.

Watch it on MisterMusicarta YouTube


Here's a 'chopping chords' version with the tune in the left hand. The rhythm of the chords is slightly different.


The melody-in-the-left-hand version uses right hand first inversion-second inversion chord pairs. For example, A minor 1st inv, followed by F maj 2nd inv - closest inversion pairs (only one note changes).

You need some space between the hands to make it work. Try it!

Pyramids with a Fuller Left Hand

These two variations have more chord tones in the left hand. Like the 'chopping chords' variation, the first one uses only root position chords, and the second one mixed root position-first inversion chords.

 First variation

Watch it on MisterMusicarta YouTube

Second variation

No more sheet music than these two examples here, which show the repeating pattern. Copy the endings and put them in your list of options.

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