Piano Lessons Gone Nuts! How To Add Melody To Chords In The Right Hand

How to Add Piano Chords to any Melody

Remembering chords and then adding them to a melody can involve changing keys rapidly and carefully. Thankfully the practiced mind and body can handle notes quickly and confidently but to the beginner, it can seem intimidating. How do you set about adding chords to a melody? Many chords can be pretty easy to learn and will add color and expression to your melody.


  1. Know that (usually) the left hand takes care of playing chords using , called broken chords, or the usual unified chords for the left hand to play for tenor and bass notes in the scale while the right hand is usually playing the melody and/or alto part(s)...
  2. Find the key; so for example, C major is the easiest; it is called the common key/common chord.(And, it helps if you understand at least and some music theory for harmony, etc.)
  3. Figure out the notes of the melody.You have to make the chords fit the melody notes --notthe other way around. Try to avoid clashing notes. There are several ways to do this. If the song has a "left hand" look in it, and if the structure isn't too complicated, listen to the section you're putting a chord into and decide if it is major or minor.
  4. Suppose you have notes G and C in the melody and the song is in the "key of G Major," try playing a C Major chord (C-E-G) and try a G Major chord (G-B-D) arpeggio (breaking the chords).Unless the song is really complicated, one of those should fit. By simply analyzing the section in which you're placing a chord, the tonic (first note, I) of the melody chord/key will usually be seen here and there in the bar(s) of the melody where you are looking to fit your chord.
  5. Find chords in the major scales as the I-IV-V:that means the Tonic(I), the sub-dominant(IV), and the Dominant(V) based on circle of notes of the key of the song. For the minor scales the roman numerals for chords are lowercase i-iv-v: that's the tonic(i) sub-dominant(iv) and dominant(v)... Write these down somewhere so you can refer to them, because they will come upa lotin theory of harmony!
  6. Write the chords (when they are decided upon) above the wordsusing the most common chord progressions.You can start by using chords I and V (first and fifth) "of the scale of the key" are very commonly used. So the 1st chord of the scale for the key C Major is the tonic (I) "C Major" chord (C-E-G) and then chord "(V) is G Major" (G-B-D) and so use whichever sounds better in progressions upward and downward in different parts of the song...
  7. Include these progressions which are commonly used:I IV V I -- I vi IV V -- I ii IV V -- vi IV I V -- I V vi iii IV I ii V where each numeral means to use the chords named by the notesin that key's "circle of notes"with the "tonic" as 1st (I) "doh" of the key on up to the (VII) 7th and then "recycle."
    • Just repeat these chords to the beat if you're not sure, and write down the one that sounds the nicest. Don't be afraid to mix them around if you find another chord sounds nicer!
  8. Play chords in normal order, low to high:like "C-E-G", generally -- and then when it is necessary to consider changing the chord (consider usual chord progressions). The chord is highly dependent on which melody notes are being used in that part of the song. So an understanding of theory is helpful -- if for example: the notes of the melody are in the key of C (C-E-G) then you have thesub-dominant"4th chord (F)" which fits right in, or chord the "fifth chord (G)", and of course "B (the VII)" may work as it closely relates to "G7", and naturally D, F chords may be comfortable, all beingin, of or near C Major.
  9. Use that C chord inversions (which are not in order low to high) to use when the chords on the song do not change, but then you can have a slightly different sound by the inversions.Thus, depending on what notes are used like high notes "G or A" in the melody then thesecond inversion of the C chordcould accompany this group.
  10. Understand that if the lower notes B through D are used in the melody, then the fundamental or root position of the C chord would be used.If, however, the higher notes (E, F, or sometimes G) are used, thefirst inversion of Cwould be played to give a different tonality.
  11. Do you want to write your melody although you may not read music well.Many a musician can play in arhythm section-- does not read much music -- but learns and by blending among other instrumentalists .
    • The notes of the melody are not the first consideration for strumming, picking, and kind of musician... who is in key and harmonizes to the key, but is not really "clued" to knowing the exact melody line or harmony theory...
      • One may be a good recording session player or band member par excellence by knowing chords inside and out without reading the sheet music, ie: for purposes of commercial/professional entertainment or church music!
  12. Join professional ranks using "Nashville lead sheet/Nashville notations" of numbering (not lettering) the chords.This allows playing chords inany keyas the tonic to a melody and to allow easy key changes by counting up and down byand1/2 steps (sharps and flats)...

Community Q&A

  • Question
    What can I practice on a keyboard to improve my skills?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Getting books like the Keith Snell Technic series will give you the basics (scales, arpeggios, chord progressions). However, doing exercises out of slightly easier pieces will help to maintain the skills that you already have. Also, more complex rhythms and finger stretching exercises will help.
  • Question
    I don't know how to read music, but I can play to a degree. It seems difficult to improve upon that. Could the problem be my not being able to read music? I don't understand those lines in manuscript.
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Knowing how to read music is not essential for playing music, chords especially. However, the way of writing music down was developed in a way so that everybody should easily be able to play it. It is a clear and logical structure. Learning to read music is not as difficult as it might seem, but not a must for music players.
  • Question
    What if there are notes for both hands, but there is only one letter on top?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    If the letter is uppercase, then it's probably a major key. If it's lowercase, then it's probably minor. For instance, if you see "D," then it's probably referring to D major. If you see a "d," then it's probably referring to d minor.
  • Question
    What does "tonic" mean?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    The tonic is the first scale degree in a scale. The tonic chord is the most significant, and the music references the tonic note more than others.
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Piano Chords added to a famous melody.
  • A study of music theory (at least on chords) is highly recommended.
  • It helps a lot if you play an instrument, but there are readily available piano/synthesizer software choices in the market for writing chords, even a free one for writing jazz and such for this purpose.
  • Clearly the keys that have sharps and/or flats become more involved in choosing chords to sound better/best.
  • Keeping in mind on piano that the musical alphabet goes from A - G and then you "recycle" letters/notes from the beginning -- notice in the : I, III, V, are always the "doh,mi,soh." The key may have an interval of 1/2 (with sharps and flats, called "accidentals"), or one or so between the notes to form straight forward triads/trichords, and for a "G7" it would be I, III, V, VII (G-B-D-F), "doh,mi,soh,te," again with an interval of one between the notes, ie: /a tetrachord.
  • Here’s another and quicker way to find the bass note and chord to go with melodic notes played on or after the main down beats: Play BASS note at 1, 3 or 5 intervals (plus 1 octave) BELOW the melodic note played on (sometimes after) down beat with left-hand pinky. Specifically, play 1 or 5 for melodic note I, 5 for II, 3 for III, 1 for IV, 5 for V, 3 for VI, 3 for VII.


  • Watch out for harmony conflicts. Sometimes your chords might not be in accordance with melodies.
  • Sometimes for experimentation purposes and for practicing coordination development, or a "bass clef" with higher notes may be found in some songs so that the right hand may take care of playing chords, those higher notes instead of the left hand doing the usual chords down below middle C...
  • When asking someone who claims to understand harmony and to be musical for help, first check his/her credentials, or there may be much "unlearning" to do once you learn the wrong stuff.
  • This is not an easy process for precision harmony parts, especially if you are playing the melody with one hand and the chords with the other hand for vocal parts (voicing).

Things You'll Need

  • Musical knowledge
  • A piano
  • A tune

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Date: 16.12.2018, 23:50 / Views: 71191