4 Note Chords


4 Note chords are simply triads with one note added.  The 4 note chord , Cmaj7, would be played  (  C, E, G, and B ).  By the addition of just 1 more note to the triad we get a much more colorful chord.

There are basically 7 different types of 4-note chords.  Like triads, we can build 4-note chords on any of the 12 different keys on the piano.  Thus there are 84 four-note chords,  (12 different keys multiplied by 7 different types).

4 Note chords are either 6th or 7th chords.   The following chords are 4-note chords:
C6 , Cm6 , Cmaj7, C7, Cm7 , Cm ( maj7), C dim 7.   Each chord just adds one note to the basic triad.  So in the case of C6 , we just add the note “ A” to the C major triad ( C,E,G).

When playing a 4-note chord in the left hand, the total span of the chord will always be smaller than an octave.  This enables even a small-handed student to play rich sounding 4-note chords.

4 note chords played entirely in the left hand are a very pretty sound.  However, there are limitations to this 4 note left hand chord.   Sometimes the chord can get in the way of the melody note which is played in the right hand.  To alleviate this overlapping of hands the student may try playing the chord down an octave on the piano.  This will sometimes work,  but will more than likely make the chord sound to “ muddy”.  There is a solution to this “ muddy’ 4-note left hand chord.  The answer is to “ Open “ up the chord.  By this we mean to transfer the 3rd of the chord from the left hand into the right hand .  This will make the chord sound “ clear” and “ un-muddy”.  We will explain this so called “ Open Position”  under the hyperlink  “ 5 , or more, – note chords”.

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Harmonic Patterns