Posts Tagged ‘improvising idea’

Count Your Blessings: Improvising Idea (Contary Motion)

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011


*Click on image for a larger view

One of my favorite improvising ideas is adding contrast for an interesting sound.  The excerpt listed above is taken from the hymn “Count Your Blessings”. The phrase is the last sentence of the last verse.   This idea can be used on any of the verses at this point in song…but I like to save special effects like this for the final verse.

Here’s what helped me come up with the idea:  I knew that an A7 chord was the basic chord for the first two measures of this example. So… I played “stepping notes” within the A7 chord frame and entered into a D major chord on the syllable “jour-” and back to an A7 for “ney’s” and ended with a D chord on “end”.  The ascending notes in the piano score ran contrary to the melody in the vocal score…creating an energetic drive to the message of the song.

The complete arrangement of “Count Your Blessings” congregational style can be purchased below.

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The Church Pianist: Improvising hymns (Part One)

Monday, August 10th, 2009

This improvisational idea works well at the end of a verse…..leading into the chorus.

The following two ingredients are necessary in order to use this fill-in idea.

1.The final chord of the verse must be a I chord and last for at least three beats.

2. The first chord of the chorus must also be a I chord.

For example: In G Major….the I (one) chord is GBD.

 On Beat #3…

1. Play a IV chord in the right hand

2. Play the V note of G Major in the left hand for the bass note ( note: D )

This creates the chord notation: IV/V

Editor notes for today’s example:

After the word…”Thee” the right hand plays a “climb the ladder”

fill-in to make an easy transition to the upper register of the piano.


*Description of the Fill-In Idea: (occurs in final measure of verse)

Click here for pdf image: Improvising_Hymns_Draw_Me_Nearer

The Church Pianist: Improvising Hymns (Part 2)

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

Here’s example #2 of an improvising idea.

Click here for pdf example: Improvising_ Hymns_Day _by_ Day 

This idea can be used anywhere in a hymn

where a one chord last for at least three to

four beats in addition to the following measure

starting on a one (I) chord.

 It  adds a nice flowing movement from

one measure to the next.

The Church Pianist: Improvising Idea (Contrary Octaves)

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

*Click the following sentence to access the music examples:

Improvising_Idea_Contrary_Octaves *pdf example

Here’s a simple improvising idea to dress up

hymns with few chord changes.

Use contrary octaves between both hands to produce

a more interesting sound.

In today’s examples, the contrary octaves will occur

when the V chord leads to a I chord.  The contary octaves can

occur in other chord progressions but  I’ll address those at

another time.

After playing these examples, try the contrary octave idea

in the following hymns:

“Showers of Blessing” ( 1st sentence on words: “…showers of….” )

“Redeemed” ( 1st sentence on words: “…love to pro-…” )

Editor notes on today’s examples:

Description of left hand octave pattern:

1st octave is same note as right hand

2nd octave steps down

3rd octave skips down

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