Harmony Theory: 12 Cool Piano Harmony Techniques

In today’s harmony theory lesson we’re going to dive deep into some powerful jazz harmony training.harmony theory

And if you want to discover the power of jazz reharmonization? You’ve come to the right place…

In this video, you’ll learn 12 cool jazz chord harmonies. These chords are all great examples of how to apply harmony theory. They teach you that 1 note can harmonized in dozens of ways. 

This is a great way for you to create stunning harmonizations for all your melodies. It’s time to get started learning!

Harmony Theory: Video Tutorial

Watch how to create 12 jazz chord harmonies from a single melody note.

Important! Make sure that once you’ve completed watching this video that you continue reading. Scroll down and you’ll find tons of useful tips so you can grow your harmony knowledge even further…

Your All In One Guide For Harmony Theory

Make sure that you are paying special attention to the fact that all of the chords shared with you in the video tutorial play off of a single (C) melody note.

This C melody note will always be on top of the chords in your right hand!

Let’s jump in and find out how to create some amazing harmony chords from a single C melody note!

harmony theoryTip #1: How To Build Amazingly Rich Voicings

One of the best ways to discover new jazz harmonies is to add the right chord extensions onto basic chords.

When you start adding in 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths to your standard jazz chords they take on an entirely new flavor.

Ex. 1 – Eb7(13, 9) 

  • Left hand: (Eb) Right Hand: (Db, F, G, C)
  • (F) is your added 9th and (C) is your added 13th.
  • Go ahead and play that chord. Now play that chord without the added 13 and 9.
  • Notice how rich the chord sounds with those added voices compared to your standard Eb7 chord…

Ex. 2 – D7(#11, 9)

  • Left Hand: (D, F#, C) Right Hand: (E, G#, C)
  • (E) is your added 9th and (G#) is your added #11.
  • Just like before, play the chord with the added chord extensions. Also play the same harmony chords without the extensions and listen to the tonal differences.
  • The added 9th and #11 give this D7 chord a really nice lush sound…

Again, notice that the C melody note is still on top of these extended chord examples. 

Let’s keep learning some more simple and fun harmony lessons from a single note.

(Bonus: If you want to learn over 300 of the best jazz piano chords in the world then check out this program right here.)

harmony theoryTip #2: Do You Ever Throw Your Chords In A Blender?

Did you notice how in the video I was using all kinds of different types of chords and sounds that don’t fit in the basic run of the mill chord mold?

Often times in jazz & pop music we harmonize melody notes with basic chords. You know the type of chords you’ll see in progressions like 2 -5 -1 and 1 4 5?

So here’s an idea. 

See if you can use a couple of the re-harmonizations I used in the video above to substitute or add to some of your basic 2 -5 -1 and 1 4 5 chord progressions. 

For example, can you throw the Eb7 chord I used in the video in front of a 2 chord in the key of C?

Can you throw the Ab chord I used in the video in front of your 5 chord?

Experiment with adding those more interesting root motions into your chord progressions.

Tip #3: How To Dominate With The Dominant

It’s often said that dominant chords are the lifeblood of modern harmony. You’re going to want to get real good at knowing all the things you can do with them.

harmony theoryThink of your dominant chords as your major triads with an added minor 7th.

So, take your standard C triad again – (C E G). Just add your minor 7th – (C E G Bb)

That minor 7th voice completely reshapes the sound of your major triads. It’s pretty awesome like that! 

One note can do amazing things.

Better yet, you can add 11 notes onto a dominant chord to give it even more color. This is where the fun begins.

Here are the notes you can use on your dominant chords

The b9, the #9, the 3rd, the 4th, the #11, the 5th, the b13, the 13th, and the b7th. 

Start practicing your dominant chords in every key and explore some of these chord extensions! 

Tip #4: How To Make More Out Of Your Minors

Minor chords can also be really useful when exploring harmonization options. 

Inside a minor chord you can use a root, flat 3rd, 5th, b7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, and even a major 7th.  

Since there are 8 notes that fit inside this chord to we can do a lot of interesting things with harmonization of melodies. 

For example, on a C Minor chord you can harmonize these melody notes:  C, Eb, G, Bb, D, F, A, and even B. 

Just like dominant chords, minor’s are also very flexible chords.

Once you look at chords on a high level you begin to understand that a piano chord tutorial is also a piano melody tutorial. That’s because chords, scales, and melodies are so closely related. Now we’re cooking with fire!

harmony theoryTip #5: Oh Those Are Powerful

Slash chords, are yet another excellent tool you can use to harmonize your melodies. 

You’ll really enjoy the added color you can pull out of slash chords!

If you’re new to slash chords then check out this intro tutorial to slash chords

right here. 

Tip #6: Don’t Forget About These Guys

Another powerful chord type that we didn’t get a chance to discuss in the video are diminished chords.

If you want to add a lot of suspense and tension to your harmonized melody notes then diminished chords are a great choice. 

With diminished chords you’re flatting your 3rd and 5th.

So, take a plain C triad – (C E G)

Now, flat the 3rd and 5th. (C E G) becomes (C Eb Gb). 

Listen to how when flatting those voices the chord takes on a suspenseful feeling. 

If you’re trying to get people to the edge of their seat and want to play with tension in music then mess around with some diminished chords!

(Bonus: Want to learn how to supercharge your blues chords with tons of jazz chords and substitutions? Then, check out this powerful blues training DVD Click here to access.)

harmony theoryWith diminished chords you can add on a root, the b3rd, the b5th, the double flat 7th, and even a major 7th.

There are lot of melody options you can explore with diminished chords.

Ready to keep growing your harmony theory skills? 

Let’s talk next steps now…

Tip #7: Here’s The Bottom Line

In order for you to truly be able to dive into chord extensions, varied chord arrangements, diminished chords, dominant chords, minor chords, 12 major piano chords, and slash chords…

You should get comfortable with your chord scales!

The more common jazz scales you know the easier it will be to experiment with these reharmonization techniques. 

I highly encourage you to take this a step further and check out these 10 common jazz scales.  

(Bonus: Want to learn how the jazz masters used scales to build powerful jazz improvisations? Check out this monster jazz improvisation program right here.)

This will certainly get you headed in the right direction with your jazz scales!

More Piano Practice Resources Just For You

harmony theoryI want you to become the best jazz pianist you can be! I believe in you! 

This lesson on harmony theory is great a starting point to grow your skills. 

And the good news is that we’ve got a ton more for you to explore.  

Since this lesson was all about harmonization I know you’ll enjoy picking up this useful jazz piano chord reharmonization trick

Watch and learn as I break down one of my favorite jazz reharmonization moves. 

Better yet, if you want my whole bag of reharmonization tricks check out this program right here —> The Premium Jazz Lessons Membership Course.

I show you my best reharmonization techniques inside the most popular jazz standards of all time. 

Until next time, enjoy your practice. If you have any questions about this harmony theory lesson, how to learn 12 major piano chords, harmony chords in general, or the video tutorial above please leave your comments in the comments section below. 

Thank you!

Steve Nixon