Tension In Music – How To Make Simple Chords Exciting

Want to learn how to use tension in music to make your performances more exciting?

Well, most “jazz” teachers just show you run of the mill chords. Those of us who are actually out here touring play chords in a much hipper way.

So, today I want to show you some insider moves that top pros use to make our chords more exciting.

If you’re stuck just playing basic chords & want to learn how pros add more intrigue & flavor than you’ll love this video.

Tension In Music Chords Video Tutorial 

Hey there. Steve Nixon here with Freejazzlessons.com. Thanks for joining me here for today’s lesson.

tension in musicAll right. So, when you look at great musical performances, watch an amazing movie, attend a great play, or you’re reading a killer book, there’s one thing that all these different art forms have in common when they’re executed at a really high level.

That is that the artist is playing with a concept that we call tension and release.

Tension meaning exciting, tensed moments, “Oh my God. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” right? Or, “Wow, I can’t believe they played that chord there!”

tension-in-musicOr you’ll also find this in action movie when all the explosions and fight scenes happen.

Then, calm moments, where everything is real tranquil and peaceful and maybe just set up right.

Now, you don’t want to have too much tension in music going on because you’re going to tire your listener out.

You also don’t want to have too much calm moments going on because it gets kind of boring.

How Great Artists Use Tension In Music

tension in musicNow, great artists know how to play with this concept of tension in music and release.

Tension and release is in all the great art forms that are out there. So, today, I want to show you some really interesting ways that you can start applying this concept of tension in music and release in your own piano playing.

What we’re going to do is we’re going to look at a simple jazz chord progression.

In this case just 5 to 1. This is a great way to learn this concept because it’s the most common chord progression in the whole world.

In fact, getting good at this musical tension trick will also improve your blues, rock, classical, & gospel playing.  

So, I’m going to show you a really cool way to decorate these chords so you can start bringing this element of tension, release in your playing, keep your listeners entertained and excited.

How To Add Excitement To A Dominant Chord

When you learn jazz standards you’ll begin to notice that many tunes have similar chord progressions in there.

And one of the chord progressions you’ll see happen regularly is a 1-6 -2 -5-1 chord progression. This is especially true in jazz turnarounds.

In the key of C those chords would be:

  •  C major 7, A7, D minor 7, G7, and then back to Cmaj7 again.

tension in musicNow, most newbies will play these chords will just regular and basic voicings.

They won’t try to add extensions of the chords, reharmonizations, or cool voicings to try and really add tension and excitement.

But if this is all you’re doing throughout all your tunes and you’re just constantly just kind of pounding out your chords in an rudimentary fashion then your listeners are going to get bored.

So, what we can do is start to play around with the dominant chord and start adding lots of colors in there. This will be a great way for you to start adding more tension in music.

Check this out. Instead of playing G7 the whole time, what you do is you play:

  • G7 (sus4)
  • G7 normal
  • G7 altered with 1 chord extension.
  • G7 altered with 2 chord extensions.

After the height of the tension on this chord you then finally release to your I chord.

There’s so much more texture just from adding those little inner voice things there. More tension, more forward motion, keeps the listener engaged.

tension in musicThis is how you keep a story interesting while you’re playing. So, again, all I did there for five chords, I just played the V7sus,  regular V7, then I altered it and then I double altered it.

So, find these little moments throughout your chords and your chord progressions to start adding this inner voice texture.

And when you add these moves to tunes that’s where you really start to dramatically improve the way you sound at the keys.

That’s what I teach you like we do inside the Premium Jazz Membership Course. Plus, even if you’ve never played jazz before you can grow using the step by step method laid out in the course.

How To Get More Results From Your Time At The Piano

Increase the tension in music release throughout your playing and you’re going to see that people are going to start sitting on the edge of their seats.

They’re really going to enjoy the way that you play. Now, if you want to learn:

  • More of these professional harmonic tricks.
  • How to play the best pro chord voicings and get access a library of thousands of the best sounding ones.
  • How to skillfully  them inside the best jazz standards in the whole world.
  • Insider secrets of how I arrange songs that bring  enjoyment to friends and family who hear your play.

Tension In MusicWell, I have you covered. I have a program that gives you instant access to a mega library of elite jazz piano training videos, sheet music, jam tracks, MIDI files, practice templates, bonuses and more.

And you can watch every move I make in the comfort of your own home.

So, if you’re a little bit more of an ear player, you can watch and listen and rewind as many times as you like.

That program’s called the Premium Jazz Membership Program. I highly recommend it.

We have worked with over 5,000 students inside this program. It’s something that you can used to go from an average player to a really high-level player by following the step by step formulas and templates in there.

Plus, unlike expensive private lessons which cost thousands of dollars per year, you can get instant access to years worth of jazz piano secrets for under $1 a day. Pretty cool right?

Check out the whole jazz success system right here.

All right. Happy practicing. Get into this tension and release thing and you will not regret it. Your playing will sound much more interesting. Thanks for watching and reading.

If you have questions about this concept please feel free to leave a comment below. Talk soon!

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Steve Nixon