Cocktail Piano Tips: Ballad Introduction

A “Keeper” For Your Toolbox

We are using a musical concept know as pedal point for this introduction. While the left hand sustains the 5th degree of the key, the right hand performs the role of playing diatonic triads in a descending manner. With the sustain pedal depressed, the effect is quite beautiful. See for yourself how many opportunities you can find to incorporate this gem into your favorite standards!

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“Here is a tasteful way to introduce a ballad that starts on the I chord. We’ll use E.Y. Harburg’s and Harold Arlen’s Over the Rainbow, a beautiful classic. Now, in this little excerpt here, I’m gonna play it in C Major. It starts on a C Major chord, of course.

Okay, we’re going to introduce this song using the V. Now the V chord in the key of C major of course, is a G7. However, we’re not going to play it quite like that. We’re going to bring that root down here. Then we’re going to play the 7, 9, 11, 13. This is actually a Gsus chord. We can call it Gsus13. It has the 9, the 11 and 13. It’s got all those wonderful colors.

Now, an easy way to arrive at this chord is simply to say to yourself, “Okay, I’m in the key of C, I want to start with the V chord to introduce it. So, the V is G. Now what I’m gonna do is this: I’m going to play the major seven chord whose root is exactly one whole step below this G. That of course is F. So I will play an Fmaj7 chord over the G” (which instantly turns this chord into a Gsus13).

Now I have these four tones here that I can use in the form of an arpeggio.

Pretty much any way you want to do this… experiment. Here it is…

A wonderful introduction you can use in so many of those favorite ballads of yours. Have fun with it.”