Piano Chord-Melody

How to Play Chord-Melody on the Piano


The 2-Part-System vs. the 3-Part-System

In this video lesson, we’ll discuss the appropriate voice distribution for Chord-Melody on piano. There are two approaches to chord melody, the two and the three-part system.


When we think of chord melody, we usually think of it as a two-part system; in which the ‘melody’ is one part, and ‘the chords’ are the other. However, this way of playing the piano only works in some cases, like when we improvise with a trio in which we have a bass player, and we play the rootless chords with the left hand while improvising with the right.

Part 1 – Melody with the Right Hand.
Part 2 – Chords with the Left Hand.


But when we play ‘solo piano,’ we have to think of chord-melody as a ‘three-part system;’ in which we properly distribute the melody, bass line, and chords between both hands.

Part 1 – Melody with the Right Hand.
Part 2 – Bass Line with the Left Hand.
Part 3 – The Chords in the Middle.

This position gives us a broader range of notes.

The Piano as an Orchestra

Once we open this door, we can think of the ‘piano’ as a representation of the orchestra. When we think of the piano as an orchestra, we start to think as a composer or an arranger does.

Sopranos – With the Right Hand.
Basses – With the Left Hand.
Baritones, Tenors, and Altos – in the Middle.

This technique gives us access to a full range of colors and extensions.