How to Add More Color to Your Playing

How to Add More Color to Your Playing

Sometimes the piece we’re working on just feels boring and we want to change it up. But how can you make your playing sound more interesting without making the music too complex?

Here are some simple ways to add more color to your playing.

Bring out the Dynamics

One of the fastest ways to make your playing more interesting is to color it with dynamics.

Play the piano markings as soft as possible, or build steadily and gradually to the forte, or add your own dynamic markings to the piece.

However you do it, the dynamic variations will help bring the music to life.

Build to a High Point

Almost every single piece of music has a high point.

It might be towards the end of a piece, or the bridge of a song, or the section with the highest notes. Look and listen for it as you play, and you can usually find it.

Using dynamics to build towards that high point will give your playing an extra burst of energy.

Experiment with Tempo

If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut with a particular piece, try changing up the tempo.

Slow down on the second verse or take it at a faster tempo to see how it sounds.

You can also try adding rubato, that is, gradually alternating between slowing down and speeding up within the song.

Varying your tempo will add more interest to the music.

Switch Octaves

Sometimes something as simple as moving up or down an octave will help bring a piece to life.

If you’re feeling really adventurous, try moving two octaves!

This is an easy way to change things up without overly complicating the piece.

Break Up the Chords

Instead of playing blocked chords, turn them into arpeggios. This helps give the piece more motion and keeps it flowing smoothly.

Alternately, try adding a waltz bass or Alberti bass pattern instead of the blocked chords and see what happens.

The sky is the limit!

Add Some Ornaments

If you’re in a more Baroque state of mind, add some ornaments to the piece and see if you like how it sounds.

Trills, mordents, and grace notes will add a bit of refined elegance to your piece.

Change Keys

If you want to create some interest in a simple piece, try changing keys.

You can make this simple by only moving up or down a half step, or you can modulate to a distantly related key for maximum impact.

Try it and see what works!

Mix Modes

One fast way to drastically change the sound of your piece is to change modes.

Changing a major piece to a minor mode, or vice versa, will add some excitement to a familiar melody.

Substitute Chords

If your piece has very basic chord progressions, you can substitute some chords to add more color.

For example, play a seventh chord instead of a triad, change a V-i progression to a V-vi progression to add suspense, or play a Neapolitan chord right before a V chord to add variety.

Experiment and see what you like!

Important Note: These suggestions are best implemented in solo playing. It’s not advisable to try them out in a duet or ensemble unless you’ve worked it out beforehand with the other musicians (unless you enjoy pranking your duet partners during rehearsal, in which case, have at it).

What is your favorite way to add more color to your playing? Leave a comment below!

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