Instructor
Jonny May
Quick Tip
Intermediate
Advanced
14:10

Learning Focus
  • Chords
  • Groove
Music Style
  • Contemporary
  • New Age
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Have you ever wondered how to create that epic piano feel you heard someone play in a film or contemporary music, such as rock or pop? In this lesson, you’ll learn an epic chord progression and groove for the piano in 3 easy steps. It’s perfect for beginners through advanced players! You’ll learn:

  • The epic chord progression, great for that deep emotional impact!
  • How to arrange the chords for both hands on the piano
  • How to spice it up with rhythm and syncopation
  • Techniques to create the most epic groove on the piano
  • Sheet music containing the 3 steps from Easy to Hard

If you want to tug on the heartstrings of your listeners and create an epic and emotional sound, then you’ll love this Quick Tip. Also,  if you love to create music, you can use this epic chord progression and these grooves in your own songs, compositions, arrangements, and improvisations!

Let’s dive in!

Step 1: The Epic Chord Progression

The first step to creating an epic piano groove is to start with an epic chord progression. Here’s an awesome one that we’ll be using in this lesson:

Epic chord progression used in film, contemporary, pop and rock music for piano arranged for both hands
Epic chord progression used in film, contemporary, pop and rock music for piano arranged for both hands

Sounds pretty cool, right? It feels like we’re watching an epic film!

Notice how each one of these chords are HUGE and spread out. We use a nice low octave and 5th spread chords in the left hand and big 4 note chords in the right hand.

If you don’t know your major and minor chords, you can learn them all in our Level 1 Foundations Learning Track.

Notice how we also use inverted chords in the right hand to create a beautifully smooth and connected melody on top! If you’re not familiar with chord inversions check out our Major Chord Inversions and Minor Chord inversions smart sheets.

To really be able to harness this progression, try playing it in other keys. If you’re a PWJ member, you can use the Smart Sheet Music to transpose the progression to any key.

Now that we have the progression down, what can we do to make it even more interesting and epic?

Step 2: Spicing It Up With Rhythm!

Now, we’ve got to add some groove to the chord progression. Check out the sheet music below on the first way we can do that:

Epic chord progression with basic groove for piano chords and bassline using rhythmic patterns and anticipations
Epic chord progression with basic groove for piano chords and bassline using rhythmic patterns and anticipations

Now we are no longer simply holding out the chords, but we are repeating and anticipating chords and bass notes in a nice pattern. This will create an epic and dramatic groove!

What’s an anticipation? It’s when we play a new chord shortly before we actually expect them to come in. As above, we see some chords come in on beat 4, before the measure they actually start. Pretty cool, right?

Notice how the rhythmic pattern in the first 2 measures is the same as the last 2 measures, just over the different chords! Start by slowly practicing the first 2 measures just to get the pattern down, then the last 2 will come much easier.  After practicing both separately, you can now begin to put all 4 measures together!

Now you’ve got the beginnings of an epic piano groove! If you want to learn more awesome contemporary rhythmic grooves and chord progressions, check out Contemporary Progressions and Improv (Beginner/Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced)

Great, we now have a basic epic groove down. But how can we take this groove to the next level?

Step 3: Making the Most Epic Piano Groove!

Now, we’re going to up the intensity by increasing syncopation in the rhythm. Syncopation is any rhythm that accents parts of the beat that is unexpected. This builds on the similar effect we had when using chord anticipations, but isn’t necessarily related to the chord progression. Good syncopation is the key to getting that epic driving piano groove!

Check out this epic piano groove below:

The most epic piano groove for piano using the epic chord progression with syncopated rhythms, pickup notes, and interplay between both hands
The most epic piano groove for piano using the epic chord progression with syncopated rhythms, pickup notes, and interplay between both hands

Again, this groove has the same pattern in the first 2 measures as in the last 2 measures. So just like last time, practice just the first 2 measures until they become easy and then move on to the last 2. Finally, you can now put all 4 together!

Notice how this pattern has a nice interplay between the right hand and the left hand. It is also alternating from single notes to chords! Generally, we can easily find good single notes to play by using one of the notes from the main chord progression.

That interplay in combination with the syncopated rhythms is the key to getting this driving, epic piano groove!

The most epic piano groove with epic chord progression for piano using pickup notes before every new chord in the left hand
The most epic piano groove with epic chord progression for piano using pickup notes before every new chord in the left hand

Lastly, as you can see above in the left hand, we’re now adding what we call a pickup note before each new chord.

What’s a pickup note? Instead of playing all 3 notes together in the left hand as we did before on each new chord, we can break it up by playing the middle note first with our 2 finger. Then we can follow it by playing the outer notes.

This creates another anticipation effect. The middle note is hinting us into the next chord before we actually hear it! This is an awesome technique that can be used on any chord, and it is common to many different musical styles and genres.

Summing It All Up!

There you have it. We took an epic chord progression and then started layering in some anticipations, syncopated piano rhythms, and other piano patterns to get an awesome and epic piano groove!

I recommend practicing each level of difficulty in order. Begin with the easy version using just the chords and then progress to the hard version with the entire groove. At first, practice very slowly. Once you get it down, increase speed by small increments until you reach your desired speed at each level.

As always you can experiment! Try changing the rhythmic pattern and syncopations, the interaction between right hand and left hand, and of course the chord progression.

Download the PDF sheet music if you’re a PWJ member to see and play each stage of this epic groove. You can also use the Smart Sheet Music to truly be able to master the stages of this groove and be able to play in any key.

Want a deeper dive and learn more epic and pop piano chord progressions, patterns, and grooves? Check out the following courses:

Finally, if you want some inspiration, and to hear all these and even more epic piano techniques in action, check out this epic piano arrangement.

Thanks for checking out this epic piano quick tip and happy piano practice!

Your teacher,

Jonny May

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