Updated: Sep 21, 2019
Crunch chords can be our worst enemies or our best friends. When we play piano chords we often come across a crunchchord. Crunch chords are tension chords in music. Piano chords like dim 7ths, flat 9ths, sharp 11ths, and so on are crunch chords. Their purpose is to create tension and excitement in music. I liken them to the big bad wolf in Red Riding Hood. If I re-wrote Red’s story and took out the wolf it would go something like this.
Little Red Riding Hood woke up one sunny day. She filled her basket with fruit and cookies and headed off to Grandmother’s house. When she arrived, Grandma gave her a big hug and they went inside and had cookies and tea. The End.
Do you think many copies of this story would sell? There is no excitement, no tension. No big bad wolf.
Crunch chords create big-bad-wolf tension. Here’s the problem... playing crunch chords can sound really bad when we’re learning a piece of music and playing it slowly. We play the melody and piano chords in our piece, checking every note is correct and sounds nice. We anticipate the day we can soar through this beautiful music and then BANG... we hit a crunch chord. It sounds awful! Something must be wrong! ... If you’ve checked all the notes in your chord are correct and it still sounds bad, it’s a crunch chord. It will sound fine when you speed it up... but sometimes, because we dislike the sound so much, we learn wrong notes instead of the crunch chord. Sometimes we blank out and don’t learn the notes at all. Most memory problems happen around crunchy piano chords.
Here’s a solution: find the piano chords you don’t like the sound of and draw an angry face on top... or, if you are a better artist than me, draw a big bad wolf. It will remind you that, although this chord sounds bad now, when you have learned this piece and are playing up-to-speed, your crunch chord will sound great. In fact, it will be one of the focal points of your piano music. You will likely enhance it with some extra volume, or ... a dramatic pause! Most importantly, you will enjoy the music at a deeper level and that crunchy chord will be played correctly and confidently!