Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Greatest Hit of All Time

To play by ear on the piano you must learn to play the greatest hit of all time.  Every style of music throughout the ages has bowed to it’s overpowering influence in music.  From all the classical masters to the bards out strumming their lutes in the early days.  They all played the greatest hit. 

Chuck Berry was the master that brought the hit to life to cement the foundation of rock and roll.  Before that, the Mississippi delta blues begat field calls that begat African tribal nations whose histories traced back to prehistoric times.  They were probably rattling the bones to the greatest hit even back then . . .

Do you know what it is?  

• It’s a force in the musical universe
• It’s the root of all playing by ear. 
• It is the 1, 4, 5 chords of any key.

Millions, billions and trillions of songs have been written using only these 3 chords and there are a google more songs still yet to be written.  The stark contrast between simplicity in form and the infinite possibilities make up the play-by-ear frame of mind.  The 1 - 4 - 5 chords are the pillars of any key.  When you learn how to play them -for any one of the twelve keys- that key is conquered.

You say “It has to be more than that!” to which I respond “Yes, but what is it that makes a really good play-by-ear musician “really good?”  It is that trillion-song realization that simplicity rules.  It’s the undeniable concept that 1 - 4 - 5 is infused into music 100% of the time.


Joseph Pingel is a pianist, teacher and musicologist.  Click here to get the free companion book to this blog.  See his other sites at and 

© 2011 Keyed Up Inc

1 comment:

  1. This is so true. 1, 4,'s that simple. Then you add the 6 minor or 2 minor and there is no limit at all.

    Brother...simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Thanks for the post!!!