The Story

My name is Al Gurr and I have been a session musician for 30 years. I have always been fascinated by great harmony and I have written "Read This If You Want To Play Great Piano Chords" to help advanced harmony become more accessible to different levels of musicians who work at the keyboard.

Back when I was a student, (yes before the internet) information was harder to get hold of so I listened, experimented and read what books I could get hold of. I quickly concluded that in order to know what to play, you didn't necessarily need to go through the normal method of learning harmony.

To recap, the normal method of learning general harmony is to

  1. study the technicalities
  2. apply them to the keyboard and then
  3. develop the muscle memory.

The Drawback

However, the one weakness of traditional notation is that it makes certain 'black' key signatures more complicated than others and this is exacerbated with advanced harmony where music doesn't sit in the boundaries of a single key signature. Ironically, at a fundamental level there is no difference between a black or white note on the piano; you put your finger on it and you press it! But because notation looks and reads more complicated in certain keys, the learning progress can be hindered.

So for me, I needed to convert the traditional approach into a more mentally ergonomic method in order to use and develop this harmony efficiently.

The Solution

I spotted that there is a hand shape relationship that is consistent in all the keys that can be learned and developed. In summary, this method uses

  • muscle memory and hand shape as a starting point that
  • consistently works in every key, and
  • removes the fear of certain keys being more difficult than others!!
Muscle memory and hand shape is the basis of this method which is used at the start of the learning process; not at the end.

Here is an example of how you already use muscle memory.

Without consciously thinking, quickly play a basic C major triad on the piano and think about how you did it.

RESULT: You locked on to the note C and put your hands on the keys and just played it. You didn’t think about the individual notes or relationship between individual notes. You subconsciously used muscle memory because you have probably played it so frequently.

But muscle memory is not just what notes are played. It’s also about how the shape of the hand sits naturally on the keys. (see picture below)

These two examples show that the hand shape for a C Major chord is almost identical to a D Major chord (even though there is a (F#) black note). This similarity of shape idea is used as a basis of this method to learn and transform 14 great sounding voicings that minimizes the learning process and gets you playing great chords quickly.

Let's check out the 6 key learning points that are covered by this method.

What you will learn.

The 6 Key Learning Points Of This Method

1. Fundamental to this method is seeing the piano as a three part instrument. I know, two hands and three parts? Crazy isn't it? There is a

  • a bass part
  • a voicing, and
  • a melody or colouration player.

2. You'll learn that a great chord consists of a bass note and a voicing.

3. You'll learn 14 voicings that have similar hand shapes.

4. You'll learn about open and closed voicings.

5. You'll learn simple finger movements that work in every key to develop a set of 'core chords' that will fit into II-V major and II-V minor progressions.

6. You'll also learn about Colouration Harmony™ which is a technique for creating extra zing to the core chords; again with consistent and simple finger movements.

By knowing the 14 voicings and the simple one finger movements to create over 84 'core chords' you don't have to learn over 84 chords separately!

There are exercises and training pieces throughout the book with direct access to recordings of them. You can hear some of these in the following short film or by pressing this link.

Who Is This Method For?

In short, anybody. You will have noticed that this method has a very different approach but it can be used on its own or in support of traditional methods.

Knowledge of Great Chords, Jazz Chords, Cool Chords, Rich Chords or whatever name you use can be used in any genre of music so my method will appeal to amateur/professional performers, composers, producers and educators in the classical, pop and jazz styles who work at the keyboard or piano.

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If you need further assurance to have a closer look, then read the quotes of people who I have taught this method to. The great thing is that this method has positively affected musicians right across the ability spectrum with their personal and community music making.

Please get in touch if you would like more information or support via the contact details at the bottom of this page. Thank you for visiting this site. Al


“It has influenced my compositions and commissions for choir and added to my piano business.”

“Having become very despondent with the complexity of many pop and jazz piano books this book by Al Gurr has been a revelation to me. The 'Quick Start' section helped me to start playing great 13th chords in the first few minutes. I have used this book for some time now and I have had many people comment on how my style of piano playing has developed and matured. What used to be a daunting challenge, reading many of the common chords in music has now become a more relaxing and enjoyable experience thanks to this simple method. It has influenced my compositions and commissions for choirs and added to my piano teaching business.”

“Being a guitarist and a beginner on the piano, this method has allowed me to play great chords instantly!”
“It uses simple yet powerful ideas”

“After teaching Classical Music on the piano for more than 20 years, I considered it was time to learn more. My own playing, composing and teaching needed an injection of something new. Al Gurr, and the strategies he has outlined in his book, have certainly given me an antidote to often predictable and average sounding music. I am now able to easily discover the answers to musical conundrums that traditional methods often create.There are many music tutor books I have purchased over the years. This is one of the best. It uses simple yet powerful ideas, conveys them well and then shows you how to incorporate them into your own playing and writing.”

“..perfect for players that just want to play!”

“This book is SO much more practical & gets from A to B without needing to understand what you don't need to understand, which is perfect for players that just want to play!”

“It will have you playing more fluently than you could ever believe!”

“The book develops the pianist's understanding of 'jazz' harmony quickly and progressively, skillfully encouraging technical economy of left hand movement and simultaneously

  1. introducing new jazz colours and
  2. freeing up the right hand to be more creative.

It will have you playing more fluently than you could ever believe!”

“This book transformed my life as an amateur pianist.”

“This book transformed my life as an amateur pianist. This method by Al Gurr enabled me to play, after 12 months, any voicings in all 12 keys instantly and so I'm now able to play with other musicians anywhere, anytime and with confidence.”

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Created By
AL Gurr


Algorithm Studios