Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Help! What's a Good Chord Instrument?

We've been talking about strengthening our piano skills by playing the right hand and left hand separately on different instruments, and then re-synthesizing the two parts on a piano later.

My example was using a melodica (a two and a half octave mini keyboard that you blow through) to work with the right hand, and then a guitar to work with the left hand. I find the guitar most helpful because it's a way of looking at chords through an entirely different medium. I get a whole new perspective on chords by playing them on a guitar.

Piano players can easily adapt to the melodica; it's just a miniaturized form of a piano. But what if you don't already play the guitar? I don't recommend starting to learn it from scratch. Unlike the piano, the guitar is a very difficult instrument. It takes a lot of dedication.

So what can you use for chords? Well you could play chords with your right hand on the melodica, I suppose. But you get no new insight from that.

There have been various chord producing instruments on the market over the years. The Omni Chord comes to mind. But these tended to be just one finger chord generators that didn't really reveal much in the way of how chords work. Plus they were limited to relatively simple chords.

Take a Cole Porter chord progression such as Gm7b5 - C7b9 - Fm6 - Dm7b5 - G(alt) - Cmaj7 and you've had it. These one finger chord gizmos can't cut it to my knowledge.

I believe one of our bloggers suggested a chord instrument by Suzuki or somesuch, but I have no clue how those work.

So I'm kind of stumped. Anyone out there who knows of a chord based instrument other than the piano that's versatile, musically correct, and easy to use, please let us know.