One of the things a veteran piano player does is make
chord substitutions. Chord theory can be quite complex,
and you could probably build a four year graduate
degree around it. But here are a couple of real basic
ideas that you can try on Christmas Carols, or any
other type of non-classical song.
Two great substitutions for major chords are 1) the
major sixth and 2) the major seventh. I'll spell out
the C6 and the Cmaj7 for you and leave it up to you to
extrapolate the formulas to the other major chords.
C6 = C E G A
Cmaj7 = C E G B (natural)
So time to get creative. Next time you play a song, any
song, make one of those substitutions for any plain old
major chord. If you are playing Silent Night, for
example, that song has the following chords. C, F, and
G7. Instead try C6, F6, and G7. That will modernize the
sound of the song.
Want it to sound even more modern? OK. Try Cmaj7,
Fmaj7, and G7, respectively.
Will that make the song sound better? That, my friends,
is a matter of opinion. Only you will know if that
makes it sound better to your ear. So try it. You might