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2 minutes reading time (306 words)

Playing in "Country Swing" Style

Country songs often use quite simple chords, so let's start with a very straightforward chord progression

​using only chords I, IV, and V (including inversions to create better voice leading). Play with your right hand only:

To get a country swing feel, you can split the right-hand chords up, with the bottom note of the chord alternating with the other two notes:

Notice the grace note in the last bar? This is very country—more of this later!

Your left hand can now be added. Play the root and fifth of each chord, mostly in half notes, with link notes between the chords where it feels natural. Like this:

It's also effective to break the arpeggios up by sometimes following the bass line with your right hand in harmony (usually tenths). It's also common to add pedal notes—in the example below you'll find Cs below the melody if it's a C chord or an F chord, Gs above the melody if it's a G chord:

Now we start to add the grace notes, which create the really authentic country sound. Combined with pedal notes, you get the following:

The example above has pedal notes using the fifth of the chord (i.e., the note G in the key of C) above a melody. This is an effective alternative to pedal notes below the melody.

Here's another grace note figure to practice, using chromatic double grace notes:

And another, with a half-step grace note and using descending sixths:

That Country Feeling is a piece which uses the techniques described above. See if you can identify them all! Keep the grace notes very light—I like to play them crushed, i.e., at the same time as the main note, but immediately let them go. And keep the gentle swinging style relaxed and sweet-toned.

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