The Shape of Sound
The Shape of Piano Harmony
Piano harmony that is expressed on a staff using music notation can also be expressed using geometric shapes.
Geometric shapes add a visual component to the harmony that will make it easier for the player to remember.
In Fig. 1 we have three inversions of the C major triad: root, 2nd position (inversion), 3rd position (inversion.)
The x’s indicate the spacing between the notes. The root inversion has three equally spaced notes, the second inversion has two equally spaced notes and one further away, the third inversion has one note then two equally spaced notes further away.
If you take these patterns on the staff and rotate them 270% and fit then over the keys on the piano, you will see that the notes on the staff are spaced exactly as the keys on the piano. See Fig. 2.
When black keys are in the chord we will use connecting lines to show the shape of the chord as indicated in Fig. 3.
How can we use these shapes?
We can add these shapes to the music sheet to give a visual reminder of the shape of the chord, see Fig. 4.
And maybe in the future we can use these visual symbols to teach hearing impaired people to play the piano.
Note: All the chords on the piano can be represented by only sixteen shapes.