Incredible! It was fifty years ago this month that the Beatles released their long standing #1 hit ‘Hey Jude’.
With over 7 minutes playtime it is the ‘longest’ single ever topping the US and UK charts. Even though this success is already half a century old, the song has never lost its popularity.
Moreover, it is one of the most beautiful piano based songs ever written. These are reasons enough to share tips and tricks with you on how to create your very own piano arrangement of Hey Jude.
💡Tip: Get the best out of this blog post by studying the basic piano arrangement of Hey Jude in Skoove’s Intermediate Song Section
If you haven’t seen it already, it’s useful to watch our version of it, as I will refer to it throughout the blogpost:
1. Spice up your chord accompaniment
The piano song Hey Jude offers easily performable chords and most of them are basic triads.
A basic triad consists of the root note, the third and the fifth tone on top of the root note.
Example: The F-major chord consists of the notes F (root note 1) – A (3rd) – C (5th).
But who is saying that the order of chord tones cannot change? Luckily, no one 😊.
So, let’s get a little more creative with these chord tones:
💡Tip → Video minute 0:35:
Instead of playing chord tones in the basic order of
1 (root F) – 3 (A) – 5 (C)
switch the order of chord tones around to
3 (A) – 5 (C) – 1 (F)
5 (C) – 1 (F) – 3 (A)
The expert term for this switch is called ‘chord inversion’. You will quickly notice how the inversion of chords will beautifully change your accompaniment to a more advanced, individual and interesting harmonic background. More about chord inversion here.
💡Tip → Video minute 0:05:
Use the root, 5th and 9th as an accompaniment technique.
Example: On an F-major chord, play the root note F followed by the C (5th) and G (9th). Simply count four white keys up from the root note to find the 5th and another 4 white keys up from that one to find the 9th.
💡Tip: Learn more about chords and chord accompaniment in Skoove’s Intermediate 2 Course and Chords & Scales Course
2. Harmonise the melody
Harmonisation makes the melody of Hey Jude sound fuller and even more beautiful in the piano.
Good news: Harmonising a melody is fairly simple to do.
💡Tip → Video minute 0:19:
To harmonise a melody, simply play a tone of the underlying chord simultaneously with the melody tone.
Need an example? Here we go:
Say your melody tone is ‘D’ and the underlying chord is a Bb-major chord.
The Bb-major chord consists of the notes Bb – D – F.
(Like in many cases, the melody tone D is part of the underlying chord.)
So far so good? To harmonise the melody-tone D, I can now choose to play either a Bb or an F, as both are tones of the Bb-major chord.
Look at the screenshot below: I am playing the melody tone D (top note) in the right hand and harmonise it with the F from the underlying Bb-major chord.
💡Tip → Video minute 0:25:
Even simpler: Harmonising the melody in intervals of 6ths makes it sound even more gorgeous and very emotional.
If you take a closer look with an experienced eye, you see that the F and the D in the right hand form the interval of a sixth.
For the less experienced, simply count 5 white keys down from the melody tone (D) to find the sixth (F). You can easily harmonize any melody-tone by playing it simultaneously with the note you find 5 keys below that melody tone.
Just make sure not to play any B, as Hey Jude is written in the key of F, in which every B turns into a Bb.
💡Tip: Learn more about melodic harmonisation in Skoove’s Keyboard for Producers Course
3. Shape your arrangement dynamically
Have you ever been drawn into to a mind-capturing speech by someone? Maybe not consciously, but you will have felt the changes in expression, tempo, accentuation of sentences and words, leading to a sort of dynamic climax of the speech. Often followed by applause of an engaged audience.
Even more likely you may have encountered exactly the opposite: A monotonously speaking person without any dynamic shaping of his sentences in the discourse. The result of such performance is an audience snoozing away…
WAKE UP, AUDIENCE!
One of the most important and yet most disregarded element in a musical arrangement is dynamic shaping.
Usually simply referred to volume of sound, dynamic in music can also be expressed through harmony and rhythm. The increase or decrease of volume, harmony and rhythm will shape your arrangement and turn it into an exciting journey for you and your listeners.
💡Tip → Video minute 0:01:
- Start your arrangement with a Big Bang! Open your arrangement with a bit of a HELLO! WAKE UP, AUDIENCE – moment! In my arrangement of Hey Jude, I am using an extended dominant seventh chord to add tension and to grab the listener’s ear.
If you want a simpler trick, just use the bass note of the first chord and hit it loudly. It is guaranteed you will awake the attention of your audience.
💡Tip: → Video minute 0:05
- 2. Continue the dynamic journey gently! Once all ears are tuned in, you can play smoothly and bring down the volume by tenderly stroking the keys. In my arrangement I am trying to play soft and sweetly. No need at this point to power out the melody. I can take my time to expose and explore the melody.
💡Tip: → Video minute 1:03
- Prepare the musical climax! From 2/3rd of the arrangement start making your playing more dynamic. Double the melody in octaves, play the chord tones of the accompaniment in double tempo (eighth notes instead of quarter notes) and increase the volume by hitting the keys harder.
You will notice the repetitive eighth note pattern of the root note F towards the end of my Hey Jude arrangement.
💡Tip: → Video minute 1:12
- Create a clear climax! Like every mountain has a clearly defined peak, use some big sounding chords at peaking volume for the big finale of your arrangement. To achieve this easily, double and triple the chord tones in both hands and hit the keys the hardest.
Look at the Piano Roll MIDI screenshot below: You see the four phases of the dynamic development in the arrangement from left to right. The harder the notes are played the more red they are. Blue and green means, that the notes were played softer.
Summary: If you follow the described dynamic shape you will keep your listeners’ attention during the span of your arrangement. A lasting applause for your performance is guaranteed.
This dynamic journey also works on a micro-level for phrasing little parts of the melody up to the macro-scale of the dramaturgy of a two hour concert.
Send me your arrangement of Hey Jude
If you apply some of the tips & tricks from the blog post, you surely will have created your own fabulous arrangement of Hey Jude.
And I would LOVE to hear it. If you like to, send a link of your recording to firstname.lastname@example.org .
I hope this blog post was useful for you. Looking very forward to your comments.
Other articles about creating your own music: