How to use the books

This book is designed as a tool to enable musicians without advanced keyboard skills to accompany a song or aria in an easy and accessible way. Each aria has the essential chord symbols written in the music.  With a bit of practice, you will be able to sketch a reasonable harmonic structure to learn or teach a piece, or to simply play it for your own pleasure.

Most classical musicians will know how to construct chords through studying music theory.  I am also assuming that users of this book are familiar with the layout of a piano keyboard, and can play to one degree or another.   If you need guidance on how to construct chords, there are many resources on the internet. has a useful application to show which notes on the piano keyboard make a particular chord for example.

I have also included notes to be played at the bottom of the chord indicated by a note name after a forward slash – for example C/G means a chord of C played over a G note in the bass, or a second inversion chord ( a 6-4 chord for the continuo players amongst you).  I have done this to suggest a voicing.  If you can find the right note for the root, play it, but don’t worry if you can’t in the heat of the moment, just try and play the chord.

If you find you can’t find the chord quickly enough, just play the bass note, or skip it and move on to the next one.  Remember that  you are not trying to perform a concert version, but simply providing your pupil or yourself with an harmonic sketch of the piece.  It is very satisfying to play through a piece using the chords in this book, knowing that you would never have been able to if you were relying on reading the ‘dots’.  Over time, you will sometimes find that you are actually playing the piece as written!


On the right are  the most common chords used in these books organised by root notes.