Improvising Easy Introductions

runner-818707_640A good musical introduction creates anticipation for the listener by suggesting the key and style of a tune about to be played.

Ready? Set, Go!

The easiest way to set up a tune is to play a V7 intro chord. This works because it takes advantage of our expectations about functional harmony.

Since most tunes begin with a I chord, a V7 chord played just before leads our ears right into the melody through its natural resolution. Listen to how the C7 in the Birthday Song seems to say, “Here we go.”BirthdayLead

Drum Roll Please…drums-755530_640

Stretch the V7 intro chord “Liberace” style with hand-over-hand arpeggios to pump up the audience. Corny and overstated? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. Students love it because it sounds impressive without being difficult.

This example adds drama suggesting, “Ladies and gentleman, the show is about to begin.”


The Following Preview…film-596011_640

State the last few measures of a tune before the V7 chord to increase the sense of expectancy.

Like a movie trailer, Example 3 hints at coming attractions with a little teaser of the melody.


vegetables-1068592_640Mixed Combos

Combine approaches for maximum effect.

This example includes the last few measures of the melody with a V7 intro chord and the “Liberace lick.” Now that’s an introduction!


Next time, we’ll consider how to add stock endings to put the final touches on your lead sheet masterpiece. Until then, enjoy your creative music-making journey.






Bradley Sowash

(This article first appeared in Clavier Companion magazine.)

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