Basic Worship Piano Turnarounds
If you are interested in learning to play jazz or gospel on the
piano, you will want to learn about basic piano turnarounds.
Turnarounds are chords which begin with a dominant first chord and then flow into the minor chord and them come
back to the dominant chord in order to bring the harmony back to the beginning for the song.
In gospel music, the turnaround chord is extremely popular. The turnaround chords bring the section of
music back to the beginning in a continuous harmony and rhythm.
Think of the turnaround as the repeat of the music. For instance, if you are singing “row your boat” you will
eventually begin the song again using the exact same tone and words. This is similar to a turnaround, it leads you
back to the beginning to do it all over again.
Often the turnaround chords are used to keep the song flowing in a repetitive harmony and rhythm, which means
the chords are repeating themselves throughout the song. Often the turnaround is written using the symbols
I-VI-ii-V. This is the most common turnaround.
Let’s say for example you begin with the C major chord. The dominant “I” will be the symbol used to represent
the C major chord. Now, if you look at the piano keyboard and begin with the C key, counting C as the first key,
move up to the sixth key, or “VI” in the chord symbols. This would be the A key, making your second chord the A
Now, begin again at the C key, also counting it as one, and you get the D key
as your “ii” chord. This will therefore be the D chord, although it will be in minor because the Roman
numerals are in lower case. Finally, starting again with the C key as the first, count up five keys and get
the G key as your Roman numeral “V”. This is your basic and most common Jazz turnaround.
There are, of course, many variations and types of turnarounds. Not all turnaround use the same chords when
doing their repeat, either. Although the minor chords can change during the song, they must still be harmonically
balanced with the rest of the song.
If the chords do not make sense harmonically, the song may sound out of key. Either way, if you choose to use
the same chords repeatedly, or choose to alter them harmonically, the turnaround should always begin back at the
Turnarounds do not necessarily have to begin on a major chord, either. A turnaround can begin on a minor chord
and fall into the major chords during the middle, coming back to the minor chord at
the beginning of the next set. You may choose to begin on a minor chord and add chord changes during the song in
order to enhance the melody. Another good reason to use turnarounds is for solo parts.
Turnarounds leave many musical options during solo parts and can either keep the song simple and basic with its
intended rhythm and harmony, or it can allow room for diversion during the solo and then an easy way to come back
into the group through the turnaround.
Turnarounds are also a clean way to end a song, without an awkward stop. Because of its diversity, it is highly
recommended to learn about basic
worship piano turnarounds, even if you do not intend on playing worship music.