Alicia's Inversion Run Pattern | Concept Lesson

If you're looking to learn a cool piano run - the one Alicia Keys uses in her acoustic "Empire State of Mind" - you've come to the right address. In this concept lesson, I'll break down the run for you and explain it in a tangible, clear and re-usable way.

Hi Guys! Happy New Year (is that too late?)! I'm back.

2016 has been a year of plotting, planning, changes, adversity and overall failure, to be quite honest. In the end however, there was clarity. Growth. Evolution.

Taking that growth into 2017, this year is going to be a lot different from the lingering, procrastinating and indecisive vibe that has been dominating my 2016. I'm finishing up a *live* - Behind the Couture, "year in review" post, which - if I like it enough - I'll post in the nearby future telling more about it.
For now, I just wanted to say that the first two weeks of this new year, have started off good. I'm fit, sharp, productive and we've been working around the clock to produce a lot of great content and UX changes that will transform this site to be better, clearer and provide more value to more people.

As you might start noticing these changes getting implemented over the next weeks -where we're planning a full re-launch- this particular lesson is an embodiment of changes on the front of the lesson content and output - a concept lesson - of which I'll start to do a lot more.
Listening to all your feedback, this appears to be what you like best about Piano Couture. Me going in-depth and explaining concepts behind music for you to re-use.

New York

Just the other day, I heard an acoustic version of Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind." It wasn't the first time I heard this beautiful version of a song that's killer anyway, but in all honesty, I did forget how cool it actually is.

I also noted a run that I recall myself struggling with back in the day I was just figuring out how to play myself. Since it holds valuable info, both on the theoretical and technical side (and it's just awesome, if you ask me) I figured this might be a nice subject for a lesson.

So here goes:


In this weeks tutorial I’ll show you:

  • How awesome a stripped down acoustic version of a heavily produced track is (note that this is the way the song was originally written, interesting to see it brought back to this version, right?)
  • The "versatility" of the highly effective pattern Alicia uses to dress up her Bmaj7(9) chord (which btw is also in Hack the Piano)
  • How different triads relate to non-root bass notes and how you can use this trick to simplify dressing up, both theoretically (anchoring / memory aid tricks) as technically (using skills that you already have on a simple triad)
  • More specifically - theoretically - in this lesson how using a chord's V triad (its five) results in a major 9-ish feel

Pattern chord image below the vid; full chord sheet and MIDI available for Premium Couturians.

In the comments below, please let me know what you think and your findings on which different chord's (mode) triad you like to use over the a chord you want to dress up!

Have fun.

Cheers, Coen.


Concept Tutorial

Alicia's Pattern Run



Deluxe Tutorial

watch Tutorial Ad-Free and download the Full Chord Sheet & MIDI in The Couturians' Lounge | member area

Premium Couturians can find the "Deluxe" version of this lesson, including the following downloads:

  • A handout (.pdf) with all chord pics and concept explanation used in this tutorial
  • Two MIDI files. Just the pattern run and run in context of song
  • The audio-only file for when you want to learn on the go ("listen to learn" is golden, as Piano Hackers know)

Or get all that and the video download included with the tutorial pack.

   Buy Tutorial Pack


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About Coen

Founder of Piano Couture and creator of the Hack the Piano method. Coen is a musician, reader, writer, web-designer, eater and traveler. Find him at

3 thoughts on “Alicia's Inversion Run Pattern | Concept Lesson”

  1. Sorry Coen, maybe Ive skipped through this post far to quickly at such an ungodly hour, but I believe that the video linked is from a previous Bon Ivor tutorial. Just to give you a heads up asap.

    • Thanks so much for the heads up Ian! Indeed I accidentally pasted the wrong video link to embed 😉
      Has been fixed!
      Good to have you on the site at ungodly hours! 😀
      Cheers, Coen.


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