Are you new to playing piano? This guide explains everything you need to know about chords, including how to read chord symbols and play them on the piano.
What Are Piano Chords?
A piano chord is produced when multiple notes are played simultaneously, consisting of two, three, or more individual notes.
Each chord contains a root note, which is the note the chord is named after, as well as one or more additional notes.
Basic piano chords typically consist of two or three notes, while more advanced chords incorporate even more notes.
The most commonly used type of piano chord is a triad, which consists of a root note and two other notes, usually producing the intervals of a third and fifth above the root note.
Chord of A Piano: Explained In Detail for Beginners
The piano is a musical instrument that consists of an array of keys, some black and some white, that produce different sounds or notes when struck.
When these notes are played together, they form a chord, which is a minimum of three notes.
A chord consists of a root note, which is the bass or the chord’s “name,” a third interval note, and a fifth interval note. This creates a basic 3-note major chord.
Songs are written in keys and key signatures, which help identify the root note to start with.
For example, a C Major chord consists of the root note C, the 3rd interval note E, and the 5th interval note G.
Chord of A Piano: Basic Chord Progression
Learning music theory and reading sheet music can be overwhelming at first, but breaking it down into manageable parts can make it easier.
Piano chords are typically played with the left hand while the right-hand plays the melody.
Starting with just the chords and memorizing them is a good way to get comfortable with playing them.
Color-coding the chords can help identify the root note and whether it is major, minor, augmented, or diminished.
Below is the chart of piano chords that is readily available for reference.
To recognize chords on sheet music, play the odd numbers on your hands (1, 3, 5) to form the three notes of a chord.
Alternating chords involves going up or down a full or half step, with a half step being the next note on the piano and a full step being two notes.
However, half steps are not always black keys and whole steps are not always white keys.
For example, starting with the E note, the next half-step up would be an F (also called E#), which is a white key, and the full-step up would be to the F#, a black key.
Chord of A Piano: Major and Minor Chords
When it comes to chords, major chords are the easiest to learn. They consist of the root note, 3rd, and 5th intervals, and are always named after the root note.
For example, an E major chord would have an E as the root note.
Minor chords, on the other hand, are built like major chords but with the 3rd and 5th intervals flipped.
So while the root note stays the same, the 3rd interval is minor and the 5th interval is major.
For instance, a C minor chord would have a C as the root note, an E flat as the minor 3rd interval, and a G as the major 5th interval. Other examples include the D minor chord (D, F, A) and the E minor chord (E, G, B).
Chord of A Piano: Basic Piano Chords for Beginners
The most common piano chords for beginners include:
- A major (A): A – C# – E
- A minor (Am): A – C – E
- C major (C): C – E – G
- C minor (Cm): C – Eb – G
- D major (D): D – F# – A
- D minor (Dm): D – F – A
- E major (E): E – G# – B
- E minor (Em): E – G – B
- F major (F): F – A – C
- F minor (Fm): F – Ab – C
- G major (G): G – B – D
- G minor (Gm): G – Bb – D
1. A Major (A)
A Major is the first chord to learn when starting to play music. It is considered a “happy” chord because of its upbeat and cheerful sound.
A Major is also closely related to an A Minor, with only one note difference C# instead of C.
This chord is very popular and widely used in many songs, making it an essential chord to learn for beginners.
2. A Minor (Am)
A Minor is a fundamental chord in music and is easy to learn. To play it, place your pinky finger on the third note, A, which is the root note of the chord, and add the C and E notes.
This chord is widely used in many songs, making it an essential chord to learn for beginners who want to start playing music right away.
3. C Major (C)
In the key of C Major, there are three notes: C (the root note), E, and G.
If you’ve already learned A, Am, and C, try transitioning between them and moving around the keys to hear how the progression sounds.
This practice can help improve your musical skills and understanding of chord progressions.
4. C Minor (Cm)
Playing a C Minor chord is easy, it’s just like playing a C Major chord, but with one small change.
Simply move your middle finger to the black key that’s right beside the note you play in C Major.
The difference between major and minor chords is subtle but important. To play a minor chord, you just add the third minor note.
Try playing both the C Minor and C Major chords and listen to the difference.
You’ll quickly understand why major chords are often described as “happy” while minor chords are associated with a more melancholy or “sad” feeling.
5. D Major (D)
The D Major chord is made up of three notes: D, F#, and A. This chord is widely used in popular music, making it a valuable one to learn for any aspiring musician.
Once you master D Major, you’ll be able to play a variety of songs that use this chord as a foundation.
6. D Minor (Dm)
Learning basic piano chords is an essential step toward playing songs.
As you practice and become more proficient, transitioning from one chord to another will become easier. Start with simple chords like D Minor and work your way up to more complex ones.
7. E Major (E)
To play E Major, simply place your fingers on the root note E, followed by the 3rd note G#, and the 5th note B.
8. E Minor (Em)
E Minor is similar but with a flattened 3rd note (G instead of G#). With practice, these chords will become second nature and open up a world of possibilities for your playing.
9. F Major (F)
The F Major chord is made up of three notes: F, A, and C. These notes can be played in any order on the piano and still produce the F Major chord.
However, it is common to play the F note as the lowest note when playing this chord.
10. F Minor (Fm)
The F Minor triad is made up of three notes: F, A-flat, and C. This chord has a unique and captivating sound, which can be further enhanced by incorporating chord inversions.
11. G Major (G)
If you’re learning to play the piano, it’s important to know how to play the G Major chord. This chord consists of three notes: G (the root note), B (the third), and D (the fifth).
It’s a commonly used chord in popular music, so mastering it is essential if you want to play songs on the piano.
12. G Minor (Gm)
G Minor is similar to G Major. Both keys have the G note as their root note and the D note as their fifth note.
The only difference between the two is that G Minor requires the third note to be played as B# instead of B.
What are Chord Inversions?
Chord inversions are a way to add interest and variety to your piano playing once you have mastered the basic chords.
Essentially, chord inversion involves rearranging the notes of a chord to create a different sound.
For example, the C Major chord consists of the notes C-E-G in its root position. However, by moving the C note to the top of the stack, you create the first inversion of the chord, which is E-G-C.
You can continue to experiment with different inversions to create even more interesting sounds.
Once you understand the concept of chord inversion, you can apply it to any chord you play on the piano.
Mastering the basic piano chords is crucial before attempting to play different songs on the piano.
Experimenting with chord inversions can also accelerate the learning process of this beautiful instrument.
If you find it challenging to learn, remember that learning any instrument is not a linear progression from beginner to pro, but rather a curve with sharp spikes when things just click.
The most important thing is to enjoy the process and have fun while doing it.