Learn How To Play Piano Chords

by Omar Zulfi on October 2, 2012

How To Play Piano ChordsSo this next part of the beginner’s piano tutorial on MyPianoLessons.net is all about piano chords. A piano chord is a set of two or more notes played together at the same time. These aren’t just random notes played together, though. These are notes that go well together (sound harmonious together). It should be fairly easy to learn how to build piano chords and play them, especially if you’ve memorized your piano scales in the previous section. There are a lot of different types of chords and I can’t go through them all here – hell I don’t even know them all yet. But I will give you some basics about creating triad chords (chords with 3 separate piano notes). For a great resource for learning piano chords check out this course (affiliate link) from the company HearAndPlay.com. It is an audio course that covers the basics and advanced side of building piano chords. I have this course and am continuously listening to it, to help me memorize all my chords. Get it here.

Major Piano Chords

So like the scales in piano music, chords can also either be major or minor. So if you already know your major and minor scales, and you’ve applied the number system, building a chord should be pretty easy. A basic type of major chord is the major triad. It’s called a triad because it has 3 notes in it. All major chords use the 1st tone, 3rd tone and 5th tone of the major scale you’re playing in. So, for example, in the C major scale (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C) let’s apply numbering. Here’s what you get: C = 1, D = 2, E = 3, F = 4, G = 5, A = 6, B = 7, C = 8 Since the major triad chord is made up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th tone of the scale, the C-major triad chord would use the notes C, E and G. Go over to your piano and play C-E-G together at the same time. You can hear it sounds bright and happy, just like the C major scale. Congratulations, you just played your first chord. Here’s how it looks on the keyboard:

C Major Piano Chord The C Major Chord

You can use that same formula (1st tone, 3rd tone, 5th tone) to build ANY major chord, using any note on the piano. All you have to do is know the piano scales you want to play in, choose a root note (the first tone), find the 3rd tone and 5th tone of that particular scale and play those notes together. There are 12 major piano chords that can be played. Try and learn them all.

Minor Piano Chords

Now that you’re comfortable with major scales, try playing some minor scales. Minor triad scales are played with the same types of notes as in the major scales. That’s right, you build a minor scale using the 1st tone, 3rd tone and 5th tone of whatever minor scale you’re playing in. The difference comes from the notes that actually make up the major and minor scales. If you remember, the notes of the C minor scale are C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C. C = 1, D = 2, Eb = 3, F = 4, G = 5, Ab = 6, Bb = 7, C = 8 So the C-minor chord would be made up of the notes C, Eb and G. And again, you can use the same method to find out the minor chord for any of the 12 notes on the piano. Here’s what the C-minor chords looks like on the keyboard.

C Minor Piano Chord The C Minor Chord

Another way you can find a minor chord is simply by “flattening” the 3rd. What does this mean? Well, if you’ve already got a major piano chord worked out – like the C-major chord (C, E, G), all you have to do next is make the 3rd note a flat. So C-E-G would turn into C-Eb-G. You can do this for ANY major chord to make its minor equivalent. So, to recap: A triad chord is made up of the 1st tone of a scale, the 3rd tone of the same scale and the 5th tone of the same scale.

Other Types of Piano Chords:

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are a ton of different chords that can be played. There are seventh (7th) chords, diminished chords, augmented chords, ninth (9th) chords and even chord inversions. 7th and 9th chords are the really beautiful, full chords you hear in a lot of soul, r&b, gospel and pop music. Augmented and diminished chords have a different, almost jarring or unharmonic, sound. And inversions are chords that are played with the notes in a different order, giving them a different sound. If you’re interested in learning more about all these different types of chords, I really recommend taking a look at HearAndPlay.com’s Piano Chords 101 and 102 audio courses. (affiliate link) I’ve used these courses to learn about the different types of chords and it’s invaluable. You really gain an understanding of all different types of chords. Get the courses here. They’re not that expensive and will give you a kick start in playing really dope piano chords. And chords are absolutely essential to playing full music. You can get both courses at a discounted rate by visiting HearAndPlay.com by clicking here. It’s well worth buying these courses. Well, that’s it for now. I hope these different sections have given you a good grasp of some of the basics of playing the piano. If you thought any of these tutorials (including this one) were helpful or useful, please share them on Facebook or Twitter. It’d mean a lot to me and is really easy to do using the buttons on this page. Next, check out the MyPianoLessons.net Blog. This is basically the point I am at in my piano practice, as well. I know all this stuff about notes, scales and chords, but I don’t have much memorized or mastered. In this site’s blog, I’m going to share all my practice tips and tricks that help me learn new chords, scales and techniques. Follow along here. Thanks again for checking us out. Respect.