This guide will answer what are piano chords, the different types of chords and share the basic steps to learn how to play piano chords.
What Are Piano Chords?
A piano chord is a musical term that refers to any combination of notes played on one or more instruments, such as guitar, violin, or piano. A chord can be made up of just two or more notes. The most common type of chord used in music today is called triad, which consists of 3 notes.
That is a summary, but keep reading to learn basic chords.
This post covers:
- What Are Piano Chords
- How Many Piano Chords Are There
- What Are The Piano Major Chords
- What is a Piano Chord Progression
- Major Chords vs. Minor Chords
- How Do You Play Chords on a Piano
- What Are the 7th Chords on a Piano
- What is a Piano Chord Chart
What Are Piano Chords?
A chord is a collection of notes which are played at the same time.
Here’s how you can think about the piano chords in a song:
SONGS -> are made of -> CHORD PROGRESSIONS -> are made of -> CHORDS -> are made of -> NOTES
When three or more notes are played together they make a FULL sound and that’s what a chord is.
Using this full sound rhythmically and also various chords in a particular sequence helps to create a nice background sound for melodies or lyrics.
Always remember that in a chord you have to play all three notes together. And they are built of a root note which is the note a chord is named after and also consists of one or more than one additional note.
Basic piano chords have 2 or 3 notes, while the more complex piano chords can include 4 or more piano keys.
To understand chords it is also important to have fundamental understandings like, the intervals which mean the distance between the notes of the piano and are measured in half and whole steps.
|Half Step||Distance from one key to immediately next key|
|Whole Step||The combined distance of two half steps|
Each white key in a piano is given a letter name from A to G whereas the black keys are either called the sharps or the flats.
How Many Piano Chords Are There?
Since a piano chord can be formed of many different combinations of many different notes, it opens up so many possibilities. So there can’t be a definitive answer to how many piano chords there are.
But considering only the major and minor chords, there are 12 major piano chords and 12 minor piano chords.
There are also many different types of piano chords such as major, minor chord, diminished chord, augmented, suspended chords, etc. Each one of them again has a different number of chords.
But out of them, major and minor chords are the ones that are most commonly used and need to be focused on at the beginning stage.
What Are The Piano Major Chords?
Major chord is the most common type of chord used by musicians and songwriters because it’s easy to play and sounds good when played with other notes. It consists of a root note followed by three or higher pitched notes.
The major chords on the Piano are some of the most common chords.
They sound brighter and more straightforward and have a happy tone. Have a keyboard in front of you? Then you can just check it out right now by playing any of the major chords.
Related: 90 Free Piano VST Plugins
What is a Piano Chord Progression?
Whenever you play any songs on piano they are likely to have multiple chords in them. So every time you play a song on the piano you actually play a sequence of musical chords.
Most of the time you’ll find that there will be separate sequences that get repeated for different parts of the song and each sequence is called the “chord progression”.
Chords are based on their corresponding scales.
Since the chord progressions are made of a series of chords put together, they are also based on their respective scales.
What is the Difference Between Major & Minor Chords?
|Major Chord||Minor Chord|
|It sounds Happy.||It sounds Sad.|
|It consists of the first, third, and fifth-degree of the major scale||It consists of the first, flattened third, and the fifth degree of the major scale.|
How Do You Play Chords on a Piano?
Every chord is built from a scale. So in order to understand how to play chords, it is important that you know about a scale.
Let’s understand with the example of C major scale which is just all of the white notes you play on piano starting from the middle C on the piano, up to the next C chord.
The simplest types of chords contain three notes and they are known as triads.
So to play a triad chord, you need to play three notes which are built from the first, third, and fifth notes.
So a C Major Chord would consist of first, third, and fifth (1-3-5) notes from the C Major Scale. You can think of it as playing one note then skipping the next note and then again playing the following note.
To play a C Major Chord you need to play the C Key (then skip D key), play the E key (then skip the F key), and play G key together!
Now let’s say that you want to play the F Major Chords. You would have to follow just the exact same process of playing the first, third, and fifth notes of that scale.
What Are the 7th Chords on a Piano?
A 7th chord is basically a triad that has been extended to include the 7th note of the scale.
They create a more full sound compared to the triads and can be used to create rich harmonic progressions.
Here are some of the main types of 7th chords:
- The Major Seventh
- The Dominant Seventh
- The Minor Seventh
- The Half Diminished Seventh
- The Diminished Seventh
Now there are others as well. But they are generally less commonly used. Until you are comfortable with these main types of 7th Chords it is not that important to learn about them.
So here’s a table that will help you to understand the main types of the 7th chord.
|Type Of 7th Chord||Description|
|The Major Seventh||Major Chord + 7th Note Of The Major Scale. Example: The C Maj 7 is C-E-G-B|
|The Dominant Seventh||Major Chord + Flattened 7th note of the major scale. Example: The C7 is C-E-G-Bb|
|The Minor Seventh||Minor Chord + 7th Note Of The Minor Chord.Example: In C, it looks as C-Eb-G-Bb|
|The Half Diminished Seventh||Take The Minor Seventh and just flatten the Fifth note. Example: In C, it looks as C-Eb-Gb-Bb|
|The Diminished Seventh||Stacks of Minor ThirdsExample: In C, that looks like this. C-Eb-Gb-A|
What is a Piano Chord Chart?
A chord chart just gives you a guideline to play the song. It won’t tell you everything you need to know to play the song.
The chord will generally have a melody line in the right hand notated along with the chord symbols underneath.
Related: 15 Free Piano Chord Charts
Piano Chord Summary
A piano chord is the combination of notes played on two or more keys at the same time, creating harmony in music. A chord is one sound that lasts longer than any single note would.
We hope you found these tips explaining what piano chords are helpful.
If we missed anything, please let us know in the comments.