How to Play Piano Chords
Types of Chords
Chords come in various sizes, and can create various moods centered around harmony or dissonance. The smallest chords contain two notes; however, these are more accurately referred to as intervals, because a chord’s type (major, minor, and so on) is dependent on its having one more note …
Which brings us to the triad; a three-note chord made up of the following:
- Root Note: Foundation for the entire chord; names the chord with a letter.
- Third: A major (M3) or minor (m3) interval above the root.
- Fifth: May be “perfect” (P5), diminished (♭5), or augmented (♯5).
Building Triad Chords
A triad’s type relies on both its third and its fifth; or, more specifically, the distance between these notes and the root note. Compare the four most common triad types using C as the root:■ C Major
■ C Minor
■ C Diminished
■ C Augmented
Building Larger Chords
A triad can stand alone as a chord, or it may be expanded upon to form a larger chord. You can simply add another root note to the triad to make it a 4-note chord (C-E-G-C); or, intervals may be added to change the chord type:
● Seventh Chords
A triad chord with a seventh interval added above the root:
○ Cmaj7: C - E - G - B (M3, P5, M7)
○ Cdom7: C - E - G - B♭ (M3, P5, m7)
○ Cmin7: C - E♭ - G - B♭ (m3, P5, m7)
○ Cm/M7: C - E♭ - G - B (m3, P5, M7)
* Try It: Build yourself a Caug7 and a Cdim7 chord based on the above principles.
Seventh Piano Chord Diagrams:
See More Musical Symbols:
■Staff & Barlines ■Note Lengths ■Articulation Marks ■Repeat Signs
■The Grand Staff ■Dotted Notes ■Dynamics & Volume ■Segno & Coda Signs
■Time Signatures ■Accidentals ■Key Signatures ■Pedal Marks
■Tempo Commands ■Piano Chords ■Music Rests ■8va & Octave Commands