How To Play Any Chord On The Piano

Chords are the foundation for all music. If you learn to understand how chords work and how to play them, you will open up a whole new world of music. In this post, I’ll teach you the formulas for working out and playing all major, minor, and seventh chords on the piano. 

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BASIC CHORD THEORY

Before we get stuck into learning all of those chords let us first learn some basic musical vocabulary.

What is a chord?  A chord is when you play 2 or more notes at the same time to produce a ‘harmonic’ relationship between them. To understand this article you need to know:

  • The root is the note and scale the chord is built upon and named after. For example, the root note of a C minor chord is C.
  • A broken chord means to play the notes of the chord separately rather than together.
  • A block chord is the opposite of a broken chord and you play all of the chord’s notes at the same time.
  • A chord inversion means to change the order of the notes in a chord.  When a chord is inverted, the root note will not be at the bottom of the chord. 

 

TRIAD CHORDS

A triad chord is one which has 3 notes.  Generally, a pianist will play the 3 note chord in the right hand but also double the root note in the left hand playing it as a four-note chord.

Major Chords

We begin with the most common and simplest chord of them all: the major chord. They sound ‘happy’, ‘resolute’ and ‘positive’. They are built using the first, third, and fifth notes of the major scale. If you understand intervals, a major triad is made up from a minor third sat on top of a major third. Here is a C major triad:


 Here are all of the major chord triads:

How To PLay Piano Triads
How To PLay A D Major Triad
How To PLay Piano Chords
How To PLay Piano Chords
How To PLay Major Triads On Piano
How To PLay Piano Triads
How To PLay Piano Chords
How To PLay Piano Chords
How To PLay Piano Chords
How To PLay Piano Chords
How To PLay Major Triads On Piano
How To PLay Piano Triads

Minor Chords

The minor chord is the closest relative to the major chord. Minor chords sound ‘dark’, ‘solemn’, and ‘sad’. They are built upon the first, flattened third, and fifth of the major scale. To ‘flatten’ a note you lower it by a half-step or semitone. If you know your scales, a minor chord can be built using the 1st, 3rd and 5th of the harmonic minor scale. A minor triad has a major third sat on top of a minor third.

C minor triad. Piano Chords

 Here are all of the minor chord triads:

How to play C minor piano triad
How to play D minor piano triad
How to play E minor piano triad
How to play F# minor piano triad
How to play Ab minor piano triad
How to play B minor piano triad
How to play C# minor piano triad
How to play Eb minor piano triad
How to play F minor piano triad
How to play G minor piano triad
How to play A minor piano triad
How to play Bb minor piano triad

Diminished Chords

Diminished chords sound ‘spooky’, ‘magical’, and ‘unstable’. The word diminish means ‘to reduce’ or ‘shrink’. The third in this chord, just like the minor triad, is also flattened. Diminished chords are then further ‘reduced’ by flattening the fifth too.

 

How to play C diminished piano triad

 Here are all of the diminished chord triads:

How to play C diminished piano triad
How to play D diminished piano triad
How to play Bb diminished piano triad
How to play C# diminished piano triad
How to play A diminished piano triad
How to play B diminished piano triad

Augmented Chords

Augmented chords sound ‘tense’ or anxious’ because of their instability  They are ‘bigger’ than a major triad as the 5th is sharpened or raised by a half-step. 

 

How to play a C augmented triad on piano

 Here are all of the augmented triad chords:

How to play a C augmented triad on the piano
How to play a D augmented triad on the piano
How to play a E augmented triad on the piano
How to play a F# augmented triad on the piano
How to play a Ab augmented triad on the piano
How to play a Bb augmented triad on the piano
How to play a Db augmented triad on the piano
How to play a Eb augmented triad on the piano
How to play a F augmented triad on the piano
How to play a G augmented triad on the piano
How to play a A augmented triad on the piano
How to play a B augmented triad on the piano

7th Chords and Chord Extensions

 

You can play any piece of music using the trad chords above and they will sound great. However, seventh chords and chord extensions add even more depth to your playing. The extra notes in these harmonies add greater tension to the music and it starts to sound more like jazz. 

Major 7th Chords

Major 7th chords sound ‘luxurious’ and ‘dreamy’ but still have the ‘happy’ and ‘joyous’ sounds of a major triad. Major 7th chords add the 7th note on top of the major triad. Don’t get them confused with the dominant seventh chord in the next section. They are different. Here is a C major seventh chord.

 

How to play C major 7th chord on the piano

 Here are all of the major 7th chords:

How to play C major 7th chord on the piano
How to play D major 7th chord on the piano
How to play E major 7th chord on the piano
How to play Gb major 7th chord on the piano
How to play Ab major 7th chord on the piano
How to play Bb major 7th chord on the piano
How to play Db major 7th chord on the piano
How to play Eb major 7th chord on the piano
How to play F major 7th chord on the piano
How to play G major 7th chord on the piano
How to play A major 7th chord on the piano
How to play B major 7th chord on the piano

Dominant 7th Chords

Dominant 7th chords add the flattened 7th note to the major triad. In music ‘dominant’ means ‘fifth. The root of the C dominant 7th chord is C. C is the fifth note of the F major scale which has a Bb in its key signature. For this reason, the C7 chord is the dominant 7th chord of F major and has the notes C-E-G-Bb. Here is the dominant 7th chord in root position,

 

How to play a C dominant 7th chord on the piano

 Here are all of the dominant 7th chords:

How to play C dominant 7th chord on the piano
How to play D dominant 7th chord on the piano
How to play E dominant 7th chord on the piano
How to play Gb dominant 7th chord on the piano
How to play Ab dominant 7th chord on the piano
How to play Bb dominant 7th chord on the piano
How to play Db dominant 7th chord on the piano
How to play Eb dominant 7th chord on the piano
How to play F dominant 7th chord on the piano
How to play G dominant 7th chord on the piano
How to play A major 7th chord on the piano
How to play B dominant 7th chord on the piano

Minor 7th Chords

Minor 7th chords are the same as the minor triad (1-b3-5) with a minor 7th or b7th on top. So if C is the root of the chord you would get C-Eb-G-Bb:

 

How to play a Cm7 chord on the piano

 Here are all of the dominant 7th chords:

How to play C Minor 7th on the piano
How to play D Minor 7th on the piano
How to play E Minor 7th on the piano
How to play Gb Minor 7th on the piano
How to play Ab Minor 7th on the piano
How to play Bb Minor 7th on the piano
How to play Db Minor 7th on the piano
How to play Eb Minor 7th on the piano
How to play Minor 7th on the piano
How to play G Minor 7th on the piano
How to play A Minor 7th on the piano
How to play Minor 7th on the piano
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6. will find someone giving away a free piano on Facebook Market Place.

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10. will prove to yourself that you can do it!

 

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