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How to play the chords on the piano?

Updated: Oct 25, 2022

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Introduction


Chords are a series of most likely harmonised notes that we play them simultaneously on the piano keys. Chords are used in contemporary music mostly as it gives a hormonal texture to the songs. There might be an almost unlimited number of chords in music. But we will start from scratch!

To learn the chords in music its recommended that you understand the notes and scales in music and piano.


Triads


A regular chord on the piano is made of three main notes/ keys, we often call them 'Triad'. Triads consist of the :

  1. The first note of the scale ( Root or Tonic)

  2. The third note of the scale (3rd)

  3. And the fifth note of the scale (5th)

C major & minor chords are the main examples of this post. So now we need to remember the S major scale. We will build on this to the other chords later on.

In the example below, let's have a look at the numbers in the C major scale.


C major scale on the piano


Following the formula for making a triad will give us this:


C major chord on the piano

Does it make sense? If you have an instrument ( Keyboard - Piano) try to play these three keys together and see how it sounds. Soon we will get into the practicals and hand positioning. Now let's have a look at the samples for C minor scale and chord:


C minor scale on the piano

As you remember C minor scale has three accidental (black keys). However, using the same formula we can find the triad chord for this key signature:


C minor chord on the piano


Chord variations


The chords that we have covered so far are in a default format. Now we can adjust the sound of the same chord by changing and swapping the keys inside the chord. Basically, if we change the order of the notes we can create a different sound of the chords on the piano. Have a look at the example below and try them on your instrument and compare the sound to the original version of the C major chord:


C major tiad (Format 2)

C major tiad (Format 3)

Can you hear the difference? We will use this method to build chord progression in the coming future, making the music sound good!


Power chords

Power chords are very similar to triads. the only difference is that power chords are only made of two keys; Tonic plus the 5th! You can try to play it on your instrument.

You may have noticed that In power chords modulating between major and minor doesn't exist as we don't use the 3rd interval of the scales for the chord.


As we will soon continue to talk about the other scales (major, minor etc.) we will get to learn more chords.

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