When learning to play the piano like most other instruments piano chords
begin to play a vital role. Instead of playing single notes such as melody
notes you place your hand into a certain position that allows you to play
three notes at once with the melody as the top note. Any combination of three keys produces a
triad but pressing only certain groups of keys at once will produce nice sounds that
are musically correct and will sound good to the ear. Most music is written
containing three elements which are melody, harmony and rhythm. Harmony is
produced when a person plays two or more notes at the same time. To master
playing the piano learning chords becomes vital to playing great sounding
In musical theory many different types of chords exist, some are used more
frequent than others depending on the style of music that the person is
going to play. A triad called the major triad is derived from the major
scale. To play a major triad the first, third and fifth degrees of the major
scale are played together. Using the c major scale the notes played would
be c, e, and g, This would produce what would appeal to the ear as a “happy” or normal
In piano chords the minor triads are taken from the minor scale and are
built using the same degrees, the first, third and fifth and are played at
the same time. Looking at the c minor scale these notes are c, e flat and
g. And with minor scales the third note is one half step lower. Playing this
combination of notes produces a sound that appears sadder.
Augmented and diminished are the triads you will run into least often as
they are like the salt and pepper of music. Looking at the fifth degree of the scale where
they are played these are recognized by seeing augmented is raised a half
step while diminished piano chords are lowered half a step (along with the lowered 3rd).
Many other piano chords exists that include combinations that use scale
degrees such as seventh, ninth, and thirteenth that appear across various
styles of music. Country and jazz songs frequently use sevenths while
ninths and thirteenths commonly appear when the blues and jazz are being played. When it comes
to scales they are only made of seven notes and the idea of ninths and
thirteenths may strike you as odd and in this case remember a ninth as
well as a second are one and the same as the notes are counted by not
repeating one each time the root note is struck.
It does not matter what type of piano chords you are playing or what scale
it is based on, you can make what is called a inverted chord. Using the c
major scale the first inversion would be to move the root note to the top
while e becomes the bottom note making the notes to be played e, g and
c. Doing this changes what the tone sounds like and the impression it has
on the music being played. Turn it upside down again and you have second
inversion – G, C, E.
Learning to play piano chords will make your music more enjoyable and will
allow you to become more comfortable as you will recognize the variations
more quickly making it easier when you are learning a new piece of music.
This post is NOT written by Duane, but by a guest poster.