Just What are Piano Chords?

You may have heard of people playing chords and that's led you to ask, “What are piano chords?” Well, go to your piano or keyboard ... then play a C, E, and G together. You have just played a chord. It’s a C chord.

It's as simple as that.

What Are Piano Chords?

So, what are piano chords? 

So, what are piano chords? A chord is a group of notes - usually 3 or 4. What letters and numbers you see in the chord tells you what notes to play.

What is a chord

What Do You Need To Know To Play Chords?

To play chords you need to:

You don't need to be able to read music. 

You also need to have a piano or a keyboard - see my recommendations for which piano keyboard to buy here.

There Are Different Types of Chords

There are lots of different types of chords and you can play them all sort of different ways. 

Some people think of chords in terms of families. Two of the families are listed just below - major and minor. They are the ones to start with. 

Major Chords

In the beginning, you can start by learning major chords. They are 3 note chords. They will sound the same as the C chord I mentioned earlier.

Major chords are written as just a letter name. For example: F, G, Bb, C#. To play a major chord, you have to skip every other note. With the C chord, we skipped playing D and F. For a G chord, you play the notes G, B, and D. You don’t play A and C.

There are 3 major chords you can play using only the white keys: C, G, and F. With different letter names than these, you need to add in some black keys so that they sound right. For example, you play a D chord by using D, F#, A. 

What Are Major Chords

Minor Chords

Now, try playing an A, C, and E together on the piano. It sounds different than the major chord. It’s a minor chord. There are 3 minor chords that you can play only on the white keys. They are am, dm, and em. Start on the letter written and skip every other note.

The small “m” means it’s a minor chord. To find other minor chords, you’ll need to play on some black notes. You can do the same thing as you did with the major keys. Listen to the sound of the chord and try to recreate it starting on a different key. 

What are minor chords

You can take minor chords a step further and learn about the wonderful minor seventh or m7 chord

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How To Know Which Chords Are Which

Twice now I’ve mentioned playing black notes – or sharps and flats. One way to figure out which notes to play is by sound. Another way is to memorize chords. I have a page of chord charts. You can look up individual chords there.

You can also download a free Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet at the bottom of the page. 

The third way of learning more about chords is to know the different types and how to make them. You've answered the beginner question of "what are piano chords." Now you can ask the same question but a step higher. You'll be asking, "what are piano chords" in terms of their names and how to build them.

There are many different types of chords. It can be a little overwhelming when you see them all there. In a song however, there are usually only a few complicated ones. Knowing the major chords and minor chords will get you far

Learning More About Chords

To learn more about the names of the chords and how to read them, click here: read piano chords . After reading about the different types, you can begin to learn about chord theory and key signatures. 

Learning how to make chords is really beneficial. Do this by learning some chord theory. Learning it makes for quick playing. Instead of stopping to look up a chord, you can figure it out of the spot.

If you’re really interested in learning about chords and being able to play them well, I recommend taking a course called Piano Power Chords. It has 39 lessons (including video lessons) specifically on chords. It's the best chord course out there I think.

Free Download:

Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet

Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet

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    FAQ for What Are Piano Chords

    1. What is a piano chord?

    A piano chord is a set of two or more notes played simultaneously. These notes can be played in a number of ways, including blocked (all notes at once) or broken (notes played separately in a sequence).

    2. What are the most common types of piano chords?

    The most common types of piano chords are major chords, minor chords, seventh, minor seventh, and suspended chords. There are also more complex chords like suspended seventh chords, ninth chords, second chords, and added tone chords.

    3. What is a major chord on the piano?

    A major chord is a type of chord that consists of a root note, a major third above the root, and a perfect fifth above the root. For example, the C major chord consists of the notes C, E, and G.

    4. What is a minor chord on the piano?

    A minor chord is a type of chord that consists of a root note, a minor third above the root, and a perfect fifth above the root. For example, the A minor chord consists of the notes A, C, and E.

    5. How are piano chords notated?

    Piano chords are typically notated with the root note followed by the chord quality. For example, C Major would be notated as "C," A minor as "Am," F sharp diminished as "F#dim," and so on.

    6. What are chord inversions?

    Chord inversions are when the notes of a chord are rearranged so that a note other than the root is the lowest note. Inversions can give a chord a different sound and make chord progressions smoother.

    7. What is the difference between a chord and a scale?

    A chord is a combination of two or more notes played simultaneously, while a scale is a series of notes played in ascending or descending order. Chords are built from scales.

    8. Do I need to learn chords to play the piano?

    While it's possible to play the piano without knowing chords, understanding chords can greatly enhance your ability to play and understand music, as chords form the harmonic backbone of most musical pieces. Learning to read and play sheet music doesn’t really require learning chords.

    9. What are some ways I can practice chords?

    You can practice chords by playing them in different progressions, practicing them in different keys, and using them to accompany songs. You can also practice chord inversions to improve your flexibility and familiarity with the keyboard.

    Hopefully I’ve answered the question, “what are piano chords.” Now that you know, you can begin to learn more about them and start playing. It's a great way to play and a great way to learn piano without even needing sheet music

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