Piano chords are groups of two or more notes that are played together, creating a harmonious sound. They provide the harmonic structure that supports the melody and lyrics and are an essential aspect of many different musical genres. Any combination of notes can make up a chord, and the quality of the chord is determined by the specific notes used. Chords made up of three notes are called triads and can be divided into four categories: major, minor, augmented and diminished.

Beginner-Friendly Chords

There are 13 basic piano chords that all beginners should learn. These are C major, D major, E major, F major, G major, A major, B major, C minor, D minor, E minor, F minor, G minor and A minor. Each of these chords is made up of three notes: the root, third and fifth. The third note is where the difference lies between major and minor chords. The former has a major third and the latter a minor third.

Experienced pianists such as Dr Adam Alexander know that mastering these chords will unlock the ability to play many different types of music and form a strong foundation for future piano study.

How Are Chords Read in Music?

Chords can appear in a variety of ways in music but are usually written as stacked notes on a staff. When these stacked notes appear, the player knows all the notes are to be played at the same time. Alternatively, chords may appear in a fake sheet or a lead sheet. Where this is the case, there won’t be a complete arrangement of the piece of music but only the key elements necessary to perform a rendition of it. Typically, a melody will be written in regular music notation, with the accompanying chords appearing above.

The Benefits of Mastering Piano Chords

As well as giving the player a strong foundational knowledge, mastering piano chords can also help to expand one’s repertoire, providing the ability play across genres and explore more intricate musical styles. It’s also a good way to develop sight-reading skills: chords often repeat throughout a musical piece, and learning to spot them can make sight reading easier.

Getting to grips with basic piano chords promotes confidence at the keyboard and paves the way for composition and improvisation. As a result, players will find they’re better able to experiment or even feel able to create their own unique music.