The Beatles just don’t know how to quit when it comes to writing great songs with simple, effective piano parts. ‘Let It Be’ is one the the most well known Beatles tunes AND it uses one of the most bulletproof, effective, famous chord progressions in all of music history! By learning ‘Let It Be’ you’re also learning the key ingredients for countless other songs. Let’s take a look at those chords now....
The Main Chords
This song was written in the key of C major, which is good news because that means it’s really easy to play. There’s no black keys that you have to worry about. The verse chords are:
C - G - Am - F
C - G - F - C
That’s it! You can either consider these chords as written above, or consider the numerical value of the chords in the scale. If 'numerical value' sounds confusing, don’t worry: it’s as easy as literally counting up each tone in the major scale. So C would be I, G would be V, Am would be vi and F would be IV.
So you can also consider this chord progression as:
I - V - vi - IV
The advantage of looking at a chord progression as chord numbers is that you aren’t locked into a specific key. That way all you have to do to play a song like ‘Let It Be’ in a new key is take that chord progression formula and slot it into the key signature of another key. Boom. A whole new sounding key for the song, and a whole new way to practice it.
The Beatles are jumping for joy because you're learning one of their best songs!
The chorus for this song takes those same chords and changes the order slightly. The chorus progression is:
Am - G - F - C
C - G - F - C
Or, in numerical form:
vi - V - IV - I
I - V - IV - I
Rhythmically, the chorus is locked down by a consistent quarter-note pulse. That means get your metronome out and practice at a few tempos to get comfortable with rhythm. While you’re at it, why not experiment with other inversions of these chords? The chord progressions in this song are so popular, you might just discover some new tunes hidden within them!
That Final Chorus Riff
The final moments of ‘Let It Be’ conclude with a big descending motion, with triumphant organs and bombastic chords. It’s a pretty huge sounding moment, but it’s a lot simpler than it might sound on first listen. Have you been keeping up with your chord inversion exercises? They’ll come in handy for a part like this. Here are the chords:
F - C - F - C - G - F - C - F - C
What makes this section really sing are those chord inversions. Notice how as the keyboard pattern descends, it plays the same chords but in lower inversions. So even though there’s only three chords in this section, the chord inversion motions give the progression some melodic movement as they move down the keyboard.
The Beatles were masters of using simple chord progressions creatively.
Tying It All Together
Practice ‘Let It Be’ in its default key, and then rework it in another more challenging key if you want to further develop your keyboard knowledge. Maybe try F or G major. Try D or A if you want to really enhance your awareness of the black keys. This timeless song uses timeless chord progressions, so any way you choose to attack it will hugely benefit your abilities as a musician. Don’t forget to keep your ears open as you practice! With a chord progression like this, you never know what you’ll end up hearing!