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No piano player is gonna get very far without learning about chords.  Luckily, chords are pretty simple and highly addictive to learn, so it shouldn’t be too hard for you to get started.  

The first question you might be asking is…what is a chord?  You can think of a chord as a collection of notes sounding in unison of each other.  Technically you can make a chord out of any combo of three or more notes, but since you’re just starting out you should stick to creating simple chords called triads.  They’re really easy to make.  The first chord you can make is called the C major triad.  This chord is formed of three notes:  a root note, a third, and a fifth note.  So what does that look like applied to the key of C major?  It looks like the notes C – E – G.  

Making a single major triad is one thing, but what makes chords really shine is when you play multiple chords together.  This is called a chord progression.  The easiest way to make chord progressions is to base them off of the key that you’re playing in.  There are a few chords in every key that go great together, so let’s have a look at those.


Every major scale has seven notes, plus an eighth note (the octave) on top.  You can make chords off of every note in this scale.  The next logical note to make a chord off of is the fifth note of the scale.  In the case of C major, that note will be G.  The G chord looks a lot like the C chord, except the notes are now G – B – D.  

The next chord after that is going to sound quite a bit different.  Take the notes that make up the G chord, and move each note up one white key to the right.  Now you’ve got the A minor triad, and it’s made up of     A – C – E.  Even though it looks/feels like a similar chord to your C and G chords, it sounds way different.  We’ll save why that is for a later lesson.  For now just listen to the difference between the C major chord and the A minor chord.  

The final chord to look at is the F major chord.  To make this chord, base it off of the fourth note in the C major scale.  The notes are F – A – C.  

So, now you’ve learned how to make a simple triad and apply that chord shape to several points in the C major scale, creating different chords.  You learned the C major triad, along with G, A minor and F major.  Countless songs have been written using these four chords alone!  Go ahead and try em out in any combination you like.   

Jordan Leibel

Jordan Leibel is passionate about songwriting, improvisation, and helping you become a creative musician! He’s worked as a composer for film, commercial, and theatre projects as well as a session musician and producer for recording work.

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