Basic Piano Chords for Beginners – Easily Learn New Songs In No Time

Piano Chords for BeginnersAre you ready to start playing some sweet tunes on your keyboard? The easiest way to do this is by learning chords. Chords are present in almost every single song and are, therefore, a way to start making music.

This article talks about the different piano chords and how you can play them! We also included several charts. So if you can, try to follow by playing these basic piano chords on your piano or keyboard.

What are Piano Chords?

Chords (1) are created by playing more than one note at the same time. They are used in different instruments and are used to define the harmony of a song. Some chords are complicated, but simple piano chords can be fun and exciting to learn for beginners. 

Chords are often three notes played at the same time. However, some musicians use broken chords also known as an arpeggio. Broken chords or Arpeggio is when the notes in a chord are played one after the other instead of simultaneously. 

This type of chords is common in many types of music, especially pop. 

The most common type of chords is called a triad. These are chords composed of three distinct notes:

  • Root Note – Usually the first note of a triad and is used to identify the chord.
  • Third Interval – The middle note of a chord that is usually two scale degrees above the root note.
  • Fifth Interval – The third note of a chord that is usually on the fifth scale degree above the root note.

However, chords can have more than three notes. These are called extended chords, added tone chords, and tone clusters. These types of chords are often used in contemporary classical and jazz music. A series of chords is called a chord progression

The Most Common Piano Chords for Beginners

There are thousands of chords that you can play on any instrument. However, some chords are more popular than others. These chords are the ones you often hear when you listen to your favorite songs. Let us take a look at the most common piano chords:

Chord
Notes
A Major (A)
A – C# – E
A Minor (Am)
A – C – E
C Major (C)
C – E – G
C Minor (Cm)
C – E♭ – G
D Major (D)
D – F# – A
D Minor (Dm)
D – F – A
E Major (E)
E – G# – B
E Minor (Em)
E – G – B
F Major (F)
F – A – C
F Minor (Fm)
F – A♭ – C
G Major (G)
G – B – D
G Minor (Gm)
G – B♭ – D

If you are not sure how to play these notes on the piano, here is a visual guide:

Common Piano Chords

Learn Piano Chords: A Quick Guide to Keys

Before we delve deeper into other types of chords, first, let us go over a brief explanation about piano keys and intervals. 

Take a look at this image below:

Quick Guide to KeysThis is a labeled photo of piano keyboard keys. Consider it as a pattern. The same pattern repeats over and over throughout the entire piano. Once you memorize this, it will be much easier to memorize every key of the piano.

Intervals

The distance between piano notes is called an interval. Intervals are measured in half-steps and whole steps.

IntervalsFor example, a Major scale is composed of two whole steps, a half step, three whole steps, and another half step.

A half step is the distance between one key to the one next to it, whether left or right. The distance of a whole step is two half steps. The most common major interval used in piano music is called the major third, which is the distance of two whole steps or four half steps.

White Keys

White kEYSIf you look closely, the piano keys follow a certain pattern. The pattern consists of 2 black keys bracketed by 3 white keys and then 3 black keys bracketed by 2 white keys. These white keys are also known as natural notes.

Black Keys 

Black KeysBlack keys, on the other hand, are also known as flat and sharp keys. A sharp key, notated on music sheets using the “#” symbol is half a note (also known as a semitone) higher than its corresponding white key. On the other hand, a flat key, notated on music sheets using the “” symbol is a semitone lower than its corresponding white key.

If you look at the image above, you will notice that each black key is shared by both a flat and a sharp. An easy way to remember these keys is that a sharp key will always be on the right of a white key while a flat key will always be on the left.

Tip: A C note with a # beside it is read as “C-sharp” while a D with a “♭” beside it is read as “D-flat”.

Major Piano Chords

A major chord is the most common triad. It is versatile which makes it a perfect introduction to chords, especially for beginners. Major chords are used in every pop or rock song! Try listening to The Beatles’ Let It Be. The very first chord in the song is a C Major.

Here is a handy list of the most common major chords:

Chord
Notes
C Major (C)
C – E – G
C# Major (C#) / D♭ Major (D♭)
C# – E# – G#
D Major (D)
D – F# – A
D# Major (D#) / E♭ Major (E♭)
E♭ – G – B♭
E Major (E)
E – G# – B
F Major (F)
F – A – C
F# Major (F) / G♭ Major (G♭)
F# – A# – C#
G Major (G)
G – D – B
G# Major (G#) / A♭ Major (A♭)
A♭ – C – E♭
A Major (A)
A – C# – E
A# Major (A#) / B♭ Major (B♭)
B♭ – D – F
B Major (B)
B – D# – F#

If you have trouble playing these chords on your own piano keyboard, here is a visual representation:

Major Piano ChordsMajor chord intervals are called “major third and perfect fifth”. To find the intervals on a major scale, all you need to do is count three and a half steps or seven half steps.

Minor Piano Chords

Now that we know the most common major piano chords, let us move on to minor piano chords

Similar to Major chords, a minor chord is also a triad which means it is composed of three notes. Most songs are created with a mixture of both major and minor chords. 

Here are the most common minor chords:

Chord
Notes
C Minor (Cm)
C – E♭ – G
C# Minor (C#m) / D♭ Minor (D♭m)
C# – E – G#
D Minor (Dm)
D – F – A
D# Minor (D#m) / E♭ Minor (E♭m)
E♭ – G♭ – B♭
E Minor (Em)
E – G – B
F Minor (Fm)
F – A♭ – C
F# Minor (F#m) / G♭ Minor (G♭m)
F# – A – C#
G Minor (Gm)
G – B♭ – D
G# Minor (G#m) / A♭ Minor (A♭m)
A♭ – C♭ – E♭
A Minor (Am)
A – C – E
A# Minor (A#m) / B♭ Minor (B♭m)
B♭ – D♭ – F
B Minor (Bm)
B – D – F#

If you have trouble playing these chords on your own piano keyboard, here is a visual representation:

Minor Piano ChordsMinor chord intervals are called “minor third and perfect fifth”.  An example of a song that begins with a minor chord is Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb.

Augmented Piano Chords

Unlike Major and Minor chords, Augmented piano chords are less often used in pop and rock music but more as a transitional chord. If you listen to the pre-chorus of Roy Orbison’s song “Crying”, you will be able to hear how an augmented chord is used for transition.

Here is a handy list of the most common augmented piano chords:

Chord
Notes
C Augmented (Caug)
C – E- G#
C# Augmented (C#aug) / D♭ Augmented (D♭aug)
C# – E# – G##
D Augmented (Daug)
D – F# – A#
D# Augmented (D#aug) / E♭ Augmented (E♭aug)
D# – F## – A##
E Augmented (Eaug)
E – G# – B#
F Augmented (Faug)
F – A – C#
F# Augmented (F#aug) / G♭ Augmented (G♭aug)
F# – A# – C##
G Augmented (Gaug)
G – B – D#
G# Augmented (G#aug) / A♭ Augmented (A♭aug)
G# – B# – D##
A Augmented (Aaug)
A – C# – E#
A# Augmented (A#aug) / B♭ Augmented (B♭aug)
A# – C## – E##
B Augmented (Baug)
B – D# – F##

As you can see, this seems a bit more complicated than the Major and Minor chords. No worries, though, as here is a visual representation of the notes. You can use this as a reference so you can play them on your own piano keyboard:

Augmented Piano ChordsAugmented chords use a major third as well as a raised or “augmented” fifth. For an augmented fifth, the interval is 4 whole steps or 8 half steps from the root note.

Diminished Piano Chords

Lastly, we have diminished piano chords. Diminished chords, similar to augmented chords are less often used in music. They are also mostly used as transition chords between two stable-sounding chords. Diminished chords have a tense, spooky-sounding tone. If you would like to hear an example of the way diminished chords are used, you can listen to the song “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys. 

Here is a list of common diminished chords:

Chord
Notes
C Diminished (Cdim)
C – E♭ – G♭
C# Diminished (C#dim) / D♭ Diminished (D♭dim)
C# – E – G
D Diminished (Ddim)
D – F – A♭
D# Diminished (D#dim) / E♭ Diminished (E♭dim)
D# – F# – A
E Diminished (Edim)
E – G – B♭
F Diminished (Fdim)
F – A♭ – C♭
F# Diminished (F#dim) / G♭ Diminished (G♭dim)
F# – A – C
G Diminished (Gdim)
G – B♭ – D♭
G# Diminished (G#dim) / A♭ Diminished (A♭dim)
G# – B – D
A Diminished (Adim)
A – C – E♭
A# Diminished (A#dim) / B♭ Diminished (B♭dim)
A# – C# – E
B Diminished (Bdim)
B – D – F

If you are having trouble finding these notes on your keyboard, here is a visual representation of the notes. You can use them for reference if you would like to hear what a certain diminished chord sounds like on your piano keyboard:

Diminished Piano ChordsReady to Learn Piano Chords?

Now that you have an idea about basic piano chords used in music, you can start learning how to play them. What is great about learning these chords is that they will surely help you get ready for your next music lessons. Because these chords are commonly used in pop and rock music, you can certainly use them to learn your favorite songs–or even make your own! 

Want to learn more about the piano? Learn the complete keyboard diagram. You may also check out the best piano lessons online and learn how to read sheet music notes.

Basic Piano Chords for Beginners – Easily Learn New Songs In No Time

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