How To Form Basic Piano Chords


How To Form Basic Chords
Although chord finders are valuable tools on the Internet, what do we do when we’re sitting at the piano and don’t have access to the computer, trying to figure out chords?
Here’s a breakdown on forming many chords you’ll use in your piano playing. Yes, there are augmented chords, and there are 9, 11 and 13 chords. I have chosen a few basic ones to start with.
Major
Minor
Dominant 7th
Sus4
Sus2 and add9
Diminished
Major Sevenths
Major Chords
Starting from the root note, count up FIVE semi-tones (5 half steps). Always use the root note when counting. This will bring you to the second note in the chord. From and including this note, count up FOUR semi-tones (4 half steps). This will bring us to the final note in the chord.
Example: C Major - C is the root note in this chord. Count up 5 semi-tones from the C: C=1, C#= 2, D=3, Eb=4, E=5. Then, count up 4 semi-tones from the second note in the chord: E=1, F=2, F#=3, G=4. Play the C, E and G together and you have a C Major chord. By using this 'FIVE then FOUR' rule, you can work out any major chord.
Minor (m) Chords
For minor chords, simply reverse the rule for working out major chords. Instead of counting 5 then 4, count 4 then 5.
Example: C Minor - C is the root note in this chord. Count up 4 semi-tones from the C: C=1, C#=2, D=3, Eb=4. Then, count up 5 semi-tones from the second note in the chord: Eb=1, E=2, F=3, F#=4, G=5. Play the C, Eb and G together and you have a C Minor chord. By using this FOUR then FIVE' rule, you can work out any minor chord.
Dominant 7th (7) Chords
With 7th chords, you add an extra note onto the chord. This extra note is always the note two semi-tones (1 whole step) below the root note. However, you don't play this note at the bottom of the chord, you simply move it to the top of the chord.
Example: C7 – Form a C major chord... C, E, and G. The root note of this chord is C. Two semi-tones (1 whole step) below the root note is Bb. Add this Bb to the top of the chord and we have a C7 chord- C, E, G and Bb. The same rule applies for working out minor 7th chords.
Sus4 Chords
Example: Csus4
Play C major - C, E, G. Move the middle note of the chord UP one semi-tone (1 half-step). In this example, move E up one semi-tone. This brings us to F. Play the C, F and G together and we have a Csus4 chord.
Sus2 and add9 Chords
Sus2 Chords - Example: Csus
Play C major - C, E, G. Move the middle note of the chord DOWN two semi-tones (1 whole step). In this example, move the E down two semi-tones. This brings us to D. Play the C, D and G together and we have a Csus2 chord.
Add9 Chords - These chords are nearly identical to sus2 chords. The only difference is, is that you play the middle note as well. So, Cadd9 is made up of, C, D, E and G
Diminished (dim) Chords
Example: Cdim
Play C major - C, E and G. Move the TOP TWO NOTES of the chord DOWN one semi-tone (1 half-step). In this example, move the E and G down one semi-tone. This brings us to Eb and F#. Play the C, Eb and F# together and we have a C dim chord.
Major Seventh (M7) Chords
These chords are used a lot in Jazz music. With major 7th chords, you add an extra note onto the chord. This extra note is always the note ONE semi-tone (1 half-step) below the root note. However, you don't play this note at the bottom of the chord. You simply move it to the top of the chord.
Example: CM7 – Form a C major chord... C, E, and G. The root note of this chord is C. One semi-tone (1 half-step) below the root note is B. Add this B to the top of the chord and we have a CM7 chord... C, E, G and B.
Now you have some music theory to apply to your piano playing. Forming chords will lead to playing chord progressions which will then produce songs.
Until next time,
LadyD



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