Hearing Piano Chords

After I worked through a music theory book, I started playing chords and listening to their sound. Here's what I discovered. There are four types of piano chord chords:

1. Major
2. Minor
3. Diminished
4. Augmented

Major and minor chords are the two most important chords
It is possible to play many popular tunes using only major and minor chords. Diminished and augmented chords are merely "salt" and "pepper" of music. They are used for passing from one major or minor chord to another. They are also known as the passing chords.

Formula Of Constructing A Chord Using Semitones:
A semitone (also called the half step) is the smallest possible distance on a piano/keyboard.

Major chord formula: 4-3 semitones
Major chord can also be called the pleasant or happy chord.

Minor chord formula: 3-4 semitones
This formula is the opposite of major chord. Using the formula, we can construct/form any minor chord easily. The minor chord can be called the moody chord or the sad chord.

Diminished chord formula: 3-3 semitones
As mentioned, this chord is used sparingly. The main reason is because this chord sound unstable. It is transitional and needs to be resolved to major/minor chord after used. The diminished chord can be
called the suspense chord.

I recommend you try out these chords and hear for yourself the different flavors associated with each types of chord. After some testing you will soon be able to identify each type of chord you come across.

Here's what Jermaine Griggs, the founder of HearandPlay says: "is it possible to build your ear skills and start recognizing chords and progressions in a matter of a couple of months??? --- sure thing. With 2 solid hours a day like (as you mentioned), that goal is very attainable. But it all depends on the person. I know some guys around here that just got one of the videos and had a "knack" for playing. They picked up the material fast... and was able to hear the same chords and progressions in other songs. It amazes me.

For others, it may not click right away. I guess you don't know until you actually take action. Sometimes, trying to analyze this and that holds us back from taking action and getting started."

One of the best audio resources that I listen to for learning how to form various types of chords is here:

I learned about 7 important piano chords from this video:

Chords make up progressions. In order to effectively play chord progressions, one must be able to instantaneously play the chords of progression without having to stop, think about what tones to play, while eventually proceeding on to finish the progression. This is definitely the case with many musicians as they feel that they must memorize every single chord in the book!
It's good to memorize chords; however, understanding how chords are formed will eventually allow you to play any chord you want without even thinking about it. For example, if you knew that a major chord consisted of a minor third on top of a major third, then you'd be able to apply this principle to any keynote.

For example, in C major, if I just combine a major and minor third interval, a C major chord is created. Contrary to that, if I combine a minor and major third interval, a C minor chord is created.

Major + Minor Third = Major Triad (chord)

Minor + Major Third = Minor Triad (chord)

Western harmony is built on fourths and fifths. If you study the overtone series you'll see how these most harmonious of intervals are the foundation of chords and chord theory. Finding fourths on the keyboard is not too difficult. Just skip four keys (The fourth -- isn't is ironic -- is the fifth key away from the root. )

You'll see fourths from the root of the chord down to the fifth of the chord. and you'll also see them between the 3rd and 6th of a chord, such as in 13th chords or 6/9 chords. Also you'll see fourths between the 7th and 3rd of both Major and Minor seventh chords.

There are only 12 different major chords:

3 of the major chords were made of all white keys: C F G.

3 of the major chords were made of white keys on the outside, with a black key in
the middle: D E A.
3 of the major chords were like an Oreo cookie? Black on the outside, white on the inside: Db Eb Ab.

That only leaves 3 major chords, one of which is all black, and one of which is white, black, black, and the other the reverse -- black, white, white. Gb (all black) B (white, black, black) Bb (black, white, white).

And that's it.

Here they are in that order:

Major chords composed of all white keys:

C major chord: C, E, G

F major chord: F, A, C

G major chord: G, B, D

Major chords composed of white keys on the outside with a black key in the center:

D major chord: D, F#, A

E major chord: E, G#, B

A major chord: A, C#, E

Major chords composed of black keys on the outside with a white key in the center: Db major chord:

Db, F, Ab

Eb major chord: Eb, G, Bb

Ab major chord: Ab, C, Eb

Major chords left over:

Gb major chord (all black keys): Gb, Bb, Db

Bb major chord: Bb,

D, F B major chord: B, D#, F#

All these chords shown above are in "root position"; that is, the root, or name of the
chord, is on the bottom of the chord. In a subsequent article we will take up the other
positions in which we can play chords: inversions.

So why do I need to learn the major chords?

The answer is simple: all other chords are formed by altering one or more notes of a major chord. So once you know major chords, it's easy to find minor, diminished, augmented, and extended chords.

So to find a minor chord, all we need to do is lower the 3rd of each chord 1/2 step. So to make the C major chord into a C minor chord, we just need to lower E (the 3rd of the chord) 1/2 step to Eb.

So C minor chord is C, Eb, G

Here are the rest of the minor chords:

F minor chord: F, Ab, C

G minor chord: G, Bb, D

D minor chord: D, F, A

E minor chord: E, G, B

A minor chord: A, C, E

Db minor chord: Db, Fb, Ab (Fb is the same as E)

Eb minor chord: Eb, Gb, Bb

Ab minor chord: Ab, Cb, Eb (Cb is the same as B)

Gb minor chord: Gb, Bbb, Db (Bbb is the same as A)

B minor chord: B, D, F#

Bb minor chord: Bb, Db, F

Learn them well, as you will be playing them all of your life in countless songs.


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