Piano Chords – The Basis of Harmonizing

How to play piano chords

Piano Chords are nothing but a combination of notes played together. Here you will learn more about the advantages of playing chords, and the different types of chords…

Piano Chords are nothing but a combination of notes played together. Knowing to play chords is the first step if you want to harmonize any piece of music on your own. Harmonizing simply means adding notes below the melody note to give a far richer sound. That is the reason you need to learn piano chords!

To see how important chords are, ask somebody who can play the piano to play a song, first with chords and then the same song without chords i.e. just play the melody. See the difference that chords can make to your playing.

Important Reasons to Learn Chords

Centuries back, when man would have first learnt to sing, at some stage he would have figured out that a group of people singing together makes a much louder / fuller sound. And the same thing when sung, with individuals singing a few notes higher or lower, produces a much more dramatic sound.

No wonder then that singing in big groups is extremely widely spread in traditional cultures.

If you get an opportunity to listen to a choir (musical ensemble of singers), don’t miss it! A good singer when singing all alone can sound sweet, but hearing an ensemble is a totally different experience.

That is the reason chords are used, to harmonize the melody so that the overall effect of the song is enhanced.

Piano Chords

Helps in Song-Writing

Here’s how it can help, when you are creating a song!

Assuming you have created a nice melody, and also have the lyrics in place. You just can’t have drums & bass playing in the background. It might still be good enough as a demo track, but still anybody who is listening to the track will feel something is missing.

And the missing part is the tracks that usually include piano, guitar, synths & pads part that play the various chords, and which makes the song sound fuller.

Get an Advantage

Now that you know the important reason behind this, there are also other reasons why you (or your child) should learn to play chords.

If your child is learning in school, most probably chords will come in quite later. Even though your child might know the notes to play Happy Birthday, Jingle Bells, Silent Night, and many more songs, he/she can make it sound much better by using chords.

Why not get an advantage by learning to play chords?

You can make the most of your family gatherings during Christmas every year, or even at other social gatherings, and also get some admiration in return.

Have you read / heard that piano playing is good for the brain? Of course it is!

After all, you are giving your brain a good work-out by learning to play those three or four note chords, and also moving from one to another smoothly.

Basic Chords

Let us look at some of the most commonly used chords.

Everybody starts with these Piano chords! A basic chord is nothing but a combination of three notes and derives its name from the name of the bottom note, also known as the Root Note. Some of the popular basic chords are – Major, Minor, Diminished and Augmented.

You will need to learn to play these chords as well as hear the difference between each of these different types. For Major and Minor chords, you will also have to learn to play the various chord inversions.

Other Chords

Most of the other chords are derived from the basic chords by adding more notes to it. These chords have more than 3 notes, where the first three notes remain the same as in the basic chord. To begin with you need to learn the basic chords and then gradually move onto these chords.

There are lots of chords that can be derived from the basic chords but these are some of the most commonly used chords – Sixth chord, Major seventh chord, Seventh chord, Minor seventh chord. The seventh chord is something which you can look to learn before the other chords since it is used as part of a cadence i.e. as part of the chord progression to end a song.

This Piano Chord Chart Helps You to Remember the Various Types of Chords

Piano Chord Chart: There are various kinds of chords that you can play while harmonizing a song and each of the chords has its own construction rules. You may find it a bit difficult initially to remember the different types of chords and as such a reference chart may be helpful. The piano chord chart below shows the construction rules for the most commonly used chords.

  • For this chart, Root Note is assumed to be C.

  • # = Sharp, b = Flat

  • Chord Type Chord Symbol Scale Notes Used
    Major C 1 – 3 – 5
    Minor Cm 1 – 3b – 5
    Augmented C+ 1 – 3 – 5#
    Diminished Cdim 1 – 3b – 5b
    Suspended fourth Csus 1 – 4 – 5
    Sixth C6 1 – 3 – 5 – 6
    Minor Sixth Cm6 1 – 3b – 5 – 6
    Seventh C7 1 – 3 – 5 – 7b
    Major Seventh Cmaj7 1 – 3 – 5 – 7
    Minor Seventh Cm7 1 – 3b – 5 – 7b
    Diminished Seventh Cdim7 1 – 3b – 5b – 6

    Watch: Piano Chords chart

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