Basic Piano Chords

This page was last updated on Friday 28th of August 2015

If you are interesting in learning about basic piano chords you have come to the right place.

To gain a better understanding of chords you should learn the notes on the piano keyboard. If you know your alphabet you are almost there.

Piano ChordsThe first note on a full size piano is called “A”. The first note on most electronic keyboards is called “C”.

When you look at the piano keyboard you will see a repeating pattern. The pattern is 7 white keys and 5 black keys.

The note C is the first white note of the octave. The next white notes are D, E, F, G, A, B. From this point the pattern repeats as you move to the right. As you move to the right you should hear the pitch increase.

Black keys on the keyboard will be a little harder to learn. These notes have a different color (black) and shape. They are named to correspond to their neighbor white keys. The black note that is above C major is called C sharp. Sharp means ‘higher’. D sharp is the black note above D, there is no sharp above E, then there is F#,G#, and A# (‘#’ is the musical symbol for a sharp note).

Discover More About Basic Piano Chords

The black keys are also called by another name, according to the note before the key, which is the flat key. This identifies the note before D as D Flat. The black note before E is called E flat, and so on. The symbol for a flat note looks like a ‘♭’, and E flat is written as E♭.

All types of piano music use chords as the building blocks for the musical sounds.

A chord is a group of notes played simultaneously to create harmony. You strike two or more notes on the keyboard to make the chord sound. Chords provide the texture to accompany the melody and provide the rhythm for the song being played.

Some piano teachers believe a pianist can play almost anything on the piano with a understanding of basic piano chords. A good knowledge of chords and musical terms will help most beginners learn to play the piano faster and to increase their potential for mastering the piano.

Types of Piano Chords

Piano chords are major, minor, whole tone, chromatic, pentatonic, octatonic, lacrian, dorian, lydian, diminished, and augmented.

Memorize Chords

To begin it is very important to learn the basic structure of chords and to learn the different types. It is best that you memorize them. Learning chords early in developing piano skills will help them come to you later naturally while piano playing. They are not hard to learn once you understand the basic structure.


The piano keyboard with white keys and black keys are made up of whole and half-step keys.

Chords start on a particular note and is made up of a combination of several whole and half-step notes. The starting note determines whether you are playing a major key or a minor key.

The basic chord is made up of three notes which are known as a triad. All chords are built around notes on a scale.

A triad can be defined as a collection of three notes that are played at the same time where the

– first note is the root note
– the second note is 4 half-steps higher than the first
– the third note is 3 half-steps higher than the second

Let’s Build a Chord For Example.

The G major scale notes are G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G.

To play a simple triad is the play the first note of the scale, the third note, and the fifth note on the scale. So the G major chord is a combination of the G, B, and D notes on the G major scale.

If you start with the second note of a major scale and build a triad, you will play a minor chord.

Start with A the second note of the G Major Scale and play note C and note E and you will play the A minor chord.

Now start with B the third note of the G major scale and include D and F# and you are playing a B minor chord.

Starting with the fourth note and playing notes C, E, and G you will be playing the C major chord.

Beginning with the fifth note you creates the D major chord when you play the notes D, F#, and A.

The sixth note returns to a minor chord which is E minor when you play E, G, and B.

The final chord starts with the seventh note F# and is called F Sharp diminished chord when you play F#, A, and C as the triad. A diminished chord has its own unique sound and does not sound like a major or minor chord sound.

So you can see that the starting note identifies whether a major chord or minor chord is being played.

Now you should have a better understanding of a chord and how piano chord progression comes out of the scale that a song’s key is based on.

Chord Harmonize a Piece of Melody

The melody of a song is usually played with right hand while the piano chords that accompany the melody is played with the left hand. For a piece of music to be complete you have to play chords.

Therefore, a good understanding of the theory of basic piano chords is important.

Learn Basic Piano Chords –
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    • says

      Glad you asked.

      The importance part of chords is helping the listener of the music being played to see how the notes go together or harmonize. This is really important if you plan on learning how to write your own music. Chords can be used in many ways to create many good sounding songs on the piano. Through understanding the piano basic chords you can understand how music is written.

      Good luck with learn piano chords!

  1. vincent says


    Sir what is important to help me learn how to play the piano. Do I need to practice the piano everyday or what?

    • says

      Thanks for contacting us about learning to play the piano. I suggest you start by buying Piano For All. After that you should establish a routine and schedule for practicing the piano per the instruction in Piano For All on a daily basis.

      Good Luck!

  2. Kelvin says

    Hy,i appreciate your tips and piano teacher taught me that a song is played by 3major keys and 3minor does one know where to put all the 3 minor keys.thank you!

    • says

      I thank it depends on the person writing the music or playing the song. It is all about how it sounds to you.

    • says

      Not sure which chords you are referring to when you write “a 7 in front of them.”

      Please provide an example.

      Have a great day!


      • ChordMaster says

        I think he means power chords, or chords followed by a 7 such as the C7 chord. I’m just beginning on piano, but on guitar adding that 7 changes the entire sound and feel of the chord just by changing one note (for C7 on guitar this change is from G to Bb). I don’t know how this works on piano, and I’m a little curious! :)

        • Andrew says

          The 7 actually refers to adding a fourth note to the triad, the fourth note being flattened. For example, the triad for C major is CEG, and the C7 version would be CEG + B flat. Also, power chords are denoted by the number 5 because they are formed by the first and the fifth notes in a scale. Example, C5 would be the notes CG to form that chord. Hope this helps.

          And Larry, in regards to the beginning of the article, it is confusing when you refer to a single note as being major or minor, because this is impossible. It requires two or more notes (a chord) in order for it to have that classification.

          • says


            Thanks for clarifying and pointing out the need to fix the beginning of the article. I have removed the major from the single note designation.


        • Andrew says

          ChordMaster, the beauty of musical theory is that it is universal, much like the language of math. The same scales and chord structures on the piano apply with the guitar and other like instruments. Also, to make C major C7 you do not change the G note to Bb, but rather add a Bb.


  3. says

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  4. Don McMorrow says

    What do the colors in the chart entitled “24 Basic Major and Minor Chords” signify?

    • says


      There is no real significants to the colors on the piano keys for the three note chords other than you play the chord hitting the three piano keys at the same time.

      Good questions.


  5. Grace says

    Hi, i was just wondering if you could tell me why there are two colours in the diagrams.
    I assumed they meant which keys were supposed to be played at the same time.
    If so which is first and second?
    Thank you, much appreciated

    • says


      Actually there are three colors. The colors red, blue, red represent the three keys on the piano you strike at the same time to play the chord.

      For example, to play D major you play the notes D, F#, and A at the same time. Look for D on the chart in the post. That is D major and the keys you play.

      Good Luck playing the piano.


    • says


      Practice, Practice, Practice, etc

      Suggest you start each practice session playing your chord slow. Then add speed until you get to your desired speed on scales.

      Hope this helps.


  6. Angie says

    Hi been teaching my self piano for years I can play a lil bit but o my the way someone showed me my problem is I don’t no what chord comes next or what group of chords sound good together

  7. Lorri says

    The first note on a full-size piano is not called A Major. The first note on a full-size piano is called “A”. One of the CHORDS you can build on A is A Major. You can also build A minor, A diminished, A7 etc. But the first note is called “A”, not A Major

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